Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Motherhood Ease and Taking A Break

I wanted to be a mother since I was a little girl. However, in all my imaginings I didn't anticipate the anxiety that accompanies this occupation.

There are many mothers who I admire; most of them seem to easily bear the mantle of motherhood. When I observe them, I see how comfortable they feel with their role and how they adjust naturally to changes.

I wish I felt that way.

I love being a mother and I adore my children. Recently, I've started daydreaming of having a big family again. A huge step for me since the miscarriage.

However, I don't feel qualified. I see this in simple things.

When Ben leaves for work, I am gripped by this terrible fear of being left, alone, with the kids. I think about the hours I have until they are down for naps and then until they go to bed. I dread meal times and bath times and almost everything in between. So I plan lots of activities to fill the voids--library visits, aerobics, shopping trips, and appointments. I don't prefer play groups because it means I must visit with other mothers who probably are much better at being a stay-at-home mom than me.

If the kids start to cry, I become rattled. I tell myself that I cannot comfort them and that the crying will continue for hours during the day. A lovely relic of the heavy duty colic I survived with both kids.

I spend half the day chasing after Emily and the other half cleaning up the messes she has made. Sitting down and playing with her rarely happens as she is too busy getting into the things to have anything to do with puzzles, blocks, or any crafty thing.

As a woman with a degree in family science (with a heavy emphasis on child development), I know what I need to do to encourage my children in their intellectual growth. Thus, when these things aren't done, I feel the failure even more significantly.  And it scares me.

I crave comfort in motherhood.


My life is in chaos.  I don't mean that lightly.  The family has yet to adjust to Ben working two jobs.  I'll freely admit that I am struggling with it.

The hardest part is being responsible for everything.  Sure the dishes can wait...for me. If I don't clean, no one else will.  It's not that Ben doesn't want to help, it's that he can't.  His burden is our finances while mine is the household.  Hefty responsibilities for both of us.  We share what we can while doing our bests to fulfill our sole obligations.

I am taking a break.  I need time to organize my life so I don't feel overwhelmed by the slightest setback.  I don't know when I'll be back; it could be a couple of days, a couple of weeks, or couple of months.

Perhaps this break will stop the unsettled feeling I have.  I'll let you know when I get back.  Until then, know that I will read here and there, and that I will think of all of you during the absence.  Hey, as the saying goes, "absence makes the heart grow fonder."  Or maybe that's intended for a different context.  Yeah, that's a bit awkward.

Anyway.  If I'm not back before the holidays, I wish all of you the best.  I'll see you when I see you.


  1. Oh how I wished I lived closer to you. I'd gladly come and vaccum your family room or bathe your kids (it's one of my favorite things...) so you could have an hour to just do whatever you wish - read a book, write, sleep, shower, go grocery shopping, etc.

    Let me know when you are in Idaho again - I'd love to take you out to lunch... or maybe go and get manis and pedis!

  2. We all need a break from out routine. It's healthy. Take care of yourself!

  3. I have been following your blog for sometime now. Your life seems so similar to mine in many ways. My husband is doing over 20 credit hrs a semester, 20 hrs of clinical's a weeks, and he is working 40 hrs a week. I can't even imagine the 70 hrs. your husband works. We have two kids as well. Dirt poor, my husband is never home, and that about explains it. I am afraid to go out most of the time because of the gas and money that I will probably spend if I do go to any stores. Geese. Survival mode sucks. I am hoping that our whole family will be better for what we have gone through. Thankfully our kids are to young to notice that all there clothes borrowed or that they don't have any of the newest toys. I know that I am not always the best mom I can be right now but they are fed, clothed, bathed, and loved. One plus of being a stay at home mom is that they have a constant parent in the home even if daddy is always away. My two year old is still having a hard time adjusting to daddy being gone. I just think that we can't be as hard on ourselves and we definitely can't compare ourselves to the regular stay at home mom that has a husband with a 9 to 5 job and makes a whole heck of a lot more money. One thing I do know is that my children are supposed to be in my family, that we are where we are supposed to be, and that we are trying our best. If you know that than that's whats most important.

