Monday, December 7, 2009

waving my white flag

It's a well known fact that I'm stubborn. This means that sometimes I refuse to ask for help and get myself so overwhelmed that I can't do anything but sit and cry. For hours. You can imagine how much fun that is for jparks.

Since Truman's birth I've been struggling over how to balance taking care of him, taking care of the house, taking care of my marriage, and taking care of myself. I wish I could say I've figured out the balance, but I haven't and things like my sanity and marriage have been suffering for it. Jparks is fond of saying that it takes a village to raise a child and while I don't disagree, I'm wondering what do you do when you don't have a village to help you?

I often think about my grandmothers, who raised children while maintaining their homes and I can not wrap my mind around how they did it. All I can focus on is that I must be doing something wrong to feel this lost in motherhood. Jparks likes to point out that Truman is healthy and generally happy and that's what matters most, but it somehow feels like not enough. I want him healthy and happy in a clean house with a mother who is not exhausted and a set of parents that lovingly sit down to dinner every night. Unobtainable goals? Perhaps, but for some reason it's how I've decided life should be. I have friends that seem able to achieve this so why couldn't I? What part of the equation was I missing that kept leading me to feel like such a failure?

I spent a few days really thinking about how I was feeling towards being a mother and decided that something had to give because the road I was headed down was not healthy. I decided that while I admire my grandmothers and friends that could do it all, I'm not one of them. The first step was to get the cleaners to tackle the pile of clean laundry and the second was to hire a babysitter. While I always knew I would use babysitters to watch Truman for date nights, the one I found will also be paying me visits during the week. It took awhile for me to admit that I need someone to come once a week or so, for a few hours so I can do what I feel needs to be done; wash some dishes, take a nap, write a blog post, get a pedicure, whatever. I figured that if it takes a village to raise a child and I have no village around me, then I would buy myself one.

So there you have it, I've been missing partially out of a lack of time for posting, partially because I've been so embarrassed by what I viewed as a failure at motherhood that I couldn't bring myself to say anything, and partially because the lack of sleep has sucked the creativity right out of me. But I'm slowly coming back and from here out I refuse to see what I'm doing a failed attempt at raising my son. I'm doing the best I can and I won't feel bad about needing help. I may not be super mom but I am being the best mom I can be and that's good enough.


  1. Depending on the grandmother, she actually had a village, or she had sedatives. Having a baby that age sucks the life right out of you, no two ways about it. Not many people want to say it out loud, but it's just not fun. It gets more fun as they become actual people and not just little parasites. (Not that Truman isn't a little cutie pie who has his moments.)

    It's not you, it's the societal expectation that women are supposed to be able to do everything -- on no sleep. We all need help. Back in the day, there really were other relatives around to help out. Not that life for a mom was better then, it was just different, and the expectations have become completely unrealistic.

    Yeah, there are a few women out there who really, truly enjoy devoting their lives to making and nurturing lots of babies and thrive on spending all of their time and energy on that aspect of womanhood, but they are in the minority. The rest of us need a babysitter or cleaning person so we can fulfill our need for the occasional pedicure and time to be ourselves and half-bottle of wine.

  2. I really admire you (no bullshit...stop rolling your eyes). As you know, I don't have a kid yet, but i've been reading a lot of kid related material and observing mothers and motherhood. my conclusion is that most women are lying to the world. we have this suffocating pressure that we put on ourselves about the idea of being a "great mom." we look at one another and think that our friends/neighbors/people on tv have it all figured out and absolutely adore being a mother. the truth (from what I've gathered) is that most (ok, maybe not most, but very many) mothers, especially new ones, are completely exhausted, frustrated, confused and feel inadequate.

    and I completely agree with Kathy's comment above. women of other generations actually DID have help, even though it may not have seemed that way. and in the event that they didn't, they weren't necessarily living in a time where women felt like that had to feel "whole" or fulfilled so people just sucked it up and died inside (that's what i think, at least). And it's important to rememer that during those days, it was acceptable for mothers to drink...and smoke...a lot. no one can tell me that didn't help.

    not that you need anyone's validation, but i think your'e doing awesome and you're doing the right thing by getting ALL the help you can afford. anyone who tells you different is just fucking jealous (and you know it's true).

