Thursday, October 7, 2010

Frazzled Moms Unite!


I missed out on the whole "Let's Get Real" phenomenon (unmade-up self portraits by blogging moms, intending to show their real selves). My camera broke right around then, and I never thought about it again.

The other day, though, I caught a glimpse of myself passing this mirror in our hallway. My shirt was dirty, my hair was askew, I had no makeup on, and I realised I needed to take a picture of the most unphotographed person in this house: me.


I haven't quite been feeling "myself" lately. I'm spread too thin, do too much, have too many responsibilities and not enough time. I know you can all sympathize with this feeling, that in spite of my many talents and gifts, I'm somehow not enough: to keep my house clean enough, to keep my kids happy enough, to craft/blog/perform/create enough. This is not the first time I have wondered about the intents of the original Women's Movement, and if our foremothers could have foreseen the fruits of their labours.

Because now, in addition to giving birth, breastfeeding, raising and homeschooling our children, we also work outside the home. We feel badly when we have to leave our kids in another's care to go to work, and feel guilty when we actually enjoy going to work because at least we get some feedback, adult conversation, and MONEY for our time! And then of course, there's always that nagging feeling of...do I REALLY enjoy this childrearing thing? The intent was that women should have the choice to work outside the home, but the reality, the economy has shifted so that most women NEED to work just to pay the bills. And we're supposed to take care of our kids, too.

Oh, I'm in a funk, alright. I was thinking about those pre-women's movement women, the ones who felt completely fulfilled by child-rearing and housekeeping, and were good at it. I know not all women enjoyed it, and many bucked against the expectations of the age. But I like to simplify it, to imagine that woman putting on makeup and a clean apron, setting a beautiful meat-and-veg meal on a tablecloth, having a martini prepared for her hard working hubby, combing her children's hair down, and greeting the man of the house with a smile...


I tried it. On this same frazzled day, I did it: dampened and re-pinned my hair, touched up my face, and practised a smile for when my husband got home.
Yes, it looks pasted on. Because it is. I had a really hard day, a day of screaming, fighting, bickering, arguing, and finally, me putting them out on the porch because I needed a break from it all. Lately, I've been fantasizing about filling my tank with gas, and hitting the road, destination unknown. Of course, in my fantasy, I'm NOT driving a minivan carpeted with cracker pieces and juice boxes, and there is not a carseat to be seen. I'll toot the horn as I drive by your house...or if you want me to pick you up, just hang a white flag of surrender on your mailbox.

Until then, I'm adding two more tasks to my list: seek out happiness and balance, and get more sleep!

22 comments:

  1. It's not just your angst Stephanie...it's a lifestage...just like adolescence...except now you have these other lives to consider..I used to love a poem by Rilke..."live the questions" is the line i remember. I think motherhood is the most complicated time of a woman's life and the time that you are most likely to be confronted with these incredible conundrums...you simply cannot have it all...and that is the biggest injustice the women's movement has created. (Or maybe not the women's movement but all the damn women's magazines we should never ever read!!!) It's also a hormonal thing...its a small consolation but after menopause, all these formerly earth shattering issues seem to just fade into sweet oblivion. All I can say, is keep writing about it...and know that this too shall pass.

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  2. I don't think that ANY woman ever was blissfully happy all the time. Kids are so much work, and while there are some fabulous moments, being a mom is filled with more of the not-fabulous ones. It is hard work and it's always been that way.

    But, the difference between "then" (whenever that was) and now is that women can actually express their dissatisfaction with their lives. I don't think that was always allowed. If nothing else, at least now we can complain to a sympathetic ear.

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  3. My friend Becky sent me over in your direction. So glad she did. I look forward to a cup of tea and staying awhile.

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  4. First of all let me say that you are beautiful! Second, I am right there with you...drive down South and pick me up!!! I am in such a funk myself and can't seem to get it together. It is so refreshing to know I'm not alone. I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers and hopefully we'll get this think figured out. Take care!

    Amanda

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  5. A suppose the only positive in these feelings is that it will be a good time to re-evaluate what's truly important in your life, (as we all do from time to time)...take some of those self imposed "shoulds" off your list, and submit to where you are in life at this moment, because really what else can you do?
    I hear you loud and clear...I've often cursed the woman's movement...but, after some thought I think the problem really isn't with the woman's movement, but with society in general. Now most families HAVE to have two parents working to afford housing, food, etc...there is a real shift away from family life and I think that causes all sorts of problems.
    I think many of us...especially those of us who work out of the home at all, can relate to what you're saying...what keeps me going is the thought that it will get better...easier.
    (but, I know...when you're feelin' it, it sucks plain and simple)!
    loads of love to you
    xoxoxoxoxoxox maureen

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  6. Oh my friend....you know I've been there. We all have. I'm the queen of funk :) Just know that you are stronger than you know and when you drive my house and honk, I'll be in the van faster than you can blink an eye. Hang in there. This too shall pass....

    xoxox
    Stephanie :)
    www.simplicitymom.blogspot.com

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  7. Stephanie, I love your posts, and you are beautiful. You are so honest, and I hope you know that you are writing what a lot of us are thinking. You are anything but alone, and none of us are sure we are making the right choices. We are all working on finding balance, and I'm not sure any of us would recognize it if we found it!! Thank you so much for sharing, and could you make a quick detour Up North if you do decide to flee ?

