Confessions: I’m failing

by Heligirl on February 12, 2011

in Confessions

I can’t do it. I’m trying my hardest, but I’m starting to realize I just can’t do it.

Stay at home mom life is not for me.

If you’ve been following the drama here, you know I lost my job the beginning of the year and had to quickly transition into a life of stay at home mom. It’s been a rough ride to say the least.

I’m still struggle daily with the SAHM life. I knew going into motherhood that I’d not be able to do it full time. I’m not a huge kid person, but hoped my own children would be different. Sometimes they are. I also knew that I didn’t want to work 40 hours a week, leaving the kids in childcare 45-50 hours a week. I wanted to be there those first five years as much as I could.

My struggle is my patience. I’m trying hard to start up my own PR business. I have a large convention I’ll attend the first week of March and I’ve set a deadline to have a website up, LLC paperwork filed, logo designed, bank account set up, and business cards printed by then so I can start marketing myself.

Yet each day I find I can’t get a single thing done toward that goal.

From the time the kids rise in the morning until they’re down for nap, I can’t even consider looking at the computer, let along get anything done, without copious quantities of fussing and hanging on me. I know they just want to be with me, and I try to give them the majority of my attention throughout the day, but in the end I’m feeling I can’t get anything done and I am frustrated.

When nap time comes around, I race to eat, check e-mail, do dishes, do some chores, do legitimate freelance work I already have, and maybe get a moment to work on verbiage for my website before they start to stir. Then they rise refreshed and ready to go while I’m now completely worn out and needing a nap myself.

I push through to 5 p.m. when Hubby gets home and entertains them while I make dinner. By the time the kids are down at 7:30 pm, I’m so worn out I can’t even think about getting on the computer to do anything. Then I go to bed stressed that another day has passed and I got nothing done toward my professional goals, which feeds into my insomnia and I’ll wake up less ready to go the next day and the cycle repeats.

Please tell me this sounds familiar to someone.

The really upsetting part to me is the kids’ constant need for my attention and my constant inability to do anything for myself drain my patience and I begin to lose my temper with them. Add to that the fact that they’re in a really bad stage right now (Mr. Man teething with eye teeth and Sweetness smack dab in the middle of her 3-year-old disequilibrium where NOTHING pleases her and she’ll find ANYTHING to have a tantrum about at least five times a day) and I can quickly understand why some parents leave their families, or become alcoholics. I hate that I’ve started to raise my voice, intercede rather than focus on teaching moments, and lose my temper. This is not the behavior I want to model for my kids.

I’m going to try something different to see if it helps.

The kids do go to childcare on Fridays for 6.5 hours. This hasn’t been anywhere near enough time to do a week’s worth of stuff. I’ve made arrangements to extend childcare to Mondays as well, and possibly extend it to the full 9 hours each day, giving me a very productive Monday and Friday with some hope that I’ll be able to squeeze in things I want to do, like lunch with friends, in there somewhere. My goal is to find the balance.

Perhaps with two full days to focus on work and me, I’ll be able to better manage the three where I have the kids. I want to be present and focused with them and I’m just not cutting it right now. Perhaps that is the reason they’ve been so clingy.

I feel like such a failure.

I could really use your help. Have you ever felt like this? What did you do to bring balance back and rejuvenate your excitement about being a parent?


Wenmei February 12, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Sending lots of virtual hugs and support your way. This sounds VERY familiar to me. This is my struggle, every day (and I’ve been doing the SAHM thing for over 3 years). I really wish that I could give you some wisdom or a nice little answer that will solve everything, but unfortunately, I am in the same boat. I just told a friend of mine the other day, “I am so grateful that I get to spend this time with my children and I absolutely do not want to do it any other way. However, at the same time, I am the unhappiest that I’ve ever been in my life.” I feel terrible for admitting that, but I know that when I say I’m unhappy, it’s not a reflection of my love for my children or even a statement about how I feel about staying home with them. It’s simply that I’m unhappy. I’m unfulfilled, I’m stressed out, I’m tired, I feel unappreciated, used, empty and exhausted. It’s been years since I’ve been an adult, a friend, a woman, a wife.