  4. Amber,

    Sending lots of love and hugs. Motherhood can be overwhelming and it is ok to acknowledge it. As for blogging, we will miss you, but understand why you need to take a break. Hope to see you soon. Happy Holidays. We will be waiting. xoxo

  5. Motherhood is so overwhelming. Even with my youngest being 6 and my oldest nearly driving, the work involved never seems to stop. (Sorry I hope I didn't just discourage you further!) I often feel like my kids are nothing but work, but I also think that's life. Not just life with kids, life in general. I recently read somewhere (I wish I could find it again because it rang so true) that life is mostly dull and full of work and only punctuated with brief moments of joy. Life not not what you see in your scrapbook - those are the good moments you chose to highlight. Anyway, a bit rambling but just know that you are not alone. Maybe we should do "virtual" coffee to help be a little more connected? You have to keep up your contact with the non-children in your life!

  6. Amber, you sweet thing. You're not failing as a mum! You just need more help. It really is that simple. I have stood in your shoes, probably even inhabited the same skin and seen the same view from inside my head. The "have-to's" start to well and truly outnumber the "want-to's" in every waking and sleeping moment. The desire is there, the love is there; but the fun and joy is buried under the mass of responsibility, and the aloneness.

    Work out what you need - 2 days a week child-free? 3 afternoons? Whatever you think you'd have, if you could. Then, start working out how to get that help. I can read your blog, half a world away, and know that if I was your neighbour, I'd organise to give you the help you need, because I've been there, and I remember. So if there's me, then there are other women in your community who share the same experiences, and would see your need and be willing to help, too. Maybe some of our State-side readers will have recommendations of where to start looking for that special person you need - I would suggest your church. Be bold in your quest, and don't feel that it even needs to be a reciprocated arrangement - believe me, many mothers would gladly give of themselves and their time if it saves you from the struggle to endure that so many of us have faced when parenting really young children.

    Getting back to your impressions of yourself as a mother, and how you wish you could give your children more of what is in your head and heart, if only you had the spare energy and emotion to do it; your time will come, in time. How do you know, that as hard as you are finding it with the small ones, that you won't be the mother that your kids and their friends go to, when they need to sort out the stuff of heart and mind, as they grow? When maybe their own mums don't think deep and often as you do, on the things that matter most to their kids? You will be there, but for now you need more space, more time, and an easing of the burden of responsibility. Be brave enough to get what you need.

    :-) and love, Di.

  7. Oh honey.... I won't say that I understand, but all of us have our own struggles and anxieties. Please don't be hard on yourself. I think all of us feel inadequate to be mothers (or, I tell that to myself so I feel better when I feel that "I'm not enough" feeling...) and we're all learning as we go.

    Good luck... email me if you need anything, or want to bounce ideas off of someone. Sending you love and support tonight. xoxo

  8. I'm so sorry that you are having a hard time. I hope your blogging break provides you with the relief you're looking for. I'll be sending lots of love to you and your family over the wires. xo

  9. I was recently assigned to present a workshop at out stake Relief Society women's conference on the topic, "Living after the Manner of Happiness", referencing, of course, Nephi's words regarding their settlement in the promised land. The weeks preceding this presentation (a one hour class -- yikes!) were extremely busy -- I mean, like no time to think, eat, breathe, anything busy, and while I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to say, I never really got anywhere. My responsibilities as Stake RS secretary required lots of last minute preparations for this conference as well, so my mind was always on the topic. I convinced myself that I couldn't teach the class adequately because I was not qualified -- I was overscheduled and frustrated and irritated and I was happy in a general sense but did not feel like I could teach other people about my assigned topic. Finally, the weekend before the conference, which also happened to be General Conference, I was going through some old files in my desk while I listened to one of the sessions. I rediscovered a folder full of old talks and lesson preparation notes, and as I went through them, one by one, my presentation was laid out before me. And I realized that these were thoughts I had already articulated, they just needed to be put together a little differently. And since I'd already taught them once, I must, therefore, be qualified to teach -- qualified by the Lord long before the need to teach it ever came up.

    You are qualified, my friend. I promise.

