12.15.2010

Real Mom Confession

Before I get all bloggy here, I have to set a couple of ground rules. I’m about to get pretty vulnerable, and I want to be very, very, very clear: I do not want sympathy. That is not the purpose of this post. So, you can put the violins away (unless you’re literally practicing your violin right now, in which case, don’t let me stop you). The reason I am sharing this is that I imagine that I am not the only one that feels this way. Maybe there are one or two other mothers in the world that feel this way, but it is really difficult to talk about without feeling like you are a) hosting a pity party for YOU, the guest of honor or b) being unappreciative of all you have been blessed with. While I can understand how this may sound like complaining, I assure you that's not the intention, it is simply making note of an episodic event in the life of a mother (this mother, to be exact). Usually, I tolerate anonymous comments with a tone of judgement or mocking (people are entitled to their opinion) - on this post however, it's not even worth it to post them because they will be deleted. I will not allow myself or anyone else to feel shamed for feeling the way I feel. Got it, cupcake?

With no further ado...

I have a confession to make. I don’t always love being a mom. Sometimes I don’t even like it. There is a whole ton of guilt that goes along with this feeling because God knows I’ve been through a whole lot in order to have kids that stick around here. Having lost one child to SIDS and another late in pregnancy, I cannot say that I value my children more than others, but I definitely value them differently with the heart of someone who has not only feared losing them, but experienced it. So, having the feeling of not loving and cherishing each moment with my kids, especially when I KNOW how fleeting they are, makes me feel… sad, angry, lonely, incompetent, lazy, self-centered… you can stop me any time. It’s a horrible feeling, but a real feeling. I LOVE my children, that is unwavering, but sometimes the act of being their mom isn’t exactly my pleasure.

I can go for months cruising along and enjoying (mostly) the natural chaos of my days (with the occasional hiccup). Even the really busy moments (when everyone needs something five minutes ago including myself, and usually what I need is 4 more arms, and an extra hour or two in the day) they can feel sort of humorous and once I am through them they feel like little victories. Then all of the sudden the grand emotion hits… Sometimes it can be directly attributed to something, (PMS, lack of sleep, Glee re-run), and other times I don’t know where it comes from. Sometimes I can feel it boiling up inside of me, and I can intervene (a solo lingering trip to Target aka Mommy’s Happy Place, a girls night out [this is where I give the Odd-Quad and my dance girls a loud shout], or a date with the hubby all seem to do the trick), and sometimes it feels like being rear-ended like a big ol’ Mack Truck that you never even saw coming.

Tuesday morning, it hit hard. Setting the stage: When you have three children, two of whom share everything (sleeping quarters, pacifiers, spoons, toys, each other’s hands, etc) bugs just get passed around like the sweet potatoes at the Thanksgiving table. So, when the stomach bug hit, it hit us hard. After a week of passing that around, we moved along to a colds and ear infections. By the time we were on the mend there, Minneapolis was hit with the second largest snowstorm in my lifetime. I was doing pretty well. Keeping a good attitude and plugging along with gusto, knowing that we’d come out on the other side some way or another. Until Tuesday morning, in the kitchen, over eggs. That’s when it occurred to me that this life that I wished for, this life that I have dreamed of since I was a little girl, this life that I thought would make me feel fulfilled and whole – is draining me. Even if I used all the snow that fell over the weekend here in the Land ‘O Lakes, I could not have built a snowball as big as the one forming in my head:

I have only been out of the house twice since Friday

I haven’t had a shower since Saturday

I am wearing the same clothes I had on yesterday

I can’t even eat hot food because everybody is screaming at me

Even if I wanted to go out I couldn’t because I don’t have a babysitter

Nor do I have the energy to look presentable

Plus I recently found out that I take a little more effort to be presentable than I once thought

I haven’t even had a haircut since the twins were conceived

Maybe if I took a nap… but I can’t nap and leave the kids unattended

But I swear I am going to run away from home if I have to ask the four year-old to stop “it” whatever “it” is one more time

But I can’t run away because all my clothes are dirty and I have to do laundry…

And on and on and on and on

You get the idea

And then, what can I do because I’ve been snowed in for 3 days, and it’s so cold outside that when the option of taking all the kids out in the cold and dropping them at “school” just to have an hour to myself and the option of keeping the very subjects of my temporary discontent in my midst all the live long day are equal evils?

