Beware: this post contains BRUTAL HONESTY

This post is for my journal, which happens to be mostly online these days. If you cant handle it, kindly stop reading.

I have talked to a few friends about my disillusionment with motherhood. Maybe not motherhood in general, but with myself as a mother. I did my fair share of babysitting as a kid. I feel like I mothered my little sister and my nephews that came early on. I had this whole image of the kind of mother I thought I'd be. (These were not lofty aspirations, these are things I thought were totally realistic and within my power.) I thought I'd pack the kids in the stroller and go for a jog every morning. I thought we'd come home to a healthy breakfast eaten while doing flannel board Book of Mormon stories. I thought we'd spend our days playing at the park, having pic-nicks and at the library reading stories. I thought I'd get a few afternoon hours alone, while they napped, so I could read, clean, decorate and prepare our deliciously healthy dinner. I thought my husband would come home to a clean house, a hot meal and a happy family.

Illusions all of them!

None of those things exist. The reality is that I have spent most of motherhood trying not to "lose it". I feel like each day is hurdle to overcome but no matter how well or poorly I do, I face the same hurdle the next day! The main issue for me is that my kids dont sleep well. I complained about this to my aunts once and one of them said, "I hate to tell you but you're going to be really tired for the next 18 or so years." ?!?! That's not ok with me! I dont function tired! I know lots of women handle it but I dont. I'm a mess. The kids not sleeping means that not only am I tired but that I dont exercise, I dont eat well, I dont have patience, I dont talk kindly, I dont feel like cooking or cleaning, etc., etc.

And here's the real kicker: I feel so guilty for complaining about kids that dont sleep when I personally know women who have to leave their kids to go to work and would LOVE to be home dealing with what I deal with all day. And I personally know women who mother autistic children and wish with all their hearts that their child would talk their ear off like Cohen does mine. And I personally know women who have lost a child and would give anything to have that child back. I fully realize that the "burden" (if I can even call it that) that I bare is minuscule in comparison. That's where the guilt comes in. Why cant I just buck up and be the mom I had envisioned for myself? Why dont I just count my blessings and be happy? Why cant I run on empty like SO many mothers do? Why do I need to work out and sleep when lots of women dont?

I dont have the answers to those questions. But after nearly 3 years as a mom, I have come up with a very general answer. It is what it is. My kids dont sleep but I HAVE TO. To be patient and productive, I have to get more sleep. This light bulb came on as I stood in the shower and cried this morning. (Dont feel sad or worried for me. I think sometimes my best inspiration comes during a good cry. It's a humble moment that allows the release of the negative, a chance at a new perspective and an opportunity to move forward.)
It is what it is... so how do I deal?
(I'm really just asking myself that question but feel free to comment if you've got the answer!)


Heidi said...

when i e-mailed nate about how exhausted i was the other day he said i should try and take a nap. funny huh? i used to take a nap with maes everyday when i was pregnant with Jake... maybe when i'm pregnant again and absolutely have to nap i will.(not like i don't need one now after chasing jake down the isles of Bashas just now and doing everything in my power not to explode at maes after she told me i was mean- all because i ask her to listen to me the first time when i ask her to do something-) then i'll try to keep it in my schedule. somehow i was able to get things done and take a daily nap- that insured my kid also got her nap (no nap is the reason jake is a terror at the moment)...oh wait, when i was pregnant we lived off of some of our food storage because i did not grocery shop. i guess something always has to give.
but i am feeling the same things as you are...except i think i need anger management classes too.

Raysha said...

Wow! I am so glad that I am not the only one who feels this way. And your post came at a perfect time. I too have struggled and feel guilty that I am not the mother/homemaker that I want to be. The past couple of days have been really hard for me and I've wondered how I can ever stay sane. And I only have one child and am desperately hoping for more. So, certain days I ask myself why I should allow myself to become a mother to another when I don't feel like I measure up as a mother to the one I all ready have. I have to wonder if Satan's dark angels are there whispering these awful thoughts in my ear to make me doubt myself??? And why can't I be strong enough to disregard those thoughts?? I don't know if you still have my e-mail address or phone number but if you ever need to unload, I'd love to listen!!

