Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Not so great expectations

Do you ever completely dedicate yourself to something only to be disappointed with the results? I haven't been blogging lately because I've been working on a little project. At the end if June I was struck by the lightning of inspiration and flooded with ideas; unshakable ideas that seemed to come from another world, and they chose me to tell their story. So when I returned home from our eventful trip to Illinois I began to write. Every nap time and bedtime I plugged myself in to my laptop and watched chapter after chapter flow from my fingers until it filled my depleted body with life. I felt fulfilled, happy, and more like myself than I'd been in years. Parenting was more enjoyable, my husband was handsomer, and my house almost seemed to have a linen closet. Almost.

Then there was chapter 20, the climax, the pinnacle of prose, the summit of syntax, and I got stuck. Suddenly, the wave of ideas recessed and the low tide left a sandy graveyard of loop holes, questions and doubts. The more I forced myself to muscle through the feeling the more I began to hate all 55,000+ words I'd written. I stepped away from the project and prayed for perspective.

What followed was a couple months of the worst depression of my life as I realize this whole book thing was a metaphor for my experience with motherhood.

Please be gentle with your judgement.

When I was a little girl there were two things I wanted more than anything: to be a teacher, professionally, and to be a mom.  I looked forward to stroking my diploma from BYU, arranging my classroom, tutoring after school, and grading papers in the evenings while snuggled up in my little cottage with a fluffy dog sleeping on my feet. Then when I was old enough to be considered an old maid (by Utah standards) but not so old that I was infertile, I would marry a perfectly obnoxious salesman and quit my job to dedicate the remainder of my days to rearing children. It was a fantastic plan and I couldn't wait to make it happen.

Then life took an unexpected turn.  I got married young, took a hiatus from school, had some babies, and fast-tracked to the motherhood part of the plan with a significantly less obnoxious husband. It doesn't take much digging through the blog archives to see how painful it was for me to give up school and becoming a teacher.  Once Annie entered my life I knew my only option was to stay home till the day I die, never to write on a white board or attend staff meetings or argue with the lady in the copy room about the tests she forgot to copy. (Dramatic much?) However, a little piece of me was okay with making this sacrifice because I thought motherhood would automatically make me content and fill my whiteboard-marker, red-pen, teaching dreams with something as equally satisfying.

It did not. I definitely had good days, especially when it was just me and Annie, but as soon as Sam entered the picture it was like someone flipped a switch, and motherhood became torturous and stifling. You can imagine how much that bothered me. I began to ruminate and obsess and berate myself for not feeling like dancing on pink and blue pastel rainbows as I listened to hours of crying, got out of bed six times a night, and never really had a moment alone expect for the times I spent locked in my closet weeping. I wanted to be like those "normal" mothers who still felt like motherhood was the hardest and best thing to ever happen to them.  I just felt like it was the hardest.

But wait! This is what I've always wanted! This is what I spent my whole life preparing for! Why did I feel so disappointed?

On Sunday we had a lesson in Relief Society about the ten virgins. Five had oil in their lamps, but the other five didn't not. The ladies with oil couldn't share or they would run out themselves before the bridegroom arrived. While I sat in my cushioned chair, the Lord whispered to me, "You are out of oil."

I don't have date night with my husband. Paul works long hours and isn't home much. There are no Girl's Night Outs on my calendar. My children accompany me almost everywhere I go. Annie and Sam both have medical issues and personality quirks that make them high maintenance and exhausting. And I'm so afraid of being a burden on someone else that I can not ask for help.  So there is no one taking care of me, not even me. I'm completely out of oil. Heck, I can't even find my lamp in this mess.

Anyway, I want to start blogging again because I love to write (but not that stupid book; it makes me homicidal).  And I want to take on a few more little projects around the house to keep me busy.  Hopefully, I can conjure up some courage to take people up on babysitting offers too.  I want to enjoy my children again, like really bad. So if it takes a little more effort to make motherhood feel more effortless, then it's worth it.

1 comment:

  1. Dont worry, you're not the first, or the last mom who feels this way :) I've always admired you and your cute little family, and I enjoy reading your blog because I can relate.