It was a long summer.
From June through September, it was a proverbial marathon. I’d suspect that is the case for so many people, so many stay at home moms.
By July, I’d given up on the idea of a clean house. By the beginning of August, I was burnt out.
I love my children, but I was so glad that they started school.
As much as that pains me to admit.
Because I’m not fine.
I was waiting for it to pass, though I didn’t quite know what “it” was. As I have been waiting, I’ve slowly deteriorated in various ways I didn’t even notice it at first.
I feel like I’m carrying something weighted firmly on my shoulders. Immovable and unwavering. Lately, I’m having digestive issues. I feel like there is a boulder in the middle of my chest. I can’t catch a deep breath. My head aches. I can’t always sleep. I’m stress eating.
It was finally this past week that I confessed to my husband that I am not okay.
It only seems like yesterday that we sat down over dinner and he admitted to me that he felt like I wasn’t thriving at home.
Before you think that he was being insensitive, let me explain.
One thing that we both want is for one of us to be at home with our children. We feel passionately about that. The idea is that it would be me. And his hope, our collective hope, is that I would be thriving where I am, much like any career-oriented person would be thriving, at the very least satisfied and productive, in their occupation.
We both want to see me flourish in my role as a momma. There is nothing misogynistic about that. A woman could only hope to have a spouse who worries if she is joyful enough where she is, even if where she is is in the home.
I brushed off this conversation somewhat. I know that motherhood is hard. I know that parenting is hard. But it has to get better right? It’s normal, quite normal, to go through these up’s and down’s and seasons of depletion. This doesn’t mean we need to throw up a red flag or anything.
When the kids returned to school, and I found a small window of time each day to myself, I had to fight off the guilt I faced for welcoming this break. I have started to embrace my afternoons.
I mean, I actually get to watch a small bit of television and have time to empty the dishwasher without two people arguing or someone else coming in to sit on the dishwasher door. So that’s a plus, right?
But the feelings got worse, though the daily schedule improved.
Then the outbursts began.
I would be fine. I would be having a decent enough day. But then the car would fritz up, the phone wouldn’t stop ringing, the kids wouldn’t stop arguing and Netflix wouldn’t load. And before I know it, I’m slamming my hand against something hard and clawing at the hangers hanging from the pull up bar in our living room.
I’d snap. I was outside of myself.
My children would hear my rants and come running in to ask what had happened. And I would have to lie. I would tell them that I dropped something while I fought to take in a deep breath and compose myself.
One day, I sank down on the couch and started texting my husband.
And I realized that every word I typed was covered in shame.
I’ve been waiting for these feelings to pass, but now I’m throwing boxes of graham crackers across the kitchen, or my eyes are burning with tears over stuff that isn’t that big of a deal. And I hate who I’m becoming.
I try to find a comforting place. Like the sound of the ocean from when I was a kid. The small of old pine docks near the small-town inlet. The sound of Canada geese flying overhead. The feel of my infant daughter in my arms and the smell of her tiny head when it’s against my cheek.
I try to play these happy things in my head over and over again on a loop, and find some small space in them that I can crawl into to feel relaxed. To feel better. To rest in.
I don’t want to be this person. Crushed beneath whatever it is that I’m carrying around that I can’t get off of me, the thing that is starting to rot me away. But I don’t know where to start.
Would I feel guilty if I had broken a leg or had pneumonia? Would I feel better if there was something physically and outwardly wrong with me? Would I feel less burdened with the feeling of needing to just hack it, and carry on if that was actually the case?
Am I denying God’s grace and truth and triumph in my life when I finally admit to myself that I am not well? That I’m not okay? That this isn’t about the children or parenting. It’s about me. And the cycle that I can’t break is starting to get worse.
Or is that just the first step toward something bigger than myself, something He has been calling to me for a long time? Something that I can’t ignore anymore?
Secret aches and pains that nobody else knows about. Maybe some I don’t even know about or fully understand myself. How does that even make sense? I used to wonder.
Now I sort of know. I can’t describe it. I can’t stand that I can’t name it, though. But I’m tired of begging for mercy from it.
But not so tired as to not be terrified. I am terrified.
I guess my take away is this: that sometimes, you don’t feel okay because you are not okay.
It’s not the bravest or greatest or most thoughtful of revelations. But it is one.
It’s one place to start.