20 January 2013

My first concious thought this morning...

...was honestly, I can't do this.

I had another of those moments of crushing existential dread, the tight-chested feeling that I am failing at *everything*.

My house is messy.  I'm anxiously waiting for a supplier to get back to me.  My children are fighting ALL the time.  The baby is not sleeping.  I feel cross or sad a fair proportion of the time.  When I try to help the girls negotiate calmly for what they want, they stop screaming at each other only long enough to start screaming at me.  Two different children told me they hate me yesterday and I didn't get ONE single job ticked off my list.  Yesterday Talia got hurt twice when big ones got fed up with her and used their hands not their words.  I cuddled a distraught baby to sleep: She wouldn't even feed.  My husband tends to fall asleep putting the children to bed so we have lost our evening.

Every little thing feels like evidence that I'm getting it all wrong.

Failing.  Falling.  Flying apart.

I haven't felt like this in the longest time.

I won't be taking a picture of the living room today so that you can all tell me it's not that bad.  It's that bad.  I tidied up in here FOUR times yesterday, and hoovered once, and this morning it looks like a cereal box and a Waldorf toy shop and a wardrobe all exploded in here (which is pretty much realistically analogous to what actually happened).

A naked baby is sitting right in the middle of it hoovering up bits of the cereal she threw everywhere at the same time as trying to fit a peach-coloured wooden brick into her little ball run.  She's sitting on a pink play silk and a rainbow bean bag frog.  My toddler in her spotty red pjs is counting pennies on and off the arm of the sofa and talking to herself in an American accent.  Her hair is lightly dreaded at the back where she pulls it in her sleep.

This life is SO DAMN BEAUTIFUL.  But it's also bloody hard.

I know I'm not alone in having broken days.  I know this is a universal of motherhood - finding it top-of-the-world awesome one day, and the next day pushing down the urge to run screaming out of the door.  In the trenches of motherhood, peacemaking and picking up and cooking and planning and doubting and trying, it's so easy to lose perspective and hear only the internal voice of self-criticism.

This morning I painted the bathroom before breakfast time.  I nursed my baby, helped write a letter, inspected icicles, made hot milk, knitted two rows of a jumper, put one bag of laundry away, folded towels out of the tumble drier, laughed at a wrinkly-nosed face-pulling baby, re-hung the canvas which Rowan knocks off the wall every other night in her wrestles with sleep, brushed a big girl's hair and helped her pick out a dress, showed a baby how to use a little clay whistle, emailed a customer, and built a tower of bricks simply for the joy of the child knocking it over.

So why am I grieving all of the things I can't do, didn't get done, am *not* able to use as a measure of success?  Looking at that list, today is about thirty or so times better than yesterday!  And yet, I woke up grieving, and I'm sitting here writing this and crying, thinking of all the ways in which I am not and will never be the mother I want to be.

My plan for today is just this: breathe the beautiful, find every tiny scrap of light in today.  I've given myself time to reconcile myself with my ideals and my sadness, and now I'm looking to the wild and crazy grace to pull me back out again.

22 comments:

  1. Well, I crawled back under the duvet and told my husband to take the reigns, admittedly easier to with 1 child than four, but that 1 child expects my presence every minute of the day (and he puts his hand out for me in the night and gives me a pat). I cant believe the list of things you have done and its still morning. Talk about feeling like a failure lol.
    You know you are too hard on yourself. Do you ever leave the house alone? My Mum used to go into town every Saturday morning (sometimes with only her bus fare and enough for a coffee), and leave us 4 (me aged 7, one sister aged 3, and twins under 1), with my Dad. She said that sometime she was so tired she could hardly put one foot in front of the other, but the benefits of it far out weighed the tiredness.
    Maybe you need to shake loose a little on a regular basis?
    Hugs lovely, and remember, this too will pass.
    Val
    xxx

    http://our-happy-home-2013.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. (hugs back at you!)

      I don't have regular alone time out of the house. I used to, but since Martin had his first anxiety attack I've not felt right leaving him alone with all of them for long.

