Sunday, April 15, 2012

:: i am right here ::

this weekend, i admitted some scary things.

except no. i didn't really. i admitted some very reasonable and understandable and normal things, but admitting them was scary.

it was scary because of what i feared it would make people think about me. and it was scary because of how it made me feel about myself.

i admitted that sometimes, especially when i'm having a hard time personally, like when i'm anxious, i feel like i:

shouldn't be a mom
don't know how to be a mom
don't enjoy being a mom
can't take care of my kids
can't even take care of myself
wasn't meant to be a mom

and my rational mind knows that this is stuff ALL MOMS FEEL. but my irrational brain feels like i am the worst possible person in the world, i am selfish, i am going to ruin my children and my marriage, i am broken, i am crazy, i will never feel better.

but of course none of this is true, at least not as long as i keep talking about it and keep rational about it. we moms, we LOVE our children, but we don't always love being with them, and why would we? they need us constantly. and even when they don't have physical needs, they have wants. they need us to feed them and clothe them, but they also need us to talk with them, play with them, nurture them, listen to them say the same things over and over and over. and we do it because we love them.

and it's so scary to say that we don't always like it because we don't want our kids to know. or we don't want our spouses to know. we don't want anyone to think we're unnatural or scary or a risk to ourselves or others.

as i sobbed and sobbed over the phone finally admitting to a surprised listener yesterday that i often don't like the day-to-day caregiving of being a mom, the person on the line asked me if i feel like my children have stolen my life from me. at first i thought, "yes, maybe that's it." but that's not quite how it is. rather, i feel like i have willingly given my life to them the way we all give ourselves to our kids. i just haven't known how to keep myself healthy and okay in the meantime.

i work at least 40 hours a week, but my kids are only in daycare 17 hours a week. often, especially lately, i take my kids to the studio with me, sitting them on the floor with a laptop and a movie and plying them with snacks, paper and pens, cardboard boxes, lunch. they are good when they're there and they look forward to it, but obviously it's hard. from water spills i have to clean up to the jelly footprints all over my floor from someone who stepped in her bagel and then walked all over the studio, it's hard. they need me and i need them. i need to take care of them. i need to look at the pictures they draw while they're sitting on my studio floor. i need to take them to see the dogs my studio mates keep. i like the idea of having them there with me, having them know their mom as a person in the world, having them see my work and be creative with me.

but the reality is that it's hard.

duh, right?

the trouble i have is that for as self-aware as i seem, i can be really clueless when it comes to my own mental health. it wasn't until i started back up with therapy recently to deal with my anxiety and panic attacks and a specific phobia i have that i realized that underneath it all, i'm really depressed. i'm a mess. i work and i take care of the kids and i do almost nothing else, least of all take care of me. i shower every other day, and only because my hair looks too awful if i go longer than that. i don't take walks anymore, even though taking walks is like breathing for me. i don't exercise. i don't hang out with my own friends (because i don't really have any of my own friends, honestly). i never just sit and veg. i don't read anymore. i often work until ten, watch one episode of a show with brian, and then play iPhone games until i fall asleep with the phone in my hand.

and the clueless part isn't just that i didn't realize how depressed and unhealthy i am. the clueless part is that i honestly 100% thought that my work was my break. i thought it was the thing i do for myself to stay centered and peaceful and mentally healthy. i thought it was the solitude i crave to feel whole and sane.

i thought that because four years ago when this all started, right around the time evan turned one and i had a complete breakdown and had to leave home for 11 days and put evan in full time day care for the next 8 months (until we moved home to rochester and i was home with him 100% of the time again), up up creative was my therapy. making things each day and putting them into the world was the only thing that got me through the long days with evan out of the house. i read books, wrote incessantly in a journal, walked around the OSU campus at will, and mostly i made things. quilts. necklaces. all manner of things. i felt normal and connected and grounded and slowly, i felt happy. or happier, maybe. i felt like a human being again.

and in the years that have followed i've grown up up creative (and now aper + pink) into a serious business. a growing, bustling, busy business. and it continues to be such an important part of my life and of my sense of self. i love working. i love building the business. i need it.

but the "make a few things and put them in an etsy shop" beginnings of four years ago are a far cry from what things are like now, and somehow i failed to notice how much more time, energy, and work that business requires now.

and there's a second kid now, of course, too.

and here i am again, totally lost. i have given everything -- happily, often, and almost always willingly -- until i've come up dry and aching from the drought.

and then on top of all of that i've tormented myself about feeling this way. i've tried to ignore it. i've told myself how easy my life is, how much harder it can be. how much harder it is for other people.

my sister in law told me a couple of months ago about a friend of hers who started working full time after her kids were born and stopped after they had both gone off to first grade and were in school all day. she just knew she couldn't mother them all day long. my exact words were, "good for her. you have to know yourself." i one million percent believe that. i think that woman is amazing and that her kids are lucky.

but somehow when i even think of the same thing for us here, i cry. i feel like i have failed.

i wanted to stay home with my kids. i want to. but i can't. i don't know why but i just can't. and that feels so bad. it feels like acid in my veins. i don't know how to take care of them and still take care of me. i thought i was doing it but i was wrong.

but you know what? fuck it, that's what. fuck this idea of mine that there was one way to do it and i've done it wrong. fuck the idea that each decision i make is a permanent decision and that it will have permanent consequences. fuck being scared that my kids won't know how much i love them. you can't be around me and not know how much i love those two little red heads. how much i admire them. how proud i am of them.

it's hard because i know that right now, i need extra time. it's like i've been giving myself a penny each day instead of a dollar and so now i need to give myself a buck fifty each day for awhile until i'm on evener ground. i think i went into this thinking, "maybe i could give myself two pennies a day and eventually i'll make it all up." but that's ridiculous. that's not working.

today i let brian take the kids for a hike without me. i considered going because i didn't want to reinforce my depression and anxiety by avoiding an outing with them. it was a very logical reason to go. i didn't want to avoid them. i didn't want to stay at home and cry or sulk or be anxious.

but instead i let them go and decided that staying home didn't have to be about avoiding them but could be about looking for me.

so here i am.