I’m obviously not telling you anything that’s going to help. I just want you to know that you’re not alone, and that feeling the way you do does not make you a failure. I think it’s wonderful that you will be able to put the kids in daycare for 2 days/week and take some time to refill yourself — you need to do that in order to be the best mom you can be. (And I know, I know…I should take my own advice. But I feel strangely unempowered in my own life, no matter how much advice I dole out to others in a similar situation.)

I hope that you are able to find a bit more balance and fulfillment in your life. And I hope it helps to know that you aren’t alone. 🙂

Twitter: Heligirl
February 12, 2011 at 2:01 pm

On Wenmei, thank you so very, very much for your honest, heartfelt response. I so very much appreciate you sharing your feelings. I can’t tell you how much it helped me feel understood. In fact, you said it more eloquently that I feel I can write at the moment.

There is a lot going on behind the scenes in my life and heart at the moment that have really forced me to take a long look at my life, what I want, where I’m going, and what makes me happy. I’m feeling so guilty for wanting to take a path that makes me happy, instead opting for what I feel I “should” do or what is required/expected. I have this completely overwhelming feeling that I’m settling, and have been settling for a long time. I don’t like who I’m becoming now that I’m aware of what’s going on and have an idea of what I want to do and be. Admitting SAHM isn’t working and taking steps to find a balance is the first step, I think.

It means the world that you shared this. Thank you so much my friend. I wish too that I had words of wisdom for you as well as I want so much to be able to offer you a step toward happiness. Perhaps we can find some comfort in the knowledge that this is only a stage and all too soon they’ll be in school and we’ll again have the opportunity to find ourselves. 🙂

Jessica February 12, 2011 at 1:53 pm

You are NOT alone. Any SAHM who says it’s easy is either lying or has a nanny!! It’s ok to feel frusterated and the lack of patience thing is absolutely normal. I have a 3 year old and a 3 month old and some days I’m lucky if I get a shower in before 7pm! I have recently looked into a group called Mommy’s morning out. It’s kind of like a day care that takes pre-schoolers from 9:30am until about 12:30pm. I have also looked into swapping children with other SAHM’s. One day I will take the kids for a few hours and another day during the week another Mommy will take mine. It takes a while but after the novelty of you being home wears off your children should be able to occupy themselves for a short amount of time (depending on the age of your children). Also, if you have a chore, like dishes, maybe you can get them to help you (within reason of course). My son loves to “help” me fold clothes. Sure they are a little messy and need to be neatly folded afterward, but it keeps him busy and quiet for a while and it also gives him a feeling of pride for helping Mommy. Good luck, and hang in there!! What you are feeling is completely normal 🙂 SAHM is a hard job, but definitely rewarding. Don’t beat yourself up over it if you can’t do it though, some women just opperate differently from others, there is nothing to be ashamed of and you are definitely NOT a failure.

Twitter: Heligirl
February 12, 2011 at 2:06 pm

Thank you so much Jessica. I love your idea of the morning out group and the childcare swap. I’ve been looking into such a thing too, as having other kids over also occupies mine. The kids sure do love to help with chores. Great idea. I typically find something for them to do. I got a stand up Shark vacuum for Christmas (the small light one that is battery operated). I tell you what, my 3 year old can vacuum like the dickens and it’s a great help!

Thanks again for the support and positive outlook. I so needed to hear that. It is very rewarding to watch them learn and grow with me. I want to be with them. I just need to let go of the guilt that I also need time with me. My wiring is such that I’m fearful of the relationship I’d develop with the kids if I didn’t. I want to see them as an asset, not a burden. I hate that my mind thinks in those terms. Thanks for the validation that its OK to be operating a little different. I needed to hear that. 🙂

