Monday, September 19, 2011

If you have anything better to do, You probably should do it

Everything is just grunt work this year. Like the Army. Life is about Getting Through This and reminding myself This Won't Go On Forever or assuring myself You Will Figure This Out even though I have no idea if I will, or won't, or what. I knew that going to work after Ever was born was going to be hard. I had no idea what kind of hard. I though it would be ' the house is such a mess ' hard, and ' noodles for dinner again! ' hard. Hard like a funny movie where your hair is crazy and your husband lazy and lalala. It's not hard like a funny movie. It's just hard.

It's not about just working full time, it's the particular brew of ingredients- the particulars of our family life- that are making this so exhausting. I feel spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted. Even this screen: Mr. Curry pulled out this old computer screen and attached it because mine was blinking on and off at a rapid pace, and this new/old screen is huge and strange and makes me feel different when I write. See. I know my life is careening beyond my reach when so many things in my mind start with makes me feel.

____

I'm nursing my baby, and I'm sleeping with her, and I wake up and shuffle around and get everything done and we speed out of the house, just like a million other mothers in the world. I drop the kids off, and go to work- usually on my lunch break I'm taking Ever and picking up a kid or two and taking them home- and then at 5pm I'm home, and I have between 5 and about 7:30 which is when Ever goes to bed, ie gets nursed for fifteen minutes. But lately she won't go to bed at 7:30, it's more like 8. Usually Mr. Curry picks up ee from my work around 3pm, so I get home at 5pm and she wants to nurse, and Mr. Curry is making dinner. In this time between 5 and 7:30 I'm supposed to Look over Lola's homework, (even if Mr. Curry did xyz I need to stay in the loop, see what she is doing) Eat Dinner, Bathe Ever, Spend Time With Lola, Clean Up, Take Vitamins, Make Lunches, Go Through My Mail/Sign Shit, Answer Emails? And that isn't counting all the many things that pop up every day, uncatagorized, and demand to be attended to. It's those extras that especially push you over the brink. And the thing that I didn't count on

was that

I'm not and can't be the kind of mother I need and want to be doing what I'm doing.

I said it. Look at it, up there. Doesn't it make you want to cry? Me, I'm crying now.

I'm SUCKING SO HARD AT EVERYTHING.

I'm sucking at being a wife, a housekeeper, a friend, a relative, a mommy. I don't know what we're going to do, but something has to give. I'm not sucking at work, because that's where I get paid, and I walk in there with Ever and the attitude that I'm a professional. And the house is OK. Not great, we have a full sink of dishes usually but we do dishes every day and we have no dishwasher!

When I had the other kids, I didn't work when they were babies, AND I wasn't trying to forge a writing career.

I think my kids want a new mom, one who makes pancakes for breakfast every morning in cute shapes, one who is crafty and cooking and who keeps a pretty home, and I just want to crawl in a corner and cry because my dog Bodie has orange hair and he rubs his gigantic butt up against the walls all around the house and leaves big orange stains.

The thing that is happening is that most things are getting done, because life forces you into its mold, because you are an adult and that is what adults do. So what is giving? My relationship with my children. I'm distracted constantly. There is always something I have to be doing, there is simply not time for me to stop for forty five minutes and play with Lola on a school night. I can do it, sure. And then the things I didn't do will embarrass and upset me to the point where next time I won't do it. The teacher who never got an email. The sign up sheets for sports deadlines that were missed. The dog shit sitting in the kitchen. The laundry that has to be done so people can have underwear! Lola's school alone is like a fucking full time job. Please don't let me talk about the demands of school on a child and on the parents. Suffice to say, the paperwork, homework, computer work at home, MUST SIGN NOW sheets, and extra read these sheets just because eat up an enormous amount of time nightly. And it's not like the kids are going to stop having their problems and stages and difficulties because I'm overwhelmed. If anything, me being overwhelmed makes them worse.

I am at a point where I feel like I forgot how to do everything. I have no creative ideas how to deal with Lola's new penchant for being sassy/rude when she's the slightest bit frustrated, or what I used to talk to Mr. Curry about, or the more subtle things in life. Shades. I know the basics. I'm nursing my baby, I'm trying to pay attention to Lola when she talks (but she talks sooo much!!!) I'm smiling at the kids when I remember to (Maggie! Smile!) as they talk, I'm making lunches, I'm showered, I'm I'm I'm.... fake it till you make it?

