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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Raw

This will be probably one of the most real posts I've made in a long time. I typically tend to lean toward the humorous side of things, but this one is probably not a feel-gooder. But definitely necessary.

When I was a new mom I listened to all kinds of wise women tell me to not "lose myself" when becoming a mom. "Take time for yourself. Don't forget who Mandy is," they said. I nodded and agreed, but honestly had no idea what that meant.

Now, four kids (in less than 5 years) later, I can say that I know what it means. Like...really know what it means. I think I am either on the verge of or completely over the cliff of "losing myself." How did I come to this conclusion? Probably right about the time I found myself standing at the kitchen sink bawling while I washed baby bottles (for the hundredth time that day.)

I don't even know what spawned this episode. I was fine. Actually feeling pretty good about things; I'm only a few months away from graduation and all of my toughest classes are behind me, the kids and I finally got out of the house today after a week of being sequestered due to colds, the snow is melting and I can see grass again, the house is in pretty decent order, the laundry is progressing, and we have some great things happening to our house as far as renovation that will make it look and live so much better. So why then was I standing there snotting at the kitchen sink???

I'm gonna blame it on the hormones.

My poor little guys. They didn't know what to make of me. They hate to see me upset, so they kept giving me hugs, which only made me feel worse.

I know that this is the life I've chosen--to have so many kids, so close together--and I would not change ONE SECOND of it for ANYTHING. Honestly.

But having said that and getting that disclaimer out of the way, this is BY FAR the toughest thing I have ever done. Being a mom. Being a mom times 4.

Everyone is quick to tell you to "take time for yourself," but who jumps in to make sure you can? When mom is the CEO of the household (which includes the titles of administrator, banker, chef, nurse, coach, referee, janitor, maid, mentor, and accountant, among many other things) and so many rely on her doing all of her jobs, all to the very best of her ability, all the time, who does she lean on? Who's her "up-line"? 

I realize I probably sound like I'm whining here. Probably because I am. But I have to get this off my chest. And I have a feeling that I'm not alone in feeling this way. But it's the hardest thing to admit.

I'm not superwoman.

There. I said it.

Phew.

I'm tortured with all these feelings of guilt for even complaining when there are so many who have it worse. There are so many who would give anything to have babies. I know this, and my heart breaks for them. But I have to get it out. I have to talk about it or it will continue to eat me alive. I don't really want to smile and sweep it under the carpet anymore. At least not today. That may change tomorrow after I wake up and my hormones have fluctuated back to normal.

I also feel guilty for telling Joe because he works so hard...he has LONG days and gets to come home to hear me complain. He feels obligated to then take over with the kids, but that's not exactly fair either. When is his "me" time? Do you see the battle that wages inside my head on a daily basis?

Yes, I know I'm neurotic. I was actually, officially told that by a therapist once. I've embraced it.

So, here and now I am making a pledge to myself and to the women who will be in my life after my kids are grown. I hereby pledge to be the woman who swoops in and rescues them. Maybe just for a few hours once a month, but I will. I will pop in and tell them to go out shopping or to get a coffee while I play with/watch the kids, do their dishes, make lunch/dinner, and tidy up. I will go over to their house and make them prop their feet up when they're pregnant while I fuss over them by serving them tea and toast as they relax. I'll tend to the nitty gritty daily stuff so they can have a moment to breathe. I will call at least once a week to see how they are and to allow them to vent about all the stuff that they feel too guilty or embarrassed about to say to anyone else. I will send them little cards of encouragement that say "Hold on, you WILL get through this" and mail it or drop it off so they get something pretty and sweet to brighten their day. I will buy them flowers so they can feel appreciated when their harried husband is too busy and stressed to do it himself. I will take the kiddos to my house to play so she can actually get something accomplished in one sitting from start to finish. Or maybe so she can just sit down and enjoy her own home without constant interruption, questions and needs. Maybe she'll take a delicious nap or catch up on some DVR'd shows that have been on the cue for months.

I plan to do this for my daughter, my nieces, my daughters-in-law and anyone else I know.

I will.

Because it's what I have longed for for so long. Some who know me have heard me say I'm waiting for June to come over. June being June Cleaver, of course. I'm not actually looking for June Cleaver to come over in her heels, dress and pearls. Don't be silly. She can wear sneakers.

But I desperately want her to come.

Don't get me wrong. I have an abundance of people in my life who love me and care for me and who would do anything for me. But there are a few things that stand in the way of them doing what I'm asking...

*They (unfortunately) all have lives and responsibilities of their own (what the...???)
*My side of the family lives far away
*All those who truly understand what it's like have children of their own and are in the same boat
--and most importantly--
*No one knows how I really feel because I don't let it show. I've got it all figured out. At least that's the picture I [try to] paint. And then I laugh about the struggles. The sad part is, I'm not just laughing about those struggles.

