Thursday, February 3, 2011

Survival

When it comes to my blog, I try to be as real as I can be. I try to be honest about my feelings, even if it means admitting things that I don't want to. It's easy to pretend in the blog world because no one has to see the real you if you don't want them to. I could spend every day writing about how perfect my life is and even though I am INCREDIBLY blessed, I wouldn't say my life is perfect. I am always trying to figure out how to be a better wife, or mother, or daughter, or sister, or friend, or teacher...but I don't know that I will ever be able to look at myself in any of these roles and think that I am perfect. But the sooner I can admit and accept that...the sooner I can stop trying to be perfect. Because really...is there any such thing?

Last night, while Eric and the kids were all passed out from a long day playing in the snow, I curled up on the couch to watch a movie. I still hadn't seen Sex and the City 2 because it got horrible reviews and Eric had no interest in watching it with me. So when I saw that it was OnDemand, I figured, "What the hell" and called it in. Sadly...it was as bad as everyone said it was. BUT...there is this amazing scene between Charlotte and Miranda that made the other 140 minutes of the movie worth watching.

If you are a fan of SATC, you know that Charlotte and Miranda are both mothers. Miranda is a workaholic lawyer trying to find balance between her career and her family, while Charlotte is a Stay-at-Home-Mommy of two little girls trying to find balance at home. Charlotte struggled for a long time to have children, which is why she finally adopted a little girl from China right before getting pregnant with her own daughter. While Charlotte was going through her infertility struggles, Miranda got pregnant by accident. Because of this, Miranda and Charlotte have always had tension between them. Miranda always felt like she couldn't talk to Charlotte about her struggles as a mother because whenever she did...Charlotte would remind her of how lucky she is to even have a child. I don't know what it is like to be in Charlotte's shoes, but I do know what it feels like to be in Miranda's shoes and it's hard. It's hard to have your mind completely consumed with motherhood and not be able to share it with someone close to you.

So when Charlotte was finally able to start a family of her own, she put up a front that life was perfect. She had everything she ever wanted...so what could she be unhappy about? But Miranda knew that it was a front. She knew that motherhood was not all the sunshine and roses that Charlotte made it out to be. She knew that Charlotte was feeling the same way she was but she didn't want to admit it. And frankly...what mother does? What mother wants to admit that they are struggling? What mother wants to admit that they feel unhappy sometimes? And more importantly...what mother wants to admit these things when they have exactly what they've always wanted?

So the scene in the movie that I am talking about is when Miranda and Charlotte sit down for some cocktails and end up having this amazing conversation about motherhood...


Miranda knows that Charlotte is hiding her feelings and she wants her to know that she can be honest. It takes Charlotte a few sips of her cocktail to really spill the beans, but eventually she does. Miranda starts by admitting that although she loves her son, being just a mother isn't enough for her. As soon as she says it, her eyes well up with tears because it sounds so horrible. Being a mother should be everything and the ONLY thing you care about. But for many of us, we are not whole without a piece of who we use to be. Charlotte feels this way too. Even though she wished and prayed for these children, some days she just wants to be alone like she use to be...able to sit and sip a cup of coffee or read a magazine without crying children on her hip. She starts to cry when she tells Miranda how she will just leave the room when her daughter starts crying because she can't hear it anymore. She starts to say how wrong that is but Miranda interrupts her and says, "That's not wrong...that's survival". That is the point where I screamed, "YES!" at the TV.

I know the word "survival" seems out of place when talking about motherhood because motherhood shouldn't be something we "survive"...it should be something we savor and cherish. And we do...but that doesn't mean there aren't obstacles to overcome. There are HARD days...especially with young children. There are days when you want to run screaming from your house. There are moments when you sit and daydream about eating lunch alone, reading a book, in absolute peace and quiet. There are days you actually miss your 60 minute commute to work because it was an hour you could just sit and listen to music. But when you have these days or moments, the immediate guilt that rushes over you is overwhelming. You feel disgusted with yourself for being so negative when so many other women out there would literally give their last breath to be a mother. So then you spend the rest of the day beating yourself up for not enjoying every single moment with your children and decide to bury these feelings. You put on the same front as Charlotte and pretend like everything is sunshine and roses. And although I do believe it is important to remember your blessings and thank God for them every single day...I also think it is unhealthy to pretend like motherhood isn't hard.

