Is it just me, or is being a parent eerily similar to being stalked?
Seriously, think about it. The loss of privacy is staggering: in my own home, there is no guarantee that I will be able to use the bathroom, take a shower, get dressed, or sleep without some tiny person barging in and either a) interrogating me about what is taking place, b) attempting to join me, or c) inexplicably crying. There are people pulling my dirty laundry out of my hamper. Wearing my underwear around their necks. Going through my garbage. It’s enough to make a person paranoid.
I’m reminded of a conversation I had with an old friend several years ago. We were catching up on each other’s lives, and he had recently moved in with his girlfriend. “How’s that going?” I asked. “It’s okay,” he replied. Then, after a pause, he continued. “It’s just that… she’s always there, you know?” Needless to say, the relationship did not last.
Obviously breaking up with my kids is not an option, nor is reporting their repeated violations of my privacy to the authorities, but I have to admit, nothing makes me grumpier than feeling like I’m being held hostage in my own home by two people whose greatest weapons are their lung capacity and their superhuman ability to resist my will. Most days I feel like I work my butt off trying to create a scenario in which I will have two minutes to myself. (Oh, and remember how I used to want to stay at home? That notion is more hilarious to me with every passing summer day.)
Here’s the other thing about having no privacy: My children are watching and learning during every second that we spend together. My three-and-a-half-year-old retains EVERYTHING. Anything I do or say may be repeated to friends, teachers, or other acquaintances, and most likely taken completely out of context. No moment of the day is off the table, from putting on my makeup in the morning (“What’s this?” “Mascara.” “Why you wear it?” “To make my eyelashes darker.” “Why?” “Because I just like them that way!”) to every ounce of food or drink I choose to ingest. I find myself sneaking candy to hide it from her rather than deal with explaining why mommy can have half a bag of gummy bears when I wouldn’t think of letting her do the same thing. And if she walks in on me during my attempt, I invariably end up giving her a couple because I look and feel so guilty.
I try to put a positive spin on it by telling myself that my kids’ omnipresence makes me more accountable as a person and a parent. I think, a day will come when they will be independent and won’t want to follow their mom around like ravenous puppy dogs, and when that day comes I’ll miss that feeling of being constantly needed, of having children hanging from my clothes and threatening to pants me every time I’m wearing a garment without a button or drawstring. Or I simply cheer myself up with the notion of waiting ten years and getting revenge, because after a decade of learning how to sneak away from them, I am going to be a boss at sneaking up and embarrassing the crap out of them.