Monday, January 21, 2013

Emotions, Uncontrolled

I don’t know what was wrong with me last week, but I was emotional. Very emotional. At one point, I was hugging Clare and asking her to promise never to move away from me. Her response: “Noooooooooooooooo.”

Yes, that is the right answer, I know. And maybe when she is 18 I’ll be ready for her to get out of the house, but right now the thought makes me sad. I want her to stay my little girl forever, and she is just changing so fast. Sometimes it seems like she grows overnight.

I recently came across an article that says people without children are happier than people with children. (I know this theory has been floating out there for years. This is not news by any means.) It really hit home for me last week, though. I totally believe it is true. Parenting is hard. You lose control of your freedom (and your finances). Children are challenging. Every day is filled with small battles, especially when dealing with a strong-willed and opinionated 19-month-old.  It can put a strain on your marriage. Lots of little resentments build up. And then your children grow up and leave you. Maybe they’ll call. Maybe they won’t. (And this is after dealing with the teenage years, which I don’t even want to think about.)

But to me, the hardest thing is the emotions. I love Clare so much, and I spend most of my time and energy making sure she is getting what she needs: food, love, education. I still do things for myself, and I am trying to remain a whole person who has varied interests, but really, I am a mom. That is my life right now. And some day it won’t be, but I’ll still have this love and I’ll still worry. I want Clare to go out and find her way in the world, but I know that means she will leave me behind. I know this is as it should be, but it makes me depressed, too. It is all so fleeting.

Can you tell last week was a long week?

I know though, that even if I might technically be happier without children, I wouldn’t trade Clare for anything. Despite all of the ups and downs and challenges that come with it, I love being Clare’s mom. I hope I can prepare her to be a functional, successful adult. And who knows, maybe she’ll decide she shouldn’t move that far away from her Mommy, even if I might not always be her favorite person in the world. After all, my mom is one of my closest friends. (And was even when I lived 250 miles away.)

Okay, enough of my blathering. I think this might all be brought on by the fact that I have not slept much lately. (Any other insomniacs out there?) It makes me emotionally unstable. I apologize. On a brighter note, here is a picture of Clare from last weekend, taken by my sister while we were all together to celebrate my mom’s 60th birthday. To make you hungry and want to cheat on your New Year’s resolution to eat less (I know I did!) I will leave you with a description of her birthday cake: rich chocolate cake filled with French chocolate cream, covered with chocolate fudge and chocolate ganache. Could anything be better?


  1. Oh, Em. I totally get it. I look at childless friends who are taking their second trip to Hawaii in as many years or who have the disposable income to buy things I wish I could have and I think, "They must be happy/happier."

    But, there are definitely things they don't have that we do. We created a person! Who will go out into the world the best person he/she can be! And we'll (most likely) have a friendship with our child once they're grown, which will be invaluable. And they'll take care of us when we're old. And come home for holidays. And bring home good grades we can cheer about or play in a band concert.

    We get to have pride in someone else. And get hugs and "Love yous!" and all that good stuff - in spite of the tantrums and the debilitating worry of every single day.

    Who needs Hawaii?! Well, I kind of do right now, but I also need my boy WAY more. :)

  2. P.S. And Clare is SO LUCKY to have you.

  3. I recently asked Aaron, "Is it ALWAYS going to be this hard?!" after an especially challenging night, and he laughed and said it should get easier in a year or so (based on what his older friends with older kids tell him), bc then both kids will be potty-trained and self-sufficient (but who knows?! Maybe then we'll have another baby and we'll be starting all over!). ANYHOW, I totally agree that on some days it's REALLY hard, and even though we love them to pieces, they can drive us crazy!! I think, because our kids are so little, we can't wrap our heads around the fact that one day they'll be OUR age and how nice it will be to have our own family traditions and lunch, dinner, or cocktails with our son/daughter and long conversations about love and life and kids (grandkids!) and the crazy relatives and current events and "stuff." We're helping them learn to become good people who can—hopefully—someday be our friends. And I can't help but wonder if maybe those without kids will then envy our lifestyle and wish they had what we have.

  4. You know, I worried about those articles before deciding to get pregnant. A lot. But then I started doing a bunch of research reading about happiness. What it is, does, and what we truly know about what causes it. Turns out, it's not trips, cash (to a certain extent), new outfits (my vice), or any of the "stuff" of life. At all. Once basic needs are met, happiness is largely dependent on.....relationships. People. Love and affection. Traditions and shared jokes. This makes sense, right? I mean, I love stuff, and I'm willing to say much more so than the average bear. But we didn't have much money growing up. Yet, as a kid, I thought we were rich (true story). We always had good food, warm house, fun traditions...we didn't get to take fancy trips or go shopping a lot. I never noticed. I look around st friends who have/had a lot more than I do or did...many of them are fundamentally sad. Dysfunctional relationships, empty promises, or stuff to cover up the void. I think life can certainly be fulfilling without children, but I am betting on that love to carry the hard times and look back and see that oh shit, that was hard, but look at the prize I got.

  5. Em - I think those same thoughts every single day.