“They always think it’s your destiny to clean!”

I never trust women who don’t complain about raising kids, especially the ones who rhapsodize about the joys of motherhood and talk endlessly about how fulfilling it is. I think they are liars, and I suspect they drink.

I love my kids. There were many happy and joyful moments. There were also many moments that involved what the pediatrician called “chronic non-specific childhood diarrhea,” trips to the emergency room, refusals to eat anything that could remotely be considered nutritious, and always, the emotional pain of watching their pain.

There’s a lot more to being a woman than being a mother, but there’s a hell of a lot more to being a mother than most people suspect. — Roseanne Barr

The dreariness and depression of parenting mostly has nothing at all to do with the children themselves. (Unless you’re a case study for “Supernanny,” in which instance: You’re doing it wrong!) It has a lot more to do with feeling yourself turn into a mothering machine: Breakfast, pack lunch, pick up at aftercare, make dinner, wash clothes, give baths, change sheets (occasionally urined-soaked or vomitous), check homework, say prayers, brush teeth, tuck in, oversee projects, Halloween costumes, make (in my case, remember to buy) cupcakes for Cub Scouts meeting, construction paper for next round of projects, Christmas decorations, Valentine cards, birthday parties, trips to the dentist and pediatrician, clean kitchen and bathroom, meet with teachers, replace outgrown shoes, new clothes…

It sucks. It’s mind-numbing. That’s why most men foist the worst of it off on us. We’re so conveniently “better” at it. Why do you think Utah, home to so many “perfect” Stepford moms, has double the average rate of antidepressant use?

To say out loud that you hate dealing with it doesn’t mean you hate your kids. It means you’re mentally healthy. Part of being mentally healthy means you take care of your own needs, too.

I notice the women who claim to be the most “joyful” about motherhood usually have husbands with six-figure incomes and a fistful of credit cards. I also notice they are grown people who no longer have or never had any personal goals at all, other than finding new birthday party ideas on Pinterest, or buying new living room furniture. (I think I mentioned the drinking?)

They also seem to joke a lot about various tactics for fending off their husband’s sexual desires. Huh? One day, the kids will leave and all they have left is the person they married. Maybe they should think about that.

The day my youngest son finally left for college, I took off all my clothes and danced around my apartment. I’d put in my time, and now I was free. And no, I didn’t feel one bit apologetic or melancholic. Someone once said to me with sympathy, “Oh, you must be feeling empty nest syndrome!”

I couldn’t stop laughing.

If your life falls apart after your kid leaves home, you didn’t have much of a life to begin with.

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