Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"I love being a mom, I just hate doing it"

I always thought it was Zach who got so affected by the weather. I remember one particular instance in Switzerland where it had been raining for days and he was all doom and gloom, then the minute the sun came out his whole mood did a total 180. It was incredible. Moving to California, both times, has partially been out of luck, but also out of a conscious decision to go someplace where the weather doesn't suck.

But the past few days have got me wondering if it's started wearing off on me, too. Each day of rain and cold left me feeling more grumpy (just ask Zach). Maybe part of it is fluctuating hormones, too, readjusting now that D's gone from nursing 5+ times a day to only twice. I'm feeling better today (as I look outside and see blue sky and SUN) but part of me still feels out of sorts.

I'm frustrated by so many little things around me. The constant messy state of our house. The endless to-do lists that never seem to get checked off. The way I spend so much of my day feeling like my mind is in a fog and can't think clearly. How I feel like I never have anything interesting to say in conversation b/c my life is made up of Donovan and being a mom, and there's only a select few people on this earth that could stand to listen to me talk all day about my kid. How I have so many things I want to do, little things, big things, things for me, for our family, for the house, and no time to do them. I'm frustrated at the qaulity of pictures I'm taking. Always feeling like a mess, with unkept hair and uncute clothes. I think Donovan plays with my makeup more often than I do these days. How hard it is to balance time spent as a family, with my husband, and replenishing myself, in the tiny pockets of time that are nights and weekends.

I keep going over this language thing in my head, and feeling like I;m stuck between a rock and a hard place. I stopped reading the Baby Bilingual book, as the author feels VERY strongly that the BARE MINIMUM you can do is have one parent speak exclusively in the second language, all the time, no exceptions (other than when you're with other people who don't speak it). And sometimes I do feel like I could totally do that. But it would also mean having to spend time every day looking up words, idioms, nursery rhymes, reading for my own linguistic upkeep, and all that means having to sacrifice even more of my "me" time for the sake of my child when it feels like I've already turned my entire life upside down for him. I'm also shocked at how sad it makes me to think of not ever speaking English with Donovan. Languages really do have a deep pull and connection with you. At the same time, it would be such a waste to not do my best to give him the gift of language at this time when it will be so easy for him to pick up, knowing how friggin hard it is to learn another language later on. This debate has been driving me batty, going back and forth, and I guess the solution is to say SUCK IT to that author and just keep doing our half-Spanish/half-English routine and hope for the best. I know I still do/will need to spend time on the side looking up Spanish words and songs, etc, but this also gives me a bit of wiggle room.

(If only one of my Spanish-speaking relatives would move out here so they could speak to Donovan in Spanish always and take some of the pressure off me. C'mon. I know you guys want to....)

I was at the library recently looking for books for me, and not knowing what else to browse through I headed to the parenting section and started looking at the books of motherhood and children. And I couldn't think of a single non-parenthood-related title to look up in the library's database. It struck me, how even my free time is devoted to Being a Mom.

And so I'm realizing that I think something needs to change. I need to re-examine how I spend my days and my free time, ways to be more efficient, things to cut out that are unecessary (like time spent on the computer doing things that don't matter). I have a bad habit of sitting down at the computer after getting D down for a nap, feeling exhausted, and so just mindlessly jumping from website to website, not really getting anything accomplished and not even relaxing. I think that needs to stop. I hate feeling this pressure to make every single minute count, but then again this is my life now and it's not gonna change anytime soon, and I need to figure out ways to either be productive or enjoy myself better during my breaks or else I might just lose it. I also need to get better at finding things to do for myself, even if it's just finding a novel to read for fun for a few minutes every night before bed. And I need to get better at scheduling time for myself, when Zach can take care of D. Zach's been great about trying to encourage me to get time for myself, but too often the weekend comes and goes and between everything else we want/need to get done time for me slips away.

It's a bit of a shock, when the lofty expectations that you had for yourself come crashing down when faced with reality. You expect yourself to be this great mom who does all these wonderful things for your child-- cooking homemade food for them, constantly talking to them and naming things to improve their vocabulary, developing a wide array of songs and nursery rhymes and games to use all day long. And instead you find yourself trying to catch up on emails or read a friend's blog in the 5 minutes before your kid realizes you're not right there next to them anymore, getting frustrated at them for waking up AGAIN or being fussy when you can't tell why. I know I'm a good mom. I know D will grow up to be a great kid, in spite of me not doing all these things for him. But it still takes some work to shake off those expectations, and there are still days when you just wish you could call in sick for once. All I can do, is the best that I reasonably can. I think that's my new mantra.


  1. About the bilingual thing: the woman who wrote this book sounds pretty stupid to me. I've decided theories on education and parenting are like @r$seholes: everybody has a different one, but only one works for you.

