I got "told" yesterday that my attitude about things stinks. About family things. About my angst with the fact that my kids are kids, they never stop making sounds and mess and don't listen. That they are kids and will by some kind of universal law, poke, prod, throw things at one another and generally just be far more annoying than I can manage with any kind of aplomb.
It was said, to illustrate, that I am "acting like a prisoner or someone serving a jail sentence". I try to use my polite voice. I try to say please and thank you and to praise the positive moments when they come. I'm going through the motions. But I'm not really "there". I'm not loving the moment or living in it or enjoying it. I'm constantly trying just not to lose my shit and to keep things running smoothly. I'm in survival mode.
Everything I do for my family costs energy that I don't feel like I have to spare. I'd totally rather be somewhere else, curled up with a good book and a lemonade and nothing in my headspace.
This "survival" mode might work for work. But it's not long term tenable for the homefront. Something about small people requiring nurturing or caring or something like that. Yeah, I get it. I get that emotional distance is actually abuse.
But I'm bitter. Oh god, am I bitter. I'm not Mary-fucking-Poppins. I'm not singing with your goddamn dinner, I'm not going to smile and be delighted when you hit your sister with a rock, even if it was an accident. And I know that's not exactly what the criticism is, but it sure as hell is what it feels like.
What sayest thou, hive-mind? Where do you find your zen? Where do you find the energy left to care? Anyone else struggle with this?
Are you depressed? I have these feelings, but they don't linger like it sounds like they does for you and the first thing I thought is that you might be clinically depressed. Are you a SAHM? If yes, do you get any time for yourself? I had a friend who recently had a full 24 hours to herself for the first time since before her children were born (I think the oldest is 6 or 7). I was in utter shock and disbelief that she had not had a single night away from her kids. She's a happy woman in a great marriage, so I just assumed the two spouses were giving each other time apart. Can you get away for a week without the kids? I think that would do you a ton of good. A warning, though, it may leave you feeling like you want to run away and never go back. However, once you come home, you may realize that you really did miss your babies.
What about exercising? My husband and I both run and this year, in particular, we are having to really accommodate each other's running schedules. But, we get that hour or two to ourselves and the running clears away all stresses, at least short-term. I don't think about stressful things when I'm running-not purposefully, it just happens. My husband, however, does try to solve problems while he's running.
I find my zen in cooking. Which is why I weigh a lot. The rest of the time, I'd say I'm in "survival mode" too, just trying to make it through the day. I think a lot of us need counseling, if we can just force ourselves to make time for it. Which causes stress. Which doesn't help things. But I agree with LG.
I fight these feelings all the time, and yep, I'm clinically depressed. Go figure. As a divorced parent, I get every other weekend to myself and I'm virtually certain that's the only thing that keeps me from just completely going insane and/or running away from home for good. So yeah, any time you can get for yourself, an hour here and there even, but consistently, is heaven sent. Make it clear to spouse that it's something you NEED, not just want, and he needs to help make it happen.
I echo Ruth. I was miserable (MISERABLE) during the little man's second year, and for a chunk of the third. Now, between a healthy swack of Wellbutrin, regular exercise (commuting by bike = business plus pleasure), and a night or two a week where I'm out doing volunteer work or seeing friends, things are so much better. Now I'm happy when I see the little man and my partner, rather than wishing I could go back to work where at least it's quiet. And if I lose my temper, it's because the little man has accidentally gouged me with a bony elbow too many times, and not because he simply exists and has reasonable needs. The life duet enjoys home life in much larger doses than I do, and is supportive of me being gone, for lots of reasons, not the least of which is that I was a real asshole when I wasn't getting the time that I needed.
I'm sorry you got told that yesterday. If, in fact, your attitude is not super rosy right now, it sounds like that's for very legitimate reasons. And if I'm remembering earlier posts from you correctly, you bear a lot of the home life burden in your family, so it makes sense you'd be feeling super burned out. I hope you can find a solution that takes some of that pressure off.
Also, maybe emotional distance is abuse, but it's also not the full story. It's not abusive to want time to yourself, or to "check out" for a certain amount of time each day, or to hold certain things in reserve so you have enough energy to nurture yourself.
I'm not an instinctive mom and I get bored with little kid stuff very quickly. It has gotten better as the boys have gotten older and are more independent - I feel less like they are nagging (for stupid things like food). I'm also much happier when I have work that I enjoy, but it is an easy guilt spiral - I don't enjoy my kids as much as I "should", so I feel like a bad mom, so I do things because I'm "supposed to" so I feel guilty...
