Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Overcome, Overwhelmed

Just...overwhelmed. That's the best I can do, in a word. Sometimes it's all just too much, you know? Someone remind me that moving is stressful, and that this will pass. Right now I just feel like I can't do enough, and what I do isn't right. No matter how exhausted I am at the end of the day, I've disappointed someone, or everyone. If I'm at work, then there won't be enough hours in the day to do the things that my family need. If I'm not at work, my family won't have enough money to get by, or health insurance. The enormity of the responsibility of this big ol' house is starting to loom large in my mind, overshadowing the joy of, "hey, new house!"

Part of me feels like this is just a part of motherhood. You can't ever do enough, you can't ever get "finished," and you can't ever let go. Yes, the rewards of parenting are ample, and no way would I go back. But it's hardly equitable most of the time, is it? My mother did it, worked 8-10 hours plus, came home, cleaned, cooked, laundered, and fell into bed exhausted and put everyone else's needs before her own. But the fact that she was able to do it without actually killing herself does not make it right, and I'd give anything if I'd realized that back then. It wasn't right then, and it isn't right now--in my situation, because I'm just not that capable. I can't do it. So someone is always let down.

I'm not depressed (clinically, anyway); I'm not husband-bashing, because I have a good one, but I am just...overwhelmed and sad at the enormity of the tasks before me, and the ongoing nature of them. I see a life where I will never, ever "catch up."

I'm doing the best I can, and it's not enough. And typing that sentence just made me cry. Someone, please tell me--if ever there was a time to leave a comment here, this is it--HOW do you do it? Or how do you reconcile yourself and those around you to the fact that you can't, that it's too much?


  1. First visit, and I'm not even a mom (yet), but I'm feeling you, girl. Crying over it isn't a crime. I heard somewhere that tears wash the heart clean.

    You're right, you can never do it all. All you can ever do is your best, and you're doing that. It sounds like your husband maybe needs to spend a day being you and see how he likes it. I've seen it work on several reality TV shows, and I'm starting to think I should be creating a workshop....

    But I digress. Please, please take care of yourself first. You have to! You can't take care of anyone else if you've had a nervous breakdown and you're in the hospital on sedatives. TAKE A DAY OFF. If that sentence made you clutch your chest in horror, take a couple of hours and just go and sit in your favourite beverage-providing establishment with a friend, one of those good ones who already knows without you having to say a word. I promise you it will help immeasurably.

    Sending you a whole bushel of cyberhugs,

  2. You hang in, sweetie.I think that ALL Moms "do the best they can" and from reading your stuff you are one of the best kind. None of us is perfect. You can't make your husband's or children's lives perfect either, however much you want to or try. In the end, YOU need to know in your heart that you really are doing your best and try to be at peace with that if you can. He/they have their own issues and are as imperfect as you or I. Try not to let all this overwhelm you. It WILL pass. Hugs!

  3. I have no wifely support. I don't fault her. She just can't handle it anymore. I understand. So how do I handle everything? I talk to "Barnabuses" (friends that are equal in standing and will listen) and "Pauls" (friends that are mentors). I definitely do not go to "Timothys"(people taht I would advise, though there are few of them actually). So that's about as biblical I'll get with you. You just need someone to talk to about it I think. I can't really say "don't take on too much" when you already have such a load (O.K. so one more biblical allusion - "His yoke is easy..."). I think you definitely need a time out and just need to let things set for a while. New things can be interesting, like when I get a new gadget, but it almost seems like new houses can't be "put down" really. But they can. Let the house go for a while and let healing come. You're in my prayers. Peace and grace.

  4. whew
    must be something in the air. i feel the exact same way today. our job is endless. there are no deliverables, no deadlines except for the myriad of emergencies that crop up daily, no plan, no bonus and all too often - no thanks. if you're like me and you came from a place where you 'were great at your job', this new phase is tough. there is nothing to show. except a family unit that is stronger for having you at the helm.

    we're all in the same boat. some days the shit just flows, some days it's just shit.

    sorry it's a bad day. you will feel better. i promise.

  5. Belinda! **bigihatehugginghug**

    We can never do it all because, being women and mothers, we will always add more expectations to our burden. I find the low days pass and then the good days come again and nothing has really changed, just our hearts.

