My husband and I just celebrated our ten year anniversary. We went away for 3 nights without the kids. It was amazing. We talked, relaxed, and remembered things we liked about each other. There was even time left over to do things just for me. I read, wrote, drank my coffee slowly, and everything felt so easy.
But as we returned home those feelings of relaxation faded in the distance as the kids started in with their demands, the chores piled up, and we prepared for the dreaded Monday. The familiarity of stress, exhaustion, and frustration came rushing back to me and I felt like it had never left. No break, no escape, no relief.
I went a whole week without looking up at my husband again as we shuffled the kids back and forth, discussed logistics, and tried to meet the demands of our life. I was driving alone in the car coming back from work and it hit me that I don’t like living like this.
I dread the walk back into my house to start up this same routine of giving the kids a bath, helping them do their reading, brush their teeth, pack their snacks for the next day, and cleaning up all the dishes after dinner. Then there’s my least favorite job of all which is laying in the kids room for what feels like years wavering between a sweet and kind mother telling stories and giving kisses to an evil witch making threats and yelling to “GO TO SLEEP.”
Instead, I want to lay in my own bed and watch and movie with the door shut and come out only for the delicious goodnight kisses and then go back to my bed. I want to let all those silly chores that don’t matter go. I want to stop the madness in my head of making sure I remember to do this, don’t forget that, note this, text that.
The sad truth is that I can’t. I’m a control freak and when I don’t control I am covered up with anxiety. When I don’t control things get messy. When I don’t control it all goes to hell. Surprisingly, I hate controlling. The thing I am dreading the most is the sound of my own voice. I am dreading the look on my face that is most often seen by my family that is intense and stressed. I am dreading having to be in charge. Who put me here anyway? I don’t recall signing up for this. I don’t recall any trainings or qualifications I gained to prepare me for all of this adulting. I just want to go read under my blanket and eat cookies.
I want to hire a mom who will come in and tell us all what to do. She will handle all the meltdowns, the middle of the night mishaps, and the cooking. She will take the work calls when the kids are screaming and the constant stream of papers, tiny treasures, and pictures that I am handed that I literally don’t know what to do with anymore. She will organize the toys and make the beds and tell me what to do next. She will know exactly where to put that acorn and the small stick that seem so important to the children.
I will listen, oblige, and do as she says. The glorious freedom from not having to say it myself will wash away all of my stress and frustration. The sheer thought of this brings a feeling of bliss. She will manage everything giving me time to be in the moment, play, laugh, and relax in my own home as if I were on vacation.
Back to reality. As I write this in the dark in the very early morning I hear sweet footsteps heading my way. Within minutes I will be saying good morning, putting this aside, and starting the routine of breakfast, getting dressed, brushing teeth, putting on shoes, and the constant sound of nagging (which resembles fingernails down a chalkboard).
The kids will eventually scream out “you’re mean” in their most angry voice. It will simultaneously enrage me and break my heart. I will respond with the words and tone that are unrecognizable “if you’ve got time to play drums on the couch, then you’ve got time to get dressed.” Who am I?
It will last for hours and even though we are all up so early we will still somehow be late. There will be a frantic feeling as we attempt to make it out the door with all of the right things. Someone will forget something, most likely me, leaving me unprepared all day long.
I’m reading Love Warrior, by Glennon Doyle. She writes about bringing forth her “representative” which is the version of her who does all the right things. Her representative plays the part, fills the role, and is the perfect character to the needs of her story.
I guess that is what I’m doing. I summon forth this stern, rule following, good mother representative to impart all of the life tasks for me and my family. She’s the one who keeps us in line because after all that “fun” I had drinking, God forbid I let loose a little now. But deep down I yearn to be wild and free. I want to break myself out of the prison of lofty expectations and let the laundry pile up, go out dancing, skip a practice for ice cream, be late for school, and say no to everything that doesn’t thrill me.
I’ve come a really long way in two years and there isn’t a single ounce of me that ever wants to drink again. But somehow, I forgot to do the work of letting go and this will be the biggest challenge of my life. The thought of holding it all in until next time I get a “vacation” finally seems too hard. I can’t wait.
So, if you see my representative out there please give her a smile. She will flash a smile back that says don’t worry, I’ve got this. But deep down the real me will wonder if you know of anyone who can come be in charge so I can go play.
Originally published at https://www.spaliveaf.com on October 1, 2019.