13 March 2009

Inside the mind of a mother...

Let's face it, "some things are better left unsaid". A mother rarely reveals what she's really thinking. Am I right? Because - how embarassing that we might actually have real thoughts of running away, or tossing the china against the wall.

I recently saw a column where a woman had written in to ask why her friend, who had children while she did not, couldn't find the time to just pick up the phone and call her every once in a while. After all she was home all day. She wanted to know what really kept her so busy and tired all the time. Here's a portion of the response given to her: "When you have young kids your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, cleaned, dressed; to keeping them out of harm's way; to answering their coos, cries, questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys, and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any of which produced check-out line screaming. It's needing 45 minutes to do what it takes others 15. It's constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, cosntant relegation of your needs to the second tier. It's constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family and friends. It's resisting constant temptation to seek short-term relief at everyone's long-term expense. It's doing all this while currently teaching virtually everything - language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity,creativity. Empathy. Everything. It's also a choice, yes, and a joy. But if you spent all day, every day, with this brand of joy, and then when you got your first 10 minutes to yourself, wanted to be alone with your thoughts instead of calling a good friend, a good friend who wouldn't judge you, complain about you or marvel how much more productively she uses her time."

What was I saying about not revealing all your true thoughts? Well, thank goodness for this columnist who said everything I wish I could say. And more. I could get a lot of use out of this as a rote response to the ever old "What did you do today?".

One of the hardest things for me, at least, is keeping the self talk in check (Surfside anyone?). It's a neverending battle for some of us. We unceasingly compare ourselves to others, or our children to others' children, our homes to others' homes, our husbands to others' husbands, our decision to be moms to others' decisions to, well, not. Add to that this unspoken need to defend that decision. Because if we're going to complain about how hard it is, or be exhausted all the time, then why did we choose to become mothers in the first place?

You can believe in what you're doing, know that you were meant to be a mother in this instance, and still not be to thrilled to face some days. I think that's completely normal no matter what you're doing with your adult life. But oh the mom guilt! The negative thoughts... "You shoudn't feel that way. Motherhood is a beautiful thing, a calling." Phooey. I remember a friend once telling me she needed to take a "mental health day". How clever I thought. And she was dead serious. She did it. I could definitely benefit from one of those every now and then. All I'd need is a quiet house, all to myself, to just sit and think, or not. No biggie.

My children take piano lessons from an older gentleman in our ward. He and his wife have children which are mostly grown and on their own now. So in other words, their house is quiet. Sometimes I sit at the bottom of their stairs and listen to the tail end of my kids' lessons. They have a set of windchimes on their porch that produces such lovely tunes, and has such a calming effect on me. The first time I noticed the sound, I huffed inside of my head "I know I'd never hear those lovely chimes were they hanging on my porch. My kids are too freaking crazy and loud." This thought soured my mood and for the next few days I found myself looking forward to a future when I could enjoy such tranquility.

That day could be now. And I do WANT to live in the now. I don't really want to escape, but for just a few daily moments perhaps. I need to make the time. I need to feel okay with needing that time. I need to speak up every once in a while and say "I need a mental health break!" "I need some time with my windchimes!" Lol. But most of all, it's needs to be heard and respected.

I think most moms feel this way - but we all think we're the only one that feels this way. If we felt important enough to express our needs or our frustration without fear of being misunderstood or judged maybe we'd realize it's normal. We're not alone.

13 comments:

Allysha said...

Nicely put.

Anne said...

nice post. craig knows that if i say i need time...i really mean it. i don't cry wolf. i have also found that as much as i love getting out of the house by myself, some of my greatest "me times" have come when i actually get to be in MY house...alone...and actually enjoy the spaces i work so hard to make beautiful.

Yvonne said...

As I sit here realizing that in a few months my 17 y.o. (soon to be 18) will be leaving home and it will just be Allan and me, I remember the days that were not so pleasant. We do need to express ourselves and you do it so beautifully.

BTW, I can't find you on Facebook--send me a note so I can find you. I'd love to be a friend.

Amber said...

I can always count on being so uplifted when I come to your blog. Seriously. You GET motherhood and all the struggles and joys that come with it. And this post was just beautifully written!

Heather and Elliott said...

LOVED THAT! I need "me time" daily. It's just the only way I can function (and I only have one darling, happy little girl).

I admire all the moms out there who are able to handle more than one.

natalie said...

I'm so glad I discovered your blog Leilani. I appreciate your honesty. Now I have proof for my husband that I'm not the only mom who feels this way! :)
P.S. I love the way you write.

An Ordinary Mom said...

It is so helpful to know we as mothers aren't alone with these crazy thoughts we have :) !! I feel so blessed to have good friends nearby who feel the same way I do ... some days we take mental health breaks together!

Thanks for the most excellent post! And thanks for being such a remarkable mother and writer!

Tamlynn said...

lately I've been warning my kids: Its 8:00. I do not want to see you again until 7:00 tomorrow morning. This is my time to be alone.

At first they thought I was kidding. Now they know better. I think I should make their bedtime 7:00!

Ambrosia said...

Thanks Lei. I needed to hear that right now.

Liam's Mom said...

Excellent post, Lei! So true, so so so true. I appreciate your thoughts on the subject.

Shellie said...

Yeah, what she said, and what you said, and I might add that friend should feel extra special that the mom is thinking about her in the back of her mind and wishing she ever had time to call her. :)

Leisha said...

This is so very true. Seeing that I just ran to my office to get even a few minutes of time to just sit and think and the kids aren't allowing it. . .I needed this. Thanks, Lei. You always say it perfectly.

Swimmingmom said...

EXACTLY what I needed to hear (read) this week. Thanks so much. So good to know that I'm not alone in the way I feel somedays.