Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Taking Off The Paper Wings. (Truth Post Part 2)

Let me begin by saying that I think there is a very good reason, besides hormones or lack of sleep that makes so many mothers feel like they are losing their mind.  I think another reason may have to do with what I am calling the "Caterpillar Complex".
Let me explain:
I feel like a caterpillar that knows it should become a butterfly, but who can't because it needs to stay a caterpillar for the good of all those around it.  So, instead, it makes some fancy paper wings.  It gives the illusion of everything being super it should be.  Other butterflies see it and think it's one of them.  (Oh, aren't you perfect and beautiful like us!)  And sometimes when it just quickly sees a glimpse of it's reflection, it really thinks it is one for a second.  And, for a second, it has that feeling of being okay because it believed it had become what it was meant to become...that everything really IS great and wonderful.
But it's not one.  Not really.  And the truth always returns.  Those wings are made of paper.

Here is a message sent to me from a friend who is feeling the same way.  (Published with permission.)

"So, lately I've been really reflecting on myself and the important things that life has to offer and I realize that I put my priorities so far out of order it felt like there was no turning back. I explained to H[ubby] that mothers are garbage dumps, or at least the level ground beneath them. Everybody comes along (kids, husbands, and so on) and starts to dump all of their garbage (drama) on the mother, until she is completely buried and nobody can find her. They forget that under that pile of garbage is where she lies, that she even exists. Then, she has a really good cry, which burns off all of that garbage that so many people have piled on top of her, and she is free again. Free to bear the burden of everybody else's problems. I explained this to him because he has never understood why girls need to cry every so often to recharge.I watched that video that B*** posted, about the guy with cystic fibrosis. I thought about donating $10 off of paypal. Then instantly I was wracked with guilt. I can spare $10 for a man, for his life, and continue to play our video games. GO ME! :(not. WTF is wrong with me? That's like saying that a mans life is worth only $10. I would have instantly given him everything we have on paypal, but I'm getting E***** new diapers. Does he desperately, can't live without them, NEED THEM? Not necessarily. So now I'm in this huge moral dilemma with myself, and I realize that a big shift, a big spiritual change is coming.I am so exhausted. Each and everyday I do nothing with anybody. The kids ask me to play, I say maybe later. They want a drink, I grumble in a few minutes (then I do give it them, don't worry!), the point is I have been walking around in this muddle. I've become lost under the title of mother and wife and forgotten that I actually exist somewhere in this life. I've been eating nothing but shit again. And I'm paying for it. My emotions are all over. I was waiting for a book to be ready at the library for over 5 weeks. I finally got it, and was so excited. That was a week ago, and I haven't even opened it. Why? I don't have enough energy to start reading a book right now. SERIOUSLY.I can't keep living like this. I need to get healthy not only for my children and my future but for my SANITY. Money be-damned. If we can spend XXX amount of money on shit foods for months as well as the good stuff while the good stuff is barely touched until the very last minute.. then we can afford to lose the shit and eat more raw.I feel like so many changes are happening within me right now that it is making me dizzy, because they are happening at lightening speed. If we live with less (let go of clutter and silly belongings, maybe sell them and use that money to donate) our lives will be easier to manage. Maybe I won't feel so overwhelmed, that I walk into the kitchen, move three dishes around in the waterless sink, throw my hands in the air and walk away. I might actually get some dishes done. But as it stands right now, this very minute? I feel like I don't even know how, or what, or why, or whatever."

xoxo  Thank you Lady P. for letting me share that.  (I removed the names for her privacy.)

It makes me wonder if one of the reasons so many of us are losing it is because we're in a time of change.  The time is upon us where we looking back on what we wanted once upon a time, what we have now, and where we want to be in the future.  (Perhaps the overwhelmed feeling is because we suddenly realize that we're not where we want to be...yet.)

I can't help but think that any time we are going through a major change in our lives, even if it's one inside of ourselves, it's going to come with some growing pains.  Even a butterfly has to go inward and close off for a time before it reemerges as that magnificent being.

I think this all goes perfectly hand-in-hand with some information passed along to me from the Dr.Sears website.  It's called "Avoiding Mommy Burnout".  And it HITS HOME.

Here's a little of it.

Burnout is a state of emotional exhaustion. A mother feels burned out when she has been out of balance for too long. With so much energy draining out of her, she reaches a point where she feels she has nothing left to give. Yet baby continues to need mom, and mom needs to go on coping. Moms can become unhappy, angry, and most of all tired. This can often lead to questioning mom’s ability to care for baby and blaming herself for not enjoying motherhood.
Women who are the most highly motivated to be good mothers are most at risk for burnout. You have to be committed to parenting and working hard at it in order to burn out. Mother burnout can be one of the side effects of attachment parenting, especially in families where there is a high-need baby."
*My "baby" isn't high-needs, but having three children in under 2 1/2 years has made the children (in general) high-needs.  (Not blaming them.  Just explaining.)

