Living with a Toddler

Resenting Your Tyke

Last night, I lie on my sister's bed, hugging her pillowpet and drinking a quart of chamomile tea and talking until it was so late I fantasized about Jared Leto. 

She's staying with us for a few months, and this is possibly the most delicious part of my summer (except for roasted campfire vegetables I think we're determined to have at some point soon). We to tend circle the same four hundred conversational topics, but I feel the feels like the first time, every time. Shortly after her arrival, within the first day I think, we touched on a subject I usually avoid, partially because it's plump with guilt and shame and you probably don't want to bring it up at the farmers' market or ever really, but here I am, bringing it up anyway: resenting your kid

Have you seen “Her”? That accurate image of people desperately wanting to connect with any stranger, any human, except for the person right in front of them?

At the moment, I brought up this movie because 1. It was one in the morning and Scarlet J's voice still floats around in my brain since it's release in 2013 and 2. We were talking about the annoyance of cell phones hijacking hangouts. Spending time with my wife, or rather with myself, listening to KUNM jazz while my wife and her phone are sharing a much more physical moment with one another (and I should give her a little break because she works with surgeons whose schedules are crazy but there was a time not so long ago when you had to wait to get home to check your stupid e-mail and be sucked back into the hellhole of after-hours work). Spending time with strangers at a coffee shop who are lovingly rubbing their cell phones while I'm alone with a book. 

Sitting with my toddler, who wants nothing more than for me to color with her or kick a ball with her or go outside with her, while I'm at my computer, feeling like I'm writing something important to total strangers, achieving high scores of being hypocritical parent and coming full circle to this entire topic of conversation. 

Maybe it's that with her has come the explosive mess bomb of everything we own. But then look at the big apron wrapped on her little body. It makes up for it all! 

Maybe it's that with her has come the explosive mess bomb of everything we own. But then look at the big apron wrapped on her little body. It makes up for it all! 

There are days I feel like my beautiful, curious, heinously smart kid is someone who has stunted my ability to make friends, or move to Los Angeles, or get my work done, or finish a book, or write, or draw, create in general. There are days I wish my body had another mechanism to breathe in air because I don't get enough via esophagus, days I feel like the loneliest person and even a tiny candle can't bring me back. I'm not a shit parent, at least I'm pretty sure I'm not, I don't slam myself around or wail in front of my kid, we read together every day, we spend time outside, we go on walks, we travel to coffee shops to share a tea steamer together, she can count, she plays my instruments, she's trusting and she speaks in sentences already. But on days where she doesn't nap, my morale is dragged down like I'm traveling the Oregon Trail and willing to leave my wagon train to be mauled by a bear. 

But on days where she doesn’t nap, my morale is dragged down like I’m traveling the Oregon Trail and willing to leave my wagon train to be mauled by a bear.

It might be that I'm not getting enough time alone, it might be that I don't spend time at social events at night because she's still breastfeeding to go to sleep so I can't stay out late, it might be that I've just always been sad. Or it might be that I'm not worshipping the goddamn miracle that is my amazing kid. I'm wanting to reach out to people I don't know, forever in search of a friend, when I've got someone who will dance to Arlo Guthrie and Modest Mouse, who will hold onto my back like a koala while we walk around town together, who will eat pickles and dolmas and radishes and olives and all other bitter and sour foods my own wife despises.

Then why do I feel stunted in some way? All we want are our favorite people to stick around, so why do I feel so brokenhearted? 

Because everything about her is familiar? Is it the way she deliberately doesn't listen to me? The way she insists on doing things like cutting paper and pouring her own water herself? The way I can see me in her, all the things I hate about myself? My raging curiosity coupled with the inability to follow through with a passion once I hit something along the path I don't like? Watching every kid walk away from her because she is hyper and takes every action too far? What is it? Is it just that I wish someone else could live with me and Christina and watch her while I leave all day and live in Los Angeles and work on movies all day long? 

If I occasionally think that my decision to have her wrecked my chances of being a successful actor, then why the hell do I check her donor's vial availability every week? Why do I want another little person if I feel torn in half on a daily basis? Resenting your kid, loving your kid, is all weird, nonsensical stuff, illegitimizing everything I think about being a parent. Or maybe defining it. I don't know, and I don't know why I want more. At the moment, it's just important to recognize that this feeling exists, and it's okay to feel it regularly. It's okay to feel pretty much anything regularly, even that you might leave your entire life behind if Jared Leto asked you to.