I see you, mama.
Those raw nerve endings. The feelings of frustration and exhaustion simmering below the surface.
Where does this “mom rage” come from?
I can tell you this much:
When I’m in a more peaceful place, I can recognize it’s because there is limited time and limited emotional capacity. We moms often struggle to fit in so much into our days, only to fall into bed each night with the feeling that once again, you didn’t get it all done.
Oh my god, we are killing ourselves.
And to what end?
I came down this morning to make coffee and discovered the French Press glass cylinder had broken. I couldn’t even blame anyone else for this “travesty” because my husband was out of town. Clearly, I had not taken enough care when popping it onto the drying rack. Probably because I was in a rush.
Since my husband was out of town, and it’s me and my 2 ½ year old, I couldn’t simply go buy a coffee for myself. Although I DID fantasize leaving her playing quietly in her room while I went and got a latte down the street. But rather than have Child Protective Services come haul me away, I waited until our nanny arrived at 8:30a.
Then I rushed out to get dry cleaning which was ready last Friday (it’s now Tuesday), but this was the first time I’d made time for it, mostly because there was a jacket I needed for a work event later today. I, of course, planned to stop for coffee as well. And I needed to do all of this in a tiny window before my work day started at 9am.
The grumpy lady behind the counter at the dry cleaner set the tone. Immediately she decided the clothes weren’t here. Or not ready. Either way, simply Not Here. She went as far as to look at the ticket and say “this isn’t ready until Fri” as if there is only one Friday on the whole yearly calendar and it’s 3 days in the future. Not last week. Couldn’t be. I kept my tone even, as I responded, “it’s was ready LAST Friday”. The minutes are ticking by and she’s half-heartedly looking. Then she looks at the ticket and points to the calendar (which is on June) and says – “this ticket is from the 30th, which is Sunday. So… it couldn’t be for last Friday.” “Um, in June, you are right, the 30th IS a Sunday. My ticket is from May 30th, like 7 days ago.” At this point, my tone is less even. Ok, maybe even a little sarcastic and snide.
I haven’t built in enough time for her prolonged bullheaded assumption that just because she doesn’t see my clothes, that they must not be ready. Regardless of my word…and physical evidence of the ticket.
This is when I start to lose it. I try to be a nice person and take an interest, and connect with people authentically, not just politely. But we women cannot do it all. However, we sure feel pressure to do it all. And do it politely. My coach says what I’m doing is giving away all my energy and I need to be more particular & mindful about who I give it away to, and to what end.
With this in mind, I wait silently and don’t let her off the hook by making excuses for why I might be the one who is wrong (because I’m not) or be understanding of why she can’t find my clothes. I just wait. And sure enough, she finds them. But not before we’ve wasted 15 minutes, and I have blown my stack inside, but haven’t allowed any of those negative feelings up and out to be processed or to be heard or to be seen.
Instead I’m on to the next task or chore or to do. And you know what comes with me, as I do that next task? Anxiety (that I’m even more behind the eight ball), Resentment, and the feeling that I’m totally unsupported. We don’t mean to become martyrs.
We women, and moms in particular, do not feel like we can slow down, because if we do – best case scenario: something gets missed or forgotten. And worst case scenario: it all falls apart. We’re merely stemming the tide. It’s like using a comb to push back an avalanche.
This is what men often don’t see.
I’m telling you mama, I see you.
Between the fulltime job demands (usually arbitrary pressure around deadlines and budgets and politics that feel all too real and stressful) and the drudgery of keeping a household, we moms are hanging on by a thread. Yes, men do a ton more than they used to, but we’re still bearing that thing called “emotional load” where we keep it all straight in our minds. Which kid needs to go where when, and how much and when the preschool tuition needs to be paid.
I never wanted to be COO of Household (unless I have a staff of housekeepers & cooks, then hell yes). But I do want to live in a somewhat chaos free household, so I multi-task. I pick up a toy on my way to taking out the dishes. I sweep the floor while the water is heating up to boil. And I resent every second of that harried way of existing in the world. I want to do one thing and do it well. I want to be present. I want to have some peace. It ain’t happening, doing it this way.
But what would doing it differently even look like?
The expectations are a big part of the problem.
And they aren’t just external, although that struggle is real. And the expectation might be real, but the portrayal of what we “should be” like isn’t real. The #filtering, the Pinterest positioning, the botox. I get the sneaking suspicion that we’re filtering everything so we don’t have to look at how miserable we really are underneath the air brush. Which goes to the internal expectation.
For me, there is an internal expectation that I set myself against, and often times, I don’t even know when it’s happening.
- Here’s what the perfect mom looks like (with child ALL THE TIME, creating fun things to do, and keeps an immaculate house)
- Here’s what the perfect entrepreneur looks like (works ALL THE TIME)
- Here’s what the perfect spouse looks like (sex ALL THE TIME, relaxing fun date nights)
- Here’s what the perfect friend looks like (available ALL THE TIME for support or hanging out)
You see how neatly I’ve set myself up for abysmal failure?! I can’t possibly do one of those things ALL THE TIME, and survive. Forget thrive! (Much less ALL OF THEM, ALL THE TIME) Yikes.
Meanwhile, I know rationally, that NO ONE ELSE GIVES A SHIT HOW I LIVE MY LIFE. So why am I making up expectations that I believe others have of me, and and then holding myself hostage with these made up standards?
Something has got to give.
I don’t have the answers; in fact, I’d love for more experienced mamas to give me some tips. Cause I need them.
Otherwise, I might punch the dry cleaner in the throat next time.