Is this my life?

Warning: you are now exiting the whine-free zone. Serious self-pitying ahead.

Is this it?

Do I spend the rest of my life on this out-of-control treadmill, trying to please everybody and succeeding to please no-one?

I’m feeling a little overwhelmed.

Revision: I’m feeling completely overwhelmed.

There is simply not enough of me to go around these days, and I feel like all the most important relationships in my life are suffering because of it. I don’t like the person I’m becoming because of it.

I don’t know how I’m supposed to keep working eight hours a day, plus commuting almost an hour each way, and still find enough time at home to be the mother I want to be to my boys. (As I typed that sentence, tears began to cascade down my cheeks. Shit.)

The boys wake me up about a half an hour before the alarm goes off most days, and although I’d really like the extra 30 minutes of sleep, at least it’s a little more time we can spend together. Then I have to ditch them on their father as I get ready for work and rush out the door, missing my bus about 1 day in 3.

I spend my day at work trying to cram in more work than I can possibly accomplish and leave almost every day feeling like I’ve worked my ass off but accomplished very little. Lately I haven’t been able to keep up at all.

By the time I get home, it’s time to start dinner. Dinner itself is a nightmare of stress lately. Tristan eats almost nothing, so I have to choose between letting him starve (tried it- doesn’t work), bribing him with treats (only works half the time) or just giving in and making him something he will eat. Then it’s a challenge to get him to sit at the table throughout the meal. Three times a day, each meal is a power struggle, and I just feel that if I had more time, more energy, I could approach this from an angle that would allow me to solve the problem rather than just riding it like a wave every single day.

Even if I manage to keep myself together through the day and evening long enough to have some fun with the boys, by the time we put them to bed I have absolutely nothing left over for Beloved. Nothing. We sit together and watch TV and chat for an hour or two and then I go to bed. He’s told me he is frustrated by my constant exhaustion. I don’t blame him.

Weekends don’t really provide any respite. There are so many things that need to get done around the house I could make a to-do list as long as my arm, so I have to balance spending time doing something as a family, whatever that might entail, or catching up on endless domestic tasks.

I can’t imagine how we’re ever going to get beyond the things that are desperate for attention (the 6-inch high lawn covered in weeds, the dirt scooped out of my plants last week and still waiting to be vacuumed off the bedroom rug, the endless loads of laundry) to get to things like painting, fixing the chips in the drywall, cleaning out the garage, replacing the broken banister spindle and all those other little routine maintenance tasks which really aren’t such a big deal, if you can find an uninterrupted hour or five and get around to them.

Is this it? Am I always going to feel this out of control?

I just don’t see how it can get any better. It’s been four months since I’ve been back to work, so it’s no longer just a matter of readjusting to a routine. Simon is finally sleeping through for the most part, so I get around seven hours of sleep a night and although I’d prefer nine, I should be able to function on what I’m getting.

I am constantly sacraficing one thing for another. As the old cliché goes, every day I rob Peter to pay Paul, except my currency is time. Revision: my currency is pieces of me, of my attention. I don’t know how to make “me” a bigger pie, so there is enough for everyone.

And that’s to say nothing about having anything left over for myself. Frankly, I’m the least of my worries. The biggest thing I do for me and me alone is what you’re reading right now, and for now that’s enough. But I have to steal time for that too. Usually from Beloved, occasionally from work. So I do it, but I feel bad about it. But I’d feel worse if I didn’t.

I am perpetually behind, perpetually running, perpetually forgetting things, remembering things I should have done yesterday, last week, last month.

I am not convinced I am doing right by my beautiful boys. I am short on patience, short on energy, short on creativity. Short on time. Short on quality. They deserve better than a frazzled, frustrated, tired mommy struggling with guilt and inadequacy.

Because we spend less time together, I want our time together to matter more. I have less time to mother them, so I must reach a higher level of mothering in the time I have.

It seems like every day is a struggle. I talked to my mom on the weekend, and she tried to tell me that this is just life with babies in the house, but I’m not mollified. Is it this hard for everyone? It sure doesn’t seem like it.

