“Be brave. Even if you’re not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference.”

3 Nov

I lug my ass out of bed before the sun comes up these days, the grey pre dawn hanging sullenly in my window. Most days I can turn the alarm off before it rings nausea through my belly. I peel a sleeping child from my arm most mornings, wonder why I’m so tired.

I shout orders for 30 minutes straight, get dressed, eat breakfast, brush hair, EAT YOUR GODDAMMED FOOD! leave the kittens alone, socks, the SOCKS ARE RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF YOU!, where is your backpack?

hurryhurryhurryhurry.

I hardly hear the words they speak, at me, through me as I half drag, half trudge to school with them, kiss them goodbye absently as I race to meet the bus.

I start each day wishing I didn’t have to do this. Every day a drudgery, each day another requirement of a mother, of a person I struggle to be. I find myself hating it, and wonder, do I just not care?

I don’t have the time to care, nor much time for my children. Work through the morning, back to pick them up, play for 30 minutes, then home for lunch and chores for me, work for them, nap maybe, and then I’m off again, back to work, past their bedtime, home to a house I don’t feel I even live in, let alone own. Children essentially raised by people who aren’t me, their father, my father.

Do they even know they’re girls, soon to be women?

Drained, I eat bare rice with soy and try to convince myself I’m doing right by them.

***

Please don’t tell me it’s normal, that I’m just tired and this is how anyone would feel. It’s not. I didn’t go with my kids for Halloween this year, first time, ever.

I didn’t feel a damn thing. I was glad to be a free of it.  I don’t miss them when they’re gone-instead when they return I feel a weight descend on my shoulders, a horrid sludge like thing which slows me down, and I am petty, short tempered and mean. I find it harder and harder to like them, and crave silences.

I wonder if it makes me a horrible mother, contemplating being the one who leaves, the one who pays money and has two weeks in the summer and Christmas.

I wonder how long I can pretend this isn’t the truth.

I love my children, but increasingly, I do not believe I should be their primary caregiver.

Outloud. It’s been said.

I am not a good mother. I do not believe I ever have been, or frankly, ever could be. I am vacant and distracted, and sadly impatient with it all.

But to say it, to cast these thoughts into the wind like prayer is one thing. To release them, to say in not so many words to the world at large that despite my vagina I am not the best parent-these things will make me outcast, shunned in a way their father would never be. It would be ok for him.

This will never be ok for me.

***

I just don’t have it. I don’t have that girl urge, that mom urge. For years I pressed it into service since one of us had to be the parent, but now, as their father steps up more, and I find my SELF breathing again for the first time in….ever, I realize that person, that Mom self-she doesn’t exist. Maybe she never did, and it was that split, that forced march into mother that turned me crazy.

How am I to know?

18 Responses to ““Be brave. Even if you’re not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference.””

  1. Cynthia November 3, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    “I am not a good mother. I do not believe I ever have been, or frankly, ever could be. I am vacant and distracted, and sadly impatient with it all.”

    I have felt this way. Often. My husband is clearly the “better” parent. The more stress I’m under, the more I want to escape from everything, including my beautiful daughter.

    It is perfectly okay for you to be the non-custodial parent if that is what you want – it is brave to say it out loud. People expect mothers to be superhuman. We’re not.

    Also, you sound really fucking depressed. When is the next time you have a pdoc appt? I’m loading up on Omega 3, vitamin D and light therapy and I’m noticing a bit of a difference, but I still need my meds adjusted every so often.

    • thordora November 3, 2010 at 2:28 pm #

      You know it’s funny…the only thing making me sound this way IS the kids right now. Otherwise I’m in a great mood most days, back pain aside. I’m just really bloody conflicted about the entire thing, and it’s making me sorta stabby methinks.

  2. hodgepodgeandstrawberries November 3, 2010 at 3:06 pm #

    Well.

    Maybe you aren’t the right parent for them. I don’t know. I can’t see inside your life. But if it’s gotten to the point that you are willing to tell the internet, then yeah, maybe it’s time for a change.

    Is their father willing to be the custodial parent, do you think? Is it possible to trial it for awhile, say six months, and see how everyone gets on?

    If I may be extremely presumptuous here, I’m going to sit on my mountain and hand down a pronouncement. You were very young when you met their father, married, had them both. You were by your admission pretty messed up. Now that you are getting your own head in order, and figuring out what you want from life, it’s not surprising that you are resenting the extra pressures that full-time motherhood are placing on you. This shit is HARD – even if you chose it from a place of strength and everything was ready when you became a mother it’s the hardest fucking job on earth, and if it was thrust upon you I can only imagine how much worse it is.