Recently, I met an old friend of mine for drinks. We hadn't seen each other in years so when we started catching up about our children and our lives as SAHMs, we both put on our big smiles and talked about how fulfilling life is now and how we wouldn't trade the opportunity to be home with our babies for anything in the world. We went on like this for a good 15 minutes, talking about how fabulous motherhood is, and then I said, "Gosh...it does feel nice to be away from my kids though." Right after I said it, I wished I could take it back. It sounded so awful. Here I was, gushing about how much I love my kids, and then I confess how I am enjoying being away from them. And the worst part...Laura tried for a few years to have a baby an she probably looks at every single moment as a true blessing. I was such an ass. How could I say that? But then...I saw Laura's eyes well up and I knew that she felt the EXACT same way!

So we poured another glass of wine and spilled our beans. We talked about everything from the exhaustion of breastfeeding, to the solitude of being in a house all day with no adult interaction, to the new-found joy of going to work one night a week because it is a "break". We laughed, we cried and when I went home...I felt refreshed. I felt like a new woman. My SIL Dana and I have these honest conversations every day (and they are wonderful) but to have one with a woman who longed for motherhood the way Laura did, felt great. I didn't have to hide my feelings with her and I think it was a HUGE relief for her because having had trouble getting pregnant, she felt like she wasn't "allowed" to feel these things. And when you let go of the guilt (with the help of some wine) you can say things you NEVER thought you would admit. And honestly...it was good for the soul :-)

So I guess the point of this insanely long post is that I think all mothers should be more honest with themselves...and each other. I think we should all admit that motherhood IS about survival. Carrying snacks in our purse is survival. Purchasing expensive DVD players just so you can get through a road trip is survival. Working one day a week, even though we don't have to, is survival. Letting your child sleep in your bed even though you know you shouldn't is survival. Gosh...I could go on and on with this list. Ha! What's that saying about me? So if confession is good for the soul, how do you all survive? And I don't mean just motherhood. I think marriage is about survival too. Maybe we should use this post to cleanse our souls and get it out there. Remember...you can post as anonymous if want. But really...what fun is that?

13 comments:

  1. I loved that scene in the movie because it is so REAL. It felt good hearing those things said in a movie and not have everything portrayed as perfect.

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  2. I loved that scene also! It is so true. I let my son play Wii for hours just so I can get stuff done around the house (yeah right so I can check fb and read blogs!) So many times people put up the perfect front and you want to be like "Cmon. Really?" To be a fly on the wall. It is constant survival b/c as a sahm you are always with your kids and in mommy mode. My husband will be sitting on the couch with my son and I will be in another room and my son will come find me for something. Hello your dad is right there!!! I have had more than one day when I also want to running screaming from my house! Would I trade it...not a chance and will I complain with my sister...absolutely! Thanks for your honesty!

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  3. I haven't seen the movie but I totally agree with your post!!! I feel like so many days I am just trying to get through the day and live for the moment my husband gets home from work so I can have some time of not having to care for the kids every minute. Thank you for this wonderful post...it's really great not feeling like you are the only mother in the world that feels this way!!:)

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  4. And this... is why I love you!!!!

    As you know, I get SO sick of the bloggers who act like sunshine and rainbows fly out of their asses daily. Posts like this show that you are REAL and by you putting yourself out there, you are giving every other mother (or wife) that reads the opportunity to say 'Hey, I feel that way sometimes too... and it is OK!"

    As a wife, I can definitely say that there are times that I lose my perspective and become very jealous or sad about what I don't have. Thankfully, I snap out of it pretty quickly and am thankful for everything that I DO have. But, there are definitely those days that I could just scream (and do!) about Brandon draping his clothes over the footboard when the hamper is ten feet away or when he's lost his keys for the 800th time that week. Or, how about when he "forgets" to tell me about a family dinner and I'm left to find out about it the day before? Shit like that happens all of the time and drives me NUTS. But, thankfully... my perspective changes and I realize how lucky I am to have him in my life. That still doesn't motivate me to clean the toilets though... ;o)

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  5. Motherhood has always been about survival, even back to when I raised you, Ryan and Adam. There are many days that you long for "something else", even though you wouldn't change a thing. And now that my kids are adults, I have many conversations with my girlfriends about whether you would do anything different or change anything you did raising your kids. We all agree that we would have done lots of things differently, yet, what happened in the past is what made them the grown-ups they are today. And if you live in the present like we should, you can't change things anyway.