  3. Well, you had me fooled b/c I was thinking you had it totally together. You seem way more social and adapted than I was this time last year. I second everything Kathy said.

    Also, if you haven't already, find a Mother's club, it will help a ton. Two things I really hate about living here in Sydney are that there is no Mother's club for me and I don't have resources to even know how to do a background check on any potential babysitters. If you need help finding a Mom's club, I'd be happy to ask my mother's club back in San Carlos - they are always a huge help with resources for anything child/kid related.

  4. Unrealistic expectations is right! Motherhood is tough and you are hardly a failure for doing your best.

    I've made lots of mom friends though the years, I do NOT know a single one who doesn't have help of some sort... whether it's cleaners, sitters, extended family, or all of the above. There is no shame in needing a little support, especially if it allows your to focus on the things (and people) that matter most in your life :-)

    (Psst. It's me, Grace, from you know... "real life". I found your blog by following the link on one of your posts on the Y! group page for "you know what". So glad I did! You're HILARIOUS! So much so that I've spend what little "me time" I've had this past weekend reading your blog instead of updating my own.)

  5. hi regan, the weekday baby sitter is a great idea! i think lots of us were raised by more than our moms - my grandma was around often when i was a kid, and i have many friends who get babysitting help from family/friends on weekends. take care!

  6. Fret not, for I think I'd be doing the same thing. (Or will be, if that time ever comes.) I'm a firm believer in doing what works for you, convention be damned. There are so many strict ideas about motherhood but really, it seems like it should be doing what you can handle. I don't think women should feel like they have to give themselves over entirely to motherhood. Truman will definitely benefit from having a sane mommy!

    PS - Who cares what other people think when you have an adorable baby like that??) :D

  7. I have been exactly where you are. More people than you think have been there. If you see the mothers who look so well put-together pushing their strollers with smiling laughing babies, remember that you're catching them on a good day. They really do have days when they're wearing two different unmatching shoes, one covered in spit-up, and their baby is screaming in the background while they're just trying to wipe yet more spit-up off their glasses.

    I try to remember that there's no point in comparing myself to what others can do. Even if I spend all that time comparing, I still only can accomplish what I can, and no more. Pushing myself harder will not really get more done--just make me more tired.

    The biggest thing that helped me when Kiddo was that age was finding other moms of babies to talk to. I joined a few local groups (LMK if you want links to any...some of them are Hippie-mama groups, but some of them are more normal :) ), and clicked with one other mom. We don't get together as much any more, but at that age hanging out with another mom going through the same things really helped. Bonus--our kids got comfortable with each other and with each of us, so we were able to swap babysitting.

  8. Well I know I'm not the mom who has it all together. I've told mike I need a mothers helper for at least two hours a day twice a week so I can get some/any cleaning done - but we have to wait until mike and I have time to clean the house before we can do that.

    One reason it's harder for us is because expectations are higher on how we will actually care for the baby. Back in the day playpens were the babysitter of choice. Nowadays mommy is expected to be right there holding baby 24/7 or risk having a less intelligent baby. I've just started putting Garry down and letting him fret and fuss a bit (ad long as IRS not full on sobbing) for two reasons - 1. my house is a mess and 2. it's good for him. He fusses for a bit then figures out how to turn over and get a toy and move and play. Ditto with Annabel. It's actually harder for mike to let the kids fuss and problem solve. But, I need to find a balance or else everybody suffers.

    I'm glad you are getting help, believe you me if we could afford it I'd have a cleaner in once a week AND a baby sitter in twice. Just yesterday I was wondering if I could get a babysitter to watch the kids so I could nap.

