The thing is, being a parent is stressful. And yet we are expected to be these Zen masters, able to find an emotional center even with screaming toddlers tugging at our legs. But the fact is, you are going to get angry raising kids. Sometimes you are going to get red-faced frustrated and want to park your minivan and run into the woods, never to be seen again. I’ve been a father for nine years, and I want to tell you that those feelings are okay. In fact, sometimes they are essential for your sanity.
Honestly, it’s okay to get pissed off as a parent when:
– You are college educated but you can’t figure out third-grade common core math.
– You’ve been up for over an hour with a child, and the second you think she’s asleep and crawl back in bed and shut your eyes, she’s up again.
– You are on the phone trying to navigate some bureaucratic nightmare and your children refuse to stop tugging at your pant leg. They’re asking questions that could easily wait until you are off the phone, but frankly, they just don’t give a shit.
– You are on a long, 100-degree summer drive to see family, and your children have been arguing over who gets to hold the bag of snacks for the umpteenth time.
– Your toddler throws your phone in the toilet.
– Your child digs their heels in and refuses to leave the park, despite the fact that you need to get to your older child’s school and pick them up so you don’t receive another embarrassing phone call from the principal about how you need to pick your child up before 3:30 p.m.
– You spend hours making a meal and your kid looks you in the eyes and says in an exacerbated, entitled tone, “How many bites do I have to take?”
– You’ve spent over an hour convincing a child to do their homework while also trying to make dinner, and every moment you turn your back, they disappear, or get distracted, or start crying because you are just so mean.
– You are trying to get screaming, lagging, hyper children to calm down for bedtime because you are so damn tired you could scream, and the only thing standing between you and the end of the day is a group of screaming, lagging, hyper children.
– Your child lies to you.
– Your child gets up before 5 a.m. for more than two days in a row and insists on watching Blue’s Clues.
– Your child hits another child over something stupid, like who’s turn it is on the swing. You are 100% confident that you raised them better than that, but actions speak louder than you could ever imagine.
– Your child takes a marker to the one nice piece of furniture you own, and as you are trying desperately to scrub it out, they find another marker and begin to draw on the walls.
– You have to work late and miss your child’s school program.
– Your child pretends to poop to get out of cleaning the living room.
– Your child overflows the bathtub and then says you need to not get so angry because it doesn’t really matter.
– Your toddler makes poop art.
– You are backing out of a busy grocery store parking lot with kids in the back seat who are asking and asking for this or that, or arguing and arguing over something so silly and stupid, and back your van into someone else’s car.
– Your child isn’t well and you can’t get the medical help they need.
– You explain to your child, rationally, why they were in trouble and that you still love them, and they look you in the eye and say that you are a bad parent.
There are more, many more, reasons. Learning how to manage those pissed-off moments has to be one of the biggest challenges of parenting. You can’t take it out on your kids physically or emotionally. That’s not cool. And in the grand scheme of parenting, none of this is worth scarring your child over. Nothing is, actually. Fifteen years from now, you will laugh about all of it — or at least that’s what I’ve been told.
But anger and frustration will happen and that’s okay. But here’s the catch. You can get angry. You can punch a pillow or two. You can go into the bathroom and scream. You can step away until you are calm. You can get pissed off as a parent. But what really makes a parent shine is how they manage it.