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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Survival Days

Some days. Some days, the glow of motherhood is not so rosy.

You are sick. Baby is teething. You are out of coffee. Day three of a tension headache. Whatever the reason, you are just NOT into mommying today.

You know what I say? It is ok.

It’s a Survival Day.

Today is one of those survival days at our house.

I spent the weekend camping. Camping with children is one of those more-fun-in-anticipation-or-in-memory kind of things. We will make S’mores and hang out singing songs and go for nature walks and swim in the lake. The actual camping part. Not so much. They get bit up. The porta-potties stink and your kid is scared of them. It rains. You wake up to put on the tent flap at 3am (ok, husband dear does that, but you told him to earlier in the day and he insisted it wasn’t needed so, you don’t mind waking him so much.). Dinner takes forever to cook over the fire and then it is burnt. Kids whine for hot dogs, you made hamburgers. Etc. Etc. You come home exhausted late Sunday night with five loads of smoky laundry, a missing shoe, and mosquito bites.

So then I spend Monday picking up after camping. Then Monday night is a late one, errands to Costco/Office Depot. Then the kids won’t sleep.

So what does mama do Tuesday? Throw in a load of laundry (to feel productive) and hunker down on the couch with French press coffee, a good book and let the kids go to town.

Survival Day.

I really should post a picture of my living room right now. They have torn it up. Couch cushions on the floor (playing hot lava/jungle gym), toys dumped everywhere (playing garbage truck). Babycakes the second is still in her pajamas. (Although that happens a lot, why not? Cuts back on laundry, right?)

Today is not the day for conquering motherhood. Today is the day to survive it with your sanity intact. You know that saying the put on welcome mats and aprons “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” Well, it’s true. Right?

I have a friend who takes a WEEKLY Sabbath from her family. She goes out from noon-9pm one day a week. Goes shopping, sits in a coffee shop, writes, watches a movie.

I admire/envy/can’t believe her.

We don’t put enough of a priority on mommies when it comes to mommying. All the pressure to do this or that with your kid, keep the house looking just so, hot dinners every night when dada comes home. And then if you work outside (or inside the home) at another occupation you have to do that AND fill this role.

Mind numbingly tiring.

Mommying is tough emotional work. We don’t get recognition for that.

It’s emotional.

It’s draining.

It saps you of your you-ness.

Suddenly you find yourself eating food off the floor like a savage (and smelling like one too) and you think. My God, I can’t remember the last time I carried a purse rather than a diaper bag. I seriously pulled my cute little coach purse out the other day and realized I hadn’t taken it out in public in YEARS.


What happens to us? It’s like we disappear.

And, I have realized. I can’t disappear for myself, or for my kids for that matter. They need ME to be their mommy. Not some shell of a mommy operating on autopilot. They need to know who I am what I like, what I am good at (tinkering away on the computer, putzing in a garden, doing yoga, running, putting on make-up, God forbid, and going out with daddy.) They need me to be me. Which means I can’t lose who I am.

So we need to cut ourselves a break every now and then. Get out our paints, if that is what we loved to do. Knit. Do some yoga, and show the kids your moves. Buy those impractical skinny jeans. Volunteer in a political campaign. Pull out a book on the history of the Arab world, or a biography of Dorothy Day.

And when the day gets rough let the kids jump on the couch. Turn on the Curious George DVD (playing all 6 episodes of course). Surf the internet. Daydream while looking through a JCrew catalogue. Get your mind out of the game for a minute. Pull out a frozen lasagna. (HMMMMM.) Go for a walk with your babies. Run away with them to a museum. Come home. Bedtime. Glass of wine. Start over again tomorrow.

Remember, YOU are the best mommy for your kids. So don’t forget who that you is! (preaching to self here, insert smiley face guy)

Next up: Eh not sure yet. I will surprise you. I am sure you are all aquiver with excitement….


  1. Great post Sara and so true. I remember being so excited to use a purse again and now I don't even think about it. I do love the stage I'm in and I loved the stage when they were babies. I struggle with parts of the stage now, and I struggled with it then.
    We decided not to camp with babies or toddlers after one try. I just could not handle it. Now we camp and it's fun. I can go to the pool and either swim or sit and read a book not concerned if someone is going to die in the water or walk into the deep part unknowingly. It does get easier in some respects.
    I tried very hard to keep what I was into and who I was in those stages but it was near impossible. Even breaks seemed not long enough. I do find myself coming back to that though. It's so good to let the expectations go though.
    I wrote a poem a few years ago when I was also homeschooling (one reason I stopped was because I was really surviving every moment and that became too much for me) was about this and the first line was "Lord, help me in those days when parenting feels like something I'm going to survive"
    Enjoyed your writing and wow, you have a lot of followers all ready! Way to go.

  2. argh! I just wrote an insanely long comment that wasn't quite finished with and poof. Somehow my browser closed! Oh, well.

    To summarize: I like it.

  3. oh no! i definitely want to hear your thoughts on survival days! you have them too?? phew.

  4. and to alicia...thanks for the feedback, and the distant hope of one day reading at the pool while the kids

  5. Thanks for this, Sara. I seriously needed to hear it after a total mental shut-down yesterday. Can't forget that there was and is another life besides the mommy life.

  6. Sara, you have a knack for writing what I'm thinking...but much more eloquently than could ever come out of my mouth (or fingertips or brain or whatever---see?!)

    I stayed home for a year with my daughter, and I had a hard time with it--it was the whole "saps you of your you-ness" thing that got to me. Then I felt guilty. Then I felt like I was surviving all the time. I love being a Mom, but my work fulfills me in ways that being a Mom can't. Ack!! Can they take away my Mom card for saying that my life is not utterly fulfilled by Mommyness? So I try really hard for balance, and part-time work and occasional days spent with nothing more challenging than a load of laundry and a romance novel are occasionally needed. But then I'm recharged and I have more to give to my two tiny people than a Mom who has lost her you-ness in all the giving that this amazingly, wonderfully, terrifyingly challenging Mom-job entails.

    So thanks for saying it, in that eloquent way that you have. :-)

  7. sarah - oh no! hope yesterday was better. i had such a mental shutdown the other day i was literally jumping up and down tugging at my hair, my kids looking at me in amazement. what is silly mommy doing now? (they were arguing over who got to use the stepstool to help me do dishes!) you are still there! promise!

    tracy - you definitely dont get your card taken away :) i have worked PT too since jack was born, although the past few months my work has tapered off to a standstill...hence writing this blog, i need something to occupy my brain besides mac n' cheese and piles of laundry...(welcome by the way! are you the tracy that my husband took to prom back in penn hills one year?)

  8. husbands one comment on this blog post was "ummm, hot dinners every night?" Ha. Touche.
    obviously that was a bit of creative license on my part...(by the way honey, that part about the occassional cup of joe in bed in the morning was supposed to be a subtle hint. LOVE YOU BABE.)

  9. Sara, you're entitled to all the creative license you want! And yes, I'm the Tracy he took to Homecoming, and I probably have the big-hair-and-balloon-arch picture somewhere should you need a good giggle!

    Love the blog. seriously. Please keep on going!! :-)

  10. And the end of this mommy adventure, there is the joy of re-inventing yourself. reading, knitting,coffee with friends,and trips into town to run errands that include a stop for speciality teas. I never beleived it when people told me how fast it goes..this being a little people mommy, but they were right and the Mom adventure just gets more rewarding with ya sweetie.


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