I just read the most fantastic article titled The New Midlife Crisis – Why (and How) It’s Hitting Gen X Women by Ada Calhoun, and couldn’t help but think – “Holy shit I am not crazy but rather I am apparently having a midlife crisis.” It was the most refreshing feeling I have had in a very very long time… Here’s why….
I was raised to believe that with handwork and dedication I could do anything, achieve anything, and be anyone I set my mind on being. I was raised with the understanding that being financially prudent would enable me to be financially sound. You didn’t live beyond your means. You didn’t buy something if you couldn’t pay for it. It was nice to want things but better to be able to get what you needed. And, I was raised wanting to have a family like the one I’d grown up in. So I did what most of my generation did – I went to college, graduated, established my career and while doing so got married, bought a house, and started a family, eventually got divorced, then remarried, expanded my family and moved. However, the continued effort to obtain this “grand dream” has been seriously understated for many reasons. First there is the rising cost of living with little raise in pay. Then there are the disagreements with my husband when our financial, career, and parenting goals don’t mesh. Then there is the sense of entitlement and attitude radiating from my kids. Lord knows I am trying to raise them right but some days I look at them and think – “shit my kids are turning into little assholes.” Sound harsh – maybe – but societal and peer pressures along with technology have stolen my kids childhood and created a completely different futuristic ideal for them. Most days I feel as if I am putting in all of this effort to achieve something that I don’t even know if I believe exists anymore. Most days I feel as if I am a colossal failure as a wife and mother. My husband thinks I am coming unhinged and my kids tell me all I do is yell. Most days I feel as if I am losing my mind….
On the days when sanity hangs in the balance and I am one snotty look, snarky remark, grouchy retort, or generalized aggravating moment away from going postal, and I have to remind myself orange probably wouldn’t look that good on me I just pray for a few moments of peace and quiet – or at least enough time for my Xanax to kick in. Unfortunately these moments are near to impossible to come by.
As a working mom with three kids, a husband, and a household to manage – every waking moment these days is spoken for. There is no down-time, no free time, and certainly no “me” time. My calendar is a color-coded visual nightmare. Between my work schedule, the kids school activities, sporting events, tutoring sessions, doctor’s appointments, and dentist and orthodontist appointments, I am going all day long every day. Of course along with all the prior mentioned engagements there is also the grocery shopping, all other necessary household errands, homework time, making lunches, making dinner, doing laundry, cleaning the house, paying bills, dealing with customer service issues, and blah, blah blah blah blah…. If these keeps up I am going to be forced to pencil in when to shower and sleep…
I know I am not the only mom who feels tapped out, stressed out, overwhelmed, under-appreciated and under-fulfilled. I can’t be the only mom who feels as if all she does is yell at her kids and fail to meet some ridiculously high imaginary parenting bar – set by society. I know I am not the only mom who leans in close when her kids are misbehaving in public and hisses a subtle threat to knock off the bad behavior or else. I am also not the only mom to threaten to clean up toys with a garbage bag, make kids eat what was made for dinner or go to bed hungry, and broken something of their kid’s just because they lost their shit at the one millionth time of pleading with their child to do what was asked of them. I can’t be the only mom who looks at her husband and wants to scream – “Dude a little more help here would be freaking awesome!!!” I also am not the only mom who looks at her sleeping husband while the kids are awake and running amuck and thinks how easily it would be to clobber him with a pillow at that very moment. And I know I am not the only mom who thinks, feels, and says all of this because one of my best friends (and mother of 4) shares almost identical parenting saga. I have also found comfort in being in public and overhearing other moms recount similar parenting stories that leave me feeling as if maybe I am not doing so badly after all.
So why, despite knowing all of this does nothing change? Why can’t I skew attitudes, alter perceptions, advance my career without sacrificing my family, get more help from my kids and my husband, and feel more fulfilled in my life? It’s not like I have been asking for anything unrealistic, out of the ordinary, or off-the-wall. I just want what I have always wanted….a happy family, well-adjusted kids, a good marriage, and a fulfilling career – while being respected, appreciated, and helped by the very people I care about on a daily basis. Why, despite knowing that I am not alone in how I am feeling does that only offer me a fleeting moment of solace? How is it that collectively we are all in some way struggling with similar issues but fighting this “battle” as individuals? How is this all so elusive? Of course if I knew the answer to this I wouldn’t be writing this blog….