      I don't like blaming hormones, but, I'm blaming my hormones (and a particularly trying day yesterday) for feeling so down this morning. ;)

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  2. It is a plain and simple fact that being at home all day, every day with very young children can be hard work. It is a lifetime of 'good' and 'bad' days. I will never live up to my vision of the perfect mother, living the perfect family life in the perfect family home. But, almost twenty years of living the reality has taught me to not mind so much. And this is what I hope for you - that you will discover the art of 'not minding so much', because you are doing fine. You are doing just fine. xx

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    1. Thank you! Not minding so much is a good goal. I tend to overthink terribly!

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  3. You are not alone, Sarah. Struggling with this a lot myself currently. I'm shouting too much, feeling irritated too much, not planning enough, not doing enough. Heaven forbid I look at the bigger picture and actually realise I have a lot on my plate and am doing OK!

    The snow doesn't help. It's very isolating being away from adult contact/conversation.

    Amy (foreversomeday) xx

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  4. I would agree with not minding much although it is hard to do. When I do start to mind and this usually means shouting when I stop I wonder why. You are doing more in a day than I would do in a week and I have two children. Is it time to for a pause, to slow down, to not mind, to get your breath back?

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    1. I'm kind of hoping that when the manic energy recedes it will leave the house looking a bit tidier and more organised. :S When I'm going slow and enjoying being with the children, I'm ignoring the basic every day stuff. Then I go crazy and try to do everything all at once and am obnoxious with the children! Where's the balance?! One day...

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  5. You post speak the truth of pretty much every mother I know and I love your honesty and openess on your blog! I'm sending you hugs Mama and reminding you that for every low there will be a high to come. You have a gorgeous beautiful family, you are doing great! xx

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    1. Thank you. <3 Sharing always helps me to get things in perspective, and also handily stops me from turning into that person with the perfect looking life that other mamas feel inadequate about!

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  6. Babe, I hear you
    I honour you
    X

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    1. You always do. I'm feeling your gentle presence, mama.

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  7. Those days are the worst Sarah, thinking of you and hoping you can let go and not expect so much of yourself. You are doing amazingly x x x

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    1. Once I let it all out I did feel MUCH better and the girls spent the afternoon helping me to clean (first time they've been keen to help all month)!

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  8. Meep! Hugs.x I am thinking of you and wish I could be there to sit with you and help you ignore the world for a short while. And drink tea.

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    1. A cuppa and companionable knitting sound like balm for the soul! We'll have to do a distance tea and knitting date. :)

      Today got better, much much better. It always does. It just took a long time to shake the bad day yesterday.

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  9. I know what those days are like! I feel like a failure pretty much every day right now. But you are an amazing mama and you are doing amazing things! Raising real people! Human beings that are going to live fully with open arms and warm hearts. You're doing the most important job and you are doing it well. Lots of love to you xxx

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    1. I do hope that reading this back comforts you with the same. Dear one, YOU are not a failure either. xxx

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  10. I had one of those days yesterday :( I partly think it's that time of year. After Christmas there is always a bit of a slump. The weather keeps us indoors more. There was definatly some cabin fever brewing today.
    Your girls are beautiful. You are doing an amazing job!
    xx

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    1. Thank you, and YOU TOO! :) These days always creep up on me, but they are so few and far between compared to the days when I think I'm just so blessed. xx

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  11. I've been following your blog for a little while (found through pinterest?) and I keep coming back because I love your writing. And I've been meaning to comment and tell you how much I enjoy it. But this post really tugged at me--I feel like this SO often! It's nice to know that other moms feel this way too. I just think you are better at recognizing the blessing of it all and appreciating it. You are an inspiration to me, so thank you!

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    1. Thank you, comments like yours are so encouraging (because that's why I share so openly about the ups and downs) and also rather humbling (because I'm grateful to be heard and respected just as I am). This morning I woke up thinking I'd probably overshared, and that I might be putting off lovely customers who have come here from my business page! Then I see your comment. :D

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Penny for your thoughts? :)