On Not Being Super Mom
So after months and months of feeling like I was trying to swim with a boulder attached to my ankle, I finally feel like I am getting my head above water. I wish I could just chalk it up to a few busy months, but I was really feeling the weight of all my obligations. It is amazing how all the small roles a person undertakes can amass to such a long list of responsibilities. However, I freely admit that this accumulation of jobs can often be self-induced by my type A, control everything personality. Needless to say I am back writing my blog because I am back to a manageable level of busyness.
I felt like a failure as a mother because my kids were unhappy and their behavior unmanageable. I felt like I was a complete letdown to my husband because I could not be superwoman and because I couldn’t manage it all. I felt like a failure as a business woman because I wanted to throw in the towel and shut down the daycare. I found infinite ways that I was failing to be Michelle Quinn. My house was a mess, I felt tired and cranky, my kids were acting out, which made me not want to be with them, and what kind of mom doesn’t want to be with her kids all the time (insert sarcastic tone here). The sad thing about this whole situation is just how overwhelmed I felt, and when I could no longer cope with the anxiety and stress how much I felt like a failure. I have battled anxiety and depression all my life, so I know the importance of positive thinking and a positive outlook. I also know how debilitation negative thinking can be for a person’s well-being. Yet it is just so easy to jump back into negative self-talk (ie “I am a failure”), and all or nothing statements (ie “I am a failure as a mother because my kids misbehaved”, and “I can’t do anything right”).
Finally I reached my breaking point, and I left the kids with my husband and I called my mother. She met me for tea and I explained all the ways I was horribly failing my life. Have I ever mentioned how much I love my mother? Well, she is one of my best friends (second only to my husband), and she told me exactly what I needed to hear. First of all she listened and validated, then she repeated back to me what appeared to her to be my biggest problems. From there we brainstormed some ideas to solve these problems. She also affirmed all the ways I was succeeding as a mother, and a wife, and as an individual. She re-shifted my focus on all the positive things that I do. So after hours of talking to my mom, I had the cathartic release I needed to go back to my family. That night my husband and I sat down and ironed out exactly what we needed to do to get our family back on track. The goal was a happy family again.
The answer was so simple too! The main problem was I just felt so overwhelmed and tired by watching 3-5 kids 50 hours a week, plus cleaning the house, cooking healthy meals, while trying to squeeze a run in 4-5 days a week. I was too tired; my kids were not getting enough attention and therefore were acting out. This challenging behavior from their part made me more tired, so I got less done (yet still did not get enough sleep). I was angry with my husband for not picking up the slack, and he was angry back. Things continued to spiral downward until it got so unmanageable I felt like I was going to have a mental breakdown (it was very close). So the solution was simple, I just work less. Crazy, right? I now am doing the daycare part-time, and doing a cleaning job on the side (which is perfect since it is only twice a month, and my mom is my boss). We decided to put my son in preschool three morning a week, since it is obvious that he needs to learn how to follow rules and I really think some time away from mommy will do him some good. He has now been going to school for over two weeks and it is wonderful for everyone. I also have relaxed a lot about all the things I need to do. I have given myself permission not to be perfect. Not everything needs to be done right now because quite frankly I just can’t do it all (and that does not mean I am failing).
So what is the end result you ask? I am so much happier! The huge weight that was making me feel like I was drowning is only a tiny pebble, and I am much better at enjoying all the things I love about my life. This happiness has resonated throughout the family, and we are all enjoying life more. The kids haven’t even noticed that our budget is tighter; all they see is happier, less stressed parents. I guess that old saying has some truth, “if Mamma ain’t happy, aint’t nobody happy!”