Motherhood: the sweetest sort of Stockholm Syndrome (YOP#43)

Posted by in Year of pleasures | 5 Comments

Coming upon my girls, and feeling every cell in my body sing that this is where I should be. This is why I am alive.

Oh my heart

I won’t lie – sometimes parenting three little girls under five overwhelms me. I am classically INFP on the Meyers Briggs personality scale, and have a hard time juggling three such intense little people. I am physically and emotionally spent at the end of every single day, and when the nights are long and wakeful, and I do not feel like I have a single moment to recharge creatively… I start to lose it. I yell, I send kids to their room for small slights, I feed them cereal for three meals and hide in the bathroom (the only door with a lock in our house) while they eat. It isn’t the practicalities that overwhelm me – I can get them dressed, feed them, get them out of the house, manage them at restaurants, handle the inevitable public meltdowns, and get them home again safely. It isn’t having a lack of hands or skills that overwhelms me, it is the constant, unyielding need that I must fill. For someone who recharges by quiet, creative time, the chaos of juggling three (four when you consider I still have a marriage to maintain) people’s needs zaps me of every bit of momentum I have. There are days when I am dead in the water, and rapidly sinking.

Tom has a hard time understanding this, since in my “previous life” I was a very social person, happily working in an office, multitasking responsibilities and staff, involved in plays and activist groups, AND going to school full time. How three tiny people can be more exhausting than all of that is just foreign to him, and honestly it’s something I’ve struggled with. When I define myself, it isn’t someone who calls her husband when he is ten minutes late getting home because she is going to explode. It’s hard to feel like a confident, capable adult when I can barely keep my eyes open long enough to turn on Sesame Street at 8am.

This motherhood gig is draining in a way a job and social life never was, because every cell of my being is invested in getting this right. If I missed a deadline at work, I could make it up, or accept the consequences. When I let a friend down, I felt horrible, but I knew they were not scared for life. Giving myself this kind of permission as a mother is impossible.

And yet.

Oh my heart

There is nothing, nothing in the world I would rather be doing.

So, every night I pray for another chance tomorrow to get it right. To have the patience, the courage, the wisdom to lead these little people. I pray that these moments of joy can sustain me, and that my children know that behind every frazzled moment, every request for “just a minute”, there is a mother who just wants to be better for them. Who is learning how to do this, right along side them.

Also, a mother who probably should go read that description of INFP personality again, because hello, unrealistic standards and perfectionism much? For the record, I only asked my kids to be quiet 17 times while I wrote this, and they’ve only been shut in their room for 6 of the 20 minutes it took me to write this. And hey, a post before 10pm, go me.

5 Responses to Motherhood: the sweetest sort of Stockholm Syndrome (YOP#43)

  1. Amy says:

    I know exactly how you feel. I also need alone time, solitude, to recharge. And for me the solitude does not include spending the entire time on alert for a baby to start crying any second in the evenings. It’s very difficult. I often wonder what my children will remember about me from their childhood.

  2. Ginger says:

    Well you read my blog so you know:P But yeah same here. I keep telling H I want to move to Washington to be near you and he said “Yeah I get it, it’s like the missing sister thing.”:P

    And yes on the past life stuff. I was super social before kids! I was involved in everything. Had like two majors, and an intense minor. I often feel like WHY I CAN”T I JUST FEED THE KIDS? But it so very different raising children. So much MORE.

  3. Deb says:

    That photo of the three girls, with Alice’s arm around the baby, is just beautiful–Wish I lived closer, I’d come by for a couple of hours and give you some free, free time :)

  4. This is precious. And I couldn’t agree more. It’s the little things that matter. I’m not a mother, but I’m the same way personality-wise, and I need alone-time to recharge, yet most of my friends and my whole family are outgoing and crazy and they relax by surrounding themselves with people whereas, although I love my family and friends, I need moments to myself to calm down and relax, and I just love your perspective. It’s the little things in life. But when you look at it, the little things are the things that aren’t really so little–they’re the big things–the things that are going to matter in the long run. Anyways, I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your thoughts like this–especially during the holiday season, when finding time is hard sometimes. But this is a good reminder: there’ll be time to relax 20 years from now. This moment matters tremendously.

  5. I used to be a perfectionist. That didn’t last very long once I became a mother. I was tired of being TIRED, so I let it go (how I managed to do that, though, I don’t know). It has been sooo freeing, to just let my kids be kids and to realize that I’ll have an empty nest soon enough to do all the things that I want to do. Part of it was that I was sick, though. And I don’t have a creative lick in my body that needs expression, lol. I hope you’re able to find a way to breathe slowly.

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