Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Over Booked and Under Motivated

I decided to keep track of something yesterday. Seventeen. That’s the number of times I decided I just wanted to give up and start bawling like a stupid, whiny cry baby. And that’s not a good look for me. I have the general physique of a very large baby anyway (big ass, prominent belly, etc.) so adding in the red face and puffy eyes and loud sobbing does not help my battered self- esteem and ongoing commitment to vanity. Or the fact that I’m trying to hold it together and present a somewhat composed and grown-up front for my kids.
This attitude is totally contrary to what I’m about. I feel very strongly that occasional whining is fine. Let’s call it “venting” and agree that it’s a healthy coping mechanism. And honestly? Sustained pity parties for no good reason are just a colossal waste of time and energy. I usually limit myself to 24-hours of “poor me” and then I force myself to find something funny about the situation, plant a seed, grow a pear (pardon the spelling, it’s a homonym) and move on. But I can’t seem to do it right now.  I am too busy frenetically flapping around.

I have no idea why I’ve spent the past week struggling. But everything seems to require more effort than I can muster right now. Every project and requirement on my plate seems like a marathon. Each deadline feels like a finish line that keeps inching forward. I continue to tell myself that I only have one more mile to go, and I can’t give up now. And so I keep running. And I run until my legs are numb and my lungs are burning and when I look up – the finish line is still a mile away. And I want to stop but I tell myself I can’t give up now. Rinse and repeat. That is my current mental state. Except add rabid pit bulls adorned with balsam wreaths snipping at my heels.

I need to try harder at home. My house is disgusting, and I have discovered that I hate cooking (yet cruelly and ironically still love eating, but that’s another story). And this is my job, and I fail at it so badly that I should be fired. I also suck yak-hemorrhoid at parenting. I never remember library day and I always forget to sew patches on the Brownie vest.

The reason for this, I suspect, is that my two-year-old has become the smiling inspiration for Firestarter II. Just keeping my lil’ cupcake from hurting herself, causing serious property damage, or triggering another North Korean incident requires four pairs of hands and three sets of eyes. In addition to a lack of basic English competency, she still doesn’t sleep through the night - so neither do I. And I am so desperate for a break from these responsibilities that I have contemplated faking my own kidnapping by Libyan terrorists. But the idea is derivative of Back to the Future and the notion of being away from my kids fills me with such panic that I run from the idea of leaving them, even for a weekend.
And then there’s Christmas. Why do I feel like the Death Spiral has already crushed me? At this point, the holiday checklist that Kate developed for me is now completely useless. You know what I’m talking about right? The thing she created so that the last days leading up the celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior would not be characterized by me screaming the F-word and flailing around wrapping gifts with newspaper and a glue stick and writing Christmas cards while drunk at 3am? Seems a bit inappropriate for the occasion. Well, any occasion, but especially the big one on the religious holiday dance card.

And aside from that - worse than that – this season makes me unable to ignore the memories of all those people I love who should be here this time of year, but instead are gone. And every year, there is someone else to cry for at Christmas.

And I have houseguests coming for ten murtherfurkin’ days. These guests are my 20-year-old sister Lucy (who’s not really a guest) and her fiancé whom I have never met. Yes I said FIANCE. The one she’s living with while they don’t go to college. That should be fun.

There’s also The 30 Day Shred. And my big, fat ass. And my reflection every time I look in the mirror. Or in the refrigerator. SHUT UP, JILLIAN. Shut your whore mouth. Cheese for dinner is fine if you occasionally eat it on an apple (and ignore the imagery of the apple lodged in your mouth like a roasting suckling pig at a banquet).

