13 May 2008

Overwhelmed

There are days I just can't breathe, can't function. My head aches, my heart and brain both ache, and I just can't seem to dig myself out of the muck of my own despair. It's like a separate person consuming the happiest part of me and replacing it with feelings of worthlessness.

My house is an utter wreck. This bothers me. Like gets under my skin bothers me. I can't function when the house is trashed. After J-man's party and the inaction of Mothers' Day, I'm looking at it and I don't know where to start. Dishes are piled up, toys are strewn everywhere. clothes are in the washer and have been for 24 hours, the beds all need to be stripped and re-made, and the kids are all still in their pajamas. And what am I doing? Blogging. Yeah, like that's going to help my house, my kids, or me.

Most days I don't feel like I spend enough time with the kids because I'm doing laundry or dusting or putting away toys or cleaning bathrooms or... anything. On the days I spend with the kids and not the house, I go to bed with a dirty, nasty house that just drives me nuts. My super-mom friend Kristi has an almost-five-year-old, a three-year-old, and a little girl one month younger than J-man. She cleans. She mothers. She home-schools. She cooks. She runs errands. And? Her three-year-old? Just a few months older than the twins? Can name dinosaurs, alphabet letters, and bird species. Mine? Not even close. They know Disney characters.

Then there's transitioning J-man from Gerber pureed foods to actual, real finger foods. Plus? There's the large, looming shadow of potty-training for the twins in the next couple of months before school starts in August. How in the hell do you potty train twins? At the same time? Last time I checked, bathrooms aren't constructed with side-by-side toilets. Doing all that plus taking care of J-man and my sanity at the same time just freaks me out. I know Ty-man's mom has volunteered her services and will help, but my mind still boggles.

I just don't think I'm any good at this. I'm responsible for their well-being, for making sure they have happy childhood memories, for feeding, bathing, clothing, entertaining, nurturing, and teaching them. I can barely do all that for myself. Most of the time I feel I can't relate to my kids. Ty-man is so good with them and I just don't have the patience, which in turn frustrates me even more. I have such high expectations for myself as a mother and I'm falling flat on my face, which makes me withdraw even further. Better for them to have no memories of me than bad memories.

I feel like such a friggin' failure and I can feel motherhood slipping away. I can't keep my head on straight. I can't keep my house straight. I can't even educate my children past Beauty and the Beast or the latest episode of Little Bear and I. Just. Can't. Breathe. Today.

(I wrote this yesterday at 10AM. Am I feeling better? Somewhat. But I still feel like I've taken a turn on Failure Road and that I'm staring at three future teenagers who will hate their mother.)

22 comments:

HEATHER said...

I feel like this most days too, and I only have one kid. I don't know what to tell you, but hang in there. You know they aren't too young to start helping to pick up their toys. Make a game of it. Didn't the evil Barney have a song, Clean Up? At this age they love being able to be a "good helper for mama".
As for the potty training, sit the potties side by side. As soon as they wake up in the morning run them to the potty. Don't try the standing yet, let them both sit, for now. Take it from me, it is much easier to get the little boys to sit and potty until they get used to going potty. My son sat for about six months until, he was at my in law's one weekend, and they let him pee outside. Well that did it! He hasn't sat to pee since.

Momma said...

Oh dear.

First off - lay off of yourself! Dear God, woman, you have your hands full. So what if you aren't perfect? So what if your house, your kids, your life isn't perfect? You aren't going to get anywhere by beating yourself up, but I completely understand how overwhelmed you feel. I used to feel that way with my kids, and I didn't have 3, and I didn't have them so close together.

Now, as to the practical side. As Heather said, put two potty chairs next to each other (or let the kids take turns on the big potty (one on the potty chair, one on the big potty). Make a game of it. "Whose turn is it for the BIG potty?"I found that my kids picked things up much faster if they thought it was a competition or a game.

Likewise, with the toys. Take the kids shopping for their own toy bucket. Let them pick out a color and so on. Write their name on the side of their bucket (feel free to get as creative as you want...let them decide if they want to decorate the bucket with stickers, etc.) Then, at the end of the day, get them playing hoops with the toy buckets. Make it into a basketball game, seriously. Kids love that. Toss the toy! How far away can you make the shot? Keep score. Before you know it, the toys are picked up and you have some budding basketball stars. Make a wall chart and keep track of who "won" each day and have a prize at the end of the week. I think your twins are old enough to start understanding this game mentality. J-man will pick up on it, too.

Don't take everything on yourself. Now is the time to start teaching them that they are part of a family unit and as such, they get to take part is housekeeping and learning to be 'big kids.'

