Wednesday, May 25, 2011

mommy fail (filtered)

I wrote this post earlier in the week. And then I posted it. And my stomach did some flip-flopping. I feared what I'd written could be taken the wrong way by my children, should they ever find my blog and comb over every word I've ever written.

I would never want to hurt them. Words from a stranger are one thing; words from the mouth of your mother are quite another. I know too well how it feels to hurt people with this blog.

And yet, I wanted to be able to share my raw emotions with my own online community, the people I trust to understand my struggles and celebrate my successes. I wanted to release the anxiety I was feeling and, to some degree, show other moms who might be reading that they aren't abnormal to feel stressed and exhausted and like a colossal failure at this job we call motherhood.

I have to find the balance. I have to remember to take those emotions and sit on them before engaging my fingers on the keyboard. That words, like toothpaste, can't be put back once they're out.

So I've decided to repost my original "Mommy Fail" post, but with a filter in place. I changed up some of the content but the message is still the same.

If you are a mom, and you've ever felt like everyone else probably likes their own kids more than you like your own (while at the same time knowing that no one loves their children like you love yours) then you might be able to relate.

Thanks for reading.


I really love reading about folks who get pregnant, are nearly giddy with anticipation of the arrival of their first child, then have the child and gush, "Thank you for making us parents! You are a miracle sent from God! We are so blessed!!!"

I am not being sarcastic. I do love reading it. I'm glad to know that there are at least some people in this world who do not call their children stupid or lazy, who give them coke and ho-hos for breakfast, and leave them alone at home to be responsible for themselves at the ripe old age of seven.

It makes me very sad when I see those stories on the news or read about those families on blogs. It shocks me to think that an adult, one who KNOWS BETTER, would treat a child that way.

But that is not what spurred me to write this post. What brought my fingers to the keyboard is reading that phrase, "Thank you for making us parents." I know the sentiment is sincere, but if I thought about it from the child's point of view, it's tantamount to the lottery board saying to the winner, "Thank you for buying a ticket! You allowed us to make your life better!"

This phrase has turned my day on its backside. I keep wondering... by being a parent... am I making their lives better, or are they making mine better?

I'm embarrassed to admit that usually, I fully believe it is the former and not at all the latter. And for what it's worth, I don't really think it's the former either. I think it's probably neither.

About 99% of the time, I look at being a parent as a JOB. And damnit if I don't have demanding bosses. Washing and folding 10 loads of laundry isn't a blessing. Steam cleaning pee off the carpet isn't a joy. Heck, even the stuff that SHOULD be fun, like taking a vacation, can be torturous with 5 children in tow. Being a parent is a juggling act. Accepting that chaos is my new normal is depressing. Putting myself last - simply because I am the only one I can seem to say no to - is extremely defeating.

I want to make my family happy. I want to create a loving, stable atmosphere. I want to have peace, smiles, and reasonable solutions. Instead I have nickels in the DVD player and tantrums in the aisle at Wal-Mart.

I love my children more than I ever thought I would or could. And yet at the same time, the more I am around them, the more I want to be alone. I thought I would embrace being someone who was NEEDED. But being needed by 6 people, usually more than one at a time, starts to make me feel like I am serving everyone else's needs and my own needs fall by the wayside. Nowadays, all I ever hear myself saying is, "Can you do that without me?" And it's not because I want to watch my children practice the skills I've taught them about being self sufficient; it's because I'm sick to death of hearing, "Mom I can't find the peanut butter. Where is it? I've looked, I swear!" (and then I look and OMG no wonder you couldn't find the peanut butter. It's on the 3rd shelf instead of the 4th shelf. I mean, it's a whole 8 inches below where it normally is. And no, I didn't put it there just to give you grief.)

I live for nap times. I eagerly look forward to bed time. I no longer flinch or even bat an eye at paying a babysitter more than I think I should, in order to allow me time to put two thoughts together without being interrupted. 

Home has become a place that makes me feel anxious and safe at the same time. When I stay home, I know my kids won't beg me to buy them something. They won't get lost or kidnapped or hit by a car. They have plenty of toys to play with. Knowing those things makes me feel secure. But my house is also where I find the constant reminders of all the things I haven't done because I don't have the time or the money to get them finished. Maybe it's painting a room, maybe it's mending a hole in some pants, maybe it's engaging in a fun hobby. But I see the reminders sitting around the house (the paintbrush, the thread and needle, the scrapbooks) and I think, "I'll do it after I clean up this pile of toys. After I make everyone some lunch. After I take this pile of clothes up to the attic. After..."

I know I'm in "this season of life". I know it won't be this way forever. I get it; and I know I willingly signed up for this! Being a mom is what I always wanted to do, so why am I complaining? I also feel like I have the power to choose being happy instead of choosing to be bitter. I get that too. But I wonder if maybe I just don't have the skills. Maybe I need to learn HOW to deal with my frustration. Maybe if I read the right book, follow the right advice, practice the methods from the popular psychologist, maybe I will look at parenting as less of a JOB and more of a JOY. But even the thought of reading a book makes my head hurt. I barely have time to buy bread and eggs. I sure as heck don't have time to read books.

It is too easy to slip into the blame game: blaming every bad thing in my life on being a parent. Don't have time to read books? It's because of being a parent. Not enough money to take vacations? It's because of being a parent. My body has stretch marks and I have no energy left? It's because of being a parent. Can't keep my house in good repair? It's because of being a parent. That's just not healthy. Blame is never a good answer to my emotions. I know I can't control how I feel, but I know I can control how I act on them.