    Good luck,

  9. Of course I mistyped - I put Harry down too! (bet you didn't know he had a cyber twin named Garry) and who knows why auto correct decided the IRS was sobbing and not "he's". See, can't even type when nursing. Aaaaaaaaargh!
    : )

  10. Did you know that mothers used to drug their babies so that they were lathargic and sleepy and didn't make a lot of demands on them? And often they had a lot of children so the older children had to help, plus they didn't move across the country (or to another) away from family, so what we're doing can't compare.
    I really believe that you cant' be a house keeper, mother and wife all at the same time, something's gotta give.
    I'm one of those rare people that Kathy mentioned, but dang some days I just need some me time where I'm not being clung to and hung off of and beat up from the inside.
    I agree with Linda too, LM has made a huge difference for me, they've become my community and extended family, and lets me devote my time to something.
    I think you're doing wonderfully!
    Also where did you find a babysitter? I fear I might need a mother's helper soon!

  11. Shit, I am on baby #2 and totally let my standards go this time around.

    But this is coming from a woman who sniffed her one year old today (after she spit up) and said "you don't smell THAT bad - lets go for groceries!".

  12. I have a 7 week old baby, so it's taken me all day to get around to actually posting a comment. Now I can't remember the incredibly supportive and insightful comment I was going to post. You know, sometimes, being a mom just sucks.

    Just do the best you can, and you can't be your best if you are all freaked out all the time. Get lots of help! I know I need it.

    I don't even know if I'm making sense here. I should go to bed.

  13. You are not a failure. You're doing the right thing for your family. How can that be construed as having failed? Pish posh.

    I'm glad you finally asked for help. And glad that it was available to you.

    p.s. I asked my grandma once about what it was like to be a mom back in the day (she was born in 1925, parent for the first time at age 21/22). They were a military family. There was always a neighbor to watch the kids, or they all hung out at each other's houses. Of course the Commissary and PX were right there on base, so it didn't take 1.5 hours to get to Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. Because 99% of women were at home, and birthin' babies was the order of the day, everyone was in the same boat. Of course she slyly mentioned that attitudes about alcohol were slightly more relaxed, too. So take it easy on yourself.

  14. I must have really low expectations for myself, because I've always assumed I would have to buy a village. I don't think you need to feel guilty about that. I can't even handle my laundry now. AND I ONLY DO MY OWN.

  15. You know, I think it makes you a BETTER mom to admit that you need help. There is NOTHING WRONG WITH IT. And it makes you happier, which makes you a better mom, a better wife and a better Regan.


  16. I gotta agree with the comments about ridiculous social expectations. Somewhere between equal rights and the glass ceiling our society and women lost perspective. We actually got the short end of the stick, in my opinion. And no offense but your friends might look perfect, but I guarantee you, if you start talking to them, you'll realize they're not. Perfection does not exist! Everyone has their problems, but we are so afraid to show everyone our true selves, that after a while we start to believe that we should be perfect. You are doing the right thing... you need some R&R for yourself, mental and physical. You know that sleep deprivation is a form of torture, right? Now you know why...
    It gets better, trust me.

    Don't be so hard on yourself - all mom's feel the same way at one point or another, whether they admit it or not.

    Great post!


  17. wanna buy me a village too? I could seriously use one.

    seriously, though, it'll be AWESOME for you. It will make a huge difference for your sanity!

  18. There will be a day when your son is old enough to tell you how great a mom you are to him, and that is what will really matter. Not what anyone else thinks, but how your relationship affects him. My son is 6 and my daughter is 4. Last night amid a very messy kitchen and living room, I sat with them while they ate the dinner I made for them (I had already eaten the tortilla chips for dinner while making their nutritious...not). After they were done and got to the playing with their food stage, I flopped on the couch in exhaustion and my son perks up with, "You're a great mom." He also said...too funny...,"You're not hard on us." Whatever that means. I think he was saying that I've relaxed a little bit and stopped being so uptight and upset about every little thing. They get snacks and meals and homework help and reading and playtime...and yeah, after all that mom is tired. So, to my little kid, thanks for noticing. Even if no one else thinks I'm doing ok as a mom, he's ok with who I am.