Loveys, how are you? I've been a little MIA lately. Last week was a doozy. I had one of those epic failure-at-motherhood moments. The kind where mommy desperately needs a time out. Seriously. The step-outside-and-take-a-deep-breath kind of situation (in theory, except it's forever snowing in this town so you can't step outside).
Here's what happened. We were running a bit late for school. I've just juggled breakfast for everyone and Ashtyn getting dressed and fixing her hair, Lily throwing half her breakfast on the floor so I've resorted to just giving her puffs, Lincoln being hyper. I need to run upstairs and find my purse so we can go. I tell Ash she can give Lily puffs. I run up the stairs, find my purse, and come back down . . . and there's already arguing and I'm losing it. When I ask what's happened, Ash hands me the puff canister, which was maybe a little less than half full. Now it's empty. She and Lincoln are arguing over each other as I realize that Lincoln has just eaten all the puffs, Lily's puffs--in the span of two minutes.
And. Now. I'm. Crying. And. Shouting.
Literally, crying real tears over puffs. The kids are just standing there as I'm sobbing and gasping and ordering them to the stairs for a time-out. Then I'm hollering to go get money out of their piggy banks because they will pay for puffs. They rush up the stairs. I'm standing there, breathing hard, and I keep crying and muttering incoherently. They come back down with money in their little hands. Lincoln gives me a handful of coins. He's obviously aware that Mommy is feeling crazy, but that doesn't stop him from looking at the money, then looking at me and asking, "Mommy, how much is that?" The boy wants to know how much he is giving up. Good grief.
I gather myself and load everyone in the car and drive Ash to school. On the way, I apologize for screaming (but they are still paying for the puffs).
I know it's a combination of everything. I was frustrated with Jeff that morning. Puffs aren't really expensive but they might as well have been because I felt like they were wasted by Lincoln (and sometimes they are the only thing Miss Lily will eat). I was teetering on an emotional edge and all the chaos pushed me right off and I cried.
I know it happens. My mother is a steady woman. She's also extremely capable. But I can think of a few times when she disappeared into the shower to be alone--and I know she cried. Those were days when she was overwhelmed. I know it happens to every mom, to every woman for that matter. While it's something that most of us have lived through, still, those are high-tension days and low-capacity experiences that drain us. That day drained me.
I am not a perfect mother.
That was one day in a string of busy days last week. This week, all my kids now have colds. Oh goodness. It's especially hard with Lily because there's not that much I can give her. And even though we're desperate for spring, it's been snowing all morning, lovey. I'm sitting here, feeling a bit chilled, and I can hear through the baby monitor Lily's little coughs as she sleeps (probably for another five minutes. I better type fast).
I will be honest with you--there are moments when I'd like to be alone. Just for an hour maybe. Complete quiet. And the truth about motherhood is that there isn't much alone time to be had. So . . . every now and then you cry over puffs and you go for a few days where you quit cooking and cleaning and you just exist. Then--sometimes slowly--you start to pick yourself back up and do a couple of loads of laundry (no folding, let's not go crazy here). You sigh and do the dishes because, well, they need to get done. You thaw out hamburger meat because your family can only live on Ramen for so long.
A friend and I were talking recently and I told her that I wasn't sure how I managed anything while I was working outside the home for so long. She just shrugged and told me that I wasn't home quite as much. When everyone is gone to work and daycare, no one is home making a huge mess all day long. You're not constantly using every dish in the house and loading and emptying and reloading the dishwasher. I thought about that, and I think she's right. There's still so much to take care of at the end of the day for absolutely every mom and dad, but all day/every day feels like snack time and play time for someone at my house, lovey. It's just common knowledge that a constant cycle of diapers and bottles and snack time and lunch time and laundry and dishes can make you start to twitch. (And what about moms that work from home! Double-edged sword, I know!)
And while I could tell Jeff that I need some alone time and I know he'll give it to me--I know he needs it too. So we have to help each other.
We're at the final stretch of school before summer, lovey. And that can feel crammed. Fund runs and Mother's Day tea and kid birthday parties and extra-curricular activities and on and on it goes. I'm SO ready for summer. But . . . for someone needing alone time, the reality is that for some of us, summer means all the kids at home every day.
I believe in self-care. A little goes a long way. An hour at a coffee shop by myself. Drinks with a friend. Maybe a hair cut. For Jeff, it was an extra night of basketball this week. He needed that.
Loveys, I'm not a perfect wife. Or a perfect friend. Or a perfect sister. Sometimes I cry over puffs and demand that my children give me money from their piggy banks (good Lord!). Crying and craziness are for sure indications that a little self-care is in order. I love my kids to the point of obsession, really. But it's so vital to recognize our own needs and do a little schedule-juggling in order to make room for healthy space to breathe.
And it's definitely okay to take a few days off from the constant chores. Let the laundry pile up for a day or two, when you're back to yourself, you can handle that. A few nights of frozen dinners or soup and sandwiches or even cereal is not a big deal. Put everyone to bed a little early, yourself included, and clean the kitchen tomorrow. One of the things that overwhelms me about housework is that it NEVER ENDS. (Insert twitching.)
Luckily, I'm not a perfectionist. Now, I start to go even more crazy if I live in complete chaos for long periods of time, but I can shake off the mess for a couple of days and just go to sleep early or hop in bed and read instead of clean up. We need rest and it's hard to come by. Honestly, I'm tired this week. The days seem long when the kiddos are sick (not to mention if the parents are sick! I'm praying Jeff and I don't catch this cold!).
I don't like feeling as though I'm teetering on the edge. But I've been there enough to know that I'll keep breathing and next week will probably be better. The snow will stop eventually. I'll drink at least two cups of coffee today (maybe three) and Jesus will still love me.
Sometimes you cry real tears over puffs. Or whatever else. You just do.
Loveys, have you had epic-fail moments as a wife or mother? What do you do to shake things off and keep going?