Open window.Confession: The other day I tried to climb through a window to get into yoga class. After a rough afternoon with the kids, I arrived five minutes late to find the studio door locked, which was strange since people often come in late. Next to the door was a big window, wide open, without a screen. So I casually slung my leg over to see if I could reach the wooden bench below. Just then, the police officer (yes, it's true) who owns the yoga studio appeared. It turns out I was early! He laughed at me. The class was at 5:30, not 5 p.m.
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But here's the thing, motherhood makes you crazy. And even among friends, I sense reticence to admit it. We want to seem composed, on top of things, put together like supermoms, not crazy people climbing in windows.
I love my kids, and parenting is the most important part of my life right now. But parenting, like the Amazing Race, can be a brutally challenging adventure.
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Before running off to yoga, I'd watched the kids go from happily making dance videos in the backyard to poking and pulling each other's hair and seatbelts while whining and screaming for the duration of an hour-long errand in the car. I know this is not unusual. Kids go from loving and needing you (or each other) desperately, especially when you are in the bathroom or on the phone, to hating your (or each other's) guts.
While the children seem to move on from these highs and lows with alarming speed, I linger over the dramas (and try to clear my head by running or going to yoga). Of course nobody really doubts that we all love each other madly.
Even more maddening than the hurts brothers and sisters inflict on each other is when the outside world delivers a blow. I can't imagine the anguish of friends who've lost a child die due to illness or accident. As parents, we are forced to confront the fact that we have relatively little control over the bad things that happen to these small pieces of us who are running around like lunatics.
There was nothing I could do when my step-daughter, Ava, didn't make the freshman volleyball team after a summer of drills and camps and strung along hopes. Or when my six-year-old daughter, Maia, summoned all her courage to get on the school bus for the first time without her brother and encountered a mean girl who wouldn't share her seat. Of course I want to wrestle the volleyball coach and the little twit from the bus, but I am a responsible adult, so I can't, and that makes me crazy.
I know these setbacks and challenges will be character-building in the long run. One of the hardest things about parenting, I'm learning, is just to let the hurts hurt. I also think one of the kindest things parents can do for each other is to admit that none of us are perfect. Struggles with our kids are driving us all a little crazy.