09 March 2010

Repost: Inside the mind of a mother

I realized today that just because my life is chaotic right now doesn't mean my blog need be neglected.  So I looked back to my posts from last March and some of my favorite evers were there!  I'll be reposting a few of them this week while I get back on my feet (preferably with new carpet beneath them). ;)

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.

I am happy to report that 1 year later I have made a 180 degree turn when it comes to speaking up and saying "I need to get outta here for a bit!"  Good news, eh?  How about you?


Yvonne said...

I'm like the piano teacher--quiet house. But when the house was not quiet, I took those "mental health moments" and I think they helped me keep my sanity We need to do whatever it is to help us be the kind of mothers we want to be. We each need to know ourselves and do what we need to do.

Great thoughts.

Amber said...

This is SOOOOOOO spot-on, my dear!

"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!"

New goal for the week!