I hope some of this helps. I am throwing you a lifeline :-)

Peace - D

Jenn said...

I'm sure you are an EXCELLENT mother, it just doesn't always feel that way. You just need to love the hell out of your kids (which I'm sure you do) and do the best you can (which I'm sure you're doing!) That's what they'll remember, not the dirty house! (Have you tried Fly Lady? If you can take what you need from it and ignore the rest, it can be very helpful.)

You may also be dealing with a bit of late onset PPD. Mine came over me like a heavy fog when G was about 8 months old, and I had no idea what was wrong with me, but a trip to the naturopath and a BIG reduction in stress helped immensely.

**Big hugs**

Avitable said...

Maybe you should get an au pair!

Denise said...

To my beautiful sister-friend, Heather:

I know you have received plenty of advice from others, so I won't give you any. But here is a way to change your perspective: Imagine you are the managing partner of your family firm. Partners get that position based upon their achievements and advanced skill set and are paid accordingly. For that reason, they evaluate work that needs to be done with a critical eye to this point: Does this task require my personal imprint, my unique expertise? If the answer is no (cleaning, laundry), you punt to someone else. If the answer is yes (playing with the kids, potty training), it goes on your to do list.

A wise person once told me that when you feel like you have it all under control - you don't. Heather, the fact that you always see what more can be done isn't a sign of your inadequacy, its a testament to your selflessness. And selflessness is the hallmark of a great mother. When your children grow up, they won't remember a list of dinosaur names, but they will remember all the time that they got to spend with their mom, and they will treasure it. Just like us and our moms.

Also, THANK YOU, for writing so eloquently what I have been feeling everday since my little guy was born. You are not alone.

United in the love-struggle,
Doug's mom

MommyCosm said...

Oh, Heather. I've had those days/weeks too. The problem isn't that you're a failure. It's that you have unreal expectations. You can't compare yourself to any other mother. You can always find someone better or worse than you at any ONE thing. But no one lives in the exact situation as you with your kids and their personalities. Every family is different.

You have to pick your battles and tackle the ones that are important to you. What's going to make you happiest? Because a happy mom is a good mom, even if her house is a mess or her kids watched too much tv that day. You love your kids and they will grow up secure in knowing that.

Miss Britt said...

"Most of the time I feel I can't relate to my kids. Ty-man is so good with them and I just don't have the patience, which in turn frustrates me even more."

Oh honey, I think this is so, so common when you're the primary care giver.

Believe me when I tell you that your kids know. They can't tell you now, but they KNOW about the little things. They know that when they are sick and hurt and cranky that ultimately YOU are the one that takes care of them.

((((((HUGS))))))

Donna said...

Sometimes those 'perfect' moms aren't so perfect and all-together behind closed doors.
Don't compare yourself to anybody; I believe parenting is individualistic - your kids,their personality and you and your personality, it's a combination that only you know the ingredients that make it work.

Oh, and I've been there. We get so much sh*t for my son from people (even those who don't have kids) because he's really not talking. His vocabulary recently started to grow yet the words aren't plain English (it cracks me up, so many words sounds like bitch). Every time he learns a new word I'm rejoicing not because I think he's hit some huge milestone but because I feel I can count down/away the people who have made it an issue.

I'm not going to give advice, because I think mother's have everything within them selves to raise fantastic children and I truly believe you are doing a great job.
That said, I will tell you this:
Don't let whatever standards you think other people are judging you by get you down.

Potty training? Um, I got nothing!

Geekgrl64 said...

First, I want to reiterate what momma said - Lay off yourself! You definitely have your hands full, and from what I have read here on your blog, you are a great mom!

As for potty training, I set up a reward chart - at the time Tonka was a big hit. I took the Tonka logo and made "dollars" out of the logo and everytime there was successful potty time, he got a tonka buck to put on the chart. When he had x number of bucks on the chart, he got a toy. There are so many ideas out there for potty training.

Feel better and don't be so hard on yourself!

A fellow geek in the Atlanta area. :-)

Just A Girl said...

It's ok to feel like shit on a stick sometimes. That's what helps us with conflict resolution.

You're not a bad mom. You're actually more than likely going to turn into the mom everyone on the block loves and wants to be like.

Those girls who fart lemon sunshine and who's children wear white clothes in a mud pit and come out unstained.....those women have problems too.

Kristina said...