"Modern mothers are expected to do it all: keep a perfect house, raise intelligent and creative children, provide their husbands with companionship and sex, and have a stimulating life of their own on the job or elsewhere. A new mother who tries to live up to this image of Supermom is headed for trouble. Learning how to be your baby’s mother is a more-than-full-time job. When too many other demands are placed on a mother, giving her more to do and less time to care for herself, she is in danger of burnout."

*I am fully expected to keep a perfect house and raise these children to be amazing, all at the exact same time.  I also feel like I'm expected to want to be intimate with my husband, and really engage with him and care about the things he talks about.  Being tired is no excuse for not giving a crap about the shift changes at his work.  

Also, on top of all of that I don't have a life outside of our home.  When I talk about it, I'm told that I "could", and I'm told it's my "own fault" that I don't get out.  Yet I live in reality and I know that up until VERY recently, my husband has been unable to care for the three kids on his own for any real length of time.  He'd swear up and down he could do it, but I've taken a shower and come out to chaos...  So no.  I really could NOT just go out and get a life.
(Thanks for making me feel like this was all my own fault though.  That was really great and super helpful.)

I'm to the point that I realize that I am absolutely ready to take the steps to become a real butterfly...and my kids are old enough that I can actually leave them for a few hours without the sky falling in on all of us.  And, even if the sky DOES fall's not actually the sky.  It's just my husband learning how to do this with three toddlers.  And we'll all make it out the other side okay.  Maybe we'll look like something the cat brought in, but we'll brush ourselves off, and be okay.  We'll all be okay.

I realize now that the expectations that I have put on myself are much greater than the ones other people have for me (people outside my home, I mean).

I realize that my husband has no effing idea wtf he's talking about.  And he can't.  It's not even his fault, either.  He's never here.  He is standing in the dark, telling me about the light.  But he hasn't seen it, so he's talking out of his ass.  (Seems that's been going around lately...LOL)

I am able to see that where I am now (as an individual outside of the roles I have), is not what I want for myself.  I'm not saying I don't love my roles, I'm saying I need MORE, because I AM more.

I am able to see now that I have been out of balance for a very long time.  I have made everyone else the priority, which I don't think is horribly wrong, but in doing that I completely lost myself.  I have become overwhelmed knowing that I am emotionally and physically exhausted, but cannot stop doing what I've been doing.  
My family needs me to fulfill the roles I have here (mother, wife), and as much as I have wanted to take the paper wings off for a long time and grow some real ones, guilt and fear have stopped me.  I see that what needs to happen is that I need to find a way to even out the scales a little bit...find a more balanced approach to all of it.

My family are going to be my priority no matter what.  They are my heart, my whole world, and are the center of my being.  I love that I get to have all of these people in my life every day.  But, instead of just making sure they are taken care of, I'm going to make sure I'm taken care of too.  Like I posted a while back, we're no good to them if we're not around.  (We're also no good to them if we are half the person we used to be.)

Even the most beautiful paper wings don't make a caterpillar a butterfly.
I think that along with growing my own wings, I'll be teaching my children that it's okay for them to grow wings too...that staying a caterpillar only to the benefit of everyone else, is not healthy.  I want my daughters to know that when they grow up, they can be MORE than a wife and mother.  They ARE more than any role they have.  They are an individual within those roles.  And I hope by showing them this, that they will find a better way to balance their lives when they're grown.
Also, I want my son to know that he too can grow wings, and he should not define himself in any label.  We all have the ability to be ALL that we are, not just my girls.  My son has watched me put everyone else first, and has watched the steady decline of my sanity in doing so.  He is all ready a boy who anticipates the needs of others, and has grown to be someone who will give away the only toy he has to play with so another child stops crying.
I've raised some very compassionate children.  But I think there's a thing as too much.  I don't want my children growing up to give more than they have, because then the only thing that changes is the name of the person who is going without.  I think that it's necessary to keep those scales level.  Keeping your own head above water is okay.  You can't really help anyone else when you're drowning.

I will show them that a person doesn't have to sit idle while everyone around them grows wings and flies off.  I need to teach them by example.  My job is to ultimately teach my children how to live independently from me, and I've been doing them an injustice by allowing them to see me sitting around with those paper wings on, pretending to be okay (when very clearly I wasn't, and it's stupid to think they haven't noticed).

It's time to stop being a martyr, since by definition there's no chance for a happy ending.  It's time to live what I want for my children, and lead them by example.

I got off track for a long time, but I'm working my way through the brush to get back to where I belong.  I have no doubt I'll find what I was looking for, and I have no doubt that in the end we will all be better for it.

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