I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately.
Whatever, who am I kidding here? It’s been a whole lot of a big funk lately that dozens of caramel macchiatos from Starbucks can’t even begin to soothe. Motherhood has seemed overwhelming, life stressful and the future a whole bunch of nebulous unknowns. I hate unknowns. Just telling you – so if you have a secret or surprise – it’s best to just tell me or else I will turn into a gigantic knot of nerves as I analyze every single possibility to infinity. I know everyone always says to embrace the moment, but when the moment involves a whole bunch of not knowing what to do next sometimes I just want a solution. A program, a course, something, you know?
Just give me the map. And the answers. So I don’t go crazy.
Because that sludgy goo of unknowns and stresses was chipping away at the tenacity I would boast about having.
As the weeks moved on I just become more and more withdrawn. Oh yeah, you might not have noticed from the outside because I’m really really good (like so many of us are) at hiding it. But my friends? The ones who cared deep about the girl stuck within and don’t care that she’s not perfect? Oh, they noticed. And they’d tell me they wanted the joyful and happy Rachel back. Want me back? Hahaha. Want me back. It’s lucky the kids got lunches packed and laundry folded and I was always on time for school pick up – I just kept pushing me to the back over and over and over.
I was really afraid.
I was terrified, actually. Terrified with coming face to face with the me that stared back at herself in the mirror in the morning.
So I dug my heels in. Mothered. Without much joy or happiness but with purpose.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that’s bad.
I think that’s sometimes what we need to do and I think it’s a noble thing – to fight even when our own reserves are empty. No one really talks about that part of motherhood, do they? They talk about the periphery stuff so often and when you’re in the midst of this loss of happiness part it can be hard to share about it when the biggest debate you see online is about what kind of snacks are cool for the second grade picnic. Don’t get me wrong as sometimes that periphery stuff can be enough to make one go crazy. You read the article on sunscreen, right? Well, there are just so many choices and information out there that sometimes motherhood can be a whole lot of decision making when we just want to step out, take a break and yell enough world, enough – can I have a break?
But kids don’t wait for us to get our heads screwed on right again or for all the ducks to be lined neatly in a row. Or the laundry to get caught up.
They’re there demanding our time and looking for their shirt which is in the washing machine but should have been put in the dryer because you forgot. Again. And they don’t like dinner or they forgot to do their homework. And there we are standing in a kitchen feeling like we’ve failed.
But it’s not really about failing or being enough. It’s about you, right now. You who knows she’s supposed to find this happy and wonders why in the world you can’t see the glitter for fun but instead sees it as work. Okay, okay, I know putting glitter as the example is the extreme example of patience, but I hope you understand (for those of you with children younger than glitter age let me warn you that glitter is the nemesis of moms. Ignore what pinterest tells you. Ignore. And run.) Sometimes happiness and finding ourselves and the whole big thing is put on hold when we survive.
Here’s a secret I found out about myself: I was using pain to protect my heart. Somehow I held onto ALL THE HARD THINGS that happened to me and wouldn’t forget them or let anyone else forget them. Do you know why? I was TERRIFIED of them happening to me again. I didn’t want a gas man at our door every again with a big wrench telling me he was going to turn off the power unless I paid the unknown to me $976 bill. I didn’t want kids angry or worrying about money. I didn’t want to feel like I didn’t matter. So I, without even really realizing it, lived in pain.
I’d have something good happen and my brain would instantly remind me of something bad — like it was protecting me. But it was eating away at my happy and making everything seem heavy. And I mean everything. Normal motherhood things – laundry, dishes, homework, bedtime – just all seemed to be this pile of drudgery. And a school project? I’m waving the white flag of surrender thinking about it.
In the winter I went through everything in my house. It ALL. And it started something in me. It started exposing all the ways that I hid my unhappiness and fear behind things. The more I could be busy managing things the less I could deal with my heart. It was kind of convenient, in a weird way, to have to control things so that I didn’t need to manage the festering pain that I used as my buffer. Well, once all the stuff left my house and it’s clean and the kids are at school there I was – raw and exposed and all of a sudden finding myself in this unbelievable cycle of fear. Fear of being abandoned, not measuring up and so forth.
It trickled into motherhood.
But I didn’t know what to do. I thought I needed a solution. A program. I didn’t know how to put down the coping mechanism that I lived with for 30+ years. And then one night I had this wake up call. And in that moment I realized that holding onto everything – all the worries, the fear, the pain, the anxiety – was robbing me of today.
Hahaha. A cliche, right? Savor the moment?
But it’s deeper than that. I wasn’t able to actually ENJOY my kids because my mind wouldn’t be quiet. It would be rolling and rumbling with thoughts and fears and when they’d pass me the basketball I’d be mumbling a nice uh-huh but I wasn’t there. I kind of was rushing from a to b to c back to a and putting myself on the back burner and pushing myself to exhaustion because I told myself that’s just what moms do. But, inside I was a mom, a woman, burning the candle on both ends and when one does that it leads to overwhelm. And not much really being there and showing up.
We need to show up. To be there.
And for so many of you, if you’re anything like me, then you will have to actually let go of stuff. I know, not the easy answer right? Not the 11 Step Program to Instant Mom Happiness that you read everywhere. Maybe your family life isn’t what you thought or your job or your friends or your kids. But, my sweet friend, this is life. And we all get a finite numbers of minutes on this earth and I think that it’s time that you and I and your friends stop living behind the masks that weigh us down and we start to really live. To fight for ourselves. To find that real authentic happiness. And to know deep deep down that the moments we get in life, while not perfect, are moments that we are blessed to have.
It doesn’t mean they have to be perfect.
Don’t strive for that.
But live. Start to let go of the things that rob you of happiness. Maybe it’s perfectionism or the constant stream of stuff to do. Maybe it’s fear of what others think. Maybe you fear you’re failing. Maybe you don’t think your’e enough. Maybe you just need a friend.
Your time, sweet mom, is now. Not when the kids reach 18. Not next year. Not tomorrow. Not whenever, but now. Now is the time to inhale and to replace all the failing thoughts and fears with truth about you. That you are a survivor, a fighter and that you can do this.
You totally can.
I am emerging from that dark cave, that funk and I just want you to know I believe in you. I believe that you can find you again. And you can find happiness. And that you don’t even need a mythical eleven steps and that it starts with you, looking in the mirror, and letting things go. But more than that, it is you, looking into your eyes saying I am worth it.
You are worth it.
Right now, in your life, no matter what the story.
You are worth it.
Eleven steps or not, you’re worth it.
ps. Take a look at this image. Over 10 million seeing the TRUTH about motherhood.