Speak up for your bad days: they’re important too

I had every intention of sitting down tonight and writing about T’s birthday. We had a grand day. I’ve got lots of very pretty-looking pictures. But whenever I write something especially appreciative about my children on this blog, the universe intervenes to make sure they’re little horrors the day after. And so they have been.

We are tired after yesterday, and too hot. Early this morning they were both crying over UNMENTIONABLE TRAINS before I’d even made breakfast. Tim leapt around the house looking for work stuff because he was running late for a meeting. I tried to put T down so that I could pick H up, and he cried harder and wrapped his legs around my torso.

That was all it took, just that. I looked at our house strewn with birthday debris; my two hysterical sons I had to somehow soothe, feed, clean and dress in the next hour; my husband who was about to sprint for his train and deal with rational adults all day, like a proper grown-up. A great surge of frustration became fury by the time it reached my throat and I yelled at no one in particular: ‘THIS. IS. MY. JOBBBB.’ Like an actual, pyjama-clad lunatic.

For one minute, you see, I wished so very much that it wasn’t. I used to joke that working with academics made me an ideal candidate for raising toddlers, but no academic I ever dealt with wanted me to carry them on my hip while I made them breakfast and found the one bleeping train that won’t be found.

And I wasn’t going to write about it, because moaning is boring – or worse, entitled and infuriating. There’s always someone who wishes desperately they were in your shoes, even while you’re wishing yourself out of them.  I have two healthy children. I am incredibly lucky to be able to stay home with them full-time while working a little on the side. And Tim would tell you if you asked him (I remember myself) that working full-time has its fair share of stresses and negatives too. I know all this.

So I was going to swallow it down. Pretend it didn’t happen, and post some pretty pictures instead. Smooth down my rough edges for a reading audience. It’s all so much more comfortable that way.

I think women do this a lot. We think negative emotions make us unattractive. We think expressing them makes us nags, or cynics, or bores. As mothers especially, we apologise for them, or we ring-fence them with comedy. We sand down our rough edges to take up less space, to be less objectionable to whomever might be watching.

Today I have decided: stuff that. You can take that idea, and stuff it right into some place you’ll never see again.

You don’t owe anyone a good day. You owe yourself care, and you owe other people empathy and consideration, but you don’t owe them quietness.

I don’t mean that it’s a good idea to ferret out the downsides in whatever situation you’re in, because doing that makes me miserable. Looking on the bright side is good. But I assert my right to take up authentic, emotional space using a full range of feelings, not just the ones that make me seem nicer. I want the ones that make me real. That’s what I’m trying to show and tell my boys, after all: all of your emotions are ok. You need to express them in a way that doesn’t involve disrespect or fists, but it’s alright to feel whatever you feel.

All of my experiences will make me who I am in five years, ten years, twenty. All of them, the guts and grit and glory. Not only the ones that came with a DSLR and coordinating outfits.

Guys, today was pretty hard. Today H ran into the sprinkler and soaked his school uniform just as T slipped down five stairs and banged his elbow, and we were already five minutes late. Today I looked into days and years and YEARS of cajoling lasagne into the mouths of kids who don’t want to eat it, and it felt a little like despair to me.

It was a hard day, and it made me feel bad, and I’m owning it. Tomorrow will probably be better.

Photo 01-07-2015 03 16 52 pm

Ironically, since my phone is broken, I only have DSLR photos. So some days are like this. Some days are…not.

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Speak up for your bad days

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9 thoughts on “Speak up for your bad days: they’re important too

  1. Yes! This is wonderful! I finally realized don’t god my stress has been trying to force myself into a million little boxes and I have lost myself a bit. This is so beautifully worded and so true.

  2. If we don’t talk about the bad days then we won’t have the opportunity to learn from them. Wonderful, wise words and an enlightening read. Thank you.

  3. Who was it said that life is a tragedy in close-up but a comedy in long-shot? Own the tragedy, for it will provide comedy tomorrow. And if you can’t shout out loud about these days when they happen, you’d likely be in a much worse mental space. So shout away! And I hope today is good to you 🙂

  4. Haha. My 1-year-old was colicky, and I found myself posting on social networking all the time about how bad things were, not because I felt entitled or angry, but because I was desperate for help and encouragement. I felt kind of bad, because I felt like my friends would think I didn’t love my son and didn’t deserve to be a mother if I weren’t grateful for my child (especially knowing some people who struggle with infertility). But I couldn’t not post about it. I just couldn’t. It was SO HARD. So I made a list specifically for other moms of young kids and posted these things only to them, and, to my surprise, got loads and loads of encouragement and support.

    And then a funny thing happened. Some of my mom friends began posting about their rough days as well. It filled me with so much peace to see other moms taking down the facades and being honest. It was like a great big exercise in solidarity.

    All that to say, I definitely think it’s okay to post about the rough days and I’m glad you decided to do so. Motherhood is just too hard to go it alone sometimes.

    For what it’s worth, I hear it gets better after the kids are over 5, though. 🙂

  5. I couldn’t have read this on a better day! My 2 children have been climbing the walls, I’ve hurt my back and I can’t go for a well-needed run. Some days my journey to find calm and harmony is well and truly challenged! Thank you for wiring this – just what I needed to read today 🙂

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