    Any time you spend talking to him in Spanish is going to benefit him, period. Or, you could just send him to live with me, and I'll do the "habla" to him all the time. I'll ship him back when he's "fluent."

    On the motherhood thing: I think what you're feeling is kind of how I've been feeling about teaching, except I have the luxury of being able to quit (uh... eventually, in June).

    There are so many expectations, most of them unreasonably high, and the work is never going to be done. And, let's face it, I'm never going to be Michelle Pfeiffer in Dangerous Minds or Hillary Swank in Freedom Writers or any of those other teachers they canonize in movies.

    There's only so much you can do. And if you don't take time to take care of yourself, there's not going to be enough of you left to take care of D.

    Don't dismiss all of your computer time -- I know it can be a time-drain, but spending time online reading your friends' blogs or writing your own blog or working with your photos, using your creative mind, replenishes your "well." That's why Mom baked cookies at midnight, that was her "me" time, that's how she recharged.

    Taking time to work on your Etsy shop or blogging or editing your photos is important time. Also, nap time is important time, allow yourself to nap if you want to.

    Speaking of books, I just finished a good one (Latina chick lit: Houston, we have a problema by Gwendelyn Zepeda). I'll send it to you, so you don't have to go to the library (btw, whenever I'm at the library I can never remember which books I want to look up or which authors I've told myself I need to read... that might just be regular mind-blank, not necessarily motherhood-related). Also, I'll look through my Spanish books. I have several kids' books, if you want to read them to D in the mornings as he plays. Or something.

  2. Hey Marcy - I have to admit that when I started reading your blog and D was little, and I was not yet a mom, I sometimes thought that some of your posts were a bit negative...BUT, now that I'm a mom myself I TOTALLY GET IT and realise that they weren't negative - they were REAL! This post speaks volumes and I think is at the heart of every mother's struggle...thank you for posting it and to helping me sort out my own thoughts. Good luck finding "me" time...just don't stop blogging (and helping to keep the rest of us sane!) From what I can tell you are doing a GREAT job!

  3. Hope this makes you feel better, today I threw Ryan's toothbrush at her lap because she wouldn't take it from me. Parenting is TOUGH! You're doing great and will continue to do so. Maybe consider a mother's day out program once or twice a week for half the day? You may find yourself renewed by even 4 hours a week of "me" time.

    I find I'm a better mom when I have some separation from my child.

    Have you explored the library's online catalog? Mine allows me to reserve books online, so I can look up a title when I hear about it and they email me when it is ready to pick up.

  4. Love the post and feel the same as you! Motherhood is real and we are all not supermoms, our children never want us to be that anyways. I am always inspired by your words, even though we do not know eachother:)

    I too have a ordeal about Spanish in the home. My husband's family is from Spain and I am just a mix of European mush but have many years of Spanish training. I started to speak with her then would forget and say "Oh yeah, I should speak Spanish...oops". So what I have started to do (I guess this is because I am taking a Montessori Language class and it is affirming my choice in this) is to work on Endi with her English, as she is so interested in this right now and do a few signs for things she cannot yet yet say but needs to communicate with me. When she has English down and moves into her Montessori primary class, then I will begin to have more Spanish language training, doing what I can in or outside of class until she is 6 to stay with the sensitive period. But we shall see!

    Happy Mothering!!
    Amanda and Endi too

  5. i don't know what it's like to be a mother, but i certainly know what it's like to be overwhelmed.
    anytime you wanna hang or go take pix somewhere just let me know!

  6. jessica6:56 AM

    i think you are doing great by just trying with the two languages. you are conscious about trying, and actively doing so. that would be like saying, in order to have a successful marriage, you must have sex four times a week. i mean, or something like that. and goodness knows that just might not ever happen, but you are conscious about keeping the romance going when things get hectic, tired, crazy insane, and that is what counts. weird analogy, but that is what i thought of.
    thanks for this honest post. i will go write one now.
    at one point i read somewhere, i think on facebook, that instead of reading you twitter, flickr, blog etc...i.e. do all things online. i dont have a kid yet, but if i did spend so muhc time online, and devoting so much time consistently to so many sites, it would be hard on me.i would start to feel unproductive, even if i checked every blog. maybe you neeed to reread that ladies article response , the part about where if you have ten minutes and you choose to spend it in the bath rather than calling or reading friends blog, she should understand

    you are a great mom, it shows to everyone who knows you, and a very good friend. so you have those in your corner for good when you feel unproductive. :)

  7. Yeah, a simple introduction to a second language can be as easy as reading dual-language books.
    I've found a great selection available at

  8. Thank you thank you thank you....for your honesty and transparency (sp?) and for clearly expressing the words in my head and feelings in my heart - since I suck at coherency. Its nice to "hear" another mom in the same boat. You expressed what I feel but you don't sounds like you're complaining - cause we are not complaining, we're just expressing right? I look forward to more of this journey together.



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