All this work and the tips are lousy

by | Apr 10, 2009 | Parenting | 8 comments

It has been a week of me feeling majorly resentful of my children. They are just so needy and that neediness is often accompanied by full-pitch whininess, and I’m sorry, how many years do you have to spend saying, “I can’t understand you when you whine” for them to stop whining? Because really, it’s been years at this point. I feel like I spend all day as this gravelly-voiced waitress doing my best New Jersey accent saying, “Oh, what’s that, honey? You didn’t want sauce on your meatballs? Let me rinse them off for you!” Though I don’t actually do the cigarette voice and the accent; things might be a bit more fun here if I did.

It seems like the way to effectively parent is to give your children nothing, to let them get all their own meals, dress themselves, and learn to read on their own because you’re not going to read to them. Because it’s like they remember that time, that one time last week when I got them lunch and dressed them and read them a book and now I swear they won’t leave me alone. I mean, come on! I made you food last Wednesday!

I really do want to strike a balance between Mommy and Julie, because I will just go walk right off a cliff if I’m only Mommy. Plus I want my kids to see me as Julie, not as their housemaid and nanny. But just as soon as I start to try to do something exciting for myself, like, you know, taxes or something, they start crawling up my nose and bringing One Morning in Maine with them.

Advice is appreciated.


  1. sutswana

    Siphon off $10-20 a week and get someone to come sit in your house, or take the kids away, for an hour or so. Every week, like clockwork. More often as it becomes a possibility. Or reinstate Child Farm. With…?

    I’m all set for a just-girls dinner or brunch date anytime.

    When I get totally overwhelmed by their neediness to the point of barely being able to speak, sometimes teary-eyed and angry as they climb all over me, Tim maintains that if I would just give them EXTREME attention for a mere five minutes, they’d be fine and would let me go. On the rare occasions that I take his advice, this actually does work. I get right in their faces and make excessive eye contact, hug and cuddle them, stroke their hair, tickle them, beg to let me read them a story/build a tower/draw (yet another) horse, ask them all sorts of questions about their hopes, needs and wants, etc. Inevitably they get tired of Uber-Mom and drift off on their own after a few minutes of this.

    Deep breaths help too, in the immediate. Hiding in the bathroom (which only attracts them more doggedly). But you know all of this, so this is an aimlessly wandering comment.

  2. Kate

    But helpful nonetheless! Miles reminds me every now and then about the extreme attention thing but somehow his advice always winds up irritating me even though I know he’s right. I suppose it’s because I’m the one stuck with them all day and I feel that I should always have all the answers. Ah, such is the life of being a mom at home!

  3. emily

    also, let’s not forget, sometimes this is visceral. that you just. Can’t. be touched. right now. (or interact/give attention). It’s HARD to hunker down and get in there, giving lots of attention sometimes. Like it’s hard to stay with exercise when it hurts (or start when you’re not feeling it). or like having sex when you’re really, really tired but there’s no other good time and you know the overall life/marriage will be better if you give it the ole college try. that might be oversharing, but I hope it’s helpful to someone.

    I guess with all these examples, though, the thing is to do it and things get better. but I just wanted to put the word out about how HARD it is sometimes.

  4. Julie

    What Emily said.

  5. Elizabeth

    You are not alone. If you can do what Sutswana suggested for an hour or two a week, that would be ideal. When I first did this, though – when I actually was alone and had time on my hands, I had no idea what to do with myself. A few months ago, I signed up for a three-hour yoga workshop and my husband was somewhere, doing something. So, I got a babysitter. When the class was cancelled, I figured I’d keep the babysitter and do something else. Well, I basically wandered aimlessly downtown for three hours. It was very unsatisfying. Going to Banana Republic and Nordstrom is not rejuvenating. It is mostly annoying. Things started to look up when I hit the yarn shop and the deli. But, I have found that you need to find time for yourself AND you need to have a plan!

  6. Julie

    Yes! Last week Sutswana watched Henry and Eli, and I had to ask her what I should do with myself. And yes, I went to the mall and wandered around (though with the greater purpose of buying concealer, which was very satisfying). Luckily she is a good enough friend to tell me that if I ran errands she would never watch my kids again. I also went to the bookstore and bought random magazines.

  7. Sarah

    This morning Jaya said to me “mommy, i love you so much, i will love you forever and ever and I will never ever leave you”, which was heart-breakingly sweet on one hand, and incredibly terrifying on the other.

  8. Kate

    Hugh told me a few weeks ago that he didn’t ever want to go to college and that he always wants to live with us. Visions of a fully grown man creating more and more laundry for me sent a chill up my spine — that was after my heart melted that he always wants to be with Mommy and Daddy, that is.


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