    I loved Marie's comment about letting her son play Wii for hours while she got things done. That is what helped keep you sane. I would let you watch videos and the boys play Nintendo so that I could get things done. It didn't kill you and if I do say so myself...you all turned out fabulously!

    Love you!

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  6. "Take a sip"

    That was the best part of whole movie!!

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  7. i struggle with the balancing act too. work and kids is tough. when i do have time home with them on the weekends, there is always stuff to be done so i let the kids watch tv. i let the kids sleep in my bed sometimes because i need sleep too. sometimes i will let gracie eat donuts for dinner or not brush her teeth, because sometimes i am just too damn tired to put up the fight. i admit i don't pick up toys everyday and if my kids wake up super early on the weekends, i let them play while i catch some more zz's on the couch. i could go on and on too. nothing about being a mom is easy and it's always going to be a juggling routine not just with work and kids but spending quality time with each child. good post. i may steal it one day too.

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  8. Great post, Jen. You know me well enough to know what's coming.

    Perfection is an over-rated, self-inflicted, non-existent load of shit.

    It's punishment and solitary confinement in the end.

    No one is perfect, and any one who puts on that face is usually miserable on the inside. How many times have we all found that to be true?

    So NEVER EVER be afraid to admit that life isn't perfect. That is what makes it beautiful. That is what makes you REAL.

    Give me real any day.

    And so you know, my mom and her best friend used to argue over which one of us kids was the most retarded....like I said, never perfect.

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  9. You don't know me but I have followed your blog just from finding it through links from other blogs. I have been waiting soooo long for a post like this!! It's hard to read about someone's husband and kids being so 'perfect' all the time, I knew you had to have some days that just don't go so perfect. I was one of those women that struggled with infertility so after I had my perfect boy and girl I was disgusted with myself for missing my 'old' life pre-children. I couldn't believe that I was longing for peace and quiet when I had begged and bargained with God to give me children. I also saw that scene in the movie and it brought me to tears. I'm not the only one, I thought, relieved. I struggle every day to be the perfect mom but it took me a long time to realize that my feelings are 'normal' and 'typical' and I shouldn't beat myself up over it. Yeup, sometimes my kids are in front of the TV, but there are more times when I am reading with them, playing a board game, playing hide and seek, so they have my undivided attention more times than not. Mine are 6 and 4 now, and just know that it does get better and easier in some ways because they can start doing more for themselves and playing together instead of always needing me there 24/7. I love love my kids but it's nice to know that we all have our days where we struggle and second guess ourselves but it doesn't ever make us the dreaded 'bad' moms that we are always so scared to be! Thanks Jen, for keeping it REAL!! And now...take a sip! =)

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  10. Nicely said. While i'm not a SAHM, i'm a working mom, there are days when i pick up my daughter from daycare afterwork and when we get home i can't wait until bedtime and i feel SOO guilty about thinking that because i haven't seen her all day. I know that the few hours that i have with her at night should be cherished but some days I'm spent from working all day and feel bad. Some nights when she looks at me and tells me she loves me i know that i'm doing what's best for HER, MY FAMILY and ME! Thanks for writing this post!

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  11. Well you know that I never claim perfection! My survival mode after having the girls has changed quite a bit, and I let Connor do a lot of things I swore I never would. We eat fast food more than we should because I run out of time after work to make dinner. We go to the library every week to get DVDs (well, and books too) so that he'll have "new" movies to watch. He drinks chocolate milk every day for dinner because I don't want to fight him to drink regular milk. My house isn't messy, but it sure is dirty! And I'll admit that I do let my girls cry sometimes because I only have two hands and three kids!
    Phew, felt good to get that out there :)

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  12. Thanks for all these wonderful comments ladies!! It really means a lot to have you all open up about your struggles too :-) It felt so good to "talk" about this without feeling like I had to hide my feelings. I always try to keep from complaining or being negative on my blog because really...who wants to read about that stuff? But pretending that everything is sunshine and roses all the time isn't a good thing either so it's nice to know that I can come online and be myself :-) You ladies are the BEST!!!

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  13. I have just moved that movie to the top of my netflix queue so I can see that scene. How do I survive marriage and a child I longed for after 3 years of infertility? Girlfriends. My girlfriends with whom I can be completely honest with about the ups and downs, especially those who are working moms with stay at home husbands, who fully understand my guilt. Finding time for my girlfriends isn't easy but if I didn't have them for an outlet, I'd go insane.

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