Jo Chivers February 12, 2011 at 2:34 pm

No you are most definitely not alone. There are so many SAHMs (myself included) who feel like this should be the most rewarding job in the world but end up feeling dissatisfied, frustrated and (dare I say it) bored! And what makes this worse is when every mom you come in contact with seems to be so contented and gushing about how great it is. I think if we were all a bit more honest about how we felt, it would take a whole lot of pressure off of moms and maybe we would feel less stressed and down about the whole thing. We all love our kids and the good moments get us through the not so great ones, but sometimes it can seem like the good moments are just too far apart. I read a great quote once which I feel sums it up perfectly. “I love being a mom, I just don’t like doing it.” I think it’s great that you’re giving yourself a break by putting the kids in daycare, and if you’re not doing it already, get a sitter for the night and go out for some grown-up time either with your man or some friends. My hubby and I have religiously gone out every 2 weeks since my now 7 year old was around 6 weeks (with a brief break when my second was born!) and it’s been a life saver. If you ever need to vent please feel free to use my email.

Twitter: Heligirl
February 12, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Thanks so much Jo. You’re so right about seeing the content SAHMs making it all look so simple. I think that was what really did me in. I started to wonder what was wrong with me that I wasn’t all puppies and rainbows about being home with the little darlings all day every day. Your quote is dead on. And you’re so right about the dates. I’m rather bad at that because we have a hard time finding childcare. I do get out when I can with friends, which definitely helps.

Liz F February 12, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I wish I had advice for you! My 15-month-old is still very needy; some days I can’t get anything done, and others he’s so independent that I can get tons done.
BTW: get rid of the “failure” word. You are by no means failing! You are struggling. This is not over yet! Is it possible for you to set aside small chunks of time where you can work uninterrupted for say 5 minutes, play 5 minutes, work 5 minutes, etc etc? It may not seem like a lot, but you can get quite a bit done in a short amount of time if you put your mind to it. Hope it helps…hope it gets easier! Good luck Jen.

Twitter: Heligirl
February 12, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Thanks Liz. You’re right, struggling is a better word. But it sure feels like failure. The problem for me is I can’t focus for 5 minutes on, 5 minutes off. I need a block of time to get in the zone and go. That works fine for checking an e-mail, but I can’t write an article in 5 minute bursts. Thanks again!

Booyah's Momma February 12, 2011 at 3:18 pm

Oh, Jen, you are not a failure!

I don’t know if this helps… but I am kind of on the opposite end of the spectrum right now… I feel like I’m going crazy working full time, and have no patience or energy for anything. There are a lot of days lately where I feel like I’m letting down my family… and myself.

The key for anyone, I think, is finding a happy medium and sense of balance. I’m realizing something needs to change so I can find that balance.

Sheesh, I realize this comment ended up being all about me. But the point is, I feel like I totally understand the words you were expressing. I’ll be thinking about you try to find your balance and “sweet spot.” It will come. I know it will.
Booyah’s Momma recently posted: The pee that rocked my world

Twitter: Heligirl
February 12, 2011 at 6:02 pm

Thanks for sharing your side my dear. I remember working so much thinking I wanted to be a SAHM. Grass is always greener and all that crap. It really is about finding a good balance. I don’t mind your comment being about you. It really helped to hear what’s taking place for you. Thanks so much for sharing it. 🙂

Kris February 12, 2011 at 3:58 pm

You may not want to hear it – but something’s gotta give. Realistically that extra daycare time will allow you to successfully complete your freelance projects and a small breather and not much else. You may need to put off the PR dream until both are in PreK or K at least, if you SAH. If you can’t be fully present at what you are doing, then what’s the point, right? This time with them will fly – with an imposed opportunity to be with them – why not embrace it, simplify, and excel at that right now? Maybe you haven’t even given yourself a fair chance yet? This coming from a Mom whose mind runs a million miles an hour too …

Twitter: Heligirl
February 12, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Thanks Kris. You may well be right. I’m not hoping to make a full time job out of the PR biz yet. It’s more a way to look more professional with my freelance gigs. I do need to supplement the income so this is a way to do it. I agree I need to be fully present in the moment. I’m not with all the stuff over my head so I sure hope the two days a week will allow me to do the work, getting that out of the way, so I can be present the rest of the week. To be totally honest with you, I’ve been trying for six weeks to embrace this new life and it’s really not feeling very good. I find myself wanting to work more and more. I think the biggest things is my heart and mind battling it out. When I don’t follow my heart, I suffer. Right now my mind is making me feel guilty for it.

