Today, I don’t want to be a mother anymore. Today I want to walk out of the house and never come back.
It’s a feeling I know will fade. I’ve had it before and I’ll have it again. But today crying on the kitchen floor, my back against the dishwasher and my eyes squeezed shut against the ephemera of children, I tried to find any tiny corner in our apartment into which I could escape. Instead, it felt like there was no escape and running away would be the only thing that would make me feel better—like a person again.
I think about all those stories—books and movies about mothers who have left—and a part of me understands it so completely. How you can want so desperately to wash your hands of it all and start over alone.
After a day of being ignored and defied and disrespected by my children over and over again, my six-year-old’s cheerful whistle makes me want to throw things. When my 8-year-old notices I’m crying (for the 3rd time today), he tries to hug me and I want to push him away. Because he doesn’t care that I’m crying out of exasperation and frustration with his and his brother’s behavior. He only feels bad that I’m crying.
Of course, he’s a child and I don’t actually know what he’s thinking as he hugs my stiff body through my sobs. I know I feel required to let him try to make me feel better. I know I feel required to pretend it helps. And I know how I feel, and today I feel done. I am out of the endless patience required to be a parent. It's terrifying admitting this. I’m sure I sound like a monster to those of you who haven’t reached this stage yet, or to those of you somehow miraculously lacking the gene that makes you want to sometimes run screaming from your own kids.
But I also know some of you feel as monstrous as I do from time to time. I know some of you want to run away sometimes, too. You don’t, just like I don’t, because we know (or we hope) that the feeling will pass. We find ways to make sure that we can stay calm, that we can regrow that endless supply of patience. We hug our kids goodnight and remember that as much as we sometimes want to run from them, we love them and could never really go. Not really. Not for long.
And to those of you in that last group, the ones who’ve had days like mine where you picture a real hideout, those of you who look up bus tickets, those of you who fantasize about your very own apartment somewhere, those of you who do all these things knowing you'll never really act on them… to you I say: I see you. You are not alone. But it's okay to wish you were sometimes. But also maybe let’s run away to a remote island together. Just for a week or two. Just until our patience grows back.