I want to do more, be more as a mother. I feel awful about the very dear friend who has called me about five times in the past month, whose calls I am now actively avoiding, just because I don’t have anything else to give to anyone right now. I feel awful because I should have more to give to my husband. We need to do more to strengthen our friendship, our marriage.

If I just knew that by holding on for X amount of time, things would improve, I think I’d be okay. But I’ve been on that verse for over a year now, and my CD keeps skipping.

Sorry, no big conclusion here, no epiphany, no relief. Just me sitting here with my mouse hovering over the delete button, wondering whether to even bother posting this.

Author: DaniGirl

Canadian. storyteller, photographer, mom to 3. Professional dilettante.

22 thoughts on “Is this my life?”

  1. (((((((((((((( H U G S ))))))))))))))
    You know the cliche, motherhood is the hardest job on earth…its true. And combine that to the infamous Mother Guilt and it becomes so unbearable at times. BUT there’s only one of me and there’s just so much I can do, perfection in things I do has had to take a very distant backburner.
    YOU ARE NOT ALONE DANI. So many days I compare myself to that mouse running in that wheel, going, going, going, but not really going anywhere. The worst is when I feel like I’ve lost my identity.
    Like you, so many things get left undone, so many relationships ignored, constant chaos is now the norm.
    BUT still revel in the little things (those smiles and hugs) and the sense of accomplishment from just making it through another day and having juggled everything the best one could.
    hang in there Dani

  2. We are all feeling the exact same way and frankly, it is not easier being home full time – it is different stresses and different guilts. You will succeed because you have the right motivation: complete love for your children and husband.
    Make some time to call me this weekend πŸ™‚ No pressure or anything. I spend all of my days feeling the exact same way. We could commisserate, while watching the children, throwing on a load of laundry, cleaning marker off the walls and drinking German beer. πŸ™‚ I brought some back with pretzels from my trip and would love to get drunk and cry over what might be…
    Biggest hugs ever.

  3. Hey wait a minute that’s my beer.
    Bahh never mind, “beloved” and I can drink Icy minty daquari smoothies or something in the back yard with the baby pool.

  4. I’ve been there. I can only imagine how much more difficult it is when it’s two young kids, not one. Hey, remember, I moved and doubled my mortgage so I could cut my commute from 1 1/2 hrs to 30 minutes. Difficult in a different way. But I know how you feel.
    I get the idea you’re a fed? Have you thought about part-time or taking the care and nurturing leave, even if just for a month or so? Or leave with income averaging? Those depend on being a fed, I know, so if you’re not maybe not so useful–is there an equivalent where you work? Or is the money situation not good enough? I don’t know if taking time off work is The Solution, but it might be. Can you work from home sometimes, just to cut out the commute?
    It will get better. Your boys will need less out of you as time goes by. They’ll be more self-sufficient. Tristan will be able to make his own dinner when he doesn’t like what you provide. Simon will be able to wipe his own butt. It will get easier.
    Is beloved pulling his weight? Can he make Tristan’s dinner while you make one for everyone else?
    Could you pay a neighbourhood kid to mow the lawn and take care of the weeds and other small chores so it’s not hanging over your head?
    You’ve probably thought of all of this already. Sorry for the assvice. I wish I had something better.

  5. Sending you the biggest (((HUG )))possible over the net!!
    I feel a bit guilty now, as I have been feeling similar lately (perhaps it is Spring Fever). Only, you have so much more on your plate that I do. I can offer you a hug and a shoulder to cry on, I can maybe even offer you a 13 year old to cut your grass (or possibly a 37 year old, as he is missing grass like you wouldn’t believe). If you need a hand please don’t hesitate to call. We are only but blocks away!

