To emote or not…the parenting edition

Bear with me, as this post may come across as disjointed as I struggle to put into words various thoughts that have been floating in my mind. I often write in a stream of conscience style here at BGIM, it’s intentional as this blog serves as my space to say what I feel I need to say and what I feel can be shared. Often my hope is that a kindred spirit will know they aren’t alone in traveling on this journey we call life.

In case you have been under a rock, this neat little story was recently released and it’s garnering quite a bit of attention, if nothing else with a title like Go to Fuck to Sleep it catches your attention. The Spousal Unit had forwarded me a print copy some time back and while I thought it was merely cute, it was hearing Samuel L Jackson one of my favorite actors do the spoken word version, that I knew it was only a matter of time before fellow bloggers would chime in.

It seems most people find it cute, after all almost anyone who has parented a child or two has probably had at least one night when their dearly beloved progeny for whatever reason did not follow the nightly script resulting in a tired parent trying to get the child to sleep.

Yet I read two pieces that really made me think about this on a deeper level, in one instance a parenting blogger expressed some discomfort despite a nervous chuckle. Her discomfort seemed to be rooted in the fact that the book is only looking at this through the lens of the parent and as someone on my Facebook stated, it’s not as if children are intentionally trying to fuck with us. Very true. In fact there are often valid reasons why a kid simply does not want to sleep and in most instances as parents, we will look for a solution to that problem which sometimes might be as simple as letting the child stay up longer. The second piece I read, poses the very valid question of could a mom have written Go the Fuck to Sleep and would it have been a success? In the Jezebel piece, Amy Sohn talks a bit about Mommy judgment and how even with the Mommy blogosphere that judgment still runs deep.

Which brings me to my point, why as women are we so uncomfortable with expressing our emotions? No, seriously. As someone who spent 19 years dealing with anxiety attacks, having used medication, and therapy to keep them at bay, it was only when I made the decision over a year ago to be honest and intentional at all times no matter what, did I see the anxiety attacks subside. The only time I am faced with them is when in a car and trust me I am working on that too.

For years I lived an existence where I felt I had to be nice, I had to be respectful even if it meant I hurt my own feelings. This may not be you and if that is the case, kudos you are evolved but many women learn as girls that we receive validation when we play the nice role. I think this behavior extends to adulthood and can affect how we connect with our partners and yes our kids.

Our kids may not be intentionally keeping us from sleeping but that does not take away from the fact that they do and that in some cases it really does make us feel bad. Girl child was not a great sleeper and I was not prepared for the marathon nursing sessions at 2 am that resulted in several years of disjointed rarely restorative sleep. I am not a good sleeper, haven’t been in years and having nursed three and a half years, it took a bad situation and turned it into an explosive situation. Thankfully the Spousal Unit was an active parent and helped find solutions to at least make the situation less oppressive including moving out of our bed for almost two years. That said, I had many moments late at night, when a continuous loop played in my head saying, why won’t this child go the fuck to sleep? It never dawned on me at that time, that my thoughts were bad, I most certainly was not singing a lullaby of go the fuck to sleep but I sure as shit thought it.

Yet in today’s pressure cooker of world of parents, it’s almost as if by making the decision to procreate/raise a child we are expected to check our own feelings and thoughts at the door. This is not healthy, thoughts are indeed powerful and if you find yourself steeped in negative thoughts about your kids 24/7 you need to examine that and probably seek professional help. Yet the occasional bad thought about our child is not harming them and more importantly we are being honest which I believe is equally as important to our well being. We need to allow friends and associates the space with which to express the good and the bad. In recent years we hear of parents doing heinous things to their kids, often these are the good parents, the ones that no one could ever have imagined harming their kids. Yet how often as parents especially mothers can we be honest and know that we won’t be judged for that honesty?

Many women raising daughters these days in light of the media onslaught that seeks to mold our girls talk about the desire to model a healthy body image for our girls, but I say it is equally important to model a healthy emotional life. A life where are girls (and boys) see us being truthful and honest and not holding ourselves back to conform to someone else’s image of what we should be.

3 thoughts on “To emote or not…the parenting edition”

  1. I don’t think it’s possible to be a parent and not have occasional “bad thoughts” about our children. Especially during the sleepless baby years. And the sleepless teenage years.

  2. Honey I am quick to say these kids get on my damn nerves! I have no problem with saying that all. I come from a family that is very expressive, we don’t hold too much in. I love my kids to DEATH and will cut a mofo in half for them with a butter knife but I am sending them to Florida for 3-4 weeks cuz Momma needs a break.
    And yup take your ass to bed. Come out this room one time with all these random complaints…you goan see me and you! I had to tell that to my oldest son last week. My kids like to play around at bedtime and sometimes either I’m just not in the mood to fool around with them or they are just too overly tired and can’t sleep so they figure coming to tell me every 2 minutes is going to do something. But you can’t fall asleep if you don’t stay in the bed. When they don’t understand that, that’s when I have to start laying down the threats. Now that school’s out I don’t care, play all night if you want but when school starts back up go the fuck to sleep!

  3. I didn’t find anything malicious toward children about the book, honestly. It didn’t convey to me the idea that folks are not acknowledging the very real reasons kids don’t want to go to sleep. But when you’ve tried to address all those reasons, gone the extra mile, begged, pleaded, bribed . . . I mean, that’s what the book was about. Being at wit’s end. I’m just so flabbergasted that [especially as women] it’s a crime to say that we sometimes get to our wit’s end. To suggest that if you’ve ever felt this way it’s because you haven’t sufficiently checked your self as a full-fledged human being in your own right at the door of parenthood.

    It is so important to model healthy emotional life! And that means showing the full gamut of emotions. It’s just like the book demonstrated . . . really feeling some way and then being able to let it go. Tomorrow is, after all, another day.

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