If this is the first day of the rest my life, I want to get off

Today I just want to turn on the TV and not move, not speak, not be. All day. Today I don't want to be a mom, a wife, a writer, a entrepreneur, an employee... nothing, I want to be and do nothing.

I've always prided myself on not being a soap-opera-watching mom, but today I would like nothing more than that. But I know I won't, primarily because I hate soap-operas, but also because I took a mental health day off work and I have to justify it in my own mind. I will continue to work on something; something that "needs" to be done - I will email a potential client (I have already stopped writing this post once to do that because it popped into my head and I had to take care of it now), I will put some laundry away, I will organize something, or I will pay some bills. What I really need to do is get out my journal and have a chat with myself. I need to get to the bottom of this anxiety, this imbalance, this self-doubt.

I have too many balls in the air. I am trying too hard.

Yesterday I attended a Journal Therapy workshop lead by Kay Adams, "one of the most prominent and established voices in the field of therapeutic writing." It was a great day; I learned some more valuable information I can use in my own journal-writing workshops and got a new burst of adrenaline to push me towards my goals.

But I also received a mini therapy session over lunch that has thrown my already tilting world a little further off kilter.

This morning I was grumpy, frustrated, and an emotional time-bomb. Yesterday Kay told me I was on the right track, "ready to explode" (i.e. my business) but then today here I am again, mopping up apple juice, brushing out tangles, packing lunch boxes, and avoiding the shaggy-haired woman in the mirror with the bags under her eyes.

Although "ready to explode," I am questioning everything. Is it selfish to start my own business when my children are young and still needing me? But would I be sabotaging my own dream (and sanity) by sacrificing my needs completely? Do I have a responsibility to my job to give it my all while still employed there? Shouldn't my children see me pursuing a dream and so serve as a role model to them? But what kind of role model am I when I am impatient, distracted, or in tears?

"Ready to explode" might be more accurate a description than originally intended. Yes, I just might explode, or implode depending where the pressure is strongest - from outside responsibilities or the voice inside my head telling me I must achieve, I must succeed, I must be more than "just a mom."

I have a friend whose dream of being a yoga teacher has been put it on hold. She has decided to be all she can be to her children before they start school full-time. She told me she needs to provide them a nice house and a mom who's there. She said the most yogic thing she can do right now is not to practice yoga. She doesn't want to put that kind of pressure on herself. Trying to be disciplined in the whirlwind that is a stay-at-home mother's world is not worth the stress.

I'm beginning to think she might have the right answer.

Who is the most important right now? Me or the kids? Me or the kids? Someone tell me the right answer, please.

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Anonymous said...

Personally, I've found that I am a better, more patient, mother when I take the time to consider my dreams/desires/needs, too.
It's def a balancing act, but I think we(mothers) get trapped into this...mode, where we sacrafice everything we are for the sake of our children. And it's not healthy, and it's not good role modeling. (hugs)

Breeze said...

I found for me, it was about taking longer on the journey to the dream. I'm not sure what your dream business is but I would wonder if working towards your dream slowly as the children get older and setting up your business over time rather than jumping in whole hog and getting burnt out. Maybe take some courses, do some market research, start looking at products(I don't know what your business is as I said) start really slow and build up gently. ONly take on what you need so that your dreams and your children's needs are balanced.

joanna said...

Free, You are right (on all points), and I *know* that, really... just a bad day!

Breeze, This dream has been progressing very slowly (over the past 2 years - training, networking) and now it has taken off naturally. I teach journal-writing workshops. Unfortunately, this scary "edge of success" (see Standing on the Edge post) has coincided with my "real" job becoming too much emotionally. Yesterday it all hit me very hard... I feel more positive today.

Thank you both for your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

All I know is that my work here isn't done. I know that's why I haven't pursued anything seriously because I still am in the thick of parenting.

I wrote about the whole going back to work thing extensively, but in particular, you might like this excerpt from this post Why Being Happy as a Stay at Home Mom is Truly Rebellious:

"Someone once said on a message board that they felt like they had to work in order to be a role model for their children – modeling the importance, validity, and feasibility of a woman’s/mother’s career."

I responded to them:
"I didn’t get my drive to have a career from my mother having a job, but because I loved science and I was good at it and I wasn’t really planning on getting married and having kids (they kind of both just happened). I think it’s too stressful to add that burden on my shoulders. My girls will know (because I will tell them) that I worked for a time and loved it, and came home for a time to be with them and I loved that too. It was just a little complicated to do both for a while."

I hope this helps at least remove some guilt about feeling like not working is not being a good role model.

joanna said...

Working isn't the issue for me; what's hard for me is not following my bliss - being a writer. I definitely don't want my children seeing me slogging along at something I don't enjoy, but I would hate for them to know I wasn't following my dream.

(I'll read that full post after the kids are asleep...)

Anonymous said...

Joanna - I understand better now. I thought it was just a work thing since you talked about business, and giving your current job your all.

I know my own personal limitations - I would not want to be everything to everybody if it made me a shadow of my former self trying to give everything I had away.

Pursuing your bliss would be a different matter - if it energizes you and not makes you waste away.
When you said you were "avoiding the shaggy-haired woman in the mirror with the bags under her eyes", it sounded like to me, not a recipe for bliss though. Seems to me that you are stretched too thin and there's a not enough left over to keep you going. Something has to change.

I don't know...I felt a lot like you described when I worked with my two oldest ones. I was chronically torn between my job and my family and I had no time for my husband. The only time I had for myself was the commute to and from work.

I did decide to get off when I realized I hardly ever wanted to come home from work. I often worked late so that I didn't have to give the girls a bath (my mother in law did if I worked late). It wasn't fair to them to have a mother who felt that way.

I hate it when women say they *have* to work in order to be a good role model for their children. I've heard that so many times and that's just a lie. Right now, a large part of my life isn't being a "mom", it's being a teacher to my kids. I do find it really fun to do things with the kids and learn new things and see what they can do. I'm more a student of human development and a teacher to them.

However, at the same time, I do feel like I'm not pursuing my "dream" at the moment, but that's partly because I don't know what that is anymore. At 38, I'm starting over and it's frustrating because I don't see what I want to do next yet (when the kids are old enough to handle me being gone while they are in school). At least you know what you want. That's half the battle right there.

At any rate, I have to go for now, but I'm sure I'll be writing about this again (either here, or on my blog).

joanna said...

I should have clarified:
1. "job" = outside home, at a non-profit as grant writer/PR
2. "own business" = journal-writing workshops
3. "dream" = writer and journal-writing instructor
4. "mom" = mom!

Spreading myself too thin is definitely it. But on the day I wrote this post I made the decision I knew I had to make... quit my outside job. I was feeling so torn between all my loyalties and obligations that when I wrote this my journal-writing workshops even seemed too much.

But today I *know* I have made the right decision... post to come :)