Oh my God. This is the most boring, droning blog post I've ever written.

I can't even BLOG anymore.

!)(*&@!


ps
especially anyone new to my blog, please don't worry about me. in any REAL way. i'm not losing my mind totally. i'm in the in between phase, where you know something is really wrong, have clearly spotted the problem, but have yet one clue what you are going to do about it. ok i'm lying. while writing this post/vent i actually came up with an idea about spending time with Lola.
that's one clue.

and while editing this post i came up with another idea. it's brilliant, and it goes like this:

( me, yelling at myself ) MAGGIE IF YOU WANT TO NOT HATE YOURSELF IN A FEW YEARS STOP WORRYING ABOUT THE HOUSEWORK AND FOCUS ON YOUR CHILDREN"S FACES
(me, in response) but when my mom comes over she looks around like....
(me, yelling at myself) SO WHAT?!!!
(me, in response) hmm..you have a point.. but what about when the neighbors come over?
(me, yelling at myself) FUCK THEM!!!
(me, in response) well, sometimes you do have to get more...assertive minded to accomplish a goal
(me, yelling at myself) DAMN SKIPPY!!!
(me, in response) well i guess as long as the floors are cleaned and we can find the scissors...
(me, yelling at myself) GIVE IT UP!! YOU WILL NEVER FIND THE SCISSORS! OR THE TAPE! OR THE NICE PENS!!!
(me, in response) oh no. i really liked that pen.
Elisabeth said...

Oh dear Maggie May, it's so hard being the mother of a baby, and of older children, and a wife and a worker, full time, trying to get it all together and having a creative life, as a writer, and keeping a faintly tidy house and getting the odd dose of pleasure along the way, as implied in the beautiful photograph of your four children at the beach a little while ago.

You'll get there. You'll all get there, where ever there is, however badly you feel at this moment.

This is not a terrible post. It's a masterpiece of life, real life. Thank you.

M said...

Full time work, being a good mom and wife, keeping a cleanish home, remaining organized and caring for a crazy dog.... Girl, I feel you. And I think your idea at the end might be the only solution. Clean house when your kids are grown and move out. Isn't it sad to think of how much easier it will be then? Because all we want is to be good moms. Take away the kids, and then there's no point.

Rebecca Grace said...

Okay, I am new to your blog -- this is the first post I read and I had to pipe up and send you some eHugs (iHugs? Whatever). I did the attachment parenting thing too with both of my sons, and I remember how much more exhausting it was with the second child, trying to be a perfect mom and only having two small children to split my attention between. I remember the dog vomiting underneath the kitchen table, and how horrified I was that the baby crawled under there and found it first and was putting dog vomit -- yes, DOG VOMIT -- in his MOUTH, for God's sake. I felt all those same feelings of failure, inadequacy, etc. that you're feeling now, and I had only two kids and I was not working outside the home at that time.

So, now my boys are 10 and 8. Baby days, diapers and breastfeeding are far behind me, and I have a different set of parenting demands "making" me feel inadequate and frazzled. But I just wanted to reach out to you and tell you that this too shall pass, you're a better mom than you realize, and as long as your baby isn't eating dog vomit, you're still not the worst mom in the world. There! Isn't that better? :-)

Julia said...

Oh honey, I SO know where you are! I call it Triage Time, where everything is coming at you in so many dimensions that there's not a chance you can get it right. So I focus on not getting it wrong.

1. People first. Make a list of the signs of affection that matter to each person you love. If it's heart-shaped pancakes, it's heart-shaped pancakes. But it's got to be stuff that matters TO THEM. Make yourself a checklist and make sure you do something that makes them feel loved every week. You can buy yourself an awful lot of time by focusing on the things that matter to others, instead of focusing on the things you think you ought to be doing.

2. Offload responsibility. Sit the kids down and say, "I've realized I am too busy and stressed to remember to do everything. So if something matters to you, like getting a form signed, I need you to bring it to me and stand in front of me until I do it. I will guarantee that if you just hand it to me I will forget it. So now YOU are responsible for making sure that the things YOU need get done. I wish it weren't like this, and I wish I could do it all, but I can't. And I want you to be part of the solution."

3. Make a lunch schedule, so you know you have the ingredients in the house, and have them make their own. If they forget, have them tape a reminder somewhere that they'll see it before they go to bed. The first week will stink, because you're trading the headache of making the lunch for the headache of having to remind them. But then you tell them, "Last week was your practice run. This week you need to remember on your own, or you'll end up without lunch." This is NOT being a bad mommy. It is teaching them to take care of themselves and think ahead. As I tell my #4, "I cannot be your frontal lobe forever."

