I have never understood why parenting isn’t in the “let-me-dump-on-you-service business” category. Certainly parents reach the end the their rope, put up with insults, rude behavior, monumental stress, disrespect, back talk, humiliation, a complete lack of appreciation for the non-stop hours that goes into parenting, constant demands, being taken for granted, as in “you’re the mom and I can treat you anyway I want. It’s not MY fault you had me.”
Parenting is a customer service job, much like a flight attendant filled with passengers pissed off the plane is delayed on the tarmac, or a waiter who blames you because his steak not only took too long, but is overcooked, or worse yet, a sales person, at say, Bloomingdale's or Barney’s, where the customers essentially look down their noses at you, because after all, they have money and you don’t.
Just yesterday, Thing One and Two, both 7 year old girls: “Why didn’t you wash my shirt! I don’t like this cereal! Can we please go buy some more Littlest Pet Shops? Why is your skin so blotchy? I don’t want my friends to see you at school, so duck when you drop us off. Stop telling me what to do, it’s my life! I know you hate me, so I hate you! Don’t touch me but could you scratch my back. Ugh! Don’t sing! You forgot my allowance plus now that I am 7, I should get more! Dad is so much better than you!” The list goes on and on and daily.
Now, I need to point out these girls are actually incredibly well behaved and responsible. But they have a hard time showing their love or appreciation. In fact, I will get an occasional post-it not that reads, “Mom, I love you, I just can’t say it out loud.” Unless, of course, they want something.
“Oh mom,, what a lovely shade of lipstick you are wearing. You should let others see it.” The Things, as though planned, then sidle up to me and smile.
“Hey, we should go to Build-A-Bear today. That way people will see you. A total win-win,” they both squeal. My kids talk like that and I have no idea where they get these ridiculous sayings. Yesterday one of them said after I served her a banana split: “At the end of the day, mom, it’s all good.” What!
I digress, to this day; I will NEVER understand why there isn’t a hot line for parents.
“Yes, hello, since there is no escape hatch, and I can’t take drugs or alcohol as I would lose my little darlings to Social Services, and I don’t want to kill myself, can I just vent? I haven’t had a massage in months!!! Never mind a pedicure, hair treatment or facial. Therapy would be nice but who the heck can afford that? Plus if I had the money I would go to the Four Seasons and talk to strangers at the bar.”
When a woman sees my husband holding the hand of one of my daughters, or both, let’s say, at Target, buying some hideous clothes which later I end up hiding until they no longer fit, he inevitably will be complimented by another woman standing near him, twinkle in her eye. “You are such a good daddy.”
Meanwhile my daughter, or both, could be chugging Red Bulls and playing with razor blades, not that he would notice. And he is a good dad! What I mean by that is he does his very fair share of cooking, cleaning, playing board games with the girls and does all the “fun” activities I refuse to do, like taking them to the zoo, water parks, aquariums, and so on.
In my world, because I had twins, a friend and I started a support group, a kind of email/phone chain: It went something like this:
“Rhonda, I am so suicidal, I would never hurt my babies, I hate my useless husband, my career is over… how did you get past the first 3 years!!!” or “Rhonda, I have been in bed for two days, the babies are screaming, I made sure they are fed, but I can’t move. I am a cow. How do you do this?” Here, I lie. I don’t tell them I basically road out a nervous breakdown for all those years, it would scare them. Three years is a long time when your babies are two months old. Instead, I joke; “I was mainlining heroin. I will be right over, with some great espresso.”
We would sit and talk, my telling them it does get better, it just never ends. What I don’t say is it gets better when they are about 5.
I have by now seen approximately 10 new moms, many twin moms, with no clue they may be suffering from postpartum, end up in psyche wards, alcohol/drug treatment centers, sleepwalking naked down our street and the oddest was the mother who I found in her herb garden, face down, at 9:00am, drunk, kids in their cribs.
So why doesn’t this culture call it what it is? Indentured servants; for life. Sure, we love them, sacrifice everything, would take a bullet, but come on! Kids are a full time, thankless job that involves corralling, entertaining and constantly cleaning up, not to mention, teaching, guiding, helping them find their path (so we are also life coaches) and all of it is UNPAID! And you can’t leave. I do understand women that have actually. I could not, but I would never judge a mother who just took off and slipped down that emergency shoot never to be heard from again. God bless her.
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