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.