Is it just this stage of life?
As I vented to my best friend about my current state of mind, she told me that she thinks we are just in a tough stage of life. You know, the one where every day is chaotic but still somehow routine. We wake up, we do our best to keep the kids alive and healthy, we go to bed. Repeat.
Sure, there are a lot of adventures sprinkled in there, like discovering that the 3-year-old decorated the couches with the permanent marker again, or that the kindergartner needs 25 nut-free, sugar-laced Valentine’s Day treats that we, of course, forgot. A tantrum here, an emergency room visit there.
And yes, there are bright spots: the first time my child makes a basket in a game, watching my daughter “dance” during ballet class, and every single time one of them offers an unprovoked “I love you.”
But even the ups and downs seem to, over time, fall into a straight line. Experiencing a child’s meltdown is clearly anything but monotonous, but at some point, it feels like it’s just another part of an endless routine.
It is that routine that has thrown me into a funk, and that funk shall henceforth be known as, “What the hell am I doing with my life?”
The obvious answer is that I’m a mother, and my job is to raise my children. …
… But if my sole purpose is to raise these kids, it’s depressing to know that some days, I don’t even like them, hence, I don’t like my sole purpose, hence, what the hell am I doing with my life?
I’m stumbling to figure out what all this – the laundry, the disciplining, the dishes, the hugs, the messy faces, the up-all-nights – is leading to. Am I working toward some goal I have yet to identify? Will I eventually go back to work in the traditional sense? Am I contributing to the world in a way I haven’t figured out?
There are so many unanswered questions, which drives someone like me insane. This stage of life is hard, it’s unbalanced, it’s sometimes rewarding though often punishing, it’s scary and sometimes, it’s lonely. Yes, lonely. You can feel lonely even though you have two children climbing on top of you.
This is the moment I have heard about. It’s the moment I’m sure many parents have experienced.
It’s a moment summarized in a paragraph in a women’s magazine, sandwiched between articles about how to please your husband and a mind-numbing debate about waxing vs. threading. It’s lost in the shuffle of finding the 6-year-old’s other shoe and remembering to defrost the chicken for tonight.
This is the moment that mothers murmur to themselves about while YET AGAIN picking up toys left on the steps. It’s swimming in a lone tear that drops down our cheeks as we look in the mirror and wonder when was the last time we felt beautiful?
This isn’t a precursor to abandoning my children. This isn’t a red flag that I’m on the verge of a breakdown.
This is a realization that somewhere in between quitting my job, learning to breastfeed and figuring out that sleep is never guaranteed, I lost sight of who I am and where I’m headed.
What my best friend shrewdly pointed out, and what I’m desperately clinging to, is that this is just this stage of life, and in a few months or a few years, life will change again and bring us more questions and different routines.
And while that thought is generally comforting, there are days when it is as useless as offering a screaming toddler a notebook to write down her feelings.
What I’m experiencing is a loss of identity. Unfortunately, I need to find my keys, my son’s library book and sanity before I can start searching for it.