    Bottom line – I still lurve you, and no, I don’t judge you for saying you want to step aside. Yes, society always assumes the mother wants & will get the children in a divorce – but I damn sure don’t believe that, given how severely hubby was fucked up when his sociopath of a mother was given sole custody of him & his sister. Sometimes, the father is the better parent. That’s just the way it is. God knows having a vagina is no guarantee that you’ll make the right choices or be the best person to parent anyone.

  3. Deer Baby November 3, 2010 at 8:19 pm #

    You know, I don’t know you very well and I only know of you what you write here but you ARE a good mother. Read back some of your archives. I think you’ve had an ultra shitty shitty time and that, yes, you need a break. In all senses of the word.

    You are not a bad mother for saying it or even thinking it. And maybe it could work. Maybe he could have them more than he does – I don’t know how you’ve arranged it and it’s not for me to know. A friend of a friend of mine gave her ex custody – willingly – and it worked. But the guilt bit her back later.

    But I’m rooting for you.

  4. sweetsalty kate November 3, 2010 at 11:11 pm #

    I don’t think it’s uncommon to go through phases where the role of mother feels like a burden more than anything else. A burden, a trap, a prison. I have those phases – weeks, not days – during which I love them, but I resent them. I resent their neediness. I resent their constant chatter. I feel suffocated and impatient and I yell and slam doors and I put them in front of the TV and I tantrum to the point where I frighten them. On a side note, it’s always during these phases when every other mother seems so serene and smug. And I think the same thing: that I’m just not cut out for this.

    Then I apologize to my kids, and they forgive me. So far.

    I don’t know what to say, Thor. This might be true. It might not be. You may just need a break. And the reassurance that other women – many of them – feel the walls closing in as well. You need to believe it. I don’t tend to. People say “OMG ME TOO” and “Oh I had the worst day” and I roll my eyes. They can’t possibly be the way I am. But some of them are.

    I’m looking at you right now and saying I’m like this. Not all the time, but for spells. Long spells. I don’t know what triggers it. Well, I do. But that’s another story.

    Get some sleep, sweets. Spend some time with your love. Recharge. And know that while it may not be ‘normal’ in the everyday way, you are not alone, and the kids will be alright. xo

  5. Marcy November 3, 2010 at 11:48 pm #

    Remember how you said a while back you wanted to be a midwife? I wonder if your job was more in line with your passions, and took less a toll on your time, if you would resent your kids’ intrusion less. Of course they’re intruding if you don’t have time for yourself outside of work and all.

    Would a temporary arrangement work, long enough for you to get that midwifery certificate?

    Unless that’s no longer the dream.

    It sounds to me more like the voices of stress; of self-sabotaging, self-fulfilling, feared inadequacy; of rather newly-awakened self-ness; and not like the voice of someone not cut out to be a mother.

    And what little secondhand bits I’ve heard about the ex, I’m not convinced he’s any better at parenting in general, although I’m sure you and he have different bits that each does better.

  6. afteriris November 4, 2010 at 7:13 am #

    No advice, just eyes to read and ears to listen. Thinking of you, Thordora.

  7. Catherine Mackie November 4, 2010 at 7:18 am #

    Hi there. You’re definitely not a bad mother. You’re an honest mother. You’re a tired mother. You’re a depressed mother. If you don’t take care of your needs right now you will become a bad mother. The day will come when your mind will SNAP and then you and your kids will find out just how bad of a mother you can be… You obviously need a break bigtime. Get a friend or a relative to take your kids for a weekend, a week, a month, until you feel that you can cope with them again. Or at least to give you a chance to make up your mind what you REALLY want to do. I am on the verge of just packing a little bag and going to live on my own in a lost little village somewhere… and I only have one who is driving me insane…

  8. Bon November 4, 2010 at 7:42 am #

    wait…vacant and distracted isn’t good?

    hear you. nodding. getting out the door in the morning is a torturous experience, IMO.

    it does sound like you need some kind of break, some full measure of freedom now that you’re partway free of all the trappings of the old life that weighed on you. it may just be that you need to know you CAN be free, even of motherhood.

    and the truth is, and you know it, you can’t. but you can take a break, step back and see if their dad can be primary custodial parent for six months, release you from some of the grind. that’s not b/c you’re a bad mother, that’s b/c you’re human and you have some stuff you need to keep working out.

    they won’t always be this age. i think you have a ton to offer them, as a mother. but that doesn’t have to be the day to day apron & breakfast role, not necessarily.