See, it sounds like complaining. (I guess it is complaining.) As a rule, I can’t stand complaining, unless a plan is born from it. So far, my plan has been tears, because I can multitask with tears. Beyond that, I don’t know what my plan is… but I know I need one. The other night when we were out for a family dinner, we made casual conversation with a man who remarked on the fact that we had twins. He told us that he has five year-old twins. I think I must have spotted the Mack Truck putting on the gas for the eventful rear-ending right then because I said to him, “please don’t tell me about the hard parts, I don’t want to know.” His response, “you’re in the hard part.” I guess that’s the glimmer of hope that I need right now. It gets better. I know that this is what I signed up for. I think, though, when I signed up, I didn’t really realize how much of mySELF I would be signing away. I have grown so much more confident of who I am as a mother, but somehow lost touch with who I am as a person. I don’t even know what (if anything) I’m good at anymore, besides the fact that I change a mean diaper, and am a rock-star at microwaving hot-dogs (these are real world skillz). I hate to sound so hopeless, but I am being honest. Does this happen to everyone – and what do you do about it????? I need your advice, please, because I am paralyzed.

*Disclaimer: This moment will pass, it always does. I just thought… it’s easiest to capture the fluster when I am in it.

28 comments:

  1. Let me be the first to thank you for writing this post, today especially. I am sitting here watching little bear with my 3 year old because we are too tired to do anything else since he woke up before 5. My one year old was up during the night too, which isn't a surprise since she hasn't slept through the night ONCE since she has been born. So I am running on the usual 4 hours of sleep which I don't know how much longer I can do. It makes it worse since my car has been in the shop for two days so we won't be able to go anywhere today. My husband already left for work and won't be home until 6 so my day alone with my little love bugs is going to be 12 hours at least. I hate complaining too, but as you asked, one of the ways I deal with these hardest of days is to VENT to my friends that understand. I choose to never call it complaining. I also like to plan the girls night, go for a walk when my husband gets home, or lets be honest just crack a bottle of wine instead, breathe in and out, and most of all repeat like a mantra that some day I am going to REALLY want these years back. I won't even remember the hard parts and may even call this time the best time in my life. Thank you for making me feel not alone, not crazy, not as bad of a mom today. I am saying a little prayer for us right now that this day is full of unexpected ease and belly laughs. And call me if you want to come over! xoxo

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  2. I am glad I am not the only person who feels that way. It is very draining to be the mom...we are expected to be everyones everything and it is very hard. Never do you not want to be the Mom, but lots of times it is hard to like. You are so normal Colleen. I have had a tough kid year too. One kid hurt bad in an accident, one getting tonsils out. It is draining, difficult and sometimes not very darn rewarding.

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  4. I think every mom feels this way at times (and the ones who say they don't are lying;). For me, recognizing and acknowledging these feelings makes them go away faster, so does having a grownup tantrum. Sometimes I just have to go to a room by myself and stomp and scream and generally act ridiculous and then after I calm down I feel a lot better. The basement works great for this, no one can hear me and no neighbors can see me.

    Don't beat yourself up about feeling this way, life with young kids is so hard. Just know that what you remember about raising your kids is not what they will remember. You'll remember all the things you wish you had done differently; smiled more, yelled less, played more, etc. They'll remember all the good stuff, so try to cut yourself some slack and think of all the things that make you a fantastic mom.

    Oh and stop talking to strangers at Target, I swear people say the worst things when you are trapped in line and can't get away from them!

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  5. As I wait for one of my "babies" to come home on Saturday for a 2 week military leave, I wish for those days when I had them all home to snuggle with. These days of yours will pass and be replaced by days of wonder, but venting is necessary for anything under stress.

