Resentment is a pretty damn dangerous emotion to give in to but one that, as parents, we inevitably have to deal with at some point, on some level. Some very selfless people may be able to banish any resentful thoughts as soon as they raise their ugly little heads, but most of us fall victim to this insidious little soul-worm occasionally.
In recent weeks, it’s something I’ve had to struggle with. With a husband on tour for seven months, it’s pretty easy to seethe at home alone with a toddler while you imagine your husband waking up at whatever time he likes, going for a run whenever he likes, indulging in an extra beer or three whenever he likes. It was easy to forget that he was actually working and tired and bored of being on the road. It was also convenient for me to forget all that because my resentment and grumpiness wouldn’t have been nearly as justifiable if I had actually taken some time to empathise with him.
But let’s face it, empathy is in short supply when you can’t remember the last time you had a poo by yourself or showered without a Small joining you and pulling on your pubes.
The point is, resentment is natural. The problem is that it’s really, really, really destructive. In fact, on Monday I went to The Century Club on London’s Shaftesbury Avenue to attend The Pool‘s ‘Lightbulb Moments’ event hosted by my girl-crush Lauren Laverne. With inspiring female guests such as author Jessie Burton, jewellery designers Tatty Devine, Stemmete-founder Anne-Marie Imafidon and founder of the Violence Reduction Unit Karyn McCluskey.
All the women were inspiring but Karyn McCluskey’s story was hard to beat. She’s single-handedly responsible for reducing the murder rate in Glasgow by over half. If there’s anything to make you feel like an under-achiever, that’s it. But she said something really interesting about resentment:
Resentment is like swallowing poison and waiting for the other person to die.
It’s so easy, especially as mamas, to let resentment seep into our souls. We don’t even know it’s happening until we lose our shit at the most unexpected moment, over the most unexpected thing. Maybe you’re on maternity leave, maybe you’re feeling isolated, maybe you’re bored of coffee dates and soft play. Maybe you’re fantasising about eating lunch with both hands or having a solo-poo and then, you get a phone-call from your other half saying he’s probably going to be late home because he’s said he’ll make up the numbers in a five-a-side football game.
Cue emotional explosion.
It’s normal, it’s natural but it’s really, really exhausting to deal with. I wish I could end this post with a quick fix, a metaphorical stain remover for the soul. Unfortunately, I can’t. In my house the resentment evaporates after I’ve exploded then cried then talked. I’m working on figuring out a way to avoid the drama and when I have it I’ll be back to share it.
In the meantime, be gentle on yourselves and make it clear that unexpected football-dates are a risky relationship choice.