Jill said...

Jill! I'm so glad you found me and I can listen to your insight. We all feel EXACTLY like you! I'll probably get worst mother of the year award for saying this but Burke and I decided enough was enough and started sleeping in our guest room in the basement. Tessa is 15 months and has only slept through the night like twice. Mason stopped taking naps when he was 18 months old so I feel like I never get a break. I am so jealous of people whose kids take 3 hour naps everyday. not at my house.
We moved back into our room last week and am happy to say Tess has slept until 6:00 3 nights in a row. It has been long and painful (we are talking months here) but letting her cry was the only answer. I hope you find the answer that works for you. And I am convinced that motherhood is just like anything else, you take the good with the bad, the goods are better but the bads are worse then they were before. read my very first post on my blog. Love ya!

M. G. said...

I don't have the answer, but I can say from experience that you can get through it and know that you did your best. All of those feelings I felt. Now that my children are so old, I look back and say how did I do that. It seemed unbearable in the midst, but....time always passes. There is no magic pill unfortunately. In the words of my perfect mother. We just muddled through.

Emily said...

(I just reread this comment, and I hope I don't come off preachy)

I want to say, I'm so glad you had a good cry. I always feel better after one, and the shower seems to bring that on. Something emotional about the water?...
Also, ditto to everything the women said above. I completely get how you feel about expectations for ourselves and the frustration of motherhood. Not to mention the sleep (or lack thereof)!
I don't mean to dole out advice cause you don't need any--but I do think you need to give yourself credit for your strengths. I have always thought it is so cool that you are involved in adult sports. That is a great example to set for your kids--an enjoyable, active lifestyle (that, in my opinion, is even more realistic than hitting the gym every morning-but thats just me). Also, you are intelligent and got your degree in something that you can really benefit society and your family with. How great is that?
My mother was a working mom. I never remember finger painting, reading stories, or Book of Mormon flannel boarding with her. But you know what? I love to read--I love painting, and I kinda know some BOM stories. You are setting a good example by being your authentic self--and it's great that you recognize ways in which you want to improve. The adversary would just have us believe it has to happen all at once. Anyway, most days--motherhood can be pretty dang boring. There. I said it. Epistle done.

Emily said...

P.S. My mom NEVER cooked. And cleaning? hu uh. But I learned lots of other things from her.

KatieJ said...

I just wanted to let you know that I feel the same way about a lot of those things a lot of the time. I am not close to the mom I expected I would be. I don't even have a flannel board. I don't do well without sleep, I'm not even ok without sleep. Some kids are better sleepers than others- 2 of mine were text book sleep through the night by 2 months old, no crying involved, the other 2 had to cry themselves to sleep for a long time, and even now, (they're 3 and 5) we put those folding gates up in their bedroom doorway every night to make them go to sleep. (Once they are asleep the gates come down) if they wake up in the night, they can sleep on our floor or go back to bed. The lights stay off, and there's no conversation. I know feeling guilty for not being deliriously happy all the time, but really, all we know is what we know, and it's hard! Sleep makes a big difference, I hope you can start getting that soon- get some gates. Give the baby some formula before bed, and though it will break your heart, let him cry to sleep for a couple nights, it probalby won't last longer than that.

paperlili said...
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Lyndsay said...

I am a horrible person to be around when I don't get sleep. The second Finn was born I asked the nurse, "Can I sleep while you take him...I've been awake for 50 hours..." She said NO. Ummmmm...was that a joke? No sleep for me? From now on??

I can not function without sleep. I completely empathize. The book The SleepEasy Solution (by Sleepy Planet) has helped a LOT. Finn would stay up until midnight every night if he could, and wake up at 7, ready to go. When I follow the book's routine, even when I have neglected it for months, it works like a charm. And nothing "by the book" ever works on Finn, aside from that. So it's worth a read.