    I've left an award for you over at Patty Cake Manners :)

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  8. i completely understand....swing by here! i could use a couple days on the road...;)

    xoxoxo

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  9. Did someone say road trip?? I am your designated driver if you need one !~! Swing by the Golden Gate Bridge on your way; I'll be the one hanging by fingernails with toddlers dangling from my pant legs....

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  10. I'm so with you on this one. Just found you today...kindrid spirits. You look hot in your pics, I hope your hubby was happy. :)

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  11. I like to think of a good old-fashioned crisis/breakdown as a breakthrough. Sometimes we can trudge along for a long, long time ignoring the whispers and then finally our body/mind/spirit just has enough and you are forced to examine, re-examine, adjust, change and grow. The problem is that our culture views these moments as weakness and something that should be stopped and prevented. Ever wonder why we also have a culture of depressed/anxious and/or addicted people? Do you really think those housewives of the 50's weren't having a few martinis while making the one for their hubby? And there was a helluva a lot of valium prescribed in the 60's and 70's to housewives also known as "mother's little helper." Through the darkness, there's light.
    This is all good and we are all here for you.
    xo

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  12. P.S Photos are beautiful although you can see the yearning in your eyes in those first few. You ahve always been beautiful :-)

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  13. Julie said it all. And honestly, you look so beautiful in the first photos without the makeup and pinned hair I can't believe you would ever wear an ounce of make-up. xoxo

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  14. too funny!
    My flag is out my bags are packed...
    Make sure you come to Canada to pick me up...
    I am worn so thin...time for a road trip.
    I will be waiting for you

    P.S. Love your blog

    Nadine

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  15. Biggest sister will wait to see you tomorrow, to comment on this post. Your beauty takes my breath away.
    Know that I am working on a plan to whisk you away for a few days...

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  16. What lovely photos! I often wonder too if our mothers did us a disservice during the whole "femenist" movement. I understand the fight for equal pay for equal work, but what ended up happening was a shift in society where now it is very hard to remain a one-income family. For my own part, my husband and I would love it if I could be a stay-at-home mother, but the reality is we could just not afford that AND maintain our current lifestyle. I often get angry when people talk about North American women's rights, because I want to know what happened to the idea that being a mother was a valuable enough job. I don't need the career to feel accomplished, thank you very much!

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  17. Did you ever see Revolutionary Road? God, what a depressing movie. But as Julie said, I'm sure there were women in the '50s downing some martinis before their husbands got home.

    There was this great book I read once..can't remember the name or author. Anyway, the main character is a housewife, and one day while at the beach with her family, she gets up and goes for a walk. She catches a bus to a town far away, and starts a whole new life with a fake name. Sometimes I fantasize about that too...

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  18. What beautiful but exhausted photos.I for one know how extremely hectic your life can be at times.I'm free to help babysit when Lana gets her plan in gear.Luv and hugs mommy

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  19. I totally feel you on this one Stephanie, and believe me when I say I sometimes fantasize about taking off by myself--not in our crappy junk-filled Intrepid of course. A sexy corvette would do nicely. I'll even put on lipstick! If I ever do that I'll be sure to swing by your house and pick you up. :)

    And I, who often feels like locking myself in my bedroom and screaming, don't even work outside the house! You have even more busyness and stress than I do. Although, maybe my being stuck in this messy chaotic house all the time is part of the problem...there is no perfect answer, there is no perfect life. We all just do the best we can...Only one thing is for sure. It is NOT an easy job being a mom, no matter what generation you're in!

    Laura
    http://gettingthere.typepad.com

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  20. Stephanie, you don't know me but the white flag is out on my mailbox too.. I love road trips. My kids are older than you but I have to say there are still days......!!!!!!
    I love your homestead site, think it's good to verbalize and let it all out...and enjoy whatever is in store ahead. I love the support you have from your mom and sisters. And I know that support goes both ways.

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  21. I wont be clever, The comments above are so good and
    I'm not a mum, but will you come to Denmark If I put the flag out?

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  22. My mom gave me a quote recently that I have posted up, it reads "Of course I can do anything, I'm a Mother." I like to think of this quote in the context of I can do ANYTHING as a Mother -- but I don't have to do EVERYTHING. (Boy isn't that hard to embrace at times!)

    Best to you as you reflect, rejuvenate, and find some balance in the present moment!

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