The struggle is real. Having kids and also wanting that adult time without them. Every parent struggles with it, whether you’re a single parent or part of a parenting couple.
But do we really have to rub it in so much all the time? Especially when our kids are standing right there?
The choice to raise children is an enormous one. Everyone gets that. It takes time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears. It takes almost everything out of you emotionally, mentally, and physically. But complaining in front of your children about how you have no time for nights out or a date night with your spouse because of them — can be hurtful to a child in ways we don’t realize.
In a child’s mind, they only want your attention and love. When kids are young especially, they don’t have a concept of how hard your day was or how much you feel like you need a drink with friends or your spouse. They don’t understand that mommy or daddy require adult time sans kids. Why would they? As far as they’re concerned, they are the proverbial apple of your eye.
So many of us wonderful, giving parents put so much into our children. Most of us give and give and give until we’re depleted. We take them out to fun places, we play with them, we read to them, we buy them things, we have birthday parties, and everything in our lives is usually centered around the kids.
It’s no wonder our children would have no concept of us needing time away from them. It must be quite a strange feeling for a child when they hear a parent blurt out something to their friends such as, “I can’t do that on Saturday I have the kids,” or, “I don’t have time for that — I have kids!” They’re probably wondering what they’re keeping us from.
I’m a big believer in living life without the guilt trip party. Guilt tripping is not a place I like to take anyone — especially our kids. Have I ever said something like the above statements? Yes! Have I ever said it in front of the kids? I have tried extremely hard not to and I’m still working on it.
What’s the point of raising a family if you’re going to spend a good chunk of the time complaining about them? And yes — I know — commiserating over having no free time with other parents can indeed be deliciously satisfying. I’m just saying let’s take it down a notch or two, especially when small ears are around us.
A child doesn’t mean to intrude upon our lives. They are here to explore and grow. And we’re supposed to be the ones watering their fragile buds with support, love, and hopefully as little guilt tripping as possible. Heaven knows, they’re going to get enough of that from the rest of the world when they do grow up.
So let’s take a break from resenting parenthood in front of our children and perhaps wait to do it privately where small ears don’t have to carry that burden.
More from Michelle: 6 Life Lessons I’ve Learned Being a Stepmom