Theoretically, summer is waning. But with record heat all over the world, the season seems intent on keeping it’s hot little mitts on us awhile longer. With the dog days, it seems that the volume on the lament “these kids are driving me crazy!” raises a notch or two. Working outside the home or in, moms feel guilty when thoughts like that percolate in their heads. “I hate that I don’t like my children.” “I hate that I don’t love every minute of time with my kids.” “It’s summer, we should be having fun–and I can’t wait for school to start.” “I can’t stand them climbing on me one more minute.” The elevated expectations of summer, to orchestrate more fun for our kids, make many women feel guilty against the reality of day in, day out summer.
Recognize the all-or-nothing thinking? When it comes to our loved ones, whether we’re parents or not, most women shy away from embracing the completely normal range of feelings that permeate relationships . Most of us feel badly unless feelings of love and good will materialize 110% of the time. We feel like bad moms, bad partners, or bad daughters or friends. We wish for that magic wand: POOF with fairy dust! We would never feel negative toward a loved one, child or adult, again.
Feelings of frustration with others in our lives are the badge of being human. Many women can accept such feelings aimed at the family of origin. As a small child in the grip of sibling rivalry, you accepted that you hated your sister. As a teen, it was status quo to hate your mom, and maybe your dad too. Underneath, you knew in your heart that you truly loved these family members. You just were momentarily (okay, maybe it was months that these feelings festered in your teenage heart) unhappy with the behavior, even though you still loved the person. Chances are, as an adult, you’ve come to terms with this reality with your significant other, as well. Backing off from black and white thinking, we can understand that this person-behavior distinction applies.
Nonstop sticky, sweaty, demanding kids clinging to your legs or lap ARE annoying, but embracing that reality doesn’t make you a bad mom. The mantra to memorize is “love the kids, hate the job.” Fleeting hate does not mean you are a witch. It means you are simply flesh and blood and emotion, rather than an autopilot Stepford creation. Negative emotions are a package deal with the joy. It’s all about the ratio. Tune into the fun, loving moments and you will see that the wand is not required.
If you need a few ideas to survive the end of the season, check out the August 3 podcast of The Sanity Hour. Perfectly good moms send those kids into the back yard to amuse themselves under the sprinkler while they sit in the shade with some deep breaths, a cool drink and a good book.