Flashback faves: Is this my life?

by DaniGirl on January 20, 2015 · 3 comments

in Flashback faves, It IS all about me

In honour of the blog’s tenth birthday this month, I’m revisiting a handful of favourites from my archives. I think this post from 2005, which I refer to as “my epic wail,” was a seminal moment for me in a lot of ways. Years later, people still mention it to me, and it brought a lot of readers to the blog – people who I’m assuming felt exactly the same way. I think it resonates with people because it’s very close to a universal thing in parenting – we all at one point or other feel this sense of being stuck on a hamster wheel that’s spinning out of control.

It’s interesting for me to look back on that. I remember how raw and ragged I felt when I wrote this, and how exhausted and miserable I was. I want to go back to 2005 me and say three things: first, hang on. It gets better. (Ironically, this is the same thing I want to tell 14 year old me, and nine year old me.) The second thing is: breathe. Having two babies in the house while working full time was an insane thing to do. I stopped feeling like my life was spinning out of control when I dropped from five to four days a week, even though I’d subsequently added another child to the mix. I’m still stupidly busy, with all the other squirrels I’m chasing, but it’s been years since I’ve felt that desperate panic. The third is: iron. Whenever I start to get that breathless, anxious feeling, or when I find myself worrying over everything – and I mean everything – I make myself take two iron pills. They’re better than antidepressants for me.

The final thing that fascinates me about this blog post from 10 years ago is that I could bare my soul like this. I could never write with this sort of vulnerability any more. Blogging has given me many, many gifts – almost too many to count! – but it’s left some scars, too.

header history collage

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.


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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 allison January 21, 2015 at 9:28 pm

WAH! I feel like crying just READING this – aside from the confused blip where I was thinking “seriously? you’re that busy and IRONING makes you feel calmer? Well, whatever works…”. I didn’t work full-time when my kids were babies, but I had a husband who traveled a lot, and I remember that same feeling – why did I want to do this? Why did I think I could do this? At least now we can tell people with a reasonable level of authority that it DOES get better.

2 coffee with julie January 23, 2015 at 10:59 am

I do find myself always tired. Never doing everything I set out to do. I’m in your boat. I’ve considered closing up the blog and removing myself from social media on countless occasions in a desperate bid to find more time in my life … but I do love it and it’s my only hobby. A person needs a hobby, right? I wish I had answers for you.

3 coffee with julie January 23, 2015 at 11:02 am

Um, just realized that this was a blog post from 10 years ago. You’re probably feeling much better now. Share your answers with me! :) Also, what Allison said: IRONING???

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