I know it goes so fast. I know it could always be worse. I know that every cloud has a silver freaking lining.
I know because the internet has been telling me this for years, along with that cute little old lady I bumped into at the grocery store, my neighbor, and the always super-positive kindergarten teacher my daughter had four years ago.
The truth is, I want people to stop telling me to look on the bright side of every bad situation I encounter as a parent. I want empty nesters to stop clutching their hearts and sighing dreamily as they gaze at my misbehaving toddler. Because as a parent, some days just suck, and there isn’t much of a bright side, and we don’t need everyone, and their grandma, insisting there is.
I don’t blame those people for always looking through rose-colored, super-annoyingly positive glasses. I’m happy that they now see things positively in hindsight. And I’m happy for those people who are so happy in the present moment too.
You know the ones I’m talking about. They always laugh off your miserable complaints. They leave comments on your depressing photos on social media of all of your kids holding puke buckets, and say something like, “Enjoy every second! They’ll be gone before you know it!” or “Look on the bright side, at least it isn’t lice!”
No. Stop it.
Just because we don’t have creepy-crawlies living on our heads doesn’t mean we aren’t all currently in a state of misery right now. And it’s okay for me to moan and groan about it.
Sometimes I’d just like to feel like the world will let me experience my emotions for just a minute. Yes, tomorrow is a new day. Praise all that is holy for that. But right now? I just need you to let me feel sad, or pissed off, or depressed before I pick myself up and carry on.
Because parenting is hard, and I need to feel all the things. The good, the bad, and the horribly ugly.
Why do we feel the need to keep telling parents to deny their bad feelings? If we truly want parents to relish every moment of parenting, shouldn’t we allow them to feel the bad with the good too? I mean, that is part of it, right?
I believe that we have to feel the sadness to know the joy. I want to feel okay being a little angry in a moment where my child is screaming at me and slamming doors so that I can feel the stark contrast of the sweetness of forgiveness moments later when we’re all hugging it out.
I want to cry into my pillow at night and not feel guilty that I want to live on a desert island some days so that the next day, when my kids are being adorably cute, I can enjoy it even more because I have felt the sadness from the night before.
I’m learning as a parent, and I would never tell my kids to buck up and never feel sad or that it’s not okay to feel disappointed. So why is everyone telling me it’s not okay to have a bad day as a mother? Why do some people believe that moms are never allowed to complain because they are #soblessed?
Can you imagine if every time my child was sad, I replied with, “Look on the bright side! At least someone didn’t beat you up today!” That would be ridiculous. It would also be crappy parenting.
With that being said, I know it wouldn’t hurt me to add a little dose of positivity to my routine. Here’s the deal: I’m not naturally inclined to see the positive in bad situations. In fact, quite the opposite, actually. I’m more of a glass-half-empty sort of girl. I lean a little toward pessimism at times, but I don’t need people telling me to count my blessings. I know I’ve got lots of them. Three of them came out of my body.
In fact, I fight every day to see positive things in bad moments and to pick myself up when I feel like I’ve failed at parenting. I’m fighting anxiety and depression on top of that. But some of us find venting helpful and like a sweet release for all those bad feelings. Sometimes it helps us to get all of that out, so we can return to our children feeling less tense, more refreshed.
I love shouting out, “Today sucks!” and hearing back from my likeminded mom friends, “My day sucks too!” as we find the humor in our misery and fight like hell against the feeling that we are ruining our children. I don’t think being a Negative Nancy for an hour or two makes me a bad mom. In fact, I’d even argue that it makes me a better mom because I’m teaching my children that they can feel their feelings, then move on and do better tomorrow.
Someone will always have it worse than me. I am blessed and privileged beyond belief. I count my blessings when I can and try to look up and ahead as much as humanly possible.
So if I want to complain, can you just let me? And I’ll promise to never put my hand over my heart and say, “It goes so fast!” when I’m an old lady.
Instead, I’ll say something like this, “Parenting can be rough, huh? Don’t worry. You’re a badass, and you’ll get through it.”
Because that’s what I want to hear right now.
This post first appeared on the Huffington post