Jaclyn February 12, 2011 at 4:31 pm

You’re not failing, Jen. You’re equalizing and finding a new normal. I think Mondays and Fridays are a great start. Everything is an experiment. Try it out, if it doesn’t work, change it and try that out.

I have a sitter on Fridays and I have a me day. Before I had this day to myself, I was a resentful wreck. Now that I have this day to look forward to as MINE and only MINE, the rest of the week is less painful. If I had to go back and do one thing over as a SAHM it would have been to seek help earlier to take more time for myself. Nurturing myself in turn nurtured the family.

Twitter: Heligirl
February 12, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Thanks Jaclyn. It means a lot that you left a comment here. I didn’t know you had a sitter on Fridays. You really do understand. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. It means so much to me. You’re dead on, that time to myself does make the rest of the week less painful. That’s exactly how it feels. 🙂 I wish I didn’t feel like the week was painful. That’s where I feel so bad.

Kris February 12, 2011 at 6:19 pm

Ah, I see. Well, I say give yourself another month with the 2 days per week of care and see how that balances – who knows, it could be perfect! Then you freely can focus on what is front of you and have a real shot at doing both well. I work FT by necessity – and I love my job, but I wish I could only work 3-4 days…moving closer to work and taking 1/2 days more often are my current “balance” goals.
Kris recently posted: The Bumps and Babies Fair 2-26-2-27

Twitter: Heligirl
February 23, 2011 at 7:44 am

Thanks so much Kris. I really, really do appreciate your support. I have tried to take this attitude, on your advice, and I think its starting to work. Thank you!

Jaclyn February 12, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Well, I think it is percieved as painful just as a general way of looking at the scope of things (the non-me time, constant being on demand etc). But when you look at the scope of things, and you see this delicious day to yourself, well, the ENTIRE scope becomes less painful and more like…..more like normal work instead of really intense Can’t Be Yourself work. So then it’s not usually described as painful in the end, as much as “challenging with it’s wonderful moments too”. 7 days a week IS painful, for any male, female, nanny, auntie you name it.

And now that we’re outing ourselves a bit, we have the same sitter on Sundays! It gives me husband and I some “us” time, we go on a lunch date, and then any remaining time we do our own things. (I do meal planning, Amazon Fresh ordering, restocking the house/food supplies etc).

So, TWO days in this family too. 🙂

Twitter: Heligirl
February 23, 2011 at 7:46 am

I love how you’ve found balance Jaclyn. I have a hard time using that valuable “kid-free time” to do the chores, but I’m learning that if I get that all out of the way, like you’ve done in your example above, the time I spend with the kids sure feels less stressful. That stuff isn’t on my mind all the time.

Jaclyn February 23, 2011 at 7:58 am

Truth be told I probably spend 10% of my kid free time doing chores and 90% doing anything that pleases me in the moment. I find myself getting anxious when I know the babysitter is coming back in 3 mins or 45 mins or whatever and thats the time I dive into doing the stuff that makes me feel more prepared and less stressed out.

There is this one quote that I adore and always say in my head, and maybe I don’t have it perfect, but it goes:

“First do the necessary, then the possible, soon you’re doing the impossible.”

I apply this to so much of my life. Like when the dishes are overwhelming, and dinner and tantruming and the house is a mess, ugh – I do what is absolutely necessary in the moment (usually feed Jonah, tend to basic needs) – and once those are done, I realize a level of stress is removed. Then when/if I am able to tend to the possible, I feel like a damn champ. And before you know it I’m able to knock those dishes out a couple minutes before I leave the door, which makes coming home to them done so much nicer.

But had I tried to tackle the dishes before making his breakfast, I’d be behind and the stress would be mounting and soon my priorities would be all jacked and he’d be cranky, and I’m not out the door and AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

So anyway, not sure how this relates to what we’re talking about, but I think it’s always a good strategy when achieving balance.