  9. Shana November 4, 2010 at 10:35 am #

    Thordora, I can’t believe it. This morning I had exactly the same experience with my two daughters, was SO angry and frustrated at them (and yelling and nagging constantly, too)… and then came to work and saw your post.

    Neither of us are bad mothers or bad human beings. It’s just a horrible job sometimes (much of the time). And no one tells us just how horrible it can be before we go into it.

    Oftentimes I think my mood and my health overall would be SO much better if I didn’t have kids. I think my risk of heart attack and depression would drop substantially, especially in the middle of or right after dropping off the kids in the morning or putting them to bed at night.

    So you’re not alone. We’re in this together. Just remember that. Chin up!

  10. hodgepodgeandstrawberries November 4, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

    And then I got some sleep and it dawned on me that my comment might not have been as sensitive as it could have been.

    Thor, I don’t think you’re a bad mother. I’ve met bad mothers and you aren’t them. I do think that you are so overwhelmed with everything right now that you aren’t the best mother you can be. That’s the only reason I suggested you ask their father to give you a break (a long one, not just a weekend).

    And I agree 100% with Marcy – I don’t think you can be totally present for your kids when you are so burned out on work.

  11. Liz November 4, 2010 at 5:25 pm #

    Look, I love my kids but RELISH when they are gone every other weekend and holidays with their dad. I did not miss them when they were gone this summer for 1.5 months. The commodities of quiet, solitude, calm, no messes, a thought life, creative impulses, sexuality, sensuality, all these delicious tidbits of life come rushing in when they go out the door. Don’t feel guilty!! Motherhood is damn hard work and, yes we love our kids and they add meaning to our life (for me anyway) but it’s mostly not pleasurable or fun. It’s just not- they’re loud, messy, needy, dependent, and WORK for us. Yes, we love them but parenting is often a weight on our shoulders. You’ve been through a hell of a lot. You’re spent, tired, stressed, overwhelmed, and in need of time to heal. For me, the anecdote was being more self-oriented. I read the book, which I preach to women all the time, Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts, and she turned my life around. Her anecdote to misery is seeking out one’s own pleasure and fun in life. If my ex- wasn’t a certified nut (which he is in a kind of benign eccentric way), I’d split custody with him. I just can’t but I do get every other long weekend and holidays off. Plus I make damn sure I am the queen of my domicile and that means my 2 darlings pull their weight and help out. I put up with very little bullshit especially now that they are older. Do what YOU need to do to inject some peace, pleasure, fun, serenity, and joy into your life. You are useless to your kids if you are exhausted, spent, stressed, and burned out. I don’t know your custody arrangement, but maybe you could work out 1or 2 weeks (or month alternating) with dad and then 1 or 2 with you. I would do that in a heartbeat if my ex- was up to the task. He’s not. But maybe you could work something like that out if he’s got some sense.

    Also, and I’m going out on a limb here depending on your beliefs etc. recommending this book because it is “channeled” and spiritual. “Ask and It is Given” by Esther Hicks. Sounds crazy but has worked for me so far. In the last 6 months, all the negative stuff in my life (husband and my crappy employment situations has completely turned golden and I have these teachings to thank) has been on the upswing as I’ve applied these teachings.

    The Mama Gena stuff relates because as you seek pleasure/fun you attract more of the same. That’s basically her philosophy which is compatible with the Hicks teachings.

    Anyway….that’s my two cents. You ARE a good mom. I’ve read your writings and you’ve said in the past how much you love your girls. You have to fill your own tank back up to have something to give to them.

  12. Shana November 5, 2010 at 11:46 am #

    SG Liz! So nice to hear your voice again and your honest viewpoints. I’m glad that whatever was troubling you recently is now gone, thanks to your own brilliant actions as usual. :) What you said about not missing your kids after they were away 1.5 months over the summer… believe it or not, on my list of desires, I have: “that every summer, someone kind and loving would take our children far away from us.”

    Thordora, you and I have exactly the same reactions to our daughters. The only difference between us is that I seem to have slightly more confidence in that this is a widely-shared set of feelings and behaviors, whereas you take your frustration to be a sign of heaping loads of blame upon yourself. Don’t do that. You are SO not alone. If you need any reminders of that, just look at ALL the commenters on your post “I cannot handle being a mother anymore.”

