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I Feel Like a Half-Assed Parent Most of the Time

Photograph by Twenty20

I know what burnout feels like because I quit my job as a nurse to stay home with my daughter and write. After six years in my career, I was more frustrated, exhausted and irritated than I had ever had been and I knew this wasn’t my path—at least for the time being. But what happens when those feelings come up in motherhood? Feelings that make you feel completely out of control and make you start wondering if you’re even cut out to be a parent.

It took a long time for me to become a mother. When it happened, there was a joy that I had never experienced before. I was tired, exhausted, and hormonal but the high was immeasurable. I would spend hours nursing her, holding her, kissing her face and bouncing her on my hip when she was upset. I had this purpose greater than me. For once, someone was solely dependent on everything I did for them.

But now that my sweet baby is a spirited toddler who has tantrums, dumps boxes of Cheerios on the floor and wants to incessantly crawl on my lap, I'm finding that motherhood isn’t all sunshine and rainbows—sometimes it’s a big pile of shit.

I don’t have a Pinterest board of cute toddler crafts. I yawn thinking about making pancakes shaped into bunnies. Singing the ABCs is as close as I get to schooling her. The truth is, I half-ass it most of the time because I just don’t freaking have any more time and energy to give.

I hate the fact that I’m too tired to be a good parent most of the time.

You know the joke about running on coffee? Well sometimes, that’s the literal fuel I need to keep up with a 2-year-old all day. By the afternoon, when she’s asleep—though it’s anyone’s guess as for how long—and the house is trashed and the dishes are piling up, I find myself taking a nap because it’s the only time someone isn’t trying to touch me or tell me they peed on the couch.

I’m tired.

I hate the fact that I’m too tired to be a good parent most of the time. She’s fed, loved and safe, but mustering the energy for Play-Doh or building train tracks sometimes fails. OK, it fails a lot. Most of the time, I find myself doing the bare minimum in our day-to-day life.

The thing is, when you’re burned out on motherhood, when you're a half-ass parent, you can’t just quit. You aren’t allowed to leave this job and find something less stressful with better benefits. So, every night you get under the covers, take a deep breath and prepare for the day ahead. Maybe you’ll find some time to get coffee with a friend or you see a great therapist. Maybe you’ll quit that third sport with your kids because you see it’s too much.

And maybe all this half-assing? Maybe this is just a season. And hopefully when they say it gets better, it means we won’t always be this exhausted. Just maybe.

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