Let me lay this scenario out for you. You’re woken up at 4:45 am by your sweetest, most precious kid, who needs, NEEDS snuggles and to go look for something downstairs and must watch a show and also needs a glass of milk and wants to know where daddy is … you are a bleary mess, but you do what you have to do. The rest of the day is a back and forth between lucid, great mom moments where you are firm but kind, patient, loving, and present, and then the other part of the day you are itching to be anywhere else, clawing at the insides of your mind, wishing and hoping and praying for any kind of release. You have poured the five hundredth cup of water or milk and handed out the three trillionth snack and cleaned the random clothes that somehow end up all over the backyard and you’ve done naps and half naps and you just hate life… and you’re still HOURS away from your rescuer coming home.
There are some options and typical advice here, if you’re dumb enough to share your feelings with other people:
- “Why is she waking up so early? She needs to sleep later.” Golly, why didn’t I think of that before?
- “Get a nanny”. Yes. The answer is to spend even more money that we don’t have. We don’t need a retirement fund or new brakes, or to fix the AC, or any of the other things on our to do list.
- “Put them in daycare.” Actually Gaspar was in daycare for a long time and it was great for him but not for Lola.
- “It will be better when they go to school”. Cool, that fixes my problem. Except they’re not going to school.
- “No, really, send them to school”. No, really, shut up.
- “Well, that’s just being a mom I guess”. Really?
- “Are you sure you want to live in a tiny house?” Actually it’s the size of my house that causes at least three quarters of my stress.
- “Doesn’t your mom help you?” …
Why is it a thing that we just accept that mothers must endure misery? Why is my pain at this completely unnatural way of life interpreted as depression or just a failure to succeed at my role? Guys, this shit is not normal and it’s not natural, and don’t let anyone tell you that it is. We need more people involved in daily life. Not a babysitter. But more people. We need a village. We need the kids to swarm together to play while the grown ups talk and cook and call the kids to set the table, and we need many hands to take care of the garden and the animals and the grocery shopping. And we need lots of minds benefit the home. We need someone who is great at gardening. We need someone who is great at budgets. We need an in house handyman. We need adult conversation and time to read books and time to create.
A couple of weeks ago I took my kids and my sewing machine to a friend’s house. She watched the kids while I sewed us both a giant stack of reusable napkins. I felt so relaxed and peaceful that day because I got to do something I love. And she got a stack of napkins made for her. That same week I watched another friend’s kids while she weeded my yard. That’s right, she got dirty and sweaty and pulled weeds for probably the same reason I sewed those napkins. Because she likes gardening and she wanted to be in *the zone*. We need more of this, and I wish I could do this kind of thing more regularly. I mean, obviously I do, which is why I’m moving in with friends. But in town, in a suburban house, you really are just so isolated. Not just physically but also mentally, because if you complain then you basically open the door for judgement and criticism.
So today I had a full 12 hours on my own with the kids. I want to punch things and I have razorbeam eyes (razorbeam eyes are one level beyond “laser beam eyes”). And I’m not asking for pity, but also I’m not asking for advice. I’m just telling you that I had a shit day, even though nothing horrible happened. I had a shit day and I don’t want suggestions. I want to tell you that this isn’t normal and if you had a shit day too, for no good reason, then take heart. The problem isn’t you. This lifestyle isn’t normal and there’s not a damn thing wrong with you.