  6. (big shuddery sigh of relief…)
    Thank you, my dear bloggy friends. Thank you thank you thank you.
    I really should write these damn things, print them and burn them, not publish them to the InterWeb for all to see and think I’m totally losing my grip. I’m a little bit losing my grip, but not totally.
    I feel better, I really do. It’s been a pretty good day since I wrote this, and I have a little bit more perspective again. It’s one of my quirks that when things are bad I can’t remember how it feels when they are good, and vice versa. So it’s hard to see the lining for the cloud some days.
    2+1Mom, you are so right about revelling in the little things, about taking small victories and running with them. Thank you for your ongoing support, you are a wonderful friend.
    Yvonne, you’ve been with me forever, and know me better than almost anyone, so you know just what to offer – love, support, beer and pretzels. I’ll take you up on all of them.
    And if a self-serving rant like mine today is what it takes to bring my darling UberGeek out of hiding, it was a vent well spent. Welcome back old friend!!
    Andrea, you’re right, I am a fed, and the income with leave averaging is something I think about for maybe next year, but Beloved only teaches part time right now and I’m hauling in the lion(ness)’s share of the income right now. I have procured a laptop for home use, so that will help me balance my priorities a bit. See, you reminded me of at least one bit of relief on the horizon. Thanks!!
    Anna, I’ve learned that misery can’t be compared – you have just as much right to your stress as I have to mine!! And I am laughing my ass off at the idea of your poor DH jonesing for a lawn to mow. Send him over, and not only that but if he’s REALLY nice to me I’ll let him set up my pool too!! πŸ˜‰
    OMG, I can’t believe how much incredibly better I feel. You guys really really rock. I wish you all a long weekend full of sunhine, relaxation and belly laughs.
    xo Danigirl

  7. Hi Dani,
    Glad you’re feeling better. I was really starting to worry there for a second but I’m happy you turned it around so quickly. Have a super weekend.

  8. you know what..
    You can do this. You know that. You’re good at this whole “mom” thing.
    glad you’re on the mend. You’ll figure out what’s best for your family…

  9. Dani… keep at it. The world is cyclical. These feeling (we all have them BTW, been to my blog lately? Ha!) come and go depending the the stars and moon alignment as well as all the other crap the goes on in our lives. πŸ™‚
    Hang in there… this too shall pass (I promise!). Then next week you can help me cope! πŸ˜€

  10. Dani,
    I am glad you are feeling better,
    but even happier that you have a place to vetn it all out instead of on your family!
    I too often feel like I am in a constant state of juggling, work, kids, activities, housework…time with DH, not happening, he gets home at 7ish and I’m in bed by 9.

    But I try to find some peace of mind by telling myself that I am doing the best that I can and hope that they all understand. They are turning out well rounded and well mannered even if the house isn’t the cleanest and our grass hasn’t been cut this season at all (Hey Anna, could hubby do ours too?)! At least they are well fed (for the most part)and loved.
    I just want you to know you are not alone. But are doing an amazing job with the boys because you love them so much, that comes through. Somtimes, other things just need to wait!
    Breathe, enjoy the extra day to the weekend and go camping some more, it really slows life down!

  11. I’ve said this before: If I didn’t blog I’d burst.
    I’m glad you write too. You’re now in my top five daily reads, and yes, I moved others down and bounced a few in your honour. It’s posts like this and the previous one that show why I love certain blogs – it’s the dichotomy.
    Josephine is almost fifteen months, and the layers of insecurities and worries and frustrations and questions that surround my new life as one of her parents wraps around me like phyllo pastry…mmm…pastry. It surrounds a joyful filling, but still, it’s messy and there’s more pastry than joyful cream filling some days…mmm…filling, and the pastry crumbles off sometimes and leaves a mess on my shirt. But I’m glad I bought the pastry.
    I’m glad you’re feeling better.
    I know no one told us any of this parenting stuff and life stuff would be easy, but it’s often harder than I ever thought it would be.

  12. OH Dani!
    I don’t know you you even get up in the morning….BUT you do and that makes you a superhero for me. Weather we work or stay at mom WE NEVER FEEL LIKE WE ARE BEING THE MOTHERS WE WANT TO BE.
    I stay home. Nathan has been sick for 2 weeks now. I have something wrong with my foot that I can’t walk with out pain. The last 3 days have been HELL ON EARTH. I’ve lost all control and have gone back to yelling yelling yelling whihc in turns makes him yell back at me. HE’s had more time out’s than anyone I know. He won’t eat and I will fix him anything. He doesn’t want to eat when we eat…Have I spoiled him? He went to bed last night without supper. ANd with My dh working late alot lately. I feel I’m left parenting steady. With NO help. I need help. I hate who I have become too. ANd I hate feeling this frutstration boiling through all the time. I want my good boy back but he’s gone into the horrible 4’s early.
    I have so much that needs doing here and I can’t get to any of it either..ihave 3 rooms to be painted. I can’t keep up with the laundry. I’m a freakin maid to my kids. My flower beds…Hah! might as well turn them into grass for I can do in them. ANd Plus I have a teenage girl goingout on her frist date next Friday…I’m excited and worried all at the same time. The guys a sweetie but he is 15 and a guy. LOL!
    So dani we are all in the same boat. Out of control and trying to climb back in that smooth sailing ship that keeps passing us.
    And THNAK GOD you didn’t us the delete button.