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  6. I very much had those feelings when my one and only surviving child was small. I really feel we were never meant to raise our children in isolated families. Where are those slightly eccentric but helpful "maiden aunts" when you need them?

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  7. Every consider going back to work full time? Being a working mom brings its own set of challenges, but it might bring you more balance in your life.

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  8. I agree with one of the other comments - everyone mom feels this way - at least once. I always think that this is the hardest job that I have ever had and will ever have to do. And I just have one kid right now (although another one is on the way)! I don't really have much advice to offer, but hopefully knowing that you aren't alone out there will provide some comfort.

    I will say that getting out of the house, even it if means just driving around the city for awhile tends to help. Although, again, it's slightly easier for me, with only one little one to bundle up - which this time of year is seriously a workout!

    Hang in there!!!

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  9. I'm Denise mom of 3 boys - Thank you for your honesty. It brings tears to my eyes and I will have my husband read it tonight so he can see that it's not about "fixing" something at our home but about letting me just be me sometime. And that sometimes I will be crabby when he gets home.
    The summary of my life right now is just exactly where I want to be - marriage, kids, pt job, home and vehicles, and some days are just too much. Thanks for the vent :)

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  10. Colleen, I feel this way with one. The snow and the illness and the tantrums did me in more than once this last week. And yet, I see you as such a confident beautiful fabulous person. You may not know what you are good at right now but it is so much (like cow ears and motivating sluggish friends). And I know it will get better.

    *Hugs*

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  11. Gosh, I hope every mom feels this way. Thank you for being so honest and putting it out there. I appreciate it, as a mom who did the happy dance when her 2 oldest FINALLY went to school today.
    xoxo,
    Tracy

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  12. This Minnesota winter takes a toll on all of us. All us mom's can understand how you feel-we were or will be in the same spot you are. Believe me it will get easier when the kids get older but the circumstances will be different and something else will consume our mommyness. I remember all too well being trapped at home with a small child in the Minnesota winter. Now my son is older and goes plowing with my husband and am trapped all alone-well I have my Bulldog and if it weren't for her I would be really lonesome. Your worries are legit and your feelings of not liking motherhood are ones that are shared by every mother out there. Keep your head up....this to will pass ;-)

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  13. Thank you for posting so honestly about something that every mom feels now and then (and very often for looong periods of time). If someone tells you they never feel this way, they are not being truthful.

    You asked for what to do, and here's my advice: you need to get out, in a couple variety of ways.

    1. Make time for you and your husband. You both need to re-connect. Conversation about the kids is off-limits. I know, easier said than done, but give it a try.

    2. Get a stable of babysitters you can call at a moment's notice, then call them and use them. Even if it's only for an hour so you can run errands kid-free (something that would take you 3 hrs if you had to bring them), any small kid-free break is needed. We have a young girl (5th grade) who we pay half of what we pay older, more experienced babysitters, and she can watch our girls for an hour or two on a Saturday afternoon while I run errands. Consider using a babysitter this to just stay at home during the twins' nap times.

    3. Rent sappy movies and have yourself a good cry every now and then. I find that my emotions build up and up until one day I have a complete and utter cry fest. When I find outlets for those emotions I have better, more even days.

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  14. Ellie Holzemer RussellDecember 15, 2010 at 11:52 AM

    I'm not a mom yet, but I appreciate this honest post. Nothing is wrong with saying that you don't always love motherhood. Who would? We put so much pressure on moms. Do you know the book "Bad Mother" by Ayelet Waldman? I'm sure you do. It's a funny narrative about diminishing guilt in motherhood. Reminds me of your blog.

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  15. Forgive me if someone's already said this. With 3 kids myself, I don't have time to read the other comments. :)

    I know you know this, but having twins is HARD. Having twins plus 1 (or 1 plus twins) is HARDER. We can't just up and go to Target or to the grocery store because even if I do miraculously get all 3 of them in the store, I have nowhere to actually put my items I may want to buy! I can't let the twins walk because they will instantly go in 2 different directions. I have to run all of my errands at night or on the weekends when hubs is home, and it really wears me down.

