Wednesday, July 29, 2009


So a ways back I read the book, "I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids," by Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile. I also saw the authors, among other moms, on Oprah a few months ago, discussing their books and the pressures that we mommies feel in our everyday lives. I highly recommend the book (and their others) to any mom, especially if you one day find yourself wondering, "What the hell was I thinking when I decided to have kids? Really, what made me think I would be good at this?" Which is sort of where I find myself on a semi-regular basis.

I know, I know, I love my kids so much I could gobble them up most days. I know that I am a good mom, and my kids know they are loved and treasured. But we all have those days where you just feel like you can't do anything right. I have had quite a few of those recently, and they have me thinking back on things I read in that book. What has really stuck with me has been the notion of all of the self-imposed pressures and expectations we put upon ourselves trying to fulfill some June Cleaver meets Gloria Steinem fantasy of what we women can, and should be able to do with our lives these days.

Why do we put ourselves through all of this?

I have been evaluating a lot of things in my life these days, as you have previously been able to read. My birthday triggered a lot of it. But I think the living situation that we are currently in also has me thinking a lot about the stress in my life, where it comes from, and how I can minimize it. And I have discovered that the vast majority of the stress I feel comes not from my kids, my husband, my dog (although I am still debating this one), money, etc. but from my own crazy expectations of what I should be able to handle. I feel like I should be able to juggle any number of glass balls, ready to fit another one into the pattern at any time, without a single one crashing to the floor. And you know what? I can't. I just can't.

I have three young kids, all of whom have their own schedules that have to be woven together so that I don't have to be in two places at the same time. I have a house to take care of, basically on my own, which means cleaning, grocery shopping, laundry, yard stuff, phones calls to get things fixed, cleaning out the basment, and all sorts of crap that would be a lot easier if my husband were around. I have to feed people, clean them, play with them, chauffer them, teach them, bathe them, cuddle them, and comfort them. I am also trying to figure out how to fit my own needs into all of this, including trying to make some money with a direct sales job I have had for about 9 months.

I do have a nanny for 8 hours every weekday, and this helps TREMENDOUSLY. I pack as much as I can into those 8 hours so that at 4:30, I can just be with the kids, and focus on them. It also helps that I don't have to drag three kids through the grocery store, drug store, Target, whatever, because that is not fun for any of us. And I try to have some one-on-one time with each of them during the week. I am so grateful that we are able to have someone here to help out when Alex is away. But I am on solo duty the other 16 hours of the day, and it isn't like that stops when the kids are in bed. Just the other night, I was up until 2 AM with various children, fell asleep, and was back up a little after 5 AM with my oldest. And we had a packed schedule the following day, so it was tough. Add into that 3 children who all have colds, and it has been a rough week.

Now with all of this going on, why on earth would I think that everything would run on-time, with no problems? And why do I feel like such a failure when it doesn't? I have been feeling down on myself the past week for not living up to my own expectations. I have been thinking that maybe we need to move to Virginia sooner than next spring. We had this neat little time line in my head that we would get into school, get the house ready, put it on the market in January, and then try to move in the spring. Well, I don't know if our family will make it that far without a major crisis. The kids are really feeling the stress of daddy not being here, and so are Alex and I. So I have been thinking that maybe we should move sooner. And I feel like I have failed. I have failed in keeping things running smoothly, and managing the stress of the situation. I have failed in being the rock for this family. I have failed in living up to this artificial time frame that I created for myself. Seriously?

I think the kicker came the other day when I realized I hadn't taken any pictures for my 365 blog
in a couple of days. I have been slow on posting, but I have been getting pics everyday of something. Well, I missed a few days recently, and I started getting really annoyed with myself. I mean, really, how hard is it to take a freaking picture everyday? Just one? Then I stopped. I would have kicked myself in the ass if I could. I was getting this down on myself over a blog? Do I not have seven million other things that are more important and worthy of my worries?

Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we feel like we should be able to do everything that is asked of us, and do it perfectly? Where did this idea come from that we are not a "good" mom if we don't sign our kids up for all these different activities, go to a certain school, feed and not feed them certain things, that we have failed at motherhood? And to top it all off, we should do all of these things on time, with make-up on, hair done, and a smile on our faces. God forbid we actually give a truthful answer when someone asks us how we are doing. Anything less than, "Everything is going great," and people will get uncomfortable with the honesty. But we all feel the same way.....there is no way we can get it all done.

So I am trying to adjust my expectations, of myself, my kids, my life. I am trying to see things not as a failure, but simply as changing my mind. Because that is exactly what it is, and why do I feel like I am not allowed to do that? I think moms try to do way too much these days. I know this has been discussed many, many times before by others. The book does an excellent job of putting together conversations with real moms about what their lives are really like, behind closed doors, at the end of the day when no one is watching.

Anyway....I am hoping that a change in my own internal attitude will help change a lot of other things in our house. I am hoping that I can be a happier, more fun mommy by letting go of the feeling that I should be able to cram 20 hours worth of stuff into 5 hours. No one will suffer because the bed isn't made, the laundry isn't folded, or dinner gets delivered by the pizza guy. We will all be better if we stop a little more often and take time to enjoy each other. That is what my goal is right now.

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad to hear that you are finally getting this! People have been asking me this month if it's been really hard. My response is that it hasn't been that bad, because I put no expectations on myself. All I force myself to worry about is getting the kids fed something and in clean diapers - and that's it. Max wears PJs the majority of the day. Getting laundry and dishes done is gravy. If I have a moment, I might sweep the floor. I just do not care that much about the state of my house. There are toys everywhere - don't care right now. I'd rather get to the playground than clean.

    And really, I'm glad to hear you are thinking about moving sooner. I would be in more trouble if I didn't have Matt's help, so I know it must be hard on you without Alex. The sooner you guys are all together again, the easier it will start to get. And you'll have us for support, too!