Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cabin Fever

I'm going stir crazy in my tiny house in the middle of nowhere. So I'm headed to my Mom's this weekend. I want to go to the movies, visit some long-time friends, go to the temple, do some shopping, all the things I can't do right here in Cokeville.

I've been in a weird place emotionally for the past few weeks. I've been thinking a lot about myself as a mother, how I'm living my life in the here and now, what kind of wife I've been lately, and other such hazardous introspective thoughts. I've been going through the vicious cycle of wanting some time alone, then getting annoyed with everyone for needing me all the time, followed by guilt for being a selfish crank bag.

One of the hard truths of motherhood is that it is NOT for the selfish. When you become a mother, you have to be willing to subordinate your desires below the needs of your children. Having the ultimate responsibility for shaping how your child feels about themselves and the world around them is a pressure that requires constant checking of self-indulgence. Mothers certainly need time to recharge their tanks in order to be able to give back to everyone else in the family. But I find myself bitter and irritated when I can't just hole up in my room and read a book or whatever else it is that I want to do, and that's just not acceptable.

When I get feeling like that I start to panic because I know I'm not being the kind of mother that my kids need. And if I can't meet the needs of the three that I have, why, WHY, would I want to have another one? In some ways it would be nice to be done because once the youngest is about 3 or 4 it would be a lot easier to do so many things. Go to other people's house without worrying the baby's going to fall down the stairs or destroy something, go on trips and know the kids can mostly entertain themselves in the car, etc. And yet, I'm not comfortable with the idea that my family is complete.

Something I've discovered pretty clearly about myself after reading The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman is that I really thrive on verbal praise and other words of affirmation. The other night when I told Dan I wanted to go to Utah for a couple of days, he was worried I might be mad at him or something. I told him that I just felt like I was sucking at all the important things with being a wife and mother and that I needed to go commune with my women friends and get some advice and a pep talk. He came back later that night and told me he thought I was doing a good job, that he hadn't noticed me being especially cranky or anything. He pointed out a couple of stressful things in our lives and said that he'd been feeling dissatisfied, too. He said I was doing a pretty good job of keeping up with the housework, etc. Hearing all those words, it's amazing how that soothed me. Words of praise and encouragement are like the balm of Gilead for me.

I have noticed the past couple of days since I first started writing this post that the Spirit has been whispering to me, helping me feel more positive. Making me believe that I'm doing a pretty good job. God works in so many ways and in addition to His personal comfort, He sends people to touch our lives in just the right way at just the right time. I've talked to a couple friends this week and that has helped so much.

So what started out as a self-indulgent whining session has morphed into a sigh-of-relief-I'm-doing-OK blog post. That's one thing I love about blogging. It lets me write and work things through in my mind. It's good therapy.


The Dragonfly said...

Blogging is my free therapy (although it costs time)! You are an amazing woman and deep thinker my friend! I need you to know that I have those same thoughts as you ALL the time in regards to my lack of confidence in how I'm doing in my roles and wife, mom, daughter, sister . . . You are fantastic! Just know that I know that.

The Queen Vee said...

Sue, I question every day my role as mother/grandmother and often feel that I fail miserably in these roles. I look back on my younger mothering days and wish I could have done some things differently. Now what good does that do anyone?

I want everyone to be happy, cared for and loved and it's hard when I see that I maybe haven't met someone's needs as well as I should. For me there's only one option, I keep trying.

As mother's we do need to take time for ourselves and I believe it's okay to do that as long as it isn't over indulged.

I've reached the point in life where those I've mothered now seem to be mothering lame is that?

Enough of my incoherent rambling, I just want you to know you're doing a great job.

Pilch Construction said...

Not being selfish has been the hardest part of adjusting to motherhood for me. And although it's getting easier for me to deal with the fact that it's not all about me anymore, I don't know that it will ever be easy.
Feel free to call me while your down here, I haven't been to a movie since before I had the baby and definitely have my own case of cabin fever.
Oh, and thanks so much for the book. I was confused for a minute when it came in the mail, but once I opened it up I knew it came from you. We'll soon be on the road to financial freedom thanks to you!

Apis Melliflora said...

All those feelings you wrote about, they are my old friends. We talk all the time. Sometimes they even spend a few nights in my house before I politely kick them out.

In my book, self doubt is only OK if it helps motivate you to do and be better and to be honest about yourself and what motivates you. And those things you are and you do. Your blog is so honest; it's just wonderful.

On the Cabin Fever front, I look outside my window at all the snow and one word comes to mind: lonely. That's what snow does to my psyche. (despite the fact that I had a good friend over this morning). That usually means I need more time with the Word.

Brian and Rebecca Nate said...

Take care woman. You are the best and you do the best with your kids. They are good, happy kids. Be proud of that.

Don't feel guilty for your "alone" time. Everybody needs a little once in a while. When your children are your life you have to take a step back and think about your own life and what you need; not only what they need.

Hope you have a good weekend. Love you.

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Becky in Wyo said...

Amen, sister. I think that's the key struggle of motherhood - self vs. service. Giving your all to your family, yet trying to keep the tank gassed up so you have things to give is a struggle. But, it's just worth it. When you see them happy and content, even for just a few moments, it can give you a feeling of peace and joy.

But, you know, I think there are times when the usual 30 min. of "tanking up" you can find throughout the day just doesn't suffice, and you need more of a good long soak than a short stop at a gas station. I think that's normal, too. Sometimes the deep well of ourselves gets too low, and we have to go take care of it. Then, when that's filled, we can get back to the daily routine with more ease.

Sue said...

I'm not sure if that anonymous comment is SPAM or if I should just accept it as a slightly back-handed compilment...

Stacey Gerlach Moe said...

I think you are pretty wonderful. And you have three awesome kids that prove that!

Stacey Gerlach Moe said...

And one more thing. I think it is great that you take the time to re-charge yourself. Yes, your children are absolutely important but you have to take care of yourself as well. And you have to take care of your relationship with your husband. That is why Moe and I always have date night (it is usually at a MN Wild hockey game or a MN Vikings game) but SOOo important.