    Moving IS stressfull. Very. Take it easy on yourself.

  6. Moving is stressful. Whether it's 10 miles or 1200. (try that sometime, and I've done it twice!)

    The days when your Mom did it all and these days are quite different. My mom and mother-in-law are also from the same "era" as your Mom, they worked, although only part-time, but were expected to do 99% of the household work, cooking, cleaning, child-care, etc, and do it perfectly! The plain fact of the matter is, they had no outside life of their own, "until the kids were raised."
    I don't see that as fair, for them then, or for any mother nowadays.
    Myself especially, being a business owner, I work more than full-time hours, three kids, a house to take care of. Luckily, my husband does a heck of a lot in the house and kids department, otherwise, I'd have cracked a long time ago.
    I have pressure from that area, my mother, grandparents, etc, telling me how I "ought to do things," but I don't agree. Yes, I take care of my kids, the housework, my job, but I also have to take care of ME.
    Otherwise, just as you describe, life is a neverending cycle of chores, work and tedium, and that's hardly a life at all.

    Cliche as it may sound, you DO need to take time to "stop and smell the roses," and take advantage of a few moments to do something for yourself, whatever it is you need to do. And NOT feel guilty for doing it.
    THEN you can go back and cope with all the shit that seems to pile up.
    I tell myself, will it really matter in 100 years if I do this?

    It really helps you sort out what's important, and what can wait.

  7. I feel for you, Belinda! You are talking about my life of five years ago. Everything got done half-assed and eventually I burnt out. Priortizing, pacing and letting go of the non-essentials are the most important lessons to learn. I ended up having to quit my job anyway to struggle with my art career (because I just *had* to do it -- I couldn't not paint any more and my mental health was at stake) and there are times of famine because of it, but though there's not an extra penny to be found sometimes, we are actually doing better because "When mama ain't happy, ain't *nobody* happy." But hell's bells woman, isn't moving something like #2 on the list of MOST stressful things you can deal with? You need to cut yourself some slack! Just take each day one at a time right now and before you know it it'll be all behind you. (And that's my lecture for the evening!)

  8. Your.






    Because there's always going to be somebody who can do it better, faster, stronger, longer, prettier, smarter, or classier... but they're not YOU.

    So long as you are being the best YOU that you can be and making the most of the gifts YOU'VE been given... well, that's all anybody can ask of another person. Anything more isn't your problem... it's theirs.

    Take care of you. :-)

  9. It will get better. I promise. Give it a couple of weeks.

  10. Ok, I KNOW moving, is stressful! Ha! As you know, I'm doing it too! But I DO have some advice for you! I've been thinking about it for awhile now!
    My thoughts are: You don't want to sell your house until you get it exactly "ready". I'm assuming you're doing this so that you can pull in more money from your sale. But.. think about it this way. You're still paying for the mortgage while it'll be empty, you'll have to pay for whatever upgrades you're doing AND, you're stressing yourself out! Maybe it might be better to just put it on the market as is, so that you can sell it sooner, and save yourself a lot of hassle! Besides, much like yourself, the next person who moves in is just going to change the paint colours, renovate the kitchen, and re-do the tile in the bathroom! So, save yourself the trouble. OR, just don't listen to me, 'cause I CAN'T SEEM TO SELL MY OWN HOME!
    Good luck by the way. And for real, TAKE A DAY OFF!

  11. Oh Belinda, how I completely understand this post.

    The hardest lesson for me was realizing that it was my own standards I wasn't living up to, not my husband's or my children's. That I was disappointed in myself and imagined others always were too.

    So I can say "it'll get better" and I can say "take 'you' time' and we can all tell you how wonderful you are (you are wonderful by the way) but the truth is, you have to stop being so hard on yourself.

  12. You know what makes me feel better about not even coming close to doing it all? Blogging about it! And reading other women blog about it. I bet that what you feel isn't good enough is much more than most do. And, yes, I do know how you are feeling.

  13. This has been my theme song for the past six months ... and I only have a fiance, dog and cat. I KNOW I couldn't do anything if I also had children, so you're already ahead of the game! Usually when I'm at my wits end (which you seem to be) I make a list of priorities and it seems to energize me and at least puts things into perspective.

