The Best Parent That I Could Be Was The One Walking Away

Parenting may kill me. Not literally (although my son’s around-the-neck hugs have gotten pretty tight). But there are moments that I can’t keep it up. The patience. The love. The joy. I just want E to listen. I just want N to sleep.

I believe there are moms out there who are born for this. They levitate from child to child with hugs and cuddles. Never letting them cry. Never missing an opportunity to teach them and support them. (I know never is a strong word, but when I read certain blogs and have well-intentioned conversations, well, I hope that they are filtering A LOT.) Because many days I’m tired by the afternoon. Tired of redirecting. Of keeping up the cheerful attitude of mama-ing. YAY IT’S LUNCH! YAY YOU POOPED! YAY YOU LISTENED!

There is this tightness that keeps me from screaming and running while the straight-jacket patrol chases me through the kitchen. A monotone mama going through the motions in order to keep my death grip on the conviction that parenting doesn’t involve anger.

I don’t want to be a yeller or a spanker or a slapper. And I am not, by the grace of God. But I catch myself wagging my finger and my voice fills my ears. And at these moments, I have to walk away. Because he can’t listen. Because he is shouting. Because I need to breathe without the smell of my children in my nose. Because if I don’t walk away, I will be the mom that I am capable of and she’s not pretty. I meet her downstairs. I meet her laying in the dark. I meet her at 3 a.m.. I ask her to leave me alone. I know those ideas won’t work. I know that I won’t feel better after screaming. I’ll feel worse. But it’s so tempting to let all those feelings OUT.

Yet I don’t. I breathe. I write. I pray. I wait until my ears stop hurting and my arms relax. Even if that means my son screams in his room for five minutes, I wait for the other mom to leave before I begin parenting again.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

7 thoughts to “The Best Parent That I Could Be Was The One Walking Away”

  1. Beautiful post! I have thrown myself on the bed crying and screaming and hitting the bed with my fists and then my son – then just 2 – came up to me and said in the quietest voice, “Mommy, I'm sorry.” which made me grab and hug him and cry even harder. Motherhood is so hard. You are a good mom because you know yourself and can walk away when you need to. Hang in there! It will get easier (at 5 they'll develop attitudes and then you can actually duke it out with them verbally ;-))

  2. I am constantly amazed by you. You can make me laugh coffee out my nose one blog and then want to cry and rip my clothing the next. Thank you for being so transparent and REAL! And I KNOW you know this, but the walking away and the allowing E to cry in his room and freak out is what makes a good parent. Imagine if we never let our kids deal with anger, frustration, or disappointment. That would be doing them a disservice. And, he's watching YOU on how to deal with it. I'd say that's a pretty good role model.

  3. Oh, so normal!!! Yes, it's true, some people are naturally more cheerful 24/7 or have had lives – and children – that enable them to stay plugged into constant joyfulness. But it's not typical, and I'm not even sure it's something to aspire to! There's a wide range of human emotion and it's absolutely ok to feel most of it and even to let your kids know when you're grumpy or need space.

    Walk away when you need to have five seconds without somebody touching you (oh, do I ever know that feeling), and rest assured that how you feel does not make you a freak or a bad mother. :o)

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