*I also have this weird thing in my head that only do in my free time what I can’t do when Jonah’s around (ie shower, lounge, veg with TV, things that require me to concentrate like meal planning)

*Subject To Change w/ Life

Kate Walton February 12, 2011 at 11:07 pm

You are not alone. More on this when it’s not 11pm on a Saturday night and I’m less exhausted (see what I mean?) but for now: you are SO. NOT. ALONE. I could not be a SAHM. I marvel at those who can, and I so admire you for trying it with as much pluck as you have–but I also think it’s totally okay to just accept yourself for who you are. Isn’t it funny how our kids accept us so wholeheartedly, but we don’t accept ourselves?

Twitter: Heligirl
February 23, 2011 at 7:52 am

Oh Kate, more than you know it’s so hard to accept myself, faults and all. I think the pressures in society really push us to be all things to all people, and I’ve got this invisible drive holding an impossible standard forever out of reach. I have to remind myself every day that the kids are happy to just play and be with me. If I can prepare well-rounded, healthy meals and snacks, be sure at least half of the day is focused on them alone (as opposed to work/chores/etc.), manage to read to them each day (even if it’s only a book before bed on those busy days) and do some kind of art project at least half the days of the week (they so love art), I’m teaching myself I can feel very successful. I’m looking forward to having the two days a week to do work and all the other chores so I can feel more present when I have the kids.

SharleneT February 13, 2011 at 2:06 pm

You are so not alone! I can’t think of a time I wasn’t combining both work and home care — but, I did have an office in my home and RULES! Don’t know about your youngest, yet, but my girls knew that, if they weren’t bleeding profusely from a main artery, they were not to bother me at my desk — especially if they heard the little keys making noise! AND, I promised NOT to bother them if they were in the middle of doing something, either. (Now, that’s the tricky part because we all like to think we’re so much more important in what we do.) You do have to choose priorities, right now, and hubby has to help, if you’re getting a business off the ground.

You can’t do spring cleaning every week and have a spotless house while the children are still babies and want your personal attention, make the meals, etc. But, you can have zones that are not to be used.

I found the biggest problem with being just a SAHM mother was my own sense of self-worth and the way (though very subtle) my husband talked to me (down to me?) because I wasn’t bringing in a paycheck. I can’t speak for other women, today, but it was very much a real thing back in the day when women were asserting themselves and felt that every woman should have a job, in addition to her (HER, mind you) housework. Of course, there was always the occasional man who jumped in and helped wholeheartedly, but that was not the norm, back then, and I doubt it is today. If it were otherwise, they wouldn’t say how they helped the wife get her housework done — it would simply be that they both did it and weren’t helping the other out. A long way to find out whether or not your self-esteem is taking a beating, right now, too.

But, I would definitely create business hours where you can’t be bothered. (Give the children something to do, too.) And, don’t take advantage by letting extra time creep in because they’ll know it and not trust you. Once they see that you mean business, they’ll ‘go to work,’ too.

My biggest advantage is that I’ve only required five hours of sleep a night, leaving lots of time to get more done. Maybe, you could nap at the same time as the children? Don’t know. Just suggesting.

Don’t know if I’ve helped, or not, but I do feel your pain.
SharleneT recently posted: Braised Lima Bean-Barley Pork Seitan Patties

Twitter: Heligirl
February 23, 2011 at 7:54 am

Thank you so much Sharlene. You are a dear friend for taking the time to share this valuable advice. I’m slowly but surely developing a routine with them when they know I get an hour to “work” after breakfast when they watch Sesame Street. Sweetness gets it. Mr. Man is getting better. In time they’ll respect “office hours,” but at the same time I want to feel free to spend as much time with them as possible. I think that’s where the two days of childcare will come in. I so wish I could survive on 5 hours of sleep. That would solve a few issues, wouldn’t it? 🙂