    You know what they say, "don't sweat the small stuff". Just don't beat yourself up and it will seem more doable.

    Let the dishes pile up for a day or two ... it won't kill anybody. Take a day off and spend it ALONE! Usually all we need is a break, right? Good luck and hang in there ... we are ALL feeling this overwhelming nag of life. :)

  14. Last night, we were out to dinner and Natalie was talking to me about what she needed, Lance was talking to me about a work situation he had and I just felt like I couldn't focus on either whatsoever! L sometimes prefaces work stories with "ug, I know you don't want to hear another work story." And, that's not it. I do, I do. But, the pulling and the non ability to engage in two conversations is maddening. We are working on the not interrupting, mommy & daddy are trying to have a convo thing but it's not working so well just yet.
    And, work. When I'm home, there's something to do there. When I'm there, I'm feeling like I should be home.
    I don't know how anyone totally arrives at peace with the work/mom balance.
    So, throw in a Life Changing Event like moving...I think you're doing very well with the enormity of that task. As long as you never lose your soul, your heart...through it all, you're doing a great job. Keeping your sense of humor helps too.
    Just rambling before I start the day.
    PS: your mom sounds amazing!

  15. Yipes! One thing about moving that we all forget until we are knee deep in the muck of it is that you can't think of this time as how your life is going to be for ever and ever even tho it sure seems that way. Sure, you are excited about the change and the new place, but the whole family is all discombobulated because Home is not Home anymore. Some of the family (husband!) are still looking to you to make everything all comfy cozy and normal when you are feeling the same as he is! We moved this past summer so I am just out of "rehab"...believe me, it will pass and maybe, just MAYBE, you will get a laugh out of whole ordeal somewhere down the road. Hang in there fellow poodle-owner and horse-lover. I am a big fan :)

  16. oh, honey, i'm so sorry. i'm right there with you; stuck, overwhelmed, wondering why...

    moving sucks. we try to kill each other the whole time and give each other "get well" cards when we're done.

    all i have for you are bambi eyes, breath-taking hugs, and some beagle cuddles.


  17. I hate days like that, you feel as though nothing you accomplished counts because there is so much more to do. I find it helpful to write out a list of everything I did and needed to do, including things like cuddling with the boys and not getting uptight over traffic delays. Being able to cross off what I did do helps put things into perspective... Hope tomorrow's better!

  18. I can honestly say I know EXACTLY how you feel.

    Having Will is the BEST thing that ever happened to me, but it is SO hard to juggle a job and a child (and a husband).

    Just recently, it was "red shirt day" at school, and I completely forgot and took Will to school in some other color, and ended up BAWLING all the way to work (an hour's drive) hating myself for being an unfit mom. And, that's just a "little" thing.

    I wish I could say something to make you feel better!!


  19. Belinda, you seem like such a vibrant, energetic, and joyful person! I'd hate to see that give way to burn out.

    If you feel like this all the time, I would say you've gotta find a way to cut some things out of your busy life (even though I'm sure it would be hard to know what).

    If this feeling of overwhelm is temporary, I'll tell you what really helps me when I feel like I cannot face it another thing. I set the timer for ten minutes, and do as much as I can. Sometimes baby steps really help. Moving is very stressful. Take care of yourself sweetie!!

  20. When Bella grows up and wins the Nobel Prize and thanks her mom... that's when you know it's worth it.

    And if you've been really nice, maybe she'll share her prize winnings with you too... ;)

  21. Well, it's obvious to me that first you need a big ol' (((((((((HUG)))))))) and second you need to get off your own back. Sometimes we have to wear a few more hats than usual & then we get to cut ourselves some slack -- because even though we CAN do it all, we can rarely do it all at once. Husband daughter work puppies painting moving furnishing decorating shopping cooking laundry -- what did I miss? Of course you're tired & feeling overwhelmed. Of course the move will be a done deal soon. Of course you are both loved and appreciated. Now go take a nap, ok?