    • Liz November 11, 2010 at 9:31 am #

      Hi SG Shana!

      Keep that desire on your list! My month alone this summer was an amazing time for me. I wasn’t working and had time to “spring clean” all of the negative emotions and thoughts that had really gotten the better of me last year. I can happily “brag” that I manifested the perfect job with perfect pay, co-workers, and hours for me and also for my husband. He landed the greatest job with great pay even in the face of this tough economy. Our income has tripled since last year and his boss told him he should be making even more by next year!! I had gotten really down about his lack of employment situation and our dwindling finances but was able to mold that situation into the golden place we are in today. He was starting to drink too much out of boredom and depression and even that situation has turned around. The key is taking the focus off of that “reality” you see and imagining and feeling the “virtual reality” of what you desire. Powerful!! So yes, yes, yes!! The teachings work!!! Keep going with them and mold your situation with your kids, marriage, etc into what you want!!

      SG Shana, check out the Esther Hicks-Abraham youtube teachings. They’re a great addition to Mama G. and really get at the root/foundation of her teachings/philosophy.

  13. Shana November 5, 2010 at 8:09 pm #

    Also, some people are meant to be parents; others aren’t. It doesn’t break down along gender lines. If you wouldn’t blame a guy for wishing his ex-spouse would be the primary caregiver, then you shouldn’t blame yourself, just because you’re a woman.

    What has being a woman got to do with *wanting* to do this shitty job called parenthood? I’m convinced that the body of media trying to convince us that every woman wants to be a mom is a patriarchical attempt to shove off one of the worst jobs on earth onto the female sex. Patriarchies have attempted these sorts of lies in the past. Women can’t do math. Women are no good in science. Women can’t work 40 hr/wk jobs because of their menstrual cycles. Women are the natural “nurturers” (and therefore expected to volunteer their “free” time caring for absolutely everyone else). Women all want kids. Women should always be the primary caregivers if couples split up.

    I sure don’t love this job; I’m not insane or delusional. What’s the point of suffering so much every day if you don’t even get paid? If you’re PAYING, through the nose, in fact? Who cares if we “love” the kids? I’m convinced that has nothing to do with how tolerable the job is.

  14. thesilentk November 5, 2010 at 10:07 pm #

    hey, i hear you 100 percent and just want to echo that you aren’t alone. i’m a single mama too (dx bipolar also if that is relevant), and i feel exactly as you feel in this post. i talk about it often to people. they just tell me “its hard to be a mom and work full time” and that is true. It really is. there isn’t an option in my life to give custody to the ex, but if there were, I would seriously deeply consider it. I don’t think that makes me a bad person either. Maybe I am not naturally a supermom- but I don’t think it makes me a bad person. And it doesn’t make you one either.
    I’ve read posts of yours where your love for your daughters is palpable. It just is less accessible to you right now. (this is something I have also experienced, deep love, and deep apathy towards them) Perhaps there is a way to find a bridge back to that deeply felt love for them, but for now- rest. Just rest. You sound like you really need it, and when you really need it having compassion for yourself and giving in to needing rest is probably the best thing.
    That’s what I think anyway, for what its worth.

  15. Meaghan December 5, 2010 at 1:53 am #

    I don’t know what normal is. I try writing letters to my daughter and end up sealing cards with dollar bills stashed inside words that say “I’m sorry” for this or that thing that happened today that she will never remember, but I know sometimes that I am failing at this. Then I try to tell myself that this is not failure – the not doing “enough.” Who are we trying to kid, here? We compare ourselves, always, to these mothers we read about online or see from day to day, and in comparing ourselves to others we are only finding our own faults made more blatant in our minds.

    I’ll tell you one thing I agree with though – the mornings are the worst. The rushing out, the barking of instructions, the EAT YOUR BREAKFAST! the monotony of it, I think sometimes it will kill me.

    The fact is, I think, there are few REAL moments when parenting is the bliss the media tells us it should be, the reality is that it is monotonous, day by day the same, pushing forward into the growing up, and we just have to deal with the let down as best we can.

    Your honesty is the most refreshing thing I’ve read in quite a while, and I hope that someday I can be strong enough to admit to myself that I feel the exact same way more often than not.

    • thordora December 5, 2010 at 2:43 pm #

      Thanks. Sometimes honesty here is the only thing that makes it easier.

      And fuck morning. Fuck them in the stupid ass. :p

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