Heather, my sweet Heather. Have you lost your mind? You are a Mom of three wonderful children. Three very well behaved children. Three extremly smart and sweet children. I know, because I know them and they are exactly where they need to be developmentally. You are a wonderful wife who loves her husband and who is so loved by that husband. You have a beautiful and large home. If each room is clean at some point each month I consider it success! You are an amazing daughter and friend. Now as far as me...the perfect mother, hee, heee, heeee, heeee!!!! Sorry I'm doubled over laughing too hard to be able to type. OK, I've tried to regain my composure. My house is trashed and I'm way proud of myself because I managed to bathe today (yesterday I didn't). Honey, we all feel overwhelmed and out of control. I don't know how anyone who is a mother could feel any other way when there is so much to be done. But it won't all get done today. It won't all get done any day. It's nice to have goals but you can't do it all. So applaud yourself when any of it gets done. Potty training, it will get done I promise they won't be in high school with diapers on! One day at a time... one breath at a time. I love you !!!

DutchBitch said...

Don't think for a minute, not even a second, that any of us fellow mothers don't feel like this at times. Cuz we do! I am sure you are a wonderful mother! Take a deep breath and just start somewhere, it doesn't matter where, and do what you tought the twins and what you are teaching J-Man right now: BABYSTEPS!

Oh and MUAH!

M said...

It seems like all the moms are beating themselves up lately (myself included). Maybe Mother's Day put something in the air ...

I read many websites, articles, and a few books before potty-training my son. I can't say any single one of them worked but having a variety of information to pull from was very helpful. I'm sure there's stuff out there on potty-training twins.

I've known people with phenomenal parents who are totally screwed up, and I know people with terrible parents that are totally rad and productive people. I don't think we have as much control over our kids being great and brilliant as we think we do.

Don't beat yourself up (and I'll tell myself that too).

Love your blog!

Teri said...

Heather!! You stop that right now! I'm not a mother, and may never be at this point, so I can't speak to the frustrations that ensue there. I CAN say that I have personally seen you in action and you, my dear, are a parenting dynamo! Your kids are loved, happy, well-adjusted, well-mannered, and as sweet as all get out. Where do you think all that comes from?! Well they certainly don't get that from "Aunt" Teri! :-) You are being your own worst critic here, as we all do from time to time, and you seriously need to cut yourself some slack. You are a WONDERFUL mother, wife, friend, daughter, in-law, etc, and don't you EVER forget it!

I love you, hon!
*smoochies*

Andrea said...

Breathe, woman! The teens that don't hate their parents are few and far between, so you can nix that right there. :) As far as the rest of that stuff goes, you do what you can while still trying to enjoy your kids, your husband, and your life!

Know that you've got a lot of love coming from Memphis, and that we've all had a similar conversation with ourselves at one point or another.
=|=

Not Afraid To Use It said...

The way I console myself with my disaster-shit-everywhere house is that they are too young to remember right now. I figure if we get our shit together by the time they are out of diapers and can actually feed and dress themselves we are golden.

I had the same kind of day last week. Sending you lots of love.

As for the potty training, how about we come and stay a few days with you guys in June. LittleBird is AWESOME at cheering for toddlers on the toilet. We can work on all three of our kids at the same time. I'll bring my magic snap-on cloth diapers and have daiquiris all night to celebrate our progress.

Not Afraid To Use It said...

BTW--the website 12mintuestogo.com is an absolute lifesaver for me. I don't do everything ever week, but 12 minutes? Hell yeah I can do that. Sometimes.

.:| Melissa |:. said...

Time spent with children, the children knowing they are loved and cherished, is infinitely more important than having a clean home!!

My ex MIL was mostly concerned about the appearance of her home, and her children - God forbid they got a speck of dirt on them!! GAH what would the neighbors think!! I'm NOT kidding, either! She was more concerned about how she appeared in everyone else's eyes (as a housewife and mother), and, her children paid for it!

ALL three of them have/had relationship issues, as well as substance abuse issues, in their adult lives! I link that to HER priorities! Not that she doesn't love her children, but her love is warped. Above ALL else, her house MUST be clean!

I on the other hand, was always more concerned with spending time with my children. My CHILDREN always came first, then I'd deal with the rest! Your children are only young once! You've only got ONE shot, to instill into them what's needed, to make them upstanding, responsible adults! That all starts when they are small! Plus, they're still fun, when they're little, before they learn to talk back, and become yukky teen-agers! LOL And, once they're grown up and gone .... they're gone!! Well, unless you're my middle child! *sigh* LOL

And 25 years ago, I didn't have the extra distractions we have today! I still haven't figured out how mom's with very young children, in today's world, have time to get on the computer! I didn't have any extra time!! If I did, I was taking a damn shower, or cleaning one thing or another! Sometimes both at the same time!! Hey! What better time to clean the shower?? *giggles*

Not that they, as adults now, don't have their own issues of one sort or another, but, they do know the depths of my love, without question!

