Why I am Going

We've had the plague. I am only writing about it now because I can sit long enough for more than a single-line FB update. Admittedly we are usually lucky and have rarely seen our share of illness in winter months so I guess it was our turn. Oh man, it has been ugly and has forced me into something I haven't done with regularity in a long time: actually getting into bed at a decent hour. For eight long days Hubs was traveling the globe (Thanks for for my fake but really really good fake Dolce & Gabana sunglasses from China, babe!) and in cruel timing, the day he left I came down with Nasty Jungle Virus.  I do not actually have much memory of how I survived last week. There was a lot of PBS, a lot of Netflix, Mimi got really good at making breakfast for everyone but the fact that the toddlers are still with us is truly an act of God. It was the pits, and it is working its way through the children.

My own sickness hasn't left, it has morphed into a rocking sinus infection but I am feeling more functional now. I am zapping it with antibiotics and attempting to get out of bed before 9am and generally wondering how long recovery is going to drag itself out.

In the midst of physical torture and a bit of personal despair last week I hit a breaking point. I realized I was running on empty. Hubs travels a lot. Not as much as some spouses, not as much as my friends in the miltary, but enough to make life unpredictable and leave me winging it alone with the children most of the days and nights.

As I lay in bed, wanting to staple Tsega and his accomplice, Brady to my bed sheets so they couldn't do anything horrible or life threatening while I was unable to move, I realized something profound.

I gotta get the h____out of here. 

What tipped me off was this important discovery: I have stopped caring when the children cry. I am stone. My brain and body and mind and heart are all so flooded with tantrums, whining, tears, screaming, that I have built a mental wall of self-preservation. This thing children do, crying, to tell their parent as clearly as they can: I am in distress, please help! is no longer is impacting me the way it should. Instead of running quickly or thinking Oh no, what happened?! I have been finding myself thinking What is it now? Can't you just chill out for more than five minutes at a time? Why can't we can a solid hour without someone being a pain in my butt?

These are not loving, compassionate Mama thoughts. These are the thoughts of a woman who desensitived to her children's needs because there are so many.  As soon as the flu fog lifted, I realized the power my burned-outedness was having on me. I wasn't feeling nice. I was (ok, AM) annoyed with my boys instead of joying in them. Instead of feeling excited to help Fikir with English and pronunciation I was trying to avoid her so I wouldn't have to deal with it. Avoiding, not dealing, being annoyed? Bad signs, people bad signs.

And then the Benevolent Hubs returned from a week long travel fest with gifts and hugs and smiles and I wanted to punch him, (just a little). I envied his breaks from the chaos and the screaming and his ability to return home refreshed, ready to see the kids, them delighted to see him. No one is delighted to see me. I am not even delighted to see me. I am tired. I am blah. I have let myself become burned out on this blessing of a role: motherhood.

It's not surprising considering I haven't gone anywhere by myself since Samantha was born almost seven years ago. That is a long time to decide to not have a break. It's a long time to live in fear of plane crashes and car accidents or whatever else might go wrong should I leave the kids. Then I remembered something: I have friends who work against this very thing. Friends who plan a yearly retreat for mothers who have children with early trauma and attachment issues. Friends who are in the trenches with me with kids who are a little harder than average. Who talk to therapists more than real people. (Sorry therapists friends, you're real, too.) Why did it never occur to me to learn more about this?

Within fifteen minutes of thinking about it I made the decision to go. I called Hubs to tell him about this retreat and instead of having a conversation with reasons and logic and I opened my mouth and started bawling. (I've since heard that is the number one sign it is time to go on this retreat). I've been trying to prepare myself for such a thing when I wrote a few weeks ago about how scared I am to leave my children, and I decided to throw my fears to the ground and stomp on them a little. I need to change my trajectory. Because right now where I am headed is days full stony glares, hands yanked a little too hard upstairs for naps, less patience and a depressed-like state.

My kids deserve a mother who learns how to take care of herself. No kid wants a mom who sacrifices herself for them only to turn into a living shell of a woman who feels angry and tired much of the time. No kid deserves that. I remember at times watching other women in my life including my own mom do that to herself and it's not worth it. It does nothing to build relationships. I want my girls especially to learn how to manage this role of motherhood. I want to give their future selves permission to not kill themselves in this role.

And the amazing thing is, clicking "purchase" on that plane ticket has changed everything. I feel lighter. I feel hopeful. I feel like maybe I can make it seven more weeks until I get to be embraced by a slew of mothers I admire and care about who are doing the same things I am doing, and will never judge me for my feelings and frustrations. It doesn't hurt that we are all converging in Florida. I know the sunshine and warmth will be a balm to my weary soul. I can already feel the rays reaching for me, beckoning, just in the act of deciding to go.

Hubs has been so supportive and kind. He looks at my request to go as as sign that I will not eventally lose my ever-loving mind, something he feared when I suggested oh-so-long ago that we adopt again. He wants me to take care of me. And until this point, I have not done this well.

The buck stops here. Well, it stops in Florida. And I am soooo ready.


Becca and Kent said...

And good for you! I was feeling the same burned-outed-ness just last month (and heck, I only have TWO young children!) and some of those things you said, those were EXACTLY how I felt. And then, I went on vacation. Now? I love being a mom again! Glory!
So again, good for you!

Barb Aloot said...

Yay!! Oh yes, this hit home. I've had many of those moments with just one child. So glad to hear you're taking care of yourself with some great mama time. And hey, you've got the sunglasses for Florida. Enjoy!!

Meg said...

take me with you....please?!

Janelle said...

So proud of you for going. It's a testimony to your strength that you made it this long. I match your description after a week with no break. Lets be honest, after a day with no break. Soak up some sun for me!

Karen H said...


Holly said...

Thank you for this lovely post and bravo that you are taking the trip. Thank you for reminding us all that we have to take care of ourselves well to take care of the little ones that need us (and drain us).

Charity Hildebrand said...

You're such a strong woman! Thanks for this post! I admire and respect you so much!!

kareydk said...

Where are you going and how can I sign up?!!!

scooping it up said...

Kareydk - I am going to ETAAM. You can see more about it here, there are *Maybe* five spots left, so you'd have to act fast if you are really interested. Good luck to you!

Kate and Jeff said...

Sometimes as a mom, whether you have one high need child or six, you have to get away to be the best mom you can be. Jamie and I are going next weekend for our second year to a mom's weekend away...scrapbooking, eating hot meals ourselves, sleeping all night if we want and enjoying a conversation without little ears! It is the best thing we could do for ourselves and our families.

I am so happy for you to have this respite. Enjoy!!!

Shrijnana said...

I'm so happy for you! I can also relate to the weariness when another need arises. No matter how much we enjoy parenting, how deeply we love our children, sometimes we need to put our own oxygen mask on first. I hope this time away is everything you need it to be, and the first of many recharging adventures.

Jessica said...

So excited for you!!!!

Nancy said...

Wait! Did I skim too fast? Where are you going? When???? TAKE ME WITH YOU!!!!!
Still in my jammies...

Cindy said...

I need that badly. Even more so this week. LOl
Have an amazing time!