Tuesday, May 3, 2011

C'mon, Get Happy

This is me.

I don't like my smile. My lips are super-thin and my teeth are too short for my mouth. I REALLY hate my nose, like in a crazy way. I never thought much of it, until I realized that I got the same nose as my dad. It seems to have grown more as I've gotten older, and not in a good way.

I also don't like my chin. Or my fingernails. I'm running out of things I can hide from you, and still show you a picture of myself.

I know it's not good to hate one's self. I don't really HATE myself so much, but I definitely do not like myself, as is evident by the way I treat myself. I fuel myself on diet Coke and candy (embarrassingly, quite often). My exercise regimen is a distant memory. I don't get enough sleep. And when it comes to being a SAHM, well, my kids aren't my main focus these days.

I dream of simple things: using the toilet without being interrupted to open a granola bar wrapper... driving in the car and listening to one song, beginning to end... getting a full night's sleep... eating a meal in which I don't have to get up to retrieve rags to wipe a spill... I don't want to have angry feelings about these things. But I also don't want to be resentful that *I* am the last person who ever gets their needs met in our house. It does happen, but it's always at the very bottom of the list of priorities. If we have time. If there's enough money. If nothing else gets scheduled. If.

Do you ever feel like you're just ... existing? That's how I have felt for a while. Like, my days just melt together, one into the next. One isn't any more remarkable than any other. I don't really have anything to look forward to. Disappointments become like second nature to me. Roll with the punches. Ride out the storm. All those good cliches.

I know, I know. I'm a mom. I'm taking care of my kids. I'm meeting their needs and hugging them and helping with homework and taking them to Sunday School and making them brush their teeth. I'm doing it because I love them and they need me and we are a family. But life is supposed to be filled with joy. I know, find the joy in the little things, right? It's just getting exhaustive finding joy in things like "my toddler wiped her own butt today" and "I don't have to defrost the chicken today because I actually forgot to put it in the freezer yesterday."

I can almost feel my flaws being dumped on my children. Today my toddler said, "Mommy, you don't play with me." No, I don't play hide & seek for 3 hours, or Memory all afternoon. And I can only color so many My Little Pony coloring pages before I vomit a rainbow. But still those words crush my heart. They are a reminder of how my mom didn't play with me either (or so I believed), and I always remembered it. And so will my daughter remember about me.

I used to be a spunky optimist. Now I feel like a cynical pessimist. I want to be happy but forcing myself to be that way seems so fake. Like, if I just tell myself enough times how wonderful everything is that I'll forget how long it's been since I actually felt relaxed.

Maybe I'd even remember how to smile. A girl can always dream.

Texan Mama


misssrobin said...

I think this is one of the most beautiful posts I've read in a long time. It is beautiful because it is truth and it is from your heart and soul. It is beautiful because it is a gift to so many other women struggling with the same thing. It is beautiful because it is brave to open yourself up and admit things that others might judge, and that you judge yourself.

Thank you for being brave and sharing this. I hope you find the sunshine again soon. You are beautiful. And radiant, even through the dark clouds.

And I love all the pictures of yourself. Especially the one with your chin in your hand. Oh, how that one spoke to me.

Whether you feel it right now or not, YOU ROCK!

blessedintexas said...

Thank you for this post. I only have two kids but one is a very active strong-willed 7 year old boy and the other is an exhausting two year old girl who is constantly testing boundaries with her defiance and destruction of any semblance of cleanliness and organization around her.

I homeschool them so they are with me every moment of every day. I'm tired and my to do list is over the top. There is no way a person can get done all the things that I'm supposed to get done each day. I really really understand where you are coming from and your post hit close to home for me. I was thinking this just recently that I don't smile nearly as much as I used to. It made me really sad. It's just hard to smile though when I've got the next 10 things I need to do floating around in my head.

But as moms we do need to take care of ourselves and we need to find time for a break to replenish our souls. Because when we are worn down and tired, we have nothing left to give to our children...those sweet faces who look to us for their every little need and for their happiness and their feelings and thoughts about themselves and their worth.