Unfortunately for me, no one in my circle of friends or family has mastered the fine art of mind reading, so getting support actually requires that I open my mouth and *gasp* say something. That's just too much to consider.

If someone approaches me about this, I'm sure I will poo-poo it and blame it all on the hormones while chuckling about how silly I am.

Maybe.

Or, it could be just the right timing and I will dissolve in a puddle of tears.

Tread lightly.

Anyone out there feeling this way, please bottle this feeling so you don't forget what it's like. And dare to make the same pledge I am. When the time comes, and you're in a place in life that allows it, reach out and be someone's lifeline. Be that raft in the middle of her turbulent ocean. Insist on it because no matter how trying it is to have this pressure and responsibility constantly on her shoulders and no matter how desperately she wants needs a break, it will be hard for her to actually take you up on it. It's one of life's mysteries, the apron strings...

And even if they don't...although I know they will...I thank you. For caring enough to help her scrape back together a few pieces of herself so she can be a better wife, mom and woman.

*Image compliments of Google images

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21 comments:

  1. Oh sister. I am sorry you felt the brunt of this today. I mean I know you feel it everyday but today especially. You are in excellent company my dear. I feel myself resenting my friends who have family support when they need it and even when they don't. What I wouldn't give. I know you live your kiddies and your hubby but it is all so overwhelming sometimes.

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  2. Definitely know what you are feeling. Especially about that being torn between asking your husband to help and giving him me time. I don't want to take away all of his "me" time, but I also am stuck with the understanding that even though he may be at work he is getting to be himself or something other than a dad, where I almost never get to be in a place where I can be anything other than a mommy. I am especially feeling this now as it has been many months since I have been able to get out just me and my husband. Family support sounds very nice right about now, but I guess its not too far off. Can't wait for the day where we can drop the kids off with Grandpa and Grandma and have a couple of hours to watch a movie, eat dinner in peace, or even just take a nap. LOL. Love you and look forward to being closer.

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  3. hey babe, i am off work tomorrow and have no plans but to play with rylee. if u want me to come over for a few hours so you can get out i will, no problem, seriously!

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  4. Thanks for being so honest...You are human...You are going to feel like this sometimes...We all do. Don't beat yourself up. Seriously, it is okay. I'm praying for you and hope you have a better day today! Don't feel silly either:)

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  5. Ok where do I start..I think I will just send you an email. This is too long to write...

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  6. Thank you, Amy. It's so nice to know I'm not alone in feeling this way. Thanks for the prayers...ALWAYS appreciated!

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  7. Sara, as a new mommy yourself, (not to mention working!!!) you probably feel this way sometimes, yourself. I am here for you too if you ever need a few minutes to yourslef. THANK YOU!!!!

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  8. Lori, thank you. I KNOW I'm not alone, but I just think we, as moms who are required to have it all togther all the time, don't talk about it enough-at least not candidly. We make little comments or say things in jest, but this is real stuff. I think, FOR ME, I feel like I'm failing when I admit that I struggle. Thank you for commenting. I knew I could count on my Mommy Friend! =)

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  9. Linds...just you wait! When you FINALLY get here in a few months, I will shower you with free time. My plan, all along, has been to take the kiddos for you often so that you can have some free time. Can't wait! Love you!

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  10. Mandy, I sure know how you feel. Been there, and I'm still there a lot. I only have two kids, but I also deal with a chronic condition that leaves me at about 30% of the energy I used to have. There are times when you MUST say enough is enough, I will swallow my pride and ask for help. As wonderful as you are, I'm sure there is someone nearby that can step in for a little while. Even if you need it today, knowing you have help tomorrow makes today more bearable. Please try to remember that this is a season in your life, and it will pass, all the good and the bad. I pray you'll be held up by God's strength today.

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  11. Oh I definitely cannot wait, especially after last night. I want to beat my daughter. She was put down for bed at 7, woke up 9, was awake until 1 am (she fell asleep on her bedroom floor next to the door), Killien woke up to eat at 3, I checked on Maddie as I was pretty sure she fell asleep on the floor, put her back in bed, went to leave and she woke up screaming again. She quickly quieted down out of pure exhaustion, but then Byron got up for pt at 5:30, Killien woke up again at 6:30, and Maddie was awake by 7:15. I definitely cried this morning. We are trying no tv today as she has been getting scared of things lately and I fear she may be getting overstimulated.

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  12. This was a refreshing honest post. I wish more blogger would write this way. Life isn't always about finding the humor in the moments. I have to work at doing that. There isn't a Mother out there that has not felt this same way at some point.

