Why Having Kids is Both the Best and Worst of Times

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February 16, 2013 by Sarah Christine Bolton

When I used to actually read, like really read, actual books, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens was one of my favorites. The opening line, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” is such a beautiful, poignant, and true-for-so-many-of-life’s-situations statement.

Take last night, for example.

E. and I helped bring in one of the artists who was featured in our documentary film, this amazing musician, Onyx Ashanti. He invented all this cool shit, and creates original “beatjazz” music using breath and movement and freaking robots. Very cool.

After spending more than a month planning and promoting, and literally my entire Friday cleaning, cooking, and coordinating the house for a sitter to come, I finally got to leave the house, dressed up and excited about a night out.

Until I got a text from my sitter 20 minutes after I arrived, and literally 2 minutes after Onyx started: “Baby A. won’t stop crying.”

I had actually prepped myself for this exact scenario to happen. Baby A. has been a tiny monster for three days. I don’t know what’s going on, but I do know it’s probably going to kill me. Fussing, gassy, not sleeping well, not nursing well, only happy when he is in the Moby wrap right next to my body.

But even though my pessimistic self had pretty much decided I wouldn’t be able to go out, the moment when the text came onto my phone, I felt my heart sink.

It sucked. It really, truly, hardcore sucked. And even though I kept it together when I got home, and had actually had fun hanging out with E.’s older daughters, when I finally wrestled M. and A. into bed, and I was laying there in the dark, life felt pretty shitty.

Twelve hours later, it still does, although some strong coffee and decent sleep have helped me a bit.

But here’s the point: I’m letting myself feel. I’m letting myself kinda not like my kids, being a parent, the situation, any of it.

Because, being a parent is NOT a blissed-out experience. It’s not. And even though our society makes it seem like we should never feel stressed or angry or even – gasp! – regretful, those feelings come. And they are OK. I’m deciding they are OK.

Not that I want to feel them forever, and even now, as I therapy-write, they are starting to slip away. And I do love my kids, as much as they fuck up my life sometimes.

Ultimately, just don’t beat yourself up anymore if you sometimes feel like buying a false passport, getting a face transplant, and starting a new life in Argentina… sans children. If you do decide to go that route, let me know. Depending on the day, I might just join you.



P.S. Just in case you are interested, here is the full opening sentence from A Tale of Two Cities.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

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