4. IT DOESN"T HAVE TO BE PERFECT. Not the house, not you, not nothin'.

5. Cry when you need to.

Beth said...

“I think my kids want a new mom...” No, they don’t – they want the one they have – the one who loves them with abundance and is doing her damnedest to make it all work...

Ms. Moon said...

And yet, I am here to tell you that it does all come out all right. After endless days and nights you will look around and you will know where the pen is and the scissors too and the kids will be grown and you'll say, "How in hell did that happen?"
I swear.

Elizabeth said...

I'm not here to give advice, Maggie, but I will nod my head in not just sympathy but empathy. And I'm not even nursing a baby!The ONLY thing I can say is give yourself a break -- keep your sense of humor -- love on those kids and husband --

Sarcastic Bastard said...

I'm sorry that you are feeling so pulled apart, Maggie. Modern life does that to everyone, sadly.

Hang in there, dear. What can we do but that? I don't know what else to say, other than you are loved.

SB

Catherine said...

Great post. A snapshot of how life really is when juggling so many things and trying to meet "the standards". All I can say is that the problems always tend to fill up one's life even with less to do. I could have been a pan caking making, cookie baking mom, and was for periods of time and things still got screwed up and I still had my fits.

Hang in there. It can be a wild ride at times. You are doing well. Your post was terrific and inspirational in its reality.

Rashel said...

i know. and i don't know. i feel your frustrations on different levels but still the same frustrations. this is why i can't even keep up my blog. i cannot be fake. i just can't. the real me is exhausted from being mama, lover, carrier of a new life, sister, daughter, friend. i feel like everyone is watching me. waiting for me to fuck up, give up or succeed. my house is destroyed and cleaned spotless every. single. day and i want to lose my mind. i run in circles, and yet i never leave my house. i am in a sad state. i never in a gazillion years thought this would be it. life. i was on a different path before scout. before my nick. but i think this path may end up being better, i am just without my own life. and that was my choice. fuck it.

Hyacinth said...

This is exactly why I love your writing so much...it's real and honest and raw and I'm sure every single person that reads it can relate...life gets messy and crazy and busy and we feel like we suck at everything but we do whatever we have to do to get through, and then hopefully there's a lull and there's peace and harmony and recharging the batteries before the next wave hits :)

By the way, I'll bet anything that your kids do NOT want a different mom, the one they have sounds pretty darn awesome! Oh, and scissors and tape and pens can be replaced...even the really nice pens...and orange marks on the wall, just think of it as decoration!

lulumarie said...

You are not sucking at anything, you are overwhelmed. And your kids would not exchange you for any other mother. That's evident by all the love flowing through your posts and photos.

Weaving through and around all of this hectic life, you are still such an amazing writer. This is so NOT a boring post; you have described the universal frazzled feelings of so many mothers striving to "do it all". It's an eight-day-a-week job and you are doing it.

Hang in there, Maggie May, and know that you and Mr. Curry are succeeding in raising a well-adjusted, loving family. One day you will not be so exhausted and will enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Caroline said...

Oh Maggie I can relate with EVERYTHING you wrote here. And you want to know something funny? You know how I NEVER (okay, more like hardly, hardly ever) write about what's really going on in my life on my blog? Well two, three days ago I finally wrote a "Okay, here's the real deal people" post because I started getting worried some new mom at home might read my DIY blog and confuse it with a person's actual life.

Last week:
The fake: we made some crafty stuff and it photographed in a really pretty way. It looked cute. I almost even believed it myself.
The real: My entire house smells like spoiled milk from everything spilled on the carpet. I forgot my son't first birthday (well, really I remembered the morning of, but still) because I am SO busy just getting by with each day.
The good: we finally switched to organic milk for the kids this week
The bad: I now may not be able to afford the gas I need to take Liz to school (slightly kidding but not really)

Yes, the busy-work in life often sucks like there is no tomorrow, but never be fooled--nobody (at least not with a child under 3 years of age) has it down pat. Nobody. Yes we all have our moments, but that's about it.

Oh and the school work! Lizzie is just in Kindergarden and I turned to Gil the other day and said "This is a part time job right here!"
It's no joke, Maggie. And don't forget you are a fabulous mom. It's impossible to be all things all the time but just know you are amazing because of the love in your heart. And that's all that matters.
Love you, my friend.