And since I’m already on an angry tear, I’m going to do a broadside vent. The kind that covers the waterfront, yet makes only one person feel better . . . me. Which makes me feel even worse. You see, I’m also resentful that everyone seems to think that because I stay at home, I am free to pick up their slack and spend my time taking care of crap that is really not my responsibility. It feels deep down that I am not respected, my time is not valued and my only purpose in life is to serve others. Like I’m friggin’ Dobby the house-elf, but without Harry Potter’s sock. [And that would make me the evil Lucius Malfoy. -Kate]

And I know that’s true. Because taking care of everyone else is my job.  And not long ago, I worked full-time and I would look at the stay-at-homer’s and be like “Seriously? You can’t buy the teacher gift for the class? You can’t take an hour out of your day and run to the mall? Because you’re so busy carpooling in yoga pants?” But I see now that I was a jackhole. This time of year, I want to go around wearing a shirt that says “There is a limit to the number of unpaid jobs I am willing to do. So please SUCK IT SUCK IT SUCK IT.”
Yes, my heart truly holds the magic of the holiday spirit.

Just when I was terrified that I had permanently lost the part of me that can always find the funny and laugh at the schmidt and the absurdities and steaming piles of crap that define my life, I got a reminder. I know how lucky I am. I have healthy children and a loving husband and a warm bed and I know where our next meal is coming from. I have friends who love me. I have nothing to complain about.

Reaching into my purse while driving, I pulled out my sunglasses. Only they weren’t my sunglasses. They were Marybeth’s glasses. Marybeth was my beloved stepmother. Marybeth was Lucy’s mom. Marybeth died of breast cancer almost three years ago. I kept her glasses in my purse in the secret pocket because that’s where I put them the last time we took her to the hospital. And what was I supposed to do with them? Throw them away? My throat suddenly stopped working. You see, this was the same trip to the hospital where I simultaneously broke my leg and had a seven-week-old Mini-mini-me in my belly. We’re still here and fine, yet she died painfully that day.

I pulled in the driveway and saw something sitting my porch. It was a present from Kate. The note on the bag said: “To Lydia, who I love more than shoes. Just not *these* shoes. xoxo, Kate”

I really didn't need the shoes.  I just needed to be reminded of what was important. I'm fine and I'm no longer whining. I have my perspective back. And I am so grateful. For everything.

xo, Lydia

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010


  1. Thank you Thank you Thank you! I have not been feeling the holiday thing at all this year, knowing that I'm the one who has to clean up the house and put up the decorations and do the wrapping and organize the family gatherings while working 40 hours a week and all the usual household running stuff with three kids in three different basketball leagues and it is nice to not feel alone! But it's also nice to be reminded to put everything in perspective. Yesterday was the anniversary of my eldest son's passing due to cancer. I have three beautiful healthy kids. Reasons for the season.

  2. You guys are so lucky to have each other! I wish I had a friend like you have ... I need a Lydia to my Kate (or vice versa - I guess I don't know which I'm more like, though my husband is quite close to Cap'n Coupon himself).

    Thank you for writing this ... I had a day similar to yours. Though mine didn't end as wonderfully as yours did, I know how lucky I am to have what I have.

    Thanks for being a bright spot in my day!


  3. Lydia!!! You're not alone in all that whining glory! Amen! When I was a "stay-at-homer" I felt the exact same way. (on a side note, I feel that way now and I work full time.) Just remember that eventually your babies will grow up and, hopefully, the littlest will stop being Firestarter II. I know it's ever so hard to get into the spirit of the season, but keep your chin up and don't compare yourself to all those that have the shopping done and cards mailed and everything else. You're only you and you're doing the best you can!

  4. I am so here with you.
    Maybe you forget library day and Brownie patches...but who f**ing cares? Do you remember to tell your children that you love them? Do they know that no matter what, their Mommy will ALWAYS be there for them?
    Oh yes and even yesser!
    As Mommies, we get so caught up in the random Bullschmidt of the "expected," that we forget about the intangibles.
    Our kids can be Little Terror Suspects because they have the unwavering security of a home where no matter how rotten they are, Mommy still loves them, will still make them a warm meal to fill teir tummies, will still read their favorite bedtime story, will still say prayers thanking God for all of the blessings in their lives, and will still kiss them, say "I love you," and MEAN IT.
    You are a damn good Mommy. You are The Momma Bear who loves her family fiercely. Random bullschmidt is superfluous compared to the rock solid safety of Mommy Love. Do not ever sell yourself or the blessing that you are to your friends and your family short.

