Feeling Crabby

Image: Wikicommons

Mel’s latest post made me realize that the animal (creature?) I mostly resemble lately is a crab.

I am defensive, snapping my claws and mostly I just feel like my back is up against the wall all the time. My posts have mostly come from a place of protection: protecting me and others I feel are being impugned. Why? Who knows. This SAHM gig is lately (to me) isolating, exhausting, focused completely on the needs of others, relying too much on the words and praise (or lack thereof) from others. Is anyone ever going to full-heartedly support me about every move I make as a parent? No. To base my whole existence waiting for that moment is ridiculous. Yet, I DO wait for that moment.

I am used to the approval of others. I am used to my teacher or boss saying, “Yes, great job.” Or, rarely, “I need you to do that over again.” I’m a perfectionist. Yet in my role as a mother, I get little commentary at all. Because the actions are so repetitive, the day-to-day functions rarely change, there’s no product launch or big event to point to. Changes in children are so incremental. But it takes little effort to notice that my twins are picky eaters and that they are loud. They ARE. Those are facts. But I take it to heart when people note the obvious. I don’t know why.

Remember that scene in “Pretty Woman” when Julia Roberts says she has a hard time remembering compliments?

“The bad things are easier to believe. Haven’t you noticed that?”

This is true for me.

None of what I am saying is unique: I mean, there’s a reason “The Feminine Mystique” was such a phenomenon. Lots of studies conclude that SAHMs are more prone to isolation and feeling under-appreciated. And I write all of this with great guilt, as always. I’m the lucky one with the most wonderful children. They are so smart and witty and funny and confident and sweet and loving. My dream came true.

Maybe this is just a phase. Maybe it’s because I just had minor surgery and am tired and in pain. (Nothing scary.) Maybe it’s because my husband is out of town, again. Maybe it’s because tomorrow the kids’ school ends and I have not planned any camp and the school doesn’t restart until September.

If I could wish myself back to that sunny happy flower of a person I once was, I would.

Click, click.



Filed under Sad

13 responses to “Feeling Crabby

  1. I’ve been feeling a bit sorta like this today – and then guilty because my son is gorgeous and my dog cute and my days on maternity leave are quickly counting down. I think it is because usually I leave the house every day, but today I have been home with a sick dog and my ore-verbal human and dodgy internet on my phone. My day has been on the floor, refreshing Twitter, emailing my husband with dog updates, stacking blocks reading books. A day I know I’d kill for when I go back to work. But today I just feel blah and under stimulated.

  2. I soooooooo relate to this post. Another thing I realized is that nobody notices when things get done, only when they don’t get done. I’m just as guilty of this as my husband. I don’t even notice if he does the dishes and cleans the kitchen – a rare event – but if he forgets to put his dirty clothes in the laundry pile (yes, pile – I don’t even expect him to use the hamper anymore) then I get really irritated. It goes the other way too – seems to be the way housework, well, works. Sadly.

    But yes, I’ve often found myself thinking the same thing. My husband has offered to “grade” me but I told him that would be grounds for divorce!

  3. Wordgirl

    I get it. The few moments that G turns to me and says “you do a wonderful job with her. I could never do what you do…” is like water in the desert. It doesn’t happen often but I cling to those times that it does happen because otherwise it’s just all internal…and even aquifers dry up…


    I get it.


  4. Esperanza

    I think the lack of appreciation must be daunting. I get that a lot at my job too. No one ever tells me “Good job.” Most adults don’t even see what I do and a bunch of middle school kids certainly aren’t going to praise me (unless I make something easier or cancel an assignment all together, and sometimes I even have just so they will tell me I’m awesome). As humans we need that assurance that we’re doing a good job. And a toddler isn’t going to give it. I try really hard to tell Mi.Vida when he’s doing a good job or when I appreciate something but I too forget that he feeds the cat every morning and night (we use this gross, time consuming raw food stuff too, so that is a bigger deal than it might seem). He also cooks (sometimes 😉 ) and is great with Isa. I think I tell him all the time what a good job he does but I probably don’t. And I never feel he tells me I’m doing a good job, at least it feels that way.

    It’s true that the criticisms sting more, and for longer, than the praise. Praise makes me feel good for an hour or so at most; I can dwell on a disparaging remark for days.

    I totally understand you feeling the way you do. I must say, I’m tentative about the summer because Isa is a handful right now and I worry I’m not up for the task of solo days with her in this tiny apartment, with the fog and wind making it dreary outside. Hopefully we can go out and DO THINGS, which makes me feel better, but when we can’t, I worry I’ll just want to turn on the TV. It’s really hard.

    Motherhood is a lot of minutia and monotony and it’s, for the most part, thankless. It’s also constant. That is a hard combination. It really, really is. Hopefully, together, we can get through it.

  5. Keiko

    The raw honesty of this post is haunting. And the guilt- I can hear it all the way here in Boston. I don’t have any advice to give, but simply want to say that I appreciate you. You do a good job- a great job in my eyes. Thinking of you, from one lobstah to a crab.

  6. Keiko

    Forgot to add: as loud as the guilt may echo, it’s not warranted. You have no reason to feel guilty. You’re entitled to all of the feelings you are experiencing re: motherhood right now.

  7. You’re exhausted without even realizing it. And speaking as someone who had nagging back pain for 2 weeks, pain makes you a little short tempered. You need a night out, a massage and a stiff drink. When hubby comes home, make sure you get that! Doctor’s orders! 🙂

  8. I can totally relate to feeling unappreciated–and crabby. And I think it’s normal to feel that way, even when you’re the “lucky one.” But what I’ve learned is you never get what you need if you don’t ask for it. And it’s super hard for me to have to ask for things like help or validation, but it rarely comes unless I do.

  9. Great job giving me something to look forward to reading. I love seeing your posts in my inbox. Thank you for that.

  10. What a cute post! I can be fairly crabby too! That’s why I can’t wait for my vacation come up! Ironic that I am looking forward to going to the beach because I am crabby!

  11. Lack of appreciation is very difficult. Like Daryl said, I recently needed to ask for some from my Hubby. I have a difficult time asking too, but it has made all the difference. I hope you recover from your surgery quickly.

  12. Mo

    Urgh. 😦 I’m sorry you’re feeling so down. I think the idea of seeking approval is something that is inherent in me, and I’ve found it creeping up more and more because I work at home. I think at the end of the day it’s a self-esteem issue no matter the context.
    I think my point is that perhaps you should examine whether this is an issue regardless? And if so – maybe work on finding ways of loving yourself more. Spaghetti monster knows you deserve it.
    Sending you lots of love!

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