Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Break for Sisyphus

*I was just about to save this little bit of writing in my journal folder entitled "natalie's cray cray thoughts" but instead I'm posting it here. I guess I like feedback from my co-workers. And I assume, if I'm feeling it, someone else is too.
I am lucky that my trials are also my blessings. Which means, of course, that they really aren't trials at all. I just need a different outlook. But that's so much easier said than done.

I have two very bright, healthy children. And that makes them inquisitive and exhausting sometimes. I have a wonderful husband, but I feel a constant guilt that while he is working long hard hours, I fail to keep up the home/laundry/cooking like I feel I should. (He would never say anything about it though.) I have a lovely new home. But dealing with the size of it keeps my to-do list constantly growing.

It's funny, I feel like I never stop working. I'm always grabbing at something on the floor, wiping up some kind of mess. But I also leave sippy cups on the floor for days and a diaper bag spilled contents on the floor. I just can't take it all in. I stop seeing things. The chaos of a life where I'm not in total control. And even if I was in complete control, I leave behind "creative" messes. I like projects and baking and different shoes close by for different moods. I want to clean them up completely, but then there is a cry of "Mom!" and I'm off to the next mess.

Still, the need to have the home/laundry/cooking finished is the apple dangling on the stick, just out of my reach. Everyday I don't reach it, the sensation of failure prickles my neck as I lay down to rest.

I can't work all the time. I would go crazy. It makes sense why mothers are such huge bloggers. A hobby that can be snuck into the pockets of time when we have finally done all we can and need to do something else. Anything else. Something creative and meaningful that isn't for our loved ones in our own tiny universe. I asked my mom what she did to keep her sanity. She said she talked on the phone. I'm not much of a phone talker. Not since high school at least.

Yesterday I really thought I'd had a successful day. Shane got home after dinner was over, and had to immediately head to the backyard to fix a sprinkler issue. "Take the kids with you to help!" I yelled from the living room and collapsed on the couch with my unopened novel. I had been carrying it around with me for 5 weeks without so much as cracking the spine. I would reward my successful day with a bit of reading.

I hadn't gotten to the second paragraph, when Lydia pulled the book down.

"Mommy, can you play with me? You haven't done anything with me all day."

I closed the book and looked at her.

"Lydia, you've done everything today! We had smoothies outside together for breakfast, we went to swimming lessons, we went out to lunch, we bought you two new pairs of summer shoes, you watched a Strawberry Shortcake show, you played with friends in the backyard all afternoon!"

"Yea. But you haven't played with me."

I looked at my little girl. She is just so sweet. It's true. I hadn't actually played. When was the last time I played with them? I read to them. I cook for them. I talk to them. But do I get on the floor and play? How often do I pretend?

I was so tired. But my 50 self whispered something, and I jumped down on the floor and flipped them and played superman. Collin ran in for his turn and we laughed and laughed. Then we went upstairs and played memory. I got them ready for bed, read them stories. Shane came in to finish putting them to bed. Lydia hugged me extra long. "I love when you play with me"she whispered.

As I talked with Shane later, I told him my worry about having so many plates in the air. He held my hand and said, "Play with them. It's what means the most to them. I can help you with the rest."

He sent me to relax, did all the dishes and put away the laundry.

That was yesterday.

Today was a good day. I decided that I needed a pause from the constance of it all. 

I do want to play. I want to have the energy to get everything done. I want to be successful as a mother, homemaker and wife. A successful woman and person. 

But today was not that day. It started out normally. We worked on our chore charts. I took them to swim lessons and we had a picnic in the park. But then, I called it quits. I let that huge bolder slip down the hill and I didn't go to retrieve it. I just sat in my sunny study and read my book. Collin took a glorious nap, Lydia played across the street. I could have caught up on housework. I could have prepared dinner. I could have, could have, could have.....

But I didn't.

I read my book, drank (caffeine free) Diet Coke, ate Cheez-its from a box and chocolate from the "smores" stash. 

I made the kids leftovers and turned on a movie afterwards. I'm leaving the dishes.  I'll get around to them eventually. Shane's working late anyway.

I should be giving the kids a bath. But they're still watching TV and I'm writing a blog post. 

Today I'm not letting myself feel guilty. I'm tired of the fact that the one continuous aspect of motherhood is guilt. I'm freaking sick and tired of feeling guilty.

Tired of feeling guilty that my house is always in some state of clutter. Feeling guilty that when my house is at it's cleanest, my husband comes home to a disheveled and exhausted wife. Tired of feeling guilty that I'm not treasuring every single moment with my small children. Tired of feeling guilty I'm a terrible friend who is so caught up in her own minutia, I rarely see or talk to anyone I'm not directly responsible for. 

Today, I just going to sit in this chair and think about all of the good things I'm doing. Because I'm tired of constantly rolling this rock, and feeling guilty I'm not doing it correctly.

I'm going to feel good about myself today that my kids and husband are happy and feel loved, and I'm sitting down, reading a book and ignoring my visions of success. 

Today, and possibly all week, we're on summer break. Including me. 


Unknown said...

Weird, this has been my exact issue all week. To make myself feel better however, I enjoy myself a real diet coke. that fake stuff doesn't cut it:) love you nat. Can't wait for next month!

Unknown said...

Weird, this has been my exact issue all week. To make myself feel better however, I enjoy myself a real diet coke. that fake stuff doesn't cut it:) love you nat. Can't wait for next month!

Natalie Jane said...

I know! I'm so excited!!!!

Samantha said...

Such truth. I often look at my house at the end of the day and wonder just what I did all day long. It's depressing at times. Glad to know other moms feel they deserve a summer break too!

Elizabeth Peterson said...

Hey Natalie it was fun to briefly see you the other day. I really need to be beeter at commenting.

I am a home body who doesnt get out much and usually thats ok but then when I really need a break I have no one to call, so I need to be better at reaching out to friends I guess. I would hope that everyone feels like you at least sometimes...I know I do!!

Julie said...

Thanks for the reminder to ditch the guilt. And try to enjoy playing with the kids! :)

Brittany said...

I'm so glad to see this in writing from someone else! In addition to being a mother of two young children, I also have a full-time job and I always feel so guilty that the little time I DO have with them, I feel the need to do the "house" things. And when I AM doing those things, I feel major guilt that I'm not playing with my kids (well, my 2-yr-old other one is 4.5 months old). I finally came to the realization that the other stuff can wait. My babies will only be babies for so long. Thanks for sharing Natalie!

Dave and Abby said...

Did I write this? I don't remember being so eloquent, but I'm sure I wrote this; how else could my feelings and experiences be so perfectly conveyed?

LindsayBetes said...

This post rocks my socks. :) So true and exactly how I've been feeling lately. I have some added guilt as I have to work full time outside the home and then have to manage the time I do have between everything else. It's so hard. Beautifully written post. :)

Kathleen W. said...

You are seriously my favorite blogger. It's like you read my mind every day, but just have a better way of putting it into words. Keep it up! You need this for yourself (and we need you too, haha. More persons that you have to satisfy :) Though I can tell that you enjoy writing, so I doubt it is a chore.

Heidi Jo said...

Thanks Nat for that post!! I needed it so much. Glad I can call you my friend!

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