A Very Unmerry Birthday to You

Yesterday was my birthday. As a mother, that meant the day ran about the same as all the others but my kids and husband wanted me to be happy. Act happy. Look excited. Smile more (well, at all). Eagerly anticipate what household object they had gift-wrapped.

In short, I needed to be as excited as the boys all feel when it’s their birthday.

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Like most events in life, however, I dread my birthday. I don’t like being the spotlight. I’m not a fun present un-wrapper. I’m not the life of the party. When birthdays or Mother’s Day roll around, I’d rather not be here to celebrate. This desire confuses and hurts my family.

The problem is that the day is still a day. My day of birth was a Saturday this year; but, when it’s a weekday; I still have carpool, cleaning, sports classes, dinner, dishes, bedtime, and attempts to bond as a couple.

The problem is that my entire life is to anticipate the whims of the house and its occupants and cater to them to avoid nuclear meltdown. Everyone else’s needs come first and I feel shallow thinking about myself.

The problem is, like with most events, I need to ask for what I want in order to receive it -and I feel bad for having wants in the first place. I’ve crumpled up and trashed anything resembling innermost desires; and feel like an indecent, filthy street beggar pawing through something molding when asked about them.

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Why? That doesn’t seem healthy. Perhaps it’s not.

Acknowledging the problem or even testing out the whole “asking for what I want” thing doesn’t erase the guilt. Again, though, why not? And, more specifically, how can we erase the guilt? Lobotomy?

Frankly, I’ve spent the last few years in an intentional haze of semi-tiredness (very like a lobotomy) in order to avoid some of these bothersome feelings. I’ve numbed to avoid sadness and empty despair and hopelessness. I’ve pretended contentment and ignored myself in order to function.

*Sigh*

Birthdays don’t have to be so heavy and serious, of course. I actually only cried because I wanted to a little yesterday. Then, my sister planned a surprise mani/pedi appointment and my mother took me to lunch afterwards. My husband, for his part, took the children and the housework for the day.

In all, even my Eeyore side had to agree that it was a good birthday.

Now, if I could just get over how guilty I feel that everyone did all that for me…

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Sunday, March 17: “The Magic Clothes Washing Machine,” my scientific observations of what the clothes washer produces.

Monday, March 18: Wrote a poem for The Bloggers Bash competition titled, “Five More Minutes.”

Tuesday, March 19: Shared a quote by Christie Mellor.

Wednesday, March 20: Whispered my super secret tip about bread preservation.

Thursday, March 21: “In Case of Emergency, Interrupt.” Never ignore The Look.

Friday, March 22: Advised against Super Momming in “Pinterest Mom or Sane Parent?

Saturday, March 23: Shared Unfiltered Mama‘s tweet about difficult kids.

Sunday, March 24: Today! Yay!

 

Photo Credit:
Jorge Ibanez
Jiroe
Rune Enstad

Five More Minutes

Five more minutes to sleep alone,
To dress in peace,
To check a phone.

Five more minutes to eat my food,
To eat it warm,
To eat it chewed.

Five more minutes to sit right here,
To read a book,
To disappear.

Five more minutes is not that long,
To feel the guilt,
To feel the wrong;

When

Five more minutes is what I seek

Five more minutes is all I need

Five more minutes, or maybe three,

Is all I long for, to just be me.

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Found time to write this for The 2019 Bloggers Bash Competition.

 

Photo Credit:
Jordan Whitt

The @#*&% Diet

My girlish figure of yesteryear
(Whom I usu’lly ignore)
Said, most plaintively, “Tell me, dear,
What is it we stand for?”

“I speak, you see, of floors and scales,
Left groaning down below.
I speak of knees and lig’ment wails
When standing on our soles.”

Surprised, I peered ’round var’yous parts,
To ‘xamine scale and toes.
I saw her point; I gave a start
At what was ‘bscured down low.

A fur’yous resolution formed
To remedy my view.
My goal: a skinn’yer me, as norm,
And calories, refuse.