We always put kids first but if we won't take care of ourselves for our own benefit then we need to take care of ourselves FOR THEM.
So take a break, catch your breath, sleep a few minutes longer, and find that smile that you can share with your kids.

Thanks so much for your post. Now if only I put my own words into action!

Gigi said...

First, we never see ourselves the way others see us. I look at you and see a beautiful, strong, courageous woman.

Second, I think we all go through periods of "just existing" - I know I have (and am right now)! Everyday life can be so routine and tedious. Keep pushing through and you will find that spunky optimist again. xo

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) said...

This really tugged at my heart. I feel for you sister. Since I only had one child, I can't feel with you--especially since you've seen a picture of him and you know he can open his own granola bar!

My deepest thought is to remember what I didn't understand, that Joy is what we get even in our darkest moments--Joy is knowing we each carry Christ within us.

But I worry you'll think I'm too preachy.

I do know, at school, I rate the day (most days) near the end of it, and I tell the kids something good that happened, even if the day was a six. It FORCES me to look for something positive.

But I also know that life can just sit there blob like sometimes. Blah.

I've pretty much given up soda, but never, ever candy!

Praying for you.

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El/e/Mrs. Seaman) said...

Oh, and I hate my nose, my teeth, and my THIGHS!

A.Marie said...

Great post!! And, btw, I think you are very pretty!

I totally understand how you feel. I have been feeling that way alot these days....*sigh*

Karen said...

You certainly aren't seeing yourself as I see you. OMG! You are beautiful!

Don E. Chute said...

I Ditto Karen. You look the fine Texas Lady!


SuzyQpon said...

What a wonderful post b/c its the TRUTH and not the fake "I love my kids and my husband and my house and the dirt and the chaos and sunshine in my behind, blah, blah, blah..." that a lot of people blog about or post on Facebook! I thank you for being so honest and letting me know that I am not the only one feeling this way. Today is my birthday and I woke up to "X kid has 3 Fs b/c he has been lying to us about doing his homework, again..." Great way to start any day let alone my birthday. Point is, I have been feeling sorry for myself for awhile now and today was heading for a full pity party and then I read your post. You found the words to say what I have been feeling and it uplifted me to know that I am not alone. Most of all, it reminded me that feeling this way is perfectly NORMAL! We aren't bad mothers or bad people - we are human and all of us feel overwhelmed or bored or tired or all of the above sometimes! So it's okay to take a step back, accept how we feel, develop a plan (even if the plan is as simple as lock the bathroom door and scream "no granola bars while Mommy's on the toilet") and move on. You and me and everyone else will find JOY again - probably sooner than we realize. :)

Jennifer said...

I think you are beautiful. All the way to your guts. Or whatever is inside you that makes you you. Because you are awesome. And you are so entitled to all of these feelings (except the nose and the teeth and the nails and all of that stuff, cut that stuff out). We all have these days... or weeks... or months. But then something magical will happen and we will see the simple joy that holds us over until the next time. Sometimes it lands in our laps, and sometimes we have to search for it. But it is always there.

nicole said...


I have been there too. I go back and forth. Thankfully I am usually out of that place fairly quickly, but I know that is not easy for so many women. Praying for a little uptick in your day today.

April said...

We ALL have walked a day (or TWO!) in your shoes...BELIEVE ME! I still recall when my girls were little and the days seemed to drag on FOREVER! There were times when I did well to get my shower by 5 PM, then I'd have myself a big pity party the moment my husband walked through the door. He just didn't understand how hard it was to be a stay-at-home mom...or so I thought. There were even a few times when I questioned whether or not I'd made the RIGHT decision about leaving my career to stay home with my girls.

Now, my girls are 19 and 14 and I'm having the opportunity to rediscover myself. I'm finding that I like myself pretty well, afterall, and I feel 100% confident that I did make the right decision to stay at home with them. Those are days I can never get back, but I've been there with them through it all and I'm grateful. So, hold your head up high when you look in the mirror. You are a beautiful person, through and through, and you're making a BIG difference in the lives of your children. Trust me...your day will come, then you'll long to have these days back, again.

siteseer said...