  5. Sometiems it is difficult to see over the crap. I am a single Mom in the middle of nursing school and sometimes I have to remind myself that even though I'm broke, and the alternator just went out on my car, I still have food in the pantry, a wonderful Mother who helps me with the kids when it's finals week and I'm about to lose my schmidt and a fantastic aunt whose hubby is curretnly deployed to Kuwait who is letting me use her car. And every day I come home my little Darlings fight over who gets to hug me first. And then there is graduation that is now less than 6 months away. Yep it's pretty craptastic but it's also a little fantastic.

  6. These are honestly the hardest moments. Yes, we have beautiful (I'm assuming) healthy kids, and yes, we have our health. I am a cancer survivor, and yet still have slipped back into the everyday whine fest that was my life before. I lose 1-2 friends every year, but can't for the life of me live my life like it's short and the little crap doesn't matter. Be kind to yourself, and sometimes, some of us need medical aid (myself in the form of zoloft, if I may be so honest). Others are fine with just yoga or a day off, or, maybe just an extra drink. I don't know. Don't be so hard on yourself. You have alot going on, and memories of loved ones who died this time of year only add to it.

  7. If you'll pardon my language... I love the hell out of you two.

    Especially when you post Awesome Truths about yourselves.

    You're human! Like me! Yay!

    Big hugs. Not that virtual hugs feel particularly good (certainly not as good as REAL hugs) but, hey. It's the thought that counts. So. Hugs!

  8. Oh Gawd.... once again I think you've planted a spy in my home and are writing about the goings-on in our Casa. I wanted to cry for you, laugh with you and just give up and let the crap fall with you. I have so much going on... all to be thrown into a grinding halt because Darling Daughter #1 had her foot run over by a float in a small town Christmas parade on Saturday night. Yes, you read that correctly. Her.foot.was.run.over.by.the.float. It is (by the grace of God) not broken... but this child is a ballerina. With a Winter Recital. In two weeks. We now have dr's appts for follow ups... we have a trip to Cali to see my cousin before he deploys to Againistan next month - for a year. We have Christmas. We have my grandparents' 62nd anniversary on Christmas Day, but Nana has Alzheimer's and doesn't live at home anymore, so Christmas kind of sucks now.

    BUT... my husband has a great job... we have a roof over our heads and food in our pantry and my kids are tucked safely in their warm beds right now.

    I'm not going to whine anymore... I'm going to wake up in the morning with a smile on my face, drink my coffee and tackle the day head on - and hope to avoid a boobstain 'cuz I have a lot of crap to do tomorrow and I need to leave the house to do it.

  9. Thank you for letting me know I am not the only one that has a life JUST.LIKE.YOURS. omg. I believe this may have been the worst year yet. I can relate on at least 99% of everything you wrote. And yes...I feel guilty that I have to Do.it.all. and can't there be just ONE day where things don't go wrong? Calgon...take me away.

  10. I hope you are still feeling better. I hope advice is ok because I thought of 2 things that may help... as for the cooking, I hate it so much too, but perhaps what worked for me might for you too... I started meal planning on Sunday evening for the week, so that way at least I don't have to rush around at 5:30 saying "what the heck am I gonna make?"... it cuts down on some of the stress of cooking anyway :) Just a simple fix has helped alot.
    Also, my friends once gave me this sorta-kinda complement: "Mel is sooo good at saying no to stuff". It's true, too. I say no to all kinds of things, and I don't feel guilty. I say no to writing christmas cards that end up in the trash ultimately anyway. I say no when friends ask me to help them on some committee. I say no when asked to run out and get whatever for someone who is busier. I may look unkind or unchristian, but my family suffers when I am too stressed, and I have to think about caring for them. Maybe try saying "No" more to things?

    Hope you feel better still... hugs! You are awesome!

