I feel like I’m losing control of my life. Things that once seemed so easy to maintain now feel nearly impossible – diet, exercise, sleep, vocabulary. The threads of my existence feel like they’re unraveling much faster than the time it took to stitch them together, and I feel lost. Is this how parenthood is supposed to feel? Do other parents feel this loss of control? Should I give in to the entropy and call it a day?
I believe the answers to the questions above are, “I think so,” “Maybe,” and “Let’s sleep on it.”
Is this how parenthood is supposed to feel?
Let’s be real honest here – parenthood turns you into a crazy person. In the words of Mugatu from Zoolander, “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!” Especially when you’re trying to rationalize with a toddler the reasons that she cannot lick peanut butter off the floor. Or simultaneously helping her into her car seat while also letting her do it (which usually results in all of her limbs flailing about and knocking my glasses off my face). Or explaining the consequences of gravity when she wants to stand up in the grocery cart seat.
To an adult (well, most adults), these situations are lousy with common sense as the answer. “You’re right – licking peanut butter off the floor is unsanitary and frowned upon in public.” “If I ask for help into my car seat, I shouldn’t hit you when you help me.” “I likely will fall out if I stand up right now, thank you for the warning.” To a toddler, these situations allow for experimentation with sanitation guidelines, yoga (how does her arm bend that way?), and physics.
By the end of most days, my mind is mush and my patience is thinner than Victoria Beckham. My energy for going to the gym is thoroughly depleted, and a dinner of chips (potato and/or chocolate) seems healthy. Yet when 9:30 p.m. arrives and I should go to bed, I don’t because sleeping will eat into my alone time. So I stay up and watch 30 Rock or Property Brothers (depending upon whether I need to laugh, or cry at people’s poor renovation decisions). I then wake up tired and berate myself for staying up too late, only to make the same mistake that evening.
Do other parents feel this loss of control?
I know that I answered with, “Maybe” above, but I should have answered with, “God, I hope so!” If other parents feel this way, that means I’m not alone and that my feelings are validated. It other parents don’t feel this way, then it’s time to change my answer for the last question to, “Yes!”
Seriously, though, I feel like other parents have to feel this way. Many parents (including my mom) tell me that this feeling of losing control is normal, but somehow I’m reluctant to completely believe them. Perhaps it’s because I see some parents post photos of their meals on Facebook and they’re extremely healthy. Maybe it’s the parents that I see grocery shopping with their young children, wearing sweaty gym clothes, drinking water, and looking well-rested. Or mayhaps it’s the fact that I cannot possibly believe that any other parent could stare at their child’s tiny potty for three minutes, yet forget the word “potty”! I mean, honestly, who does that?!!
Should I give in to the entropy and call it a day?
Answering “Yes” to this question is, of course, the easier solution. It’s simple to give in to the chaos of parenthood and neglect caring for yourself. After all, coffee’s main ingredient is water, cheese slices are low carb, carrying a toddler around all day is strength training, and facial expressions convey messages just as well as words.
But is that really who I want to become for the next 18 (or more) years of my life?
No, it is not. Despite my feelings of losing control, I need to remember that I’m not only an adult, but more importantly a parent. I’m in charge of raising my daughter and teaching her to be a responsible and functioning member of society. And last time I checked, giving in to disorder is neither responsible nor functional (unless we’re talking about compost piles.) This feeling of losing control is difficult to address and it causes me stress – obviously, I like being in control. But much like my daughter’s tantrums over not being served chocolate for breakfast, I need to remind myself that this is merely a phase. I won’t feel this way forever, and things will fall into place again.
Losing Control Together
Parenting is difficult, to say the least. It causes you to trade health for convenience, sleep for solitude, and actual words for pointing and grunting. It changes you in ways that you never dreamed, for better and for worse. Sometimes you feel like you’re losing control, and that’s ok. I just hope that other parents do feel like this at one point in their parenting journey. At least then we’re all in this together, and I can stop judging myself so harshly and instead feel like part of the crowd. Especially when I forget a basic word like “potty”.