THAT is the most important thing!

Apparently my ex MIL even noticed how "attentive" I was, and even gave me a compliment, though, not to my face, but rather to one of my children. That woman has NEVER given me a compliment! Because I didn't do things "her" way, meant that I was doing it the "wrong" way! To this day, that STILL makes me shudder with anger and frustration! But, she said, "Well, that's one thing your mother did, she spent a lot of time with you kids, reading to you, teaching you, and such." I nearly fainted when I heard that!

Now, I will say, as I know from my own experience, the more kids ya got, and the closer in age that they are, the more difficult it is!!

My first two are 12 months and 2 weeks apart! It was sheer hell on my little 19 year old self to have two kids so close together. And boys at that! BUT, I managed. And I managed ALL BY MYSELF! I NEVER had any help, from ANYONE!

But, the more ya got, of course the thinner you've got to spread yourself! Just a fact of life. But, worry about the important things! As long as you've got some clean clothes, and are able to feed your kids, the rest can wait!

Nobody is going to care if you've got some dishes in your sink, or if your beds aren't made, or if you've got toys strewn all about your house, as long as you don't have "stuff" growing up off your floor! (Yes, I actually knew someone once, that was THAT bad. eW. She was just plain ole LAZY, though!) Anyway, nobody is gonna care one way or the other! At least not if they truly care and love you for who YOU are! Only shallow folks (like my ex MIL) would look down upon you for such things!

When I see toys all over the house (and mine looks just like that when I've got my niece and nephews over!!) I think, that the person running the place, must be a FUN person, who allows a child, to be a child!

Quit being so hard on yourself, Heather! Lower your expectations of yourself. You're STILL "supermom" to your kids, no matter if you've got all the dishes done, and beds made, or not! ;0)

Gypsy said...

Oh, sugar. I'm sorry you're feeling disconnected and drained. I think you're an amazing person, if that helps. And I hope you're feeling better today.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Other Heather - I do have them help and at times it helps and other times? Whew. Yeah. And I think I'm just going to have set their kid potties, like you said, side by side, in the living room. Ugh.

Momma - Yes ma'am, attempting to lay off myself. And thanks for the great ideas! I love the toy bucket idea!

Jenn - I haven't tried Fly Lady. I'm going to check it out! And I probably do need to visit my psychologist for some quality counseling. Thanks for the wonderful advice, hon!

Avitable - Are you applying? :-)

Sister Denise - I love you so much, hon. Thanks for this. I miss you like crazy.

MommyCosm - That's what I've decided, that I just need to have fun with them and make them smile. Forget about the rest...

Britt - Thanks, hon!

Donna - For some reason, I'm always admiring the grass on the other side of the fence. I don't know why I'm like that but I need to change! Thanks for the advice!

Geekgrl64 - I like the reward chart. I'm going to have to use that this summer! And? Atlanta? Do we need to hang? :-)

Just a Girl - OMFG. "Fart lemon sunshine" - You made me laugh and snort! I LOVE YOU!

Kristina - I love you, Supermom! Thanks for that!

Dutchbitch - Hee hee! I love you!

M - I think, too, it's a post-Mom's Day letdown. Can't figure it. And, you're right. I could be a perfect parent and have messed up kids. They're going to be who they're going to be and I just have to do my best. Thanks, hon!

Teri - Yes, ma'am *saluting*. I love you, too! :-)

Andrea - Thanks, sweetie. I hate that all mothers feel like this, but I'm glad I'm not alone! :-)

NATUI - I'm going to check out that Web site. Love you!

Melissa - Dude, can I smack your ex-MIL? Man, what a freak. Thanks, hon. I needed your words! I pink-puffy heart you!

Gypsy - Thanks, hon, and I am feeling better today!

Functionally ReTodded said...

CMGD,

As your metro ATL male counterpart, let me tell you that I feel that way often. My wife works at home and we've got the 6yo, the 2.5yo and the almost 1yo. It's frustrating and tiring and aggravating and it makes me want to quit often. I don't know how my wife does it, even with the zoloft. LOL

Just based on what you write I know you're better at it than I am by far. You can't beat yourself up about it though. If it was easy to be a good parent, you wouldn't see these dumb shits on tv giving their two year old pot and all the other idiocies you see on the news.

And, to drive that point home, just wait til you meet me and my brood and wife. You will ask the same question everyone we know asks:

She's still with you? Seriously?

p.s. glad to see you wanted us to forgive you and you to forgive you in the next day's post, although you don't need our forgiveness.

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Functionally Retodded - People on TV give their kids pot? Damn, I thought it was just me.

Thanks for making me smile, hon!