  11. Even yesser, Darling. I'm in Orlando ... care to meet in Atlanta for a T-box?

  12. Thank you thank you! Yesterday I had two incidents of sobbing next to the crib when I couldn't get my four month old to take a nap. I only have one and it is sometimes overwhelming. I read your blog during First Nap and it sets me up for the day.

  13. Don'tcha think God had you pull those glasses out of your purse while you were thinking of those you love? Then, He reminded you of what an awesome friend you still have right here in earth with a gift of shoes.

    Lydia, we all feel this way all through the holidays, but we all have to keep going. I'm not sure why we as moms have to do EVERYTHING, but it's our job and we do it better than the men. Thank you so much for sharing such a piece of your heart.

  14. I just got this in my inbox:

    "From time to time we all grieve about something. It might be the loss of a job or finances, the loss of a friend or loved one, or the loss of a part of ourselves. It is when we try to grieve on our own without help from God that our grieving can cause darkness to overcome us. Walk step by step with God and together you will overcome the darkness." from http://www.TheWhisperOfGod.com

  15. I would so buy the Dobby shirt and wear it along with you...
    Hang in there, not much longer!!

  16. Yes! Finally someone else (and loads others, too) who gets it! This year in particular I seem to range from Betty Crocker to homicidal Betty Crocker.

    Divorce and the first set of holidays will do that to you.

    The randomness of the crying is the hardest part (your post started this morning), but then my kids get into my bed in the morning prior to school for morning nuggles (Snuggles), or the laugh It helps to make it better.

    When you are at the end of your rope that is when something will be sent to you to see you through. A pair of sunglasses pulled out of your purse to remind you of all those that you love and that love you.

    Thanks for sharing.

  17. Ummm, ok, 3 things.

    1) My sister also died 3 years ago after battling breast cancer..DO NOT MAKE ME CRY!!!!!

    2) Can we get the unpaid jobs quote in a T-shirt PLEASE!!!! Or perhaps stickers we can slap on our t-boxes which on bad days I can be found hugging like my precious.

    3) Oooohhhh, are those CLARKS!!!!!

  18. SIne its not quite 8am here and I was feeling the pressure of not having done any exercise, forgetting to remind my husband that he had jury duty yesterday (because that's somehow my duty), giving the kids poptarts because the thought of having to wash extra dishes today to give them healthier food was unappealing, looking at the list of stuff that needs to be done before the kids birthdays next week (yep, both the kids one day after the other-thank you mardi gras) and Christmas, prepare for my Step dad's arrival and trying to coordinate Christmas with him who'll be staying with us for a week, his christmas with my Sister's family that has to revolve around her in laws, Christmas with my father in law and his wife, and Christmas with My husband's late mother's family. UGH. Add in the grief from his mom passing away on Christmas eve 6 years ago and mine on Christmas Day three years ago and its a huge obstacle that I didn't wanna face today. Like go back to bed and pretend to be asleep for awhile...But I also homeschool my kids so when I logged on to play Bejewled blitz, I mean, print out some lessons for today I saw your post instead. Thanks for the laugh, never mind the tears, I think I can make it to the 26th.

  19. Love it, It's amazoing how allit takes is that one simple thing to remind us all how lucky we are. Thank you for this

  20. I have been running like a hamster on a habitrail for 2 weeks now and I just vented to one of my far away friends...thank you for venting and putting things in perspective...you are wonderful and I am very grateful you are in my computer...<3

  21. I am not feeling the holidays right now either. I had a miscarriage a little over a week ago (that post about the sisterhood was timed so well thank you for that one too) and I went from being right on top of everything to sitting around watching the Cat in the Hat with my toddler.

    I have snapped out of my gloom for two reasons

    1-because it dawned on me there is only three weeks left until Christmas. I won't really get to relax until the 26th when my mother in law will take one look at me and hand me a glass of wine and send me to bed for a long nap so I am fresh for the party that night. My mother in law is amazing.

    2- my precious little 20 month old daughter came over to me on Friday and gave me a big hug and kiss and said "MY mum mum!!" and I am truly greatful for having her and I am going to make this a very special Christmas for her. Because I am her Mum Mum and that's my job. I am luck to have that job.