    It's such a coincidence that as I was cleaning the kitchen this morning while the baby napped and the twins played happily on their own (true rarity), I was thinking this exact same thing: that while I love my kids dearly, I am not one of those people who says "I love being a Mommy."

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  16. Your writing is a serious gift and you are a sooth-sayer b/c you are a wordsmith. You are writing about the heart of a woman. It still hits me and they are grown. We sometimes get claustrophobic. I kept other's children when I was doing well. Then on a bad day, they would take mine. You have to feel sexy or you will lose your chutzpah. I say travel with them to that aunt you speak of. And I say schedule a required quiet or nap time and early bedtime. And I say involve them at church, where you will find a soulmate to guide you on that path where they will one day recognize your sacrifices and devote themselves to you when they are grown.

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  17. Thank you for saying what every mom wants to to admit but it ashamed to. After a miscarriage and disastrous birth, I was at home with my first who wasn't allowed to be in public for the first six months of life. There was a week in the middle of winter where I didn't leave the house for 6 days and my husband was out of town and literally told God I hadn't signed up for this, at the same time feeling incredibly guilty for thinking it. Now, 2 years later, another miscarriage and a high risk pregnancy growing in me I am feeling like I am staring down the barrel of the same gun. But I remind myself that it will get better (let's be honest...some days we think it can't possible get worse!) So, call a friend and yell. Get a cup of coffee (or tea. or cocoa. or all three). Eat chocolate and cookies and for at least 5 minutes...find 5 minutes even if you have to lock them all in their rooms...just be at peace knowing you are doing your best. And it will get better! Consider yourself hugged!

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  18. Thank you.


    Since you like to write (and you probably already do this), I like to sometimes do a mock letter to God, or the President, or for my eldest daughter for her to read when she is dealing with her eldest daughter entering the tweens. I let the letter have it! Then I pick out paper that matches my level of grief and the perfect card and print it out on the professional paper and sign it with blue ink... I score the edges and seal the enveloper, and I save the letter until I'm not angry anymore.

    The process of seeing it in black and white on fine paper legitimizes what I am going through - it makes it official - it does not passive aggressively pooh-pooh my pain, and sometimes that is exactly why I need to vent.

    Best of Love to you and your family.

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  19. I became a mother at the age of 18, never really had the chance to "grow up" or figure out who I really am. I now have 3 kids at the age of 26 one of which is handicap. Im married and a stay at home mom, and training to become a Birth Doula. As the years went on after having my first 2 I started to become very depressed and didnt like myself much. I was very mean to my significant other (now my hubby) and I didnt quite understand why. After I had my 3rd, I really got to thinking as to why I wasnt happy with anything in life. I loved my kids and I knew I loved my husband but I just felt off for some reason. So I started finding time to have for myself. I know tons of moms say "I dont have the time". But for someone who has a child who is severely handicap and dependant on her parents I have found time to do the things I like. I didnt know then but I found out that I LOVE to work out. I was a little heavier after my 3rd so I started working out and finding easy healthy meals to make for the family and started bettering myself on the healthy aspect of it all. Not only did I get to go to the gym for 1 to 2 hours every other day but I was regaining my strength and confidence as a person. I wasnt just someone who was a mom and wife. I was beginning to come into my own skin. If that makes sense. So the advice that I can give you is to always always find time for yourself. And if you need to have a girlfriend along for some good conversation or just an MP3 player to tune everyone out around you than do that and go someplace alone.

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  20. My husband and I have an arrangement that I can go away for a two day weekend by myself once a year (sometimes twice in a good year). I don't plan on doing anything unless I want to. I don't spend any more than $150/night- usually at a B & B. It is incredibly freeing to have no one to answer to but yourself. You can listen to your music, watch your shows on TV, eat when you want to, etc. It is my way of keeping in touch with who I am. Just an idea that worked for me...

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  21. A friend sent me this, because I could so have written this yesterday, or the day before, or the day before that.