Sara said...

God I know this litany. You're in good company, at least, with this angst and fear of failure and struggle. when my women's lit students tell me, after reading "The Awakening" that they think Edna is a bad mother, that "after all, Sara, it isn't the olden times anymore" meaning they've drunk the Koolaid that we can have it all, and that somehow, THEY won't have to struggle, or that the creative life is a hobby like cross-stitch or playing Bingo--
Ugh. This real-life business of children and job and bills and writing and all of it is ugly sometimes and a slog and too often none of it feels good enough. But the act of having a self is self-ish, and it's just what we want our kids to do. It's what we must struggle to do, I guess. And damn, I'm so glad you're out there writing this, telling this story, reminding all of us that we're not alone.

Amelia said...

I totally lost my mind for the first year of G's life. And she's an only child AND I didn't work. I'm mentally giving you a hug right now. Also, the nice pens bit? Super funny. :)

Middle Child said...

Its just called reflecting on things - working out on paper so it doesn't mess up your head 0 has got me in no end of trouble but still sort of sane

Petit fleur said...

My parents used to get so mad at me when I was about Lola's age because I rolled my eyes at EVERYthing. It was almost as though I had not control over it! Many times, I didn't even realize I was doing it and would deny doing it. Then I caught myself once and was quite chagrined. DOH!

Keeping up is madness. I've just decided that my house is always going to be in a certain amount of disarray and clutter and chaos and even dirty (Not filthy mind you!) till Harley is much older. I'm at peace with it. I hope you find your balance soon.

Oh yea, we can never find the tape either! That cracked me up.
xoxo

Hannah Stephenson said...

It feels better just saying these things out loud (out quiet, maybe? out in the "open" internet?), doesn't it?

I have a friend who always tells me that we can only control 8 percent of what happens to us. And instead of focusing on EVERYTHING, we should just worry about that 8 percent....it's a bit of a mind game, but also a refocusing. I like what Julia says about Triage Time, by the way.

And yeah, it's one of those months.

Lone Star Ma said...

I really liked that pen, too.

Meghan Elaine said...

A huge hug to you. I stay home with my twins and I still feel like I fail. The point is, you care. And that's what it's about. Again...a hug to you. I'd offer you a beer if you'd want it.

K Soucy said...

Maggie, I am "home" mostly with my kids. On a daily basis I search for a pen that works, a sharpened pencil and scissors. I know we have 6 pair, but where the heck are they. Shouldn't a stay at home mom have her office supplies organized!?

Hang in there, your doing good. :)

Sarah said...

I feel you girl - oh how I fell you! I've just started a 2nd job and after 6 years of being the only person who has picked up her kids from school each day they now go to an afterschool program that my mom picks them up from. My house is being ruled by my two dogs who keep finding stuffed animals to rip apart and our pool looks like a swamp. I walk in just long enough to say 'what a mess' go to bed and then get up and start again. We all just have to think - this two shall pass, it really will. Just love your kids, hug them, and most of all listen to them and let them know they're important. I guess it's time for my kids to do chores on a regular basis - maybe that would lighten the load for you too. Hugs to you and I hope it gets better soon :)

Tania said...

Pfft. You're not SUCKING SO HARD AT EVERYTHING, you're SUCKING SO HARD AT PERFECTION. Everyone sucks at perfection. Even when it seems like someone has perfection sussed, it's actually just cute-shaped-pancake Smoke and Mirrors.

Hang in there, excellent lady.

That Uncomfortable Itch said...

I once read that Mother Theresa went through a span of years where it was all she could do to get up everyday and simply fight gravity. Sometimes that's how it is. It sort of sucks and everything is so damn tedious, even though there's the sprinkling of child glitter and laughter throughout it all.

I also read once that being a mother, wife, income earner and all our other roles is like having an IV on in reverse and we end up as husks of our true selves from time to time. I'm sorry the husk is an accessory for you right now.

I try to hold tight to the small moments, the ones where my younger son and I are sitting in the afternoon sun watching his older sister play soccer and he and I make fart jokes. Things like that. It's not much but helps with the breathing in and out.

Hope today is a good one for you.

Mwa said...

I read that you would never find the tape or the scissors or the nice PENIS, which made me wonder what you were going to do with all three together.

I feel your pain, because I feel the same. x

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