    You sound so much like me the "I can't ask for help I want them to know I want help" that part of my personality is easily the death of me. However, as I've grown older and as my children have grown I have realized how important it is to ask for help. Not always from my partner or husband, but from family or a local support group (MOPS Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) is one around here.

    Just don't think you are alone, you are not.

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  13. Laura, thank you so much!! Your words mean more to me than I could say. It's so nice to know that others really do understand. I appreciate hearing from you! (and knowing that you indeed made it through!!)

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  14. Bethany,
    Thank you! I had no idea about your condition. I can't imagine what that would be like. My energy is sapped even when I start at 100%. I wish we lived closer and could help each other out! =)

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  15. Oh, Linds...my heart aches for you. Knowing I understand might be SOME comfort, but it doesn't give you help...I so cannot wait until I can walk the talk...

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  16. I look forward to watching your kiddos for you too. I miss them all and am excited to be moving close. Heck even just a get together where the kids can play and we can vent is nice. We can plug our ears and close our eyes and pretend that they aren't there for a few seconds, LOL. That is until all hell breaks loose and then we must go back to being moms.

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  17. Mandy, I just returned home from a rejuvenating weekend at the Hearts at Home conference and I thought of you often. I just read this post on Thursday night when I got to my hotel and it's been so busy that I have not had the chance to respond to you.

    Every mommy feels this way at some point, Mandy. In fact, the entire weekend, as I was sitting in these workshops with wonderful Christian women who were brave enough to be real, I found myself wishing you with me listening to all of it so you know that you are so not alone. You are absolutely not alone.

    No, you can't be superwoman. You can't do it all. You are not supposed to. Reach up. He can do it all and He will.

    Put this verse by your kitchen sink, sister. It helps tremendously.

    Matthew 11:28-35
    Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

    Hang in there, girl. I've had days like this many o' times. You are not alone.

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  18. I feel this way sometimes too and I only have 1 kiddo. It is hard to have an identity and purpose outside of "Mom" but you always have your identity and purpose in Christ, as his precious child!
    www.dixondialogue.com

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  19. I just LOVE Mommy On Fire's verse she shared. I know it by heart, but it was so great to re-read.

    Meanwhile, Mandy... HOW THE HELL did I miss when you posted this? WTH??? Sorry about not responding sooner. Lemme guess, you wrote this the same day you texted me with a similar sentiment.

    What you need is for at least 1 of your kids to go off to preschool (elem. school, even better!) where you get a LITTLE Mandy time. I honestly canNOT imagine having some time to myself. Yes, I work -- which sorta sucks... can't lie... but it does allow me to HAVE mommy time. But for the 1st 2 years in business, i wasn't making any money... we were just spending it on hired help, which was a double edged sword. talk about GUILT!

    It's funny, all I ever wanted was to be a stay at home mom... and say often that if Dave made enough, I would NOT work. Although, then I couldn't work from Starbucks 2-3 hours a day. MY SAVING GRACE! Another saving grace is afternoon (during the WITCHING HOURS!) playgroups w/friends in similar situations. The kids play together, and we complain to each other, without being judged! I have a GREAT feeling about the new area where you're going. Once your oldest is in Kindergarten (or homeschooled, whichever path you choose!), you'll feel a piece of accomplishment each day. A smidge more than you do now. That is, if you decide to send your little man to public school.
    If you choose Homeschooling -- and honor, admire,and worship those who do -- I would imagine there really wouldn't be downtime at all. I honestly can not imagine. If that makes me a terrible mother for saying that, I guess I have to run that risk.

    Just pray pray pray that God gives us the knowledge and appreciation for the job he has us in right now... and that we learn to deal with our hormones, headaches, and confusion about "exactly" how to feel. I want to remember all of this time w/our kids... but I'm often too overwhelmed TO EVEN THINK!

    Sorry if this didn't make too much sense. I'm sorta just writing my thoughts down, unedited!!

    Hugs!! Know that IF I WERE IN PA, we would totally do "the swap" like 2x a week... I have ur and my kids (all 8) all day one day... (when you have "off"), and then we swap. HOW GREAT does that sound!?!?!

    Do you think we'd get fined my the Fire Marshall if he walked into one of our houses when this "swap" was taking place!?!?!

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  20. I soooo know exactly what you are going through. People assumed that because we live with my in-laws I had a ton of support when Jillian was born. Not so AT ALL! In fact, I felt more alienated then I did during my first baby's early months. I had June living next door, actually two of them. They were wonderful. During the first two weeks of Josie's life they brought lunch and dinner, without fail, on a beautiful tray, and most of the time, with flowers wrapped with an adorable bow. It was awesome. I miss them. Mandy, you must make time for yourself. Seriously. You gotta do it. If I lived near you I would soooo come releave you. But I don't. I'm sorry. It will get better. I love you.

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