Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Break(down) time

So, I did it.  I did what I never thought I would do or at least what I promised myself I would never do.  I sent Will one of those “I need” emails.  Do you know the kind I am referring to?  The ones that go something like this:

I need a break.

I need a full day away from the house (sans children).

I need to NOT put the kids to bed one night.  Just one night.

I need to feel appreciated for what I do on a daily basis.

I need, I need, I need, blah, blah, blah, poor pitiful me, sniff, sniff, sooooobbbbbbbb!!!!

And in case you’re thinking that my “needs” aren’t so bad (please tell me you all were thinking that?), there are certainly some I omitted because of my colorful language or biting subject matter.  I was blunt; I was rude; I was downright mean.  And you know how Will replied (after calling me to let me vent even more, of course)?

Please, please feel free to escape this weekend.  Go to Charlottesville.  Get a hotel room.  Read your kindle.  Take a walk.  Sleep until after the sun rises.  Run through the law school campus.  Go to Starbucks.  Go to Bodos.  The day is yours.

Wow.  Okay.  Obviously my number four “need” does not apply and has never applied.  

So why do I feel inadequate, particularly when I am married to the most appreciating man on Earth?  I realize now that my issues aren’t with how much Will expresses his recognition for my days, but that no amount of appreciation would be sufficient during certain weeks – particularly this month (January; post-Christmas blues anyone?) and during George’s potty training boot camp.  It’s not helping that I am sick, George’s bladder is on strike, and we’ve got another cold, wet day in the forecast.  I don’t know how to fix my frustrations except to escape for a day and focus on something (someone) other than Frances and George.

I also need to stop with the endless comparisons to other mothers.  The danger of blogging (and of reading other blogs) is that you find yourself looking at others’ homes, children, vacations, friends, and abilities (to name a few) with envy.  How the heck does she have three children under the age of 5 and find time to refinish her hardwood floors?  How can she be so fit, tan and happy and still manage to cook chicken n’ dumplings for her adorable brood who apparently play endlessly on the swing set in the backyard while she vacuums with her new Dyson?  Why can’t I have a local group of friends who go on once-a-week girls’ nights out (or the much coveted girls’ weekends) and children who watch movies for the better part of the next morning so I can sleep in?  Admittedly, these selfish thoughts have all crossed my mind.  And I find myself feeling inadequate for not having what appears to come so easily to others.

There is a great speech from “The Golden Girls,” one of my all-time favorite shows (I have seen every episode at least 10 times – a modest estimate).  Blanche, the self-described harlot of the group, becomes jealous of Dorothy, the smart divorcee, and her new-found boyfriend.  I call this the “Magenta” speech:

“Magenta…that’s what I call it when I get that way. All kinds of feelings tumbling all over themselves. Well you know, you’re not quite blue, because you’re not really sad. And although you’re a little bit jealous you wouldn’t say you’re green with envy. And every now and then you realize you’re kind of scared but you’d hardly call yourself yellow…I hate that feeling. Just hate it. And I hate the color magenta. That’s why I named it that. Magenta.”

And that’s exactly how I feel today.  Magenta.

I will not likely take Will up on his generous offer to travel to Charlottesville this weekend; but just knowing that it is an option is overwhelming (in a good way, don’t worry).  Instead, I think I’ll go to my parents’ house for the night—drink good wine, sit by their gas fireplace, talk about everything and nothing all at the same time. 

If that can’t help me I may just be a lost cause.  But it will help; I am certain.  Today is magenta but tomorrow will be seaside blue, candy apple red, or (if I'm really lucky) moss green.

Happy Wednesday everyone!


  1. I actually hid a "friend" on Facebook because she always made me feel guilty with her detailed posts of the gourmet dinners she made from scratch for her children with all organic, healthy ingredients. Just had to hide it. No time for extra guilt. We've all been there. We are human and none of us are as perfect as some may seem. Hope you get a little time away--even if it is just a few hours. We all need it to stay sane. Take care.

  2. Lucy, I love your honesty on this blog. I think one thing to keep in mind as you read other mothers' blogs is that not everyone is so candidly (and refreshingly) honest as you are. Everyone has their own stuggles in life, and many of us keep the wall up in fear that people will see them. I, for one, am not apt to openly admit how hard my juggling act is on a daily basis and how guilty I feel for not spending the weekdays with my children (and I certainly do not freely admit it to my stay-at-home friends). Most of us want our lives to appear perfect to the outside world. But nobody's life is as easy or perfect as we project. We all have our moments. :)

    Also, I have to agree that your husband is wonderful!! I'm reminded of your post when you said you are liberated because your husband respects you enough to recognize the sacrifices you have made by choosing to stay at home. That was so well observed and appropriately stated. You are so lucky to have a husband who treats you as a true partner and who is eager to give you your well-deserved break.

  3. Oh, sister. The days that I feel magenta at some point far outnumber the ones that I don't. And your needs aren't unreasonable or demanding by any measure, rest assured. If I look back over similar emails to Jamison, I alternate feeling completely sorry for myself and my plight and feeling small, selfish, and more than a little mean and ungrateful. But there are days when I feel like I'm drowning. And the only way to make it bearable is having the option to get away from it, as awful as that may sound.

    I honestly believe that staying home with little ones is simultaneously the absolute most demanding job and the absolute most rewarding job there is out there. But the fact of the matter is that it's still a job, albeit one with no beginning and no discernible end (thank goodness, obviously, for that!), coupled with the lousy pay and the sometimes stifling sense of isolation. And add in the fact that the sheer repetition can get to be a bit mind-numbing and you've got a perfect storm for unrest.

    It doesn't help that, according to the internet, my house isn't clean or orderly enough, my children aren't as brilliant and well-behaved as apparently everyone else's are, and my sorry self isn't nearly well-dressed enough. And don't even get me started on the silliness that is Pinterest. (I don't mean to offend any avid Pinterest peeps out there. For me, it's just a way to reinforce that I'm not crafty enough, original enough, motivated enough, tasteful enough, charitable enough, kind enough, organized enough...and on and on.) So I've started on a new internet diet. I only read blogs/visit websites/etc. that make me feel good about myself, or that make me happy that the author(s) and I inhabit the same planet, who support my idea that most people are (a) genuinely good people who (b) also have faults and flaws and who (c) openly admit and even embrace them. I give myself 30 minutes every day (hence no blog posts from me of late) and I have to say that I'm honestly a happier person after beginning my self-imposed restriction.

    I could really write a book for this comment but please know that you're not alone in this. Take Will up on any and every offer of time away for you and don't feel guilty about it for a second. And take care of yourself! Go to your parents', drink lots of wine and let them take care of you. You deserve it!