    I have 2 year 10 months old twins with a stomach bug and a 10 months old. I am sick too, but I am ignoring it because, well, I have to. At some stage, I'll collapse. I don't know when though. Maybe when they have gone off to college, or when they cart me off to the mad house, whichever comes first.

    Today will be a better day, please God.

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  22. thank you for sharing your honest thoughts. We all have them. I especially relate to the "loving my child differently" because of what we went through to get her. Gives everything a different perspective and sometimes it makes me feel that when I'm frustrated with my mom role, that I don't appreciate what I fought to have. Which isn't at all true.
    I get past this by having the feelings, acknowledging them and doing something a little different and fun to let those feelings go. When they leave, I return to the happy family I knew I wanted. Pretending that life doesn't get us down sometimes is dishonest.

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  23. Thanks, Colleen, for your continued honesty. You are an incredible source of comfort for me and we've never even met. I have been feeling overwhelmed with all my duties as a mom, wife and employee and sometimes feel like its never going to get better. I then feel a crushing guilt when I voice these frustrations because I have a wonderful husband, healthy children, warm house, etc. But when you're sleep deprived and doing for others all day long you need an outlet somewhere.

    I knew I had hit my breaking point when I fell on the ice the other day and thought, "well at least if I break my leg, I'll have an excuse to rest for awhile." Tonight I'm going to dinner with a friend I haven't seen in months. We can talk about anything and like you she is honest and nonjudgmental--just what I need.

    Thanks again, Colleen, for putting yourself out there so others of us without that courage are able to feel "normal".

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  24. I found your blog through Babble's Top 50, and I'm so glad I did. What a great post! My thoughts exactly.

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  25. i feel this way, every day. My son is 8 mo old and i have had EXTREME moods since my first daughter was born. This morning I went from depressed to anxious in the matter of an hour...i'm balancing out more as the day goes on...but this is every day. I too worry that this will never pass...reading your blog helps me know that i am not alone. i get scared, like hell, and want to run away. i know my life it great but sometimes i want to crawl and do nothing for days. i miss feeling more love than pain. i lost who i was, and am now just learning who i am again. i have to take moments each day to be with just me, and understand why i love me. if i don't love me, i'm trying to find a way to change...

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  26. Nice post Colleen.

    I'm currently feeding the boys who were just previously FREAKING OUT. Dual class four melt downs. My teeth hurt because i was apparently grinding them. Being a parent *is* hard and I find I'm not always as compassionate as I wish I was. I feel a little guilty about that too.

    I just can't wait until they're old enough to handle snow shovels!! My own little snow removal army!!

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  27. Colleen - I read your blog and catch up when I have a few quiet moments in the morning before my day starts. I can't tell you how helpful and honest it is. Every mom feels something that they "shouldn't" but it's hard not to. My son has been going through a phase of "I don't like you anymore. I don't want you anymore." Screaming everytime I get him from daycare and having a complete meltdown. He even yelled at me in the car "Please mommy, I need to hit you!" It's become VERY wearing and it's actually hurtful. Mind you, he's 3! How can that be hurtful when they haven't wrapped their little mind around what they are saying and how it will make you feel....but it is. Today as I keep thinking about how I need a break, feel myself wanting to just go away for a few days....it was nice to read that I'm not alone in the feeling of needing sense of SELF.

    Thank you.

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  28. Thank you for writing such an honest blog and sharing your life with us. This post was the first one of yours I read months ago. I felt the need to revisit it today. The kids have been challenging (probably normal kids) and I have been slowly losing my mind. It is to the point that I feel like I'm a bad mom because I really just want to get away from them. Being able to reread your words helps give me some strength and reminding me that this will pass and I'm not alone with these feelings.
    I can sometimes squash the guilt by acknowledging the fact that if anyone spent 24hrs a day, 7 days a week at a paying job, they too, would lose their mind. Also, if I had a roommate that was always with me and asked me for stuff all day long, they would quickly be looking for a new place. By using that perspective, I feel sometimes it's okay to be annoyed by the little people consuming my life.

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