  22. I feel your rant pain girl...and smile b/c I have so much to be thankful for...even when the jacklegs keep on me. SUCK IT!

  23. Lydia your freaking awesomeness humbles me. I want to be Kate so I can be your best friend! And so I can be Kate. The holidays will be magical because your family has you for their mom/wife. Moochas Smoochas.

  24. I just started bribing my 2 1/2 year old son with candy bars to STAY IN HIS OWN BED ALL NIGHT. It has made a huge difference for me to have uninterrupted sleep! My house is still a huge mess, but at least I feel better!

  25. A person once told me "There will always be someone in this world who is suffering more than you but that doesn't mean you're pain doesn't count." Even though we have it pretty good we all get down from time to time. Hope you perk up soon!!!!!!

  26. 1. PLEASE don't ever stop posting! You see so many kindred spirits reply when you do! however I feel selfish asking that when you already have so much to do...
    2. hugs to you! I'm a little Kate'ish in my lists which for some reason I have yet to make - I KNOW! - thus I am getting on it. today. promise. but somehow they make me feel like it is all do'able. "How do you do it all?" Because I freaking ROCK!! Nobody expects that reply, feel free to use. Cuz we momma's gotta stick together!
    heart ya girl, now I better get to the gym. :P

  27. *hugs* You are not alone. I have a whole list of things to do and am completely unmotivated. It seems every time I do something the kids undo something else.

  28. I have tears in my eyes after reading this. I am a SAHM of an almost two year old boy (December 15th) and 8 days after my son was born, my dad passed away due to years of substance abuse. So, the last few years the holiday season has been pretty hard on me. Thank you so so much for posting this. I am so thankful to have found this blog.

  29. OMG, Lydia, you are truly awesome. You just said everything I've been thinking lately, except I work full time. Maybe you're my SAHM twin. Thank you for reminding me of the important things in life.

  30. It's the sleep. There is a HUGE difference between what I can handle when I've had 2 nights in a row of uninterrupted sleep and what I can handle when my little angels have been up in the night. Motherhood was specifically exempt from the Geneva Convention because the jackholes there didn't want to share the load. So here we are, with severe sleep deprivation that would have Amnesty International up in arms...except we're mommies instead of prisoners.

    So I strongly advise you to let the house rot and take a nap when your little cupcake naps. Just 20 minutes of sweet slumber can change your whole day! The house will still be a disaster when you're done...but it would have been that way anyway.

  31. Thank you so much! I desperately needed that today...and you might have maybe made me cry.

  32. Wow! You gave vent to many of my own feelings and then reminded me why things are never as bad as they seem. Thank you for such a wonderful post. And happy holidays!

  33. Tis the season. No, really. So many of us feel like that, too. Just the other day, while I was reminding one of my 6 whiny kids that "instead of complaining about our chores, we should look for the reason to be grateful that we *had* that particular chore", I realized that I am jackhole. Because I NEVER do that, and I ALWAYS complain. SO, today I will be grateful that there are people in my life who I need to buy gifts for, and I will be grateful that it takes me so long to fold the laundry because it means we are blessed with so many clothes to wear. Ugh.
    Also, one of the "working moms" (no, not a hooker) at my kids' school and I had a lovely conversation a while back. We decided that if she expected me to do extra "chores" because I am a stay-at-home mom, then I could expect a big fat wad of cash from her because everyone knows how rich working moms are. We laughed and laughed liked hyenas.
    Feel better, Lydia!

  34. This is why MommyLand rocks: so many awesome mommies right there to pat your back when you need it!

    And never lose sight of the fact that your kiddos will never remember that you forgot library day or forgot to sew the patches on or just ordered a pizza every once in a while (they'll probably love that...), they WILL remember that their mom was always there for them, that she loved them more than anything. They will never forget that!

  35. 1. Glad I'm not alone. "Hugs" The world won't end if I don't send out Christmas cards, right?