  13. Dani,
    I read your post twice yesterday, but just couldn’t find the right words…so I didn’t. Although after reading your second post, I think this may have been more about your need to get your thoughts out there as opposed to looking for others to answer your question.
    As we have both said in the past, it is sometimes the cathartic process of simply getting it all out that brings us the most clarity.
    I hope you find yours :~)

  14. Hi! I have so been there and — more often than not — AM THERE! Oh, big internet hug. You raise, beautifully I might add, the eternal questions: How can we find the time and opportunity to sprinkle regular and consistent moments of satisfaction and joy into raising kids? I mean, the moments are there, but how do we make it so JOY and SATISFACTION happen like all the time, everyday? How do we get into the moment and do the best we can with that moment? My god. It is so hard because we have so much on our plates. How do we make it so we don’t go to bed many nights feeling like we did a lot but accomplished little? I ponder this often as you can probably tell. I love your post and I hope you don’t mind but I linked to it this morning.
    You are doing so great and you are an amazing mom, partner and professional. That much is abundantly obvious just by reading your thoughtful, creative, well written, perceptive and funny blog.

  15. Could not help but to add to the long list of comments…how do we (moms and dads) do it…..if only there was an easy answer.
    How I do it, is believe it or not I take care of me, not always before everyone else, but I still make time for me…my addiction is running. I try to get out 3-4 times a week, with or without friends, with or without baby number 3 and sometimes at the expense of my “beloved”..but it makes me feel whole again when I return, so that there is enough to spread around (even though sometimes it is thinly spread)…
    Hope you can find your “addiction”, time for you that makes you whole.

  16. Just another “me, too” to add to your list. As someone who went from more than full-time working mom to a stay at home mom, I’ve had all different kinds of mommy guilt. There are a lot of “Fake it ’til you make it” days around here – followed by more guilt because I *had* to fake it. I’ve been delegating a lot of tasks and working on their independence, just to alleviate some of the burden I felt.
    I’m certain the guilt will just keep evolving throughout my lifetime. I think as moms, we all feel like we can be doing more than we are – even if we are doing all we can!

  17. I agree with Ubergeek – but that is only because we would inevitably fail should we be left to our own devices. Pass the beer Ug and get yer big feet out of the pool.

  18. I’m glad you’re feeling a little better now. Every time I read a post like this, I heave a sigh of relief that I am not the only one going through times like these. Although I am a stay-at-home mom I struggle to get through many days, feeling I have little quality time with the children, even though I am with them all day and even less quality time with my husband, especially as he is away so much and I feel the need to be on sparkling form when he is home, but I just don’t have the energy. I use the same analogy: everyone wants a bit of the pie that is me, but there never seems to be a piece left over for me. Know that you are not alone.

  19. I used to feel like I was the only one stressed to the edge, with every available moment of my life taken up by responsibilities. I worked full time for 13 1/2 years as a manager with a 45 minute commute. By the time my second daughter was 2, I was losing it, ready to go on antidepressants, and not happy at all. I quit (I have to provide health ins, and have always felt trapped by that fact!) after first trying working there part time, but the cost of the commute and day care didn’t make it worth it!
    I found a job right here in town, 4 hours per day, with health ins, flexible hours, and more affordable day care. I still have every available moment taken up but I feel more in control, and HAPPY.
    Sorry for going on, but I think ranting about it helps, and you will find a solution. Just pick one thing that will make it all easier. One night a week that you serve bacon & eggs or pancakes & fruit, or your husband is in charge of. Good luck!

  20. I’m so glad you published this post. It’s a relief to know that so many women feel torn in so many different directions, spread too thinly. Somehow we’ll make it through!

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