  22. Oh sweetie, you poor dear. Moving IS stressful. It's so cliche, but please just try to take one day at a time. You WILL get everything packed, even Bella's closet:). I don't know how our mothers did it either, except that they were even more exhausted than we are.

    How do I do it? I don't. Even staying home all day doesn't give me enough time to cook every meal from scratch, keep the laundry caught up and the dust at bay. I make sure everyone has something clean to wear and enough food for a few day's meals, and that's all I worry about at any given time.

    Take care of yourself, Belinda. Hope writing this helped you feel a little better. Big hugs.

  23. I feel the same way, and I'm not even moving. Yet.

    One thing that has helped me is to start talking about MY job as a SAHM in "business" terms so we're all on the same page. "I'm working against a deadline" means "Naptime is coming up and I have a lot to do before then."

    "I'm having client satisfaction issues I need to resolve" means "My kid is throwing a temper tantrum, so let me get back to you."

    "I'm going to need to be available for taking in some deliverables" means "There is nothing in the house; I need to go to the grocery store. ALONE."

    "I have some reports to file but can get to your needs in a moment" means "SHUT UP, I'm BLOGGING."

    I'm sure that doesn't help, but it made me feel better.

    Hugs to you, hon, and glad to see from today's post that things are a leeetle bit better.

  24. Belinda, your life already was hectic enough what with Bella, the poodles, horses, farm, work, husband, LIFE. Then throw in moving on top of it and it was just a matter of time before you naturally would feel overwhelmed. Moving is tough, getting the old house ready to sell is tough and stressful

    Glad to hear you're feeling better today. Take small steps, take breaks, and realize you can't do it all, no one can. Those that pretend they can, are doing just that 'pretending'.

    As others have said, you are your biggest critic. Give yourself a break. ((((((hugs))))))

  25. I missed this post yesterday. Remember that it would be nice to have the praise of the whole world, but most times, you can't get it. I guess we praised your good efforts so much when you were a kid, that as an adult you think you have to have it. You and Alex, after 5 years are still learning how to have a marriage. The learning goes on for a long time. Let him know how much you NEED his praise and hopefully, he will learn to give it.
    But when he doesn't, GOD STILL LOVES YOU JUST AS MUCH AS HE ALWAYS HAS! So what if another human does not appear to value your efforts? Then when Alex does show his appreciation, it's "gravy" (do bloggers outside the South use that phrase?)!
    Don't base your worth on another person's praise. Base it on the fact that you were created in God's image. He loves you and so do I.

    In the words of grammacello, "hang in". This too shall pass.

  26. For some reason, we have this fantasy in our head that everything can be close to perfect; like a fairy tale. But that's just not true.
    I think you're putting way too much pressure on yourself. I'd look into getting someone to help, maybe a housecleaner once a week. I was told, at a parenting class, a kid's room should look like a kid's room. Meaning, not perfect. Nobody ever died of dirty dishes, an unvacumned (sp) carpet, anything like that.
    I'd really looking into getting some temp. hired help during this move. And cry. Cry til you can't squeeze another tear out. Remember that you are loved.

  27. Lynette
    My answer is to make a very short list of things I really want to get done. Really short. At the end of the day, mark off what you got done. Add the things you did not on the list. Move things you didn't get done to tomorrow's list. You can't get it all done in one day. Thinking about all you have do is overwhelming. It just stops you from doing what you can. Get Alex to bring supper, so you won't have to cook. Do whatever you plan to do to the house together, but leave some time just to enjoy each other and Isabella. It will get done, but moving is the hardest thing--well, almost--to do. I remember when you were in labor, you said I can't do this. But you did! and what a joyous result. You will enjoy this too. Don't be too self critical. A little is good to get yourself going. Too much is stultifying. Not only God, but all of us love you. Gr,mama Lynette Miller

  28. Thank you all. I have taken something from each and every comment, and appreciate you all so much. And did you see--comments from not only my mother, but my mother-in-LAW? Have I mentioned that she is the cat's pajamas and I adore her? You all are largely responsible for how much better I already feel. Thank you.

  29. Belinda,

    You've had loads of comments, but here's my tuppence worth:

    How do you cope? One tiny bit at a time - stop looking too closely at the huge picture and break it down into smaller bits. Smaller more manageable bits.