  10. Sending you lots of love ... and that ease you crave. I know the feeling.


  11. Aww.. Amber. I hope this break helps you to feel more settled and relaxed. It must be hard with Ben's jobs and the two little ones. I'm going to miss you! Hope to see you back soon! xoxoxox

  12. You carry a big load. Sometimes we just have to set something down. I remember trying to find ways to not use any dishes when my husband traveled a ton for work. The dishes and laundry alone consumed me. And then there were these beautiful children to mind. Well, more than mind - enrich. Everyone told me I had to get help. But I couldn't (or wouldn't). Do what is most important. And no mom is perfect. Not one. We all struggle. I sometimes think knowing more about development just makes me harder on myself.

    We'll be here. Until then, peace my friend.

  13. Take your time! When you come back, we'll be here. :) Sending some prayers for peace.

  14. I know that feeling so well. Take care of yourself, and I hope to see you again soon!

  15. I'm not sure anyone feels adequate as a mother. If they do, I bet they're probably the ones not doing it right. You worry because you care, and that's why it's going to be okay.

  16. I hope I'm not overstepping my bounds (and I hope you'll read my post tomorrow) but it sounds as though you are suffering from depression. This is EXACTLY what I went through when my kids were 4, 3 and new. Please email me if you want to talk more. Hang in there. Big hugs!

  17. I echo all of the loving and supportive comments you've already received. Nobody's perfect - Especially in motherhood. You love your kids and you are doing your best. That's all we can do, really. I hope that this break from blogging gives you the extra time you need. Some breathing room, perhaps. I'll miss reading your words, and know that I'm thinking of you. Take care, Amber! xoxo

  18. My motherhood has left me feeling more inadequate than anything in my life. But if there is anything I've learned in 12+ years of it, it's that motherhood is a process.

    And anxiety is a real thing in and of itself, too. I still haven't figured out how to tackle that one.

    You are an amazing person, a wonderful woman, wife, and mother. Much love to you.

  19. Do what you need to do. We'll miss you. But we're here, always. (And we know what you're going through, so don't hesitate to ask for anything.)

  20. It's been said, but I"ll say it from where I sit - after years of it. Nearly 2 decades of it, and with "only" two kids (and frequently their friends).

    Parenting is grueling work. Joyful and fun and funny and day-in day-out grueling work. When there are two parents, it's hard. When one is carrying the bulk of the load, there are times you think you're doing everything wrong and you're going to lose your mind.

    In short, it sucks. Big. Especially because you feel guilty that you don't love and adore every minute of it. But that's not possible. It's a job, more so when you do it alone - or nearly.

    You need to get out, you need to get away - even briefly - and you need to give yourself a break. In your perception of your "shoulds" and your parental performance.

    Please believe me. Reconsider your expectations. This is to some degree the pot calling the kettle black. I know that. But I also had my kids about 15 years later than you did, Amber. I had years to work, to study, to travel, to go out, to "play," to explore - long before I ever became a mother. That helped. What you're doing is hard. And lonely. But it isn't forever.


  21. My daughter is graduating high school this year. So I'm at a different stage of life.

    But when my husband was in school my dear friend who lived just across the street had 6 kids while I had 2. She seemed relaxed and I seemed uptight. Her husband started school also and so we took our journey together while she added one more kiddo.

    All this time I've felt I wasn't very good at the mothering thing and everything came so very easy to her.

    We had a day together recently (a joy because she now lives in Arizona and I'm in Colorado). Come to find out she's been thinking I was the ideal mom because it "only" took me 2 children to figure out how to love while I had spent so much time thinking her heart was so much more expansive than mine because she could love such a crew.

    I just don't think that comparing mind is very kind. It wasn't kind to her and it wasn't kind to me. All the while I was doing the best I could. I was learning my lessons about Love in my home. She was learning hers. Now I laugh when I hear this and think about this perspective.

    I'm laughing more these days. Doubling up for days I didn't laugh enough. I can send some laughter your way...just because I've got some to spare. I believe in you, Amber. Because you care so very much. I just KNOW you're gonna find your balance point.

    love to you.


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