And so began a tort’ous life
Of counting veggie crumbs;
Of ‘no more fats and sugars’ strife,
Of cravings overcome.

My figure cheered and reappeared
As did my scale and feet.
My shaking, shiv’ring me, I fear
Was not as much upbeat.

“I wish,” I croak, “To have them both:
Sweet eats and view of ground.
Not starve myself to cut back growth –
And only lose five pounds!”

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Photo Credit:
Thought Catalog

Selfish Selflessness

Being a mother is like being between a rock and a hard place, especially if the rock is a petrified piece of carpet food and the hard place is the mother of all Lego bricks.

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We live a daily life of conflicting messages:

Cuddle your child but don’t smother him.

Teach your children to stick up for themselves but to be kind.

Help them understand that feelings and emotions are healthy, yet don’t psychologically screw them up by being anything but upbeat.

Know where they are so they don’t get mugged; why are you such a helicopter parent?

Spread out the responsibility of the chores but do not demand too much of your offspring.

Maintain a schedule but be a fun mom.

Put the husband, children, house, pets, and community as the first priority; make sure you spend time on you.

We feel the need to be selfless -no!- we are forced into selflessness that very instant the baby is out and cannot even live without minute-by-minute care. The bond of servitude begins forming as the baby does, but is shackled in place upon his birth.

Whether a mother is a good mother or not; she is, henceforth and forever, tied to another soul.

This arrangement wouldn’t be so bad if we were more like other mammals. Horses are full-grown by about age four. The blue whale comes in a bit longer at 10 years old.

We’re not going to talk about the elephants ’cause they have it worse than we do.

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The point is that we maintain this forever selfless connection up till our child is grown and out of the nest. Even then, we stick around to help move furniture or post bail. Understandably, mothers are not able to be more selfish. If we are, we feel guilty for it.

What if your insecure teenage daughter runs away while you’re at a party with adult friends? What if you let your son ride his bike to the theater, only to learn that he crashed and is calling you from the hospital? What if a nosy neighbor calls Child Protective Services because your escaping toddler made it down the block to the park again? And, what if your husband cheats on you with his younger, more fun, unattached coworker while you were swimming in this selfless bubble he helped place you in?

See what I mean? Rock and hard place. They’re not some sort of yin-yang thing, you know.

I wish I had an easy answer for anyone feeling this way, but I don’t. I’ve been able to spend more time on me this past year, but that is primarily due to my children growing older and us having enough money to try counseling services and emotional doctoring.

do have practical steps you can take; the ones I’ve tried for the last two years:

  1. First, I joined a young mother’s group at a local Christian church. They referenced some religious topics but mostly strove to be somewhere for moms to go and be supported.
  2. I also started personal counseling. Not far into it, I started marital counseling with my husband. Both have been vital.
  3. I looked into a few emotional health concerns by trying hormones. A regular doctor advised against continuing with some, but what I learned about vitamins and hormone balance was useful.
  4. Every day for nearly 9 months, I exercised.
  5. I made appointments with people for specific days we would go out to lunch. Sometimes I paid and sometimes they did.
  6. I visited a real, live person at least once a week.
  7. I started a blog, and wrote every day. I started a second blog to discuss what was bugging me (you are reading it).
  8. Through what we’ve learned in counseling, I have asked for what I need and tried not to feel guilty taking it. My husband has toned down his disapproving looks and stepped right up when I ask.
  9. I’ve made life goals and told myself I will achieve them.
  10. I’ve made a list of ten things I did to help combat the impotent feelings of motherhood.

If you are feeling trapped between carpet food and Lego-hood, don’t give up. Things really do get better, as cliché as that sounds. Try my list or make your own. If you can do nothing else, I encourage anyone and everyone to find a good counselor and do what s/he says.

Get out of your rut and take control of the direction of your life, and I will too.

 

Photo Credit:
Aleks Dahlberg
Casey Allen