On Parenting and Stockholm Syndrome


As I was packing for a friend’s wedding in Chicago, I was panicking.

I really hate to travel, even for fun, and leaving the kids for the weekend stresses me out. Even when they are staying with their grandparents who they stay with all the time. I can’t explain it, it’s just stressful.

I walked into the closet to swap out a pair of shoes – the ones I had grabbed the first time are a 3 drink minimum – they’re gorgeous but painful. When I returned, my then two year old had unpacked my entire suitcase and was now sitting in it…with a leaky diaper. The five year old entered the room in tears because her doll’s pacifier would not stay in the doll’s mouth and her wails were more in line with having a limb severed.  I could feel the pressure begin to fill my entire body – I was ready to explode.

And then I did.


There was yelling, moving of stuff and people, demands for cooperation, and begging for a break. I had two people that seemed to be enjoying the torture of not letting me complete my ever-growing to do list. I felt like I was a prisoner in lock down in my own house.  As I continued on my pursuit to pack, I began to picture myself on the plane. With a cocktail. And a book. And silence – or at least noise I did not have to care about. It was dreamy. It was the calming thought I needed to be able to get it together.

I was suddenly not stressed, I was so ready to get the hell out of that house.

Once the children (and dog) hand off to the in-laws was complete, I was in a great mood. We were alone and on the precipice of what was going to be an amazing weekend in a gorgeous city with college friends that we hadn’t seen in forever. As I settled in to read my book on the iPad, a calendar reminder popped up. It was one of the many I had set up to keep me from forgetting that my five-year-old has gymnastics on Tuesdays.  Oh. Gymnastics. She’s so cute in her leotard.  I pulled up a picture of her teetering on the balance beam, long legs wrapped in white tights and her pink leotard stretched tight over her tummy. I noticed how tall she was getting and how much her little face had thinned out with that growth spurt.

And suddenly, I was missing my captors.

The two little people that had literally almost pushed me to the point of needing the nice men in white coats with butterfly nets to come and move me to a soft, padded room. The two people who made sitting next to strangers in a tiny seat and recirculated air seem like a vacation. The two people that made me so mad, I thought my head was going to explode.

I want them. I want them right now.

I looked at my husband and told him how I was missing the kids. Knowing how I had been feeling just a few hours before, he looked a little perplexed but then agreed that he also missed them already.  It was then that I realized how much parenting sometimes feels like Stockholm Syndrome – when a captive sympathizes or even falls in love with their captor. My captors are two small people, who are incapable of driving a car, however they are completely capable of driving me crazy.

And I love them.


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