My children are in bed now. All 3 of the little nut jobs (scratch that. Number 2 came out of her room as I was writing that sentence). Today was (is?) one of those days I thought for sure I wasn’t going to survive.
I was driving my oldest to a party this afternoon, and she was looking over my shoulder the entire time at the navigation map. Literally every time the number of miles it would take us to arrive dropped by .1, she announced that we were closer. “Now we’re only 3.2 miles away. Now we’ll be there in 3.1 miles. In 3 miles we’ll be at Olivia’s Dollhouse!”
I told her, in my calmest “I’m about to totally lose it” voice, to stop talking or I was going to turn around and go home.
During the 10 minutes of relative silence that followed, irrational rage began to burn in my eyes and then, the tears.
I’m not a big crier, but I do have moments like this when I feel like I need to explode, shrivel into nothingness, or maybe just shatter into so many pieces that I can’t be put back together.
As a parent, none of these options are particularly useful.
I tried all three in creative and at times self-destructive ways before I had kids; no problems solved then either.
So I’ve learned to sit with the feelings, which, more often than not, come out of my eyes in slow, almost undetectable tears.
Of course, the backseat driving was merely the last straw. And to be honest, the straws from earlier in the day wouldn’t have been so heavy if it weren’t for exhaustion (my 6-month-old) and the fact that I feel like my husband and I are treading water with 3 children on our backs while sharks encircle our feet. Every. Day.
I know this is just life and it’s not like I’m the only one, but let’s face it…even just life stuff can be really hard some days.
It’s not simply that I don’t have enough hands, eyes, or brain space to breastfeed my son while I read a book to my 4-year-old AND ogle over my 7-year-old’s artwork and ability to do cartwheels around the house at a dangerous pace. The physical limitations of the kind of multitasking required to meet the desires of my children are most certainly insurmountable.
Nobody can DO everything, but I feel like I should be able to.
And the guilt and shame that follows when I can’t quite cope with the fact that I simply cannot do it all really gets to me.
This is probably where I should mention that, like most of us, I am far from a perfect human being. Surprise!
I have struggled with anxiety and depression almost my entire life, and the mom gig- with all the opportunities for imperfection- provides my brain with tons of great material to snatch up and twist into a million different fairy tales that tell the exact same story: I am failing my children.
This is the spiral that led to the rage behind the tears.
Whenever I start to feel this way, I know (because of therapy) that I am not angry at the kids. I am angry at myself for not being a “better”, more highly functional and superhuman mom. Because if I were “better”, they wouldn’t act in ways that so royally piss me off and bring the rage tears (insert maniacal crying laughing face here).
I’m more familiar with this thought process than I care to admit. And I am highly aware of how irrational it is, but, unfortunately, even keen awareness has never stopped the crazy committee in my head.
In real life, my kids show me every day that my “best mom I can be today” is enough. They are kind, loving, fierce, opinionated, helpful, creative little humans who say “I love you mommy” at totally random moments. They are typically developing children, navigating the world by being insanely annoying and testing their parents every chance they get.
This is all good news. And on days like today (and there are many), I become especially grateful that the sun goes down and that sleep is a thing.
I’m not a morning person by any stretch, however, I am a big fan of a fresh start and a clear head.
The challenges will come tomorrow, too, because they always do, but I know I can count on 3 sets of bright, curious eyes and 3 gorgeous smiles to greet me when the sun comes up. As if to say, “let’s see what our adventure has in store for us today mom.” I take the bait every time.