themombshell February 13, 2011 at 4:13 pm
Susan February 13, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Whoa! Take a step back. Failing? This year is barely six weeks old, and you have had 2 children (at very needy ages) thrust upon you more than full time (24-7-365) all of a sudden. I was able to move into the position of SAHM bit by bit (as much as possible when you have a baby), getting used to being with my baby, then toddler, now child, gradually. Remember the adjustment going from having one child to two? Take that adjustment and multiply it because you’re trying to start up a business. It’s like having twins on top of having your other two. Yes, the kids are extra whiny and clingy because they see you and want all of your attention (and you know that). I love the idea of extending childcare. You do need more time to accomplish your new work; and time to have lunch with a girlfriend. Please don’t think of yourself as a failure. Think of it as getting to know yourself better. You (and I) are not happiest staying home, taking care of young children, with no other creative, purposeful outlet. And there is nothing wrong with that.
Susan recently posted: How Long Can I Go Without Cleaning The Fish Tank

Twitter: Heligirl
February 23, 2011 at 7:57 am

Thanks Susan for the understanding. I’d hoped you’d chime in with your advice. I need to be reminded that there is nothing wrong with needing me time. I was feeling very guilty for needing that. Thanks so much.

Twitter: rachael1013
February 15, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Not everyone is cut out to be a SAHM. And it is hard. I think that becoming a SAHM is hard even for those of us who chose it right off the bat during our first pregnancies. I can’t imagine having chosen to work then falling into SAHM world kind of unexpectedly. It’s a HUGE adjustment. I hope that having another day will help you. (Hugs)
Rachael recently posted: Fabio- Stefon &amp Hoodie Footies

Twitter: Heligirl
February 23, 2011 at 7:59 am

Thanks Rachael. You make a great point about the sudden transition. I’m working on it. I plan to make another post shortly with an update (when the kids give me some time to write – ha, ha). Thanks again!

Kristin @ Intrepid Murmurings
Twitter: sunfrog
February 22, 2011 at 8:22 pm

Coming to this late, and only have skimmed the comments, so sorry if I repeat anyone! First off, when I read what you are doing, I think what you are trying (wanting) to do is more WAHM-ing — other than those days where you have childcare, anyway. On those days when you are home with the kids full time, your are doing SAHM stuff (house, kid care, etc) PLUS trying to work to build your business. That’s not “just” SAHMing! When you are probably hoping/trying to work, I am checking Facebook or reading blogs — fun, mindless stuff! That’s how I get balance, but I think when you go into it expecting/hoping to do both things, that’s where you are getting the feeling of falling short.

Also, yeah, your kids are at challenging ages! Mine play pretty well together for pretty long periods now — not bragging, just stating the facts so you know it can get a lot better, & easier! Hang in there!
Kristin @ Intrepid Murmurings recently posted: Blogging Progress- and More Guest Posting!

Twitter: Heligirl
February 23, 2011 at 8:02 am

You’re absolutely right Kristin. That’s exactly what I’m doing -WAHM and SAHM at the same time. I’ve given myself such a set of expectations to live up to and that’s just adding stress. I really do feel like a failure when I can’t live up to what I’ve set for myself to achieve in any given day. We really can be our worst enemies, can’t we. Thanks for the reassurance that things get better. When I put everything aside and just spend time with the kids, they get along better. I’m finding balance. I hope to get a post up with an update here shortly. Of course, that’s if I get the time… 🙂

Leonel Malcom September 23, 2011 at 11:25 pm

“Sometimes it’s a form of love just to talk to somebody that you have nothing in common with and still be fascinated by their presence.” ~ David Byrne

sarah September 29, 2011 at 12:14 am

Don’t feel bad or guilty. Being at home all the time is stressful and then adding children into the mix and trying to start up your own thing is even more overwhelming. What about dropping them off at daycare early in the morning until 12-1 in the afternoon? That way they get fed and you have the whole morning to yourself. My son goes Mon, Wed, and Fri 8-12 and it helps me get a lot done. Maybe have a day or two where they stay longer so you can do clothes and stuff other than your work. A way to cut out the time consuming dinners is that you can prepare it ahead of time and cook it when the time is ready. You could freeze it or just keep it in the fridge. It’s hard to have a schedule with kids but the more organized everything is the less stress you’ll have

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