I have temper tantrums. They are not as loud or boisterous as a toddler’s, but they are just as disruptive. Instead of yelling, kicking or throwing things, I just go on sort of a cerebral strike. An emotional escape. A mommy meltdown.
These last few days I have been on auto-pilot, allowed laundry to pile up, dishes to sit in the sink and beds to remain un-made. My kitchen counter looks like the inside of my daughter’s locker threw-up. And for dinner the past couple of nights we have had pantry surprise – do pickles count as a green vegetable? And all because I have been distracted by selfishness and resentment.
There are things that I want to do that conflict with the needs of my family, and unfortunately I have allowed resentment to take root in my home. Resentment starts small – a whispered grumble while picking up dirty laundry one morning. Then it turns into a kitchen strike or a game of who’ll empty the dishwasher first until suddenly I find myself knee-deep in unwashed or unfolded clothes, a stack of bills that need to be paid and a knot in my stomach the size of a grape-fruit. And for what? Because I don’t have the life I pictured?
What about picturing the life I have for a change?
I still remember how isolating I thought being a stay-at-home (SAHM) mom with pre-school aged children felt. There were days that I would have welcomed a visit by the Kirby vacuum cleaner salesman just to have someone to talk to in the afternoon. But at least when the kids were little I had mothers’ groups, play groups, story-time at the library, and an un-limited supply of moms hanging out in the middle of Briarwood Mall while their kiddos played on the giant plastic shoe. I also remember how often my working friends, and even my husband, would say, “You’ll be so glad when the kids are finally in school full-time and you can have more time to do the things you want to do.”
What I didn’t realize, or maybe appreciate enough, was that I was doing the things that I wanted to do at that time of my life.
Well, now I’ve arrived but without a destination. My life is a familiar song, but I only know the refrain. I didn’t really make a plan for what to do or be once the kids were in school full-time. It is much harder to start working now than I thought it would be – it is a lifestyle that we are not familiar or really even comfortable with living. I don’t like having someone else driving to soccer practice for me, or getting The Hare off the bus so that I can work for a few hours. If working had been part of the original equation when we became a family then I think it wouldn’t feel so uncomfortable. But the other problem is that I need something during the hours they are not here too. Being home by myself for most of the day is not a good thing either. Now I really understand isolation – there are no more daytime social groups for moms at my stage of child-rearing. And people might think there is something wrong with me if I keep showing up to story-time without a child (maybe I could borrow one?) I understand now why so many women go back to school or even have more children. I can also see how women my age get sucked into debt or affairs because being around other students, babies, shopping and relationships feed that need to be with other people.
So, yes, I had a mommy meltdown this week. I allowed selfishness and resentment to dictate our quality of life. I have wasted too much time this school year trying to “do what I want” rather than “do what I need“.
Yesterday I was going to an unfamiliar area and needed the guidance of GPS – we call her Esmerelda. I knew I had to be close. Esmerelda kept chirping “you have reached your destination…you have reached your destination” but I just couldn’t find it – Where? Where? I kept asking. Then I saw it – right in plain sight. It just didn’t look like the building I had pictured in my mind, so I had passed it several times. Yet it still held everything that I needed within its walls.
Esme was right, I had reached my destination.