My walk-in closet is my safe haven. Everything about it is inviting to me. It’s quiet. I find myself craving the silence that only this little cozy room can provide. Despite minor messes here and there, it’s generally in order, unlike some days in my life. In my little kingdom of solitude, I can’t hear screaming children. I can’t see the dishes that have piled up or the plethora of toys sprawled all over the family room. So many toys. Why do they have so many toys? My closet grants me the serenity that I long for as my head pounds as if a mad woman is inside my head, smashing her fists against a door, dying to escape the turmoil that is motherhood. I want to scream. I want to cry. I want to hide in this closet for the next 17 years and sleep, sleep, sleep. Today, I have had enough of motherhood and I want OUT. Off to the closet I go…
There is this misconception that true, genuine, strength comes from being happy and strong all the time. You’ve seen these people before. The ones who are always smiling, always goofing off, holding happy children and posting positive quotes on social media. Strong people don’t break. They don’t have nervous breakdowns. They don’t suffer from anxiety or panic attacks. They can Pinterest the hell out of any random recipe and always make it look like the cutesy picture they found online. They don’t need to take the easy way out and feed their kids “poisonous” food from fast food joints. They never lose their temper or speak out of anger and frustration. No. They can handle everything, with grace, with a smile, with their hair and makeup perfectly done. They are Super Moms. They are strong.
And here is where I correct that misconception at least from my perspective. To me, strength comes from admitting you need help. Admitting you don’t have it all together. Admitting that yes, a mother will always put her family first, but dammit now and then it is nice to get that last piece of apple pie. It’s nice to give them Ice-cream for breakfast because frankly I’m going to mess up that damn omelet anyway. I use to have this Supermom Complex. Aiming high and never settling for anything short of perfection. My kids will not eat junk. They won’t sit in front of a TV for hours so that I can, for once, get something done in peace. They will be straight A students, always kind, always perfect. But we all know perfection is impossible and raising children to believe it’s attainable is unhealthy and unrealistic. You set them up for anxiety and stress, the same problems I found myself dealing with until I finally decided to solve the problem. I was exhausted. As a stay at home mom, I couldn’t keep up with caring for my twins AND keeping a tidy house, bills paid and in order, errands and appointments handled, ballet lessons and theatre practices, dinner ready and even remembering to brush my hair at least once a week. I was also forgetting to eat. No. It was time for a change.
My oldest daughter and my husband began to come home to a messy family room. (Ok, messy is an incredible understatement. Two one year olds and a five year old will literally demolish a room in a matter of minutes.) They came home to a light snack instead of dinner and they would get “assigned tasks.” Christine’s “job” was to tidy up the living room. My husband, who had been up since 4:30am and getting home after 6, would be tasked with keeping the little monsters happy so I can prepare dinner. In addition, I needed at least 30 minutes to myself after dinner. Chris, John and my 5yr old would clean up. Little by little I became more willing to make reasonable requests for help. I say reasonable because Christine’s school work and after school activities would take priority. I couldn’t have her folding a load of laundry at 1am on a school night just so I could get caught up on laundry. The same went for my husband. We learned to balance things out so my closet screaming sessions decreased and finally became a rare occurrence. It was understood that for us to be a strong family unit, it was crucial that every member of thefamily was healthy physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I wondered why it took me so long to admit I needed help. Why didn’t we do this before?
We all need help at some point. Whether it’s help with tasks at work, or at home, or help with restoring balance to our happiness. You see, every single seemingly perfect person out there is struggling in one way or another. Struggling in ways you can’t possibly imagine. The first step to overcoming any problem is to admit that there IS a problem. Cry it out. Scream it out. Make a list of everything that makes you unhappy. Try to keep it under 14 pages. Run to your closet and curl up in a fetal position if you have to and release all negative emotions. Give yourself a pity party (please, NEVER in front of your kids) and then get up, and take action. Fix it. If you don’t know how to fix it, do yourself a favor and ASK FOR HELP. There is so much strength and courage that comes with admitting you’re in a rut. Your future self will thank you for taking this step towards happiness.
I am certainly not tired of motherhood. In fact, I’m borderline obsessed with my kiddos. My four children give me a genuine sense of purpose and the joy they bring to my life cannot be properly described with words. But, if you’re doing it right, raising children will wear you out. Breakdowns are inevitable. What defines you as a mother is how you handle those breakdowns.
Yesterday as I prepared to edit this very article, I got a text which read “Do you ever feel like you just can’t stand your children!!!!!?” Well, it was something along those lines. I omitted a few choice words as I make it a point to not use profanity in any of my articles (because perfect mama’s NEVER curse right?). But you get the gist of it. To the wonderful, Grace-ful, nurturing, bad-ass mother who sent me that text. I asked you to wait one more day for my response. Did I answer your question? I’ll call you to follow-up once I finally leave this closet…
*I’d love to hear how you handle stressful days. Connect with me by following @thewaldonkids on Instagram, where I share my random day to day parenting experiences*