I have days like that...a lot. But in my day-to-day life of mothering, I can usually pull out of it. Most days I can make the "babies don't keep" "the dishes can wait" sayings stick. I can take them to heart and remind myself to treasure all of the stuff: the good stuff, the hard stuff, the dirty stuff, the exhausting stuff, the funny stuff, the so-cute-you-could-die stuff, the so-disgusting-you-could-puke stuff. Alllll the stuff. Throughout my days, I remind myself to just treasure it all, to soak it all up...Because what is it they say? In the blink of an eye, it will be over. They will be grown and gone. No more smeared handprints on the couch, no more smashed crackers on the floor, no more slobbery, open-mouthed kisses or funny conversations or spilled milk or negotiating with terrorists or big hugs or snuggles in bed or being silly over nothing or dancing in underwear. Over.
And then there are my really bad days when I can't convince myself to soak it all up. I can't get myself to treasure the moments...and I don't want to. And sometimes my days turn into a few days, or a week or sometimes more, and I get stuck in a rut of wishing;
Wishing my time away, wishing my kids away away, wishing my mom-ness away, wishing the day away. I use every half-assed trick in the book to not engage with them. I stare at my phone, make excuses as to why I can't jump on the trampoline, why I can't paint with them, why I can't read with them, why I can't watch a movie with them. Time-outs are more frequent, naps are longer than they need to be, my patience about as thin as paper, my temper shorter than an inchworm. I go to bed knowing it won't reset my mood, and I dread getting up in the morning to battle it all out again.
I write this and feel ashamed. But I also feel a little resistant to the shame, and in my head I can hear myself rattling off a million excuses as to why I was a caregiver today, but not a mother. In my head I make rationalizations that I do think are rational. I really do. I give myself a way out, a way to not beat myself up about how short I'm falling to my expectation of myself and my comparisons to others. Can't a girl get a break without breaking her children? Can't a girl just detox all the crap she is going through without taking it out on little people who amass around her constantly? Does a mother really have to love being a mother every second of every day? Can't a girl get some credit for just freaking holding it together all freaking day?!?
I think it stems from....well, I don't know what it stems from. Stress, maybe? Failure? Exhaustion? Maybe all of those? Pushing yourself mentally, physically and emotionally to your complete and utter limit every single day takes its toll on a person.
Maybe it stems from losing the battle to your threenager constantly. These days, I often wonder if this is how it really feels to have an actual teenager, and I shudder with horror -- to have a person really not like you and stare daggers at you and not appreciate anything you do and never being able to do anything right and if there's by some small chance a good moment, it last for about 5 minutes and you're back to being the bad guy again. Sounds just like a real teeenager, right? I'm so afraid.
And I know that it's all in how I react, and that some parenting decision must be made, and consistency is key, and it's just a phase and blah blah blah....but right now, I have no energy to parent. No energy to try. Nothing I do seems to work, no decision I make seems like the right one. I haven't had those rewarding tender mercies that shine through the hard times that remind us why we do the things we do. I think a lot of it is my crappy attitude, but again, I have no energy to fix it. I'm in a rut. And right now, it's proving impossible to get out of. Please tell me this happens to you sometimes.
I daydream frequently of getting out of my body and going in my head somewhere. I imagine the things I could do with my time, things I want to start or finish, the person I want to be, the person I could be. I imagine what it would be like to read a book endlessly into the night, without interruptions or the reality that you have to get up at 7 AM and you can't stay up till 2 AM reading or you'll be a monster the next day. I wonder what it would be like to travel without worrying about schedules or babysitters or packing for two other people that aren't yourself. And I think these things, and a small little voice pushes on my daydream bubble, reminding me that this is my calling. It's a noble one, I'm doing important work, I'm doing better than I think I am.
But on days like today, I don't let that annoying, small voice penetrate my bubble. I don't let it sink it. I push against it with, 'Yeah, buts', and 'that's nice, but I don't see its' and 'that doesn't change what i want' types of thoughts. I play the martyr. Sometimes it feels good.
Tonight, alone with my thoughts and the quite, and being able to look at the day a little more objectively, I realize maybe I'm being pessimistic. Maybe I'm playing devil's advocate to myself. Maybe I'm rebelling as much as my circumstance and conscience will let me, but sometimes, it's the truth. And sometimes, in this life, we really need to stop being ashamed of our truths and air them out. If we don't, I truly believe they fester and turn into something much worse than truth: Bitterness.
And so, yes. I'll say it: today was just a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for me. My kids weren't even that bad. But I was. And I didn't care. And it was hard.
and I just want people to know it's ok. Maybe it was a bad day, or a bad week. Maybe even a bad month (as it's proving to be over here). But I know that eventually it gets better. We dig ourselves out of that rut. In my case, the bitterness and disappointment fades and is replaced by such soul-wrenching happiness that I feel like I might burst, though sometimes, it takes a while.
And when the bitterness comes back, when the disappoint fills my heart, when the bad days never seem to end and the mother I want to be is nowhere to be found, this poem brings hope back to me
You are the trip I did not take,
You are the pearls I could not buy.
You are my blue Italian Lake,
You are my piece of foreign sky.
You are my Honolulu moon,
You are the book I did not write.
You are my heart's unuttered tune,
You are a candle in my night.
You are the flower beneath the snow,
In my dark sky a bit of blue.
Answering disappointment's blow with,
I am happy! I have you!
Tonight, I'm holding onto it as tightly as I can, willing myself to believe it. Tomorrow, I hope I rejoice in its truth.
And I hope I'm not alone in this. I hope you're here sometimes, too.