Tuesday, May 4, 2010

On The Brink.

It wasn't a good morning.

And not because it started off with me tripping up the marble staircase as I was running to respond to a daughter's summon, followed by my dropping a dining room chair on my foot a few minutes later.

No, it wasn't a good morning because I fear that my children are turning me into a loony person. A crazy-bag-lady-type who talks to herself. That wild-eyed Navi woman from Avatar when she first sees the Marine guy and hisses at him.

It occurred to me today, as some child or other wailed "mommeeeee" for what felt like the 18th time in an hour, that the sound of kids crying must be like Chinese water torture. In the beginning (the first few months... years) you think, this isn't so bad. But then, when you turn around and realize that just over 5 years have passed, and that more or less EVERY SINGLE DAY of those 5 years has been littered with the sound of crying / whining / screaming (the only exceptions being the cumulative 7 days of vacation that my husband and I took, and the 4 glorious weekend trips that I managed to take all alone), it dawns on you that you have absolutely lost your marbles and didn't even notice it.

My threshold for tantrums has become dangerously low. And this is not a good thing when I have a child turning 2 next week. But whereas a few years ago, I could hear the tantrum launching and be able to talk myself into a zen-like calm which would enable me to respond rationally... now, as soon as I see some child of mine screwing up her face into that horrible visage of impending noise, I feel my blood pressure zooming up towards the heavens. My fuse is insanely short. My voice is always on the verge of hollering at someone. My headache is never far away.

In other words, I feel like I'm on the brink of cracking up.

The answer is not to spend less time with my kids... it can't be... because I already ship them off to school for several hours a day. That should be enough time for me to center myself, right? And the answer can't be to get help with the kids... because I have help with the kids. And the answer can't be to get more sleep... because, surprisingly, I have been forcing myself to go to bed earlier these days. (Note: The answer may very well be EAT HEALTHIER! and GET SOME EXERCISE!, but I am too upset to want to hear that right now. I am venting. The point is not to make things better. Being constructive takes away all the fun.)

Sometimes I wonder if all the INCREDIBLE luxuries that my husband has bestowed upon me in an express effort to make me happy (namely, a housekeeper who cleans and even helps with dinners) (I know, I know, you have every right to DESPISE me for having a housekeeper, but if it makes you hate me any less, please understand that she's only temporary; we are not a "housekeeper" kind of family under regular circumstances) have actually worked against me. Is it possible that I would feel *less* crazy if I was busier... with the house, the laundry, the food? Does the fact that I have no major obligations *other* than the care and entertainment of my 3 small children allow their moment-to-moment drama to take on disproportionately major significance in my world? Would I care less about someone screaming, "Mommeeeee! The baby hit meeee!" if I was paying attention to a burning pot roast or a singing iron or a leaky mop? (see how, even in my imagination, I'm no good at housewivery?)

I honestly don't know the answer. I mean, it seems counterintuitive that more work would equal less stress... but maybe I don't have enough on my plate, and so the little things seem like big things? Maybe, just as "the work expands to fill the time," kid-related aggravation expands to fill the space where legitimate aggravation usually resides? Maybe if I had more high-quality stress (yes, folks, I've gotten to the point where I rate my stress) in the place of empty stress (like calories), I'd at least feel more productive at the end of the day?

Maybe I need to... gasp... go back to work??

(But how could I justify that decision to the 1-year-old, when her eldest sister got to have me home until she started kindergarten? Don't I have to give each child equal time? Otherwise don't I risk scarring one or all of them for life?)

Ah, I'm sorry for unloading all of this onto you. You, who probably *does* have a pot on the stove and a pile of laundry that needs folding. You, who is probably cursing me *and* my temporary housekeeper. Which you have every right to do. I guess I'm just telling you all this in the hopes of triggering some epiphany. So far what I've learned about my situation is this:

1. I don't exercise.

2. I don't eat healthily.

3. I don't have anything going on in my life, really, outside of the kids.

4. I *want* to spend time with them-- I honestly do!-- but I often find myself getting overly worked up over their (entirely age-appropriate, as the main culprits are 1 and 3 years old) misbehavior.

5. I want to make things better.

Ok. So, having reread this list, I'm now going to end this blog post and go cook myself an egg. That's healthy, right? And then I'm going to take some Advil to get rid of this headache.

And then I'm going to take the clothes off the treadmill.

That's enough self-improvement for one day. :)


  1. my guess is that you'd still experience the kid-related frustrations if you were working outside the home... they'd just compete for share of mind.

    based on your last few posts, it does sound to me like you are reconsidering your choice to be a SAHM. worth thinking about more... there are lots of interesting things you might do (apart from law) that would still allow you to be a great mom.

  2. I think there is validity to this. I do work, but that doesn't mean I'm not sometimes at the boiling point with my kids within 10 minutes of getting home. And while I wouldn't say no to a housekeeper, it is kind of nice to be able to walk away from the whining and fighting to go make dinner or tomorrow's school lunches. I would be too guilty to walk away to go read a book or do some other me time activity. This way I can get a little break (unless they follow me) and be productive. Even at work I can go get a cup of coffee or run out for lunch to escape office tensions. If you can figure out how to take a real break at home without feeling guilty, let me know....

    Liz Reitman Waller

  3. 3 words, mamasita: puff puff pass