I don't think you should feel guilty for one second for feeling overwhelmed as a mother. Everyone has burdens. And we can all say "some people's are bigger than others." We know that. But that really doesn't help us address and cope with our burdens...it just adds the burden of guilt. So I think it is appropriate and reasonable to validate your struggles. And I will bet money that there are a gazillion other moms that feel the same way. I didn't shower until 4 this afternoon, because I didn't get enough sleep last night and was in a funk all day (and I didn't clean a single thing in my house, including Finn). So I hear ya! But the good days make up for the not so good ones. So here's to a good day tomorrow. ;)

Summer said...

When I had two little kids I had days like that all the time. My solution was to not expect anything more. For me, it worked.

I set a "goal" lets say for each day. Tomorrow a shower and dishes will get done would be my big goal for the day. Even though laundry was piled up floors needed done, I didn't have lofty aspirations. That way I didn't feel like a failure and every day didn't suck. I knew I would not be dressed all cute, no spectacular dinner would be cooked etc... And that allowed me to play more witht he kids knowing nothing else would get done.Any other crap was just bonus.

I still find myself having huge ideas of all thats going to happen during the day with 3 in school and only one at home I *should* be able to get it all done, showered and everything, right? Nope still doesn't happen every day. And I've just learned what you say, it is what it is. I think it's a mindset that each person has to figure out what is best for them.

And you are not the only one!

Wolfingtons said...

I'm no good on sleep either. I think the most important thing is to remember you are doing your best and try not to compare to those "super moms" that seem to surround you. You'll make it through!

Jaime S. said...

I have a feeling that you are going to have great teenagers that never stay out past their curfew. You will catch up on sleep then ; )
#1. Two of my friends recently hired someone to come clean their house once or twice a week. These are not working moms, just tired moms. They love it.
#2. My Aunt Arlie had 8 kids. I spent a lot of time at their house. She would take us to kiddie bible school at the Baptist church every Wed. Free daycare. 2 hours for her to be alone. We loved doing crafts and singing songs about God. Look into it for Cohen.
#3. Is there a mom close by that will trade afternoon hours with you? You take her kids two hours one day and she returns the favor.
#4. I sleep with earplugs in because I'm a light sleeper. I plan on keeping those earplugs in when the baby comes ; )

Good luck and I love ya!

Lisa said...

So many true comments. And it's funny....... we ALL feel the same way to one degree or another. Here are two truths I try to remind myself all the time.

#1. All good things come from God. He wants us to be happy. Go to him constantly. Ask for a blessing to recieve guidance as to how to mother your children and how to get sleep. We can't do it alone!

#2. Satan is the father of all lies. And guilt is one of them. Heavenly Father doesn't send us the guilty feeling.......Satan does. If a thought makes you feel sad or down about yourself, then it is from Satan. If Heavenly Father pricks us to do or be better it is in a hopeful way which includes Him in the picture, not just us floundering around alone.

Jennie Whiting has a wonderful talk on her blog by Elder Holland right now that I just read and cried through about motherhood. You should read it.....it really helped me. This time of young motherhood really is a short time out of our whole lives.... But, it is the hardest and most important and most rewarding. Right?!? We can help eachother. We all know it is hard!!!!!! And we are all not perfect, super moms. But with the Lord, ALL things are possible. He wants us to succeed! Love you girl!

Linz said...

You know what Jill, you need a nanny. And by that I mean just someone to come do a few things a week. Either someone to come do your laundry, clean your house or just let you sleep for a few hours. I'm telling you one day when we actually have money...that is the first thing I am doing. It doesn't have to be for very long but I'm telling you, you would be like a new person. I'm the same way, I do NOT do well with little sleep but I definitely think that you are NOT alone!

Williams Family said...

Jill I just had post a comment sorry I found your blog on Krystal's blog. I know exactly how you feel in fact I'm still struggling with it. My girls are little older now and 5 and 3 and they still wake me up at night and crawl into bed with us. Abbey started school so I have to get up early to get her off to school my other two are already up. My house is a mess all the time, I lose my temper when my girls make a mess and I have to clean it up. My husband wonders why I'm always in a bad mood. He never understands. And then I to will feel the guilt. There are days where I just want to be left alone and not have to give and give. I think I get burned out real easy. I feel it is a lack of rest because I'm always tired throughout the day. And face it children suck everything out of you mentally and physically. Just wanted to let you know your not the only one out there girl.