Sounds like me with PMS. My fuse is microscopic and I feel like my buttons are being pushed constantly. These are the times when I feel like everyone else is doing better, has more money, is having more fun [insert complaint here] than us. I try not to lose it, even when I really, really, really want to. Sometimes I do just curl up on the couch with my kindle (and some form of chocolate). As long as no one is playing with fire or knives, I don't give a shit.
Have any helpers to give you a break? A couple commenters on AskMoxie mentioned going a resort. Alone. Overnight. Maybe you need to take a step back and take 24 hours to regroup.
All I do know is that you have some of the best advice and comments here, so you have that going for you ;)
The first thing that came to my mind was that, as others have said, you probably do need some time alone to recharge your batteries. And perhaps to find more things to do with your kids that everyone enjoys - that help you to connect. I know that this is a difficult thing when there are multiple kids, as they all have their own interests. Mr. Questions and I both like to get out of the house and go places and we also both enjoy dragging out the paints and popsicle sticks and having fun with art. (Neither of which have been very easy to do with Cozy Trouble up to this time, though things are getting better.)
My second thought, and I've had it before, is that we set the bar pretty high for ourselves as parents these days. I mean, when I was young, my mother ensured that I was clothed and fed and that's pretty much all that I expected of her. I knew that she loved me, but I never thought that she was there to have conversations with me or entertain me or anything. Mostly, she was always cleaning the house, talking on the phone or cutting recipes out of magazines while watching TV. Myself, I feel bad if I don't either take the kids out or try to do a craft or some sort of activity with Mr. Questions and there's minimal TV and hopefully a from-scratch meal. And sometimes, among all these expectations, the day is not going as I wish it to and I feel like I am failing and I certainly do not behave like anything resembling Mary Poppins. This is total projection here, but I find that many of my friends (especially the stay-at-homers) suffer from the same syndrome.
Well, my comments would echo LG's, really. You sound depressed, and your emotional well is completely dry. You have nothing left to give, and you know it - hence the distance. You need a vacation, stat.
As for me, since I tend to take care of more of the household stuff, it used to weigh on me more when the kids were smaller. Now that they are older it's a bit easier. Well, when they aren't drinking white board cleaner and stupid shit like that. AlphaGeek is also very good about letting me talk to him about whatever might be on my mind. He also encourages me to get out of the house by myself, and not get too wrapped up in things. Time away is important - don't discount it.
Do you agree with this person's assessment, though? Do you feel like a prisoner serving a jail sentence? Or are they being unfair?
I doubt anyone can engage joyfully with their kids every single minute of the day. When mine were younger I'd take them out a lot and let the museum or the zoo or the wading pool entertain them. Now that they're older, they're better at keeping themselves amused around the house without me, and they play together really well.
When I take time to myself, though, it often comes at the expense of the cleanliness of the house. Lucky for me, I have a high mess tolerance and it doesn't bother me that we can't always find the floor. It's much, much harder if messes stress you out. And if it bothers you, it bothers you. That's not the sort of thing you can overcome with sheer willpower. Maybe if they can learn to keep the mess confined to a room or two.
Be good to yourself. Take your breaks. Look into the depression thing if that feels like a fit to you. Think about what you'd like to change that's actually under your control, and see if change is possible. I hope you feel better soon.
Yes. I feel like this 90% of the time. The only thing I've found that helps (besides the international spa vacations we can't afford but I'M POSITIVE would help) is meditation. Simple, no-nonsense, focus-on-the-breath-and-nothing-else meditation. Nothing woo-woo or religious about it, just breathing. Focusing on the space where the breath goes in and out of the nose, letting everything else empty out, bringing my mind back to my breath whenever I notice it's strayed. Which it always does.
It's a little vacation in my day, several times a day. It brings me back to center. It helps me let go of stuff, see the humor where before I didn't (couldn't), clears my mind of the muck that collects in it throughout the day, helps me enjoy the moments more. It's not a panacea but the difference, for me, between a day with vs. without meditation is pretty dramatic.
And I like it because I can do it when I'm sitting on the couch with a kid, or cooking dinner, or changing a diaper. No special equipment, no depending on my partner to "give me" time (not that that's not important, but in truth it's not always dependable), none of that. Just me and my breath.