    2. Thank goodness for best friends. I am lucky enough to have one - we each hold each other together during hard times.

    3. Being a SAHM sometimes sucks. And "career moms" don't get it. I heard a speaker tell a story once about the day she stayed in bed, in her pajamas, reading, for the whole day. Her husband came home and saw last night's pizza left out, cereal and milk spilled all over the floor, clothes exploding out the laundry room, toys and general chaos everywhere. He thought something must be wrong and ran to check on his wife. Finding her in bed, reading, he asks what happened (very concerned). She tells him, "you know when you ask me what I do every day? Well, today I didn't do it."

  36. Mary Kate, your comment made me giggle!

    Lydia, Lydia, Lydia. Life is so complicated. It can be brilliant and wonderful and funny and sentimental but also hard and scary and painful and majorly stressful. Everybody gets the blues, absolutely everybody, and most of the time for reasons we can't identify and articulate nearly as well as you already have. It sounds like you're on your way back from freakoutville already, but just in case:

    I know after I have a perspective-getting "hey, I should appreciate how good I've got it" moment, it's too often followed by a "hey, there's another reason to beat up on myself: I'm an ingrate and things could be so much worse." So, if you're tempted to do that, don't. It's bologna. The good things in life don't serve to balance out the bad, it's more like salt and sweet: to much of either on its own will make you feel sick, but the best things in life have them in the right proportion: peanut brittle, chocolate covered pretzels, cheese of almost any description... you get the idea. (By the way, if you're nerdy and would like that point driven home by Richard Curtis, writer of some of the greatest have-a-good-laugh-and-cry films ever (Four Weddings and a Funeral, anyone?) track down the "Vincent and the Doctor" episode of the most recent series of Doctor Who. It can be taken completely out of context of the rest of the series, and the speech Bill Nighy gives near the end rocks me every single time.)

    Most of us need to exercise a little more personal compassion. Turn that golden rule around a little: would you crap on a mom who is just doing what she can to keep her head above water? Don't be crazy. Of course not. So why would you even think about doing it to yourself? Get help carrying the load (even if sometimes that help is just in the form of an "Amen, Lydia!" from the interwebs) where you can, do what you can, and forgive yourself for not being able to do more.

    And Kate, you're one part BFF, three parts fairy godmother, as far as I can tell.

  37. All I have to say:

    I so wish I had a shoe fairy dropping me of shoes. Just not *those* shoes. More of a strappy heel girl or boot fiend :)

    (my word verification is tingl. What is a tingl? Shouldn't there maybe be an 'e' there?)

  38. Sooooo timely. As a single mom... I feel these days fairly often... and always come across my "glasses". This post is my most recent pair.

  39. I almost missed this post somehow, until Kate mentioned it in her later one. Thank you, thank you, thank you for putting my feelings into words. I think you could be me except you have one more kid than I do. I hate cooking, especially since everything I cook my kids hate. My house should be condemned with all the empty spaces taken up with junk and the floor littered with toys. I also have the young one that is from the Omen. She has gotten into the desitin, soap, toothpaste, cough drops, you name it she has gotten into it and I am seriously considering duct taping her clothes on as she can go from fully dressed to stark naked in less than a minute. I dread what she will do with the Christmas tree as she takes her brother's toy saw and wrench and tries to get the branches off. No ornaments are on it yet but I do not think we will put up many breakable ones. My older one will throw a tantrum at the drop of a hat, I have bearly sewn patches on his vest and I just made the play doh for his class that was supposed to be there on Dec 1. Some days I just cannot deal with all the stuff and then my hubby dropping a "can you do this for me today?" request as he waltzes out the door. I could go on and on but I do want to thank you for letting me know that I am the only Mom who is terrible at her job and reminding me what is really important and to try to keep my mind on that not all the daily crap that gets in the way.

  40. My dear friend just hot-glued her son's Scout badges on. I saw some awesome badge glue that I'm going to invest in at Walmart. Isn't there a sewing badge? Then they could sew on their own freaking badges!

  41. I'm not sure what I can add except my admiration and support and love, from one mom to another.
    <3 Thank you so much for this post!

  42. Those are beautiful clogs.




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