I'm so glad you didn't mention your smile or your dimples... talk about cute... was this post just to get compliments? :) I think this time of year we all get stuck. Spring/Summer is just around the corner.

Remember attitude is 95% of our life.

I love the following quote by
Sam Damon
Anton Myrer's Once an Eagle

"That's the whole challenge of life - to act with honor and hope and generosity, no matter what you've drawn. You can't help when or what you were born, you may not be able to help how you die; but you can - and you should - try to pass the days between as a good man."

I could go on and on, but I see that others have a lot of similar thoughts and have said them nicely. What's that country song? 'This won't last forever.' Having had children and now grandchildren I know how quickly it all passes except while you're in it. Hug them while you can (my daughter says she feels even guiltier when I say that.. not my intent).

Bridgett said...

I hated my nose and chin until I saw my grandfather in them and learned more about him and realized I was the only grandchild who looked like him and I felt ok about them. But I am not a pretty girl. And my teeth do not line up with my nose so my smile looks crooked when, in fat, it's my entire face. So I can dig that.

leslie@gleaninggrace said...

sometimes being honest about these "just existing" feelings are the first step to getting past them...you know acknowledgement and all that...
but maybe you're more of a realist than a cynical pessimist :-)
if I ever learn the secret to loving one-self, I'll be sure to share :-)
Hugs to you!

Anna See said...

Hey, girl! GREAT POST! You summed up so well how so many women feel.Low energy, at the bottom of the priority totem pole.

Gretchen, I wish I had more kids, but truthfully, I just didn't think I had it in me to deal with all of this for a protracted period of time. But you know what? When those well-adjusted, grown up kids of yours are surrounding your table at Thanksgiving, and filling your lives with grandchildren, I'll be with my tiny brood... and I'll be looking at your family longingly.

You are in the trenches. Things are hard.

I also get what you are saying about the candy, lack of exercise, and the diet sodas! I have a lot of free time now, but I haven't shaken the habits I got into when the kids were little. One change I have made is to substitute the diet soda (sweet elixir of life!) with tea. All plain tea, hot or cold, all of the time. That way I still get my constant stream of caffeince, but head feels a lot clearer now that I've made that one change.

Hugs to you!

thatgirlblogs said...

Holla. Long time listener, first time caller.

I have 5 kids. 3 by International Adoption. Lately, all I hear is that I'm a "saint," and people "don't know how I do it."


Not a Saint. Also? Barely doing it.

I felt (feel) the same way you do. Went on antidepressants. That made me more bearable to others, but didn't help me much. Created new problems, in fact.

I will say this -- getting out of the house is the only thing that helps. The longer you sit there blogging/reading/cleaning/whatever, the more resentful and overwhelmed you get. Just drive in the other direction sister. You can open granola bar wrappers under an umbrella at the beach just as easily as you can from the toilet.

Easier, even.

I just don't know that it ever ends. So we have to find a way to lift ourselves up and out.

Elaine A. said...

I think you are beautiful inside and out. I just feel like we get so bogged-down at this stage in our life when it really IS all about our kids.

And I so feel you on the part about dreaming about the "simple things." Even just those little things matter as mothers.

Thinking of you and hoping you have a good Mother's Day friend!

J said...

I only have two but they are both under two, I think it is awesome how you are coherent enough to blog so eloquently about this. I am encouraged by what April said about this difficult stage not lasting forever. I think that is all that keeps me going some days: this stage is not forever.

Melani said...

Texan Mama, where do I begin? Oh that you are a beautiful woman and I hope Texan Papa tells you that on a regular basis!

I can totally relate to this post, word for word...BUT I do get out of the house to walk (almost daily) and it does wonders for me and the kids. I put the 2 boys in the wagon and have the girls walk, we don't have to walk fast, but just to get out in the sun, and enjoy a walk around our neighborhood has always made me feel better.

I am defined by my kids and that isn't always a good thing. I wish I put ME first sometimes, but I usually put the kids first...

Just think, Mother's Day is just around the corner and I hope they let me be in my PJ's that day, no laundry to do, no dishes to wash, I want to do NOTHING and like it!