The Hamster Wheel That Is Parenting


I watch the wet grinder turn, the steel drum distorting my image as it moves. I watch mesmerized, catching a break in what has been an exhausting day. I take a moment to wonder why I feel like this almost all days and realize it is not one thing or one day. It is the constancy of it, the hamster wheel that is parenting.

It is when you reluctantly step into boots, wrap a scarf, wear a hat and shrug into those long woolen coats as your children run ahead of you into the fluffy clouds of snow at your doorstep. It is when you make snow balls and wonder if it is time to make lunch yet. It is in watching your kids agree happily to eating bread for breakfast and watching them lose momentum after taking two bites. It is when you wish you had gone ahead and made them dosa instead. It is when the clock shows 11:00 AM and you are busy chopping and sautรฉing and simmering just so the almost three-year old doesnโ€™t have a meltdown after a tiring morning in the snow.

It is in the grueling weight of expectations, in the endless piles of laundry, in the never-ending school work, in the dishes that pile up even when you decide to order in. It is in the alarm that goes off each morning in the pre-dawn hours, in the pressure you feel behind your neck as your child decides she must find that unicorn before school and you can almost hear the bus trundle in one of the roads behind yours. It is the pain in your back as you sit in a stiff backed chair as you coax your toddler to chew and remind your older children to take bigger bites. It is in the inevitability that food rules your life.

It is in the moments you scream before you click the camera, demanding that your child pose or look into the camera or stop pulling at her glove. In the moments before each picture you archive, the angst and disappointments that evaporate into thin air each day filling the pores of your skin and forming a shiny patina in the walls of your house. It is in those raised voices, the muted grief, the underplayed disappointment, the barely restrained anger. All those little things that you bury deep inside just to make space for the happy moments, the gap toothed smiles, the impromptu hugs, the rare flowers, the scribbled notes, the infrequent happy days.

This exhaustion is permanent, etching itself in lines on my skin, in folds of fat, in bags under my eyes. In the constant yearning for sleep, for absence of physical contact, for that elusive moment of silence in which I watch my distorted image on the wet grinder.

21 thoughts on “The Hamster Wheel That Is Parenting

  1. It really is always about food, isn’t it? My days seem to revolve around meals and snacks. The hamster wheel of parenting is a pretty accurate description!

  2. Haha! I absolutely relate to this post. Though I am a single guy, who has been eating out in hotels for the major part of my life, the recent days have found me wanting to shake up things a bit. So now my little apartment houses a few vessels, traditional coffee filter, milk cooker, induction stove and a pressure cooker.

    Right from going out to purchase milk, preparing decotion (always worried about the right proportion of water and powder), buying 1/2 kg dosa maavu from the telugu chap, soaking and cooking rice in the new wonder that is the pressure cooker, buying 1/4 kg sambar packets from hotels, frying eggs, making do with gun powder, honey and maggi sauce when the hotel guys bail out on the sambar packet…well, things do very much revolve around food. And not to forget the washing of the dishes which is altogether another chapter. But somehow there seems to be a kind of strange satisfaction in all this!

    Have found a new found appreciation for my mother and all women out there who have been doing these things at a much higher and far better level, consistently!

    Kudos!! I salute you all! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. You wrote what’s in my mind today. It can be very disillusioning when the first thing you do when you wake up is walk to the kitchen to start the various meals. I almost screamed in frustration this morning. I have a friend who says cooking is relaxing for her. I am seriously considering disowning her as a friend ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Mid-Jan to March are especially difficult – things ramp up on all fronts, it’s mostly work and no play, and not to mention the weather.

  5. How do you know my life? Now I am at work(and surfing) I am thinking about after snack and dinner and then an activity. My son will be up and ready to get up at 6.30AM tomorrow morning when he peacefully slept until 8 this morning. Endless cycles of putting away laundry(washing and drying doesn’t count as I do that good), cooking, cleaning and cooking and cleaning(zillion times), in between driving to activities and by the time hit the bed just to have the alarm goes off.. It is Hamster wheel. Longing for the summer back home where someone will cook for me and take care of things…

  6. Oh, for those good old days, Laksh. Despite the way it feels to you right now, there is an end to it. One phase follows another until, before you know it, you’re at the other end. I’ve just seen my last grandchild off to his first day of school. Life’s journey is just beginning for him, slowing right down for me. ๐Ÿ™‚ Enjoy.

  7. Lovely post….I can relate to this totally. Some days it’s really tough to accept that the first thing you do in the mornings is plan, or actively make food for the day…and keep doing the same stuff…repeating same set of instructions…year on year….Hamster wheel of parenting it is…

  8. I relate to this post. A lot of the work of parenting is very mundane. I’m trying to learn to take joy in the mundane, or at least stay present for it, but it’s a challenge.

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