Parenting Is Not “Rewarding.”

People love to tell you that it is, but how is parenting a reward? And what is it a reward for, fertility? When you put your kids to bed at night, what’s the prize? They’re just going to get up again in the morning, and they will probably be hungry. For a person as emotionally immature as myself, this is not what I have in mind as fair compensation for a hard day’s work as a parent. No wonder I masturbate so much.

Today when I close my eyes all I can hear is the building cacophony of the word “Mommy?” Every time I leave the room, “Mommy?” When I try to text someone “Mommy?” In the bathroom “Mommy?” It feels more like a punishment; a sensory overload I am plagued with because of a couple of shaky decisions a decade or so ago involving my uterus and sperm.

This cannot be my life, I think daily, at the same time as I rise to the occasion of teaching my boys how to get along, helping them with their homework and of course, the endless feedings. I feel good about contributing to their growth and well-being, I find myself knowing instinctively how to advise them, and of course this is satisfying. I know they trust me, confide in me and need me, but “rewarding” it isn’t. It’s just a triumph of “doing what you have to” but managing it with a modicum of grace.

If only there was a game show host appearing in my living room, after I’ve handled a particularly hard moment without losing my temper, saying, “Mom sure handled that well, let’s see what she’s won…”

A screen would descend over the couch…

“Hawaii?” I gush, “I’ve always wanted to… but who will take care of my kids?”

“Well, with recent technology we have been able to clone you mom, so your kids won’t even know you’re gone.”

“You’re going to replace me with a robot? But won’t my kids notice?”

“Our research shows that children are far too self-absorbed to notice such fine points,” assures the host, “Robot mom shall be an effigy, close enough to the original not to arouse suspicion.”

Off to Hawaii I would jet, grateful that I no longer have a husband I have to fool with my electronic replacement (though it is doubtful he would have noticed either.) In reality by the time I drop into bed some nights, having tended to cuts and grazes, stuck to boundaries over tears and whines, and picked up crap ad nauseum, I feel that I have already been replaced, and I am no longer me at all.

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