And that... THAT... is what tips the scale. That's what makes me say, "OHH-KAAAYYY. Time to STEP. AWAY. FROM. THE. PITY. PARTY." The moment I start placing my bad feelings on someone or something else by blaming them, then I am essentially taking the power away from myself to heal myself. I am saying, "I can't feel any better than this because it's out of my control." Bull. I know lots of moms who are doing a lot and surviving. I also know a lot of moms who are doing less and struggling. I just need to find my resolve and quit believing that anything good doesn't come without the price of a lot of hard work.

This has been my cycle recently: Feel great. Do lots and work hard. Start to get exhausted & begin feeling unappreciated. Do less. Find dissatisfaction with myself. Find fault with others. Pay less attention outwardly and instead focus more attention inwardly. Ignore others and micro-focus on myself. Feel like I'm about to snap because my own needs aren't being met. SNAP at my husband or kids or unsuspecting grocery clerk. Have a good cry. Snap out of it. Feel better.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Children are a blessing. It is absolutely true. If I had to go back and do it all over again, knowing what I know now, I can't say I'd do it different. I also can't say I'd do it the same. I don't know what the unknown holds in store. I don't know if I'd spaced my children out if I'd have had an easier time or harder. I don't know if I'd had only 3 kids instead of 5 if I would have done the things I have done. Maybe my life would be better in some ways and worse in others. Who knows? But trying to wish away what's already here is like ignoring the potential of how great it could be.

That's what I've got to hold on to. And so that's what I'm going to do. Because when I look at where I'm starting out, I'm already ahead of the game.

Texan Mama


Elaine A. said...

I'm trying to figure out what to say here since I was nodding my head the whole time you wrote this. I guess that means I get it. I SO get it.

And as usual, I appreciate your honesty. xoxo

Jen said...

I can completely relate.

I am glad that you shared this post because someday when you kids are parents and you share this with them, they too will understand.

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

I don't believe you are complaining. I believe you are telling us about your life, and sometimes your life is quite hard.

I am starting to think of a blog post to write in reply/response though.

Let me ruminate on that for a while.

Tara R. said...

There are days when I am so tired, of everything. I just can't bring myself to wash another dish, or fold another shirt. All the drama, all the medical issues. It's all too much and I seriously worry I'm going to drown in it. Then there are days when I am almost overcome by how blessed I am to have the family I have.

I get this too.

Gigi said...

Oh sweetie! Here's the thing - no one tells you before you have children that it is a JOB. It is a JOY, without a doubt. But first and foremost it is a JOB - because, seriously, who ELSE is going to find the peanut butter, or the shoe, or the homework or whatever? And the JOB - it can be exhausting and on some days it will suck the very life out of you. Yes, you are in a season - and eventually the season will change. But when you finally reach that next season I can promise that when you look back you will (mostly) only see the JOY.

And for now? Seriously, if you need to vent, rant, cry, whatever and feel you can't do it here - email me. I'm always willing to listen, console and offer advice if needed. I know it's hard. Hell, I've only got the one and he's older, but it's STILL hard (and from what I hear from parents with adult children even THEN it's hard. Apparently, it never stops). Being a mom is the single most hardest and yet rewarding job ever. You are doing a great job and I know that when you look back you will see the joy. xo

allison, a flea circus said...

my friend forwarded me your post. all i can say is that you are saying all the things i say, want to say, wish i could say, get condemned for saying, praised for saying, and love you, although we've never met...i love you for this. there must be a spiritual connection. we have four children, but every word you say is one i've felt, said, prayed, cursed, regretted, lamented, appreciated, etc.

thank you for saying what you do. you should never have to feel backlash from being so honest. i think moms are just afraid of their very selves. we shouldn't be. we should just be real.

buffi said...

Yes, yes, yes, yes AND....yes.

I could have written every single word of this. Except, um, that I have three kids instead of five. But the two boys together are like four most of the time, so it SEEMS like five. Maybe? But then your gang probably seems like seven or, uh...when did this turn into algebra?

Thank you for this fantastic post. you got it exactly right. At least for this Texas mom. We gotta stick together...

misssrobin said...

This post is a beautifully honest rant. One I would guess most moms have had. I believe all moms have felt this way, but some of them won't allow themselves to admit it. Thank you for your honesty.

I love that you talked it all out and then came to a decision. You're so right that blaming others gives away your own power. You already said you know that you have the power to change things, even if it's only your attitude for a while.

I hope today is a brighter day. I hope at least one of your kids does or says something nice for you.

If not, let me. You are a wonderful woman doing a great job. It's tough and it hurts because you care so much. But you are capable of great things. And I believe that you have dedicated yourself to the most important thing you will ever do -- be a mom!

Anonymous said...

I am having this kind of week and I totally understand. Plus, I envy that you consider how your kids would feel if they read your blog. I am afraid I use mine as an outlet and assume that they will never read it.

Karen said...

Being a mom is tough. It is good to air it and know you are doing the best you can. I love that picture. You are so pretty!

Beth Zimmerman said...

Found you through a post that Ellie wrote in response to this one. I'm so glad that she referred me to you because I LOVE finding truly HONEST bloggers! Parenting is hard work that requires a LOT of sacrifice and some days it's just plain painful! Saying so is a whole lot more real than leaving the impression of a perfect life with no trials! Thanks for sharing. And for sharing with honesty!