Do Parents Have The Right to Feel Overwhelmed?

September 9, 2015

I find myself feeling guilty about feeling exhausted by having four kids. I find myself getting defensive: Yeah, I know, If I didn't choose to homeschool them, If I didn't choose to be obsessive over their nutrition, If I balanced my life better, If I had obtained the right sort of therapies for my kids and me, If I managed my stress better, If I didn't choose to be a stay at home mother, if if if...then I could occupy myself with something more legitimately useful about which I could stress, like a Successful/Ambitious Career! Got it. You're right, I'm definitely not Living Up to My Potential.

Judging by the ways our society compensates and supports parents, it certainly is easy to feel like I'm spending most of my life absorbed in an only-semi-useful hobby.

But even if it's true that I've made/am making poor choices, I do happen to be human! This is what I've been telling myself lately. And therefore I am inherently fallible! And also possessing finite levels of energy. So isn't it actually _ridiculous_ to feel guilt over how I feel? Actually, it sort of follows that it's ridiculous to blame ANYONE for feeling overwhelmed about anything, ever - the feeling of overwhelmption is simply a reflection of a particular person's experience at a particular time.

Is there something that makes one person's overwhelm more Valid than another's?

It is certainly easy to note that If I had employed some method of birth control other than the method that - ahem - we used last year (or If I had chosen not to have kids at all!), then I wouldn't currently feel stressed by having four kids. But does that mean that I am morally inferior to someone who Accurately Employed their Birth Control, or that they are more legitimately entitled to feeling overwhelmed than I am??

(By the way, I don't know the answers to these questions.) (Do you?)

I can't help but note that if someone gets cancer, nobody blames them for feeling overwhelmed. Even if they might have prevented their cancer by prophylactically eating better, exercising more, or managing their stress.

Not that my kids are like cancer! I'm just SAYING.

**End of partially-thought-through rant.**