Friday, July 24, 2009
Here is a copy of an email I sent her after she attempted to bargain with me; to compromise so that we could remain "friends"...right...sorry lady, it's all of nuthin' here.
I am having a really hard time with this. I am feeling ashamed that I burdened you with my problems and that I frustrated you by not jumping at all of your advice. The truth is that I don't feel able to discuss those things with many people, and I thought you were a good person because of your profession. And Meg seems to be sympathetic to a lot of my problems because she's been there. When the three of us get together, it is one big gabfest of problems and goings-on, and boy are y'all talkers! LOL... That was one of the first thing I noticed about you two when we started hanging out last year. Maybe after you had been hanging around each other for so long and I joined in, there was one more person to compete with for the floor. I guess I didn't see myself as contributing any more personal issues to the floor than anyone else.
And I don't expect you to fix my problems. I don't necessarily want to vent for advice -- just a listening ear and an objective opinion every now and then. I did get the feeling that you felt your advice was THE ANSWER. I could see that you were frustrated when I would protest. But I am not one to follow directions blindly. I like to consider all sides and all possibilities, and of course there are a lot of suggestions that just won't work for us, for whatever reason that you may or may not know about. Many times I may reject your advice because it's something I've already considered. I may be complaining about something because I have already examined many possibilities and rejected them for one reason or another. I look for the path of least resistance, and I often view your way as a path of a lot of resistance. So I hold out for an easier fix. If one doesn't appear, I may surrender to your advice, but by then you probably don't even know it and it won't matter anyway.
I have strong opinions about things, and certain values that are unshakable. In regards to those, I can't just throw them out the window to fix one thing that I feel will destroy another. I know I'm getting deep and philosophical now, but I guess my point is that you don't have to fix me. I think the age difference makes you feel somewhat responsible for protecting me from mistakes that you made, and that you see me as very green to the world in a lot of ways. And I know I am. I think, in that same light, that I want you and Meg to be proud of me. But I also know that I'm the oldest 27 year old I've ever met. And I have to learn by doing; learn from my mistakes. I've always been like that and I'm sure I always will be. I am also resistant to change, good or bad. It is daunting to change the way my life runs, even if it promises to make things better. I have to think about it for a long time, weigh all possibilities, and then make the leap when I'm good and ready. It is this way with everything from organizing the house to creating a schedule to rearranging the living room! I swear I went over the latest room makeover in my head for a few months before I finally did it. Of course things then look like I did them on the spur of the moment because I didn't necessarily discuss these thoughts with anyone before I acted on them, but I know that they were thought out.
And I know my own mother has a lot to do with the way I am. She was (and still is) always trying to shove HER WAY down my throat, and I'm sure that made me very resistant to following advice without carefully considering all other options. This is why I don't talk to her about things until they are already done now. And even then, I might not mention anything about anything until a "need-to-know" moment arises. I told her "Drew and I have decided to go ahead and have our fourth child" and "I'm pregnant" in the same conversation, because I didn't need to hear her lecture me about whether it was the "right" time, etc. I'd heard it all before, along with the "have you considered abortion?" (advice which I obviously didn't heed). These days our conversations are pretty limited to kiddie milestones and vegetable gardening.
I have friends who I give advice to, and they don't take it. I just sit back and watch, ever supportive, but respectful of their choices, even if I'm thinking "What a dumbass! Don't they see that I'm right? Why doesn't anyone ever listen to me?!" in my head. I release my opinion out into the universe and let nature take its course. Later on, if/when they realize I was right, I laugh with them and say they can now join the "I should have listened to Michelle" club. So, you see, I have been on that end, too. I understand how frustrating it can be, but I have also learned, after many failed trys, that it's not worth me stressing about. Everyone will exercise their own free will in the end. I guess I figured everyone felt that way about advice-giving, silly me.
So I needed to get that off my chest. I knew there was something wrong over the past few months when you stopped calling and dropping by, revoked my babysitting job, and outright refused me when I have asked to come over, ignored my emails and phone calls, etc. I tried to tell my self that it was all in my head, that it was me who was becoming a hermit. At least that's what I'd hoped. I didn't see anything out of the ordinary happening that would cause such a rejection. I just thought maybe you and Meg decided you didn't like me anymore.
Then I realized that my kids were probably the culprit, and I started to make an effort to not bring all four of them to anyone's house. I guess I have a shameful attitude about them because it is so painfully obvious to me (and of course, my mother) that I have too many children and they are rambunctious, and people with less than 2 or 3 kids at home aren't accustomed to the chaos level and can't possibly truly understand how my life is. And from what they can see, they don't want any part of it. There are days when I wish it was still just me and Robby, because he's such a great kid and does so well when his siblings aren't around. Then there are other days when I wish it was just the younger three, because without Robby around, the arguing is just cute. But, like I said before, what can I do about that now? I have considered asking Drew to go live with his parents and take the twins with him, because at least that way each child would get more consistent care from one parent instead of the chaos that is our family of six. I have considered dropping Robby on his father's doorstep, but as we all know, that's just not an option. And Robby is my first baby -- I cannot abandon him. He and I really do have a good relationship when there's no one else around to stand in the way of it.
So here I am again, pouring out my troubles to you. I'm not asking for advice, just attempt to understand my viewpoint. Your friendship has been very valuable to me and I am kicking myself for screwing it all up. I am sorry that it has been so painful for you. Joining GAP has been the best thing that has happened to me as a mother, but I realize that I am too needy, and I have been projecting my lack of support on you and Meg because you are the only two in GAP that I have become even remotely close to. And it is obvious now that it has been too close for your comfort. I am working on expanding my circle of friends now, trying to find my needed support from more appropriate people, trying to keep the whining at a more casual level, spread out over more mamas so as not to burden anyone anymore.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
It seems like if one joins a moms group that is supposed to offer support for life's challenges as a mom (especially while converting your parenting style from that which one was programmed, to one that will hopefully cause less damage to one's children), one would expect to be able to open up about said challenges, and receive support. Not so here. I am feeling more isolated than ever. I have reached out for help and been judged for it. I am losing friends because my life is too chaotic. More and more, as friendships drift away, I am seeing that having four children really limits the friendship possibilities for me. Those with one child are used to times of relative peace, and the ease of trying to raise and discipline only one child. They just don't know how easy they've got it. I had only one child once. And it was hard.
But now I look at those with only one and think about how misunderstood I am in their eyes. They just don't get that my house can't possibly be as clean as theirs are. That I don't have time for hobbies or me-time. That I am a mess and regretful of having had so many kids, or, sometimes, having had kids at all. But then I remember how much more of a mess I was before I was a mom, and that having Robby saved me from certain self-destruction.
The only true, good friends I have are those who I've known all along, that have watched my children come into this world and continued to love me in spite of my ever-changing lifestyle. I am an extroverted homebody. That means I like people to come over to visit. A lot. I am also a bit of a neat-freak -- something that has been forced into relative dormancy because of the nature of my family. Therefor, I attract like-minded (or so I thought) people to cultivate friendships with, and then they decide they can't stand to come to my house because it does not qualify for an interior decorating magazine photo shoot, ever. And I just can't make it my priority in life to make sure my house is clean enough for one-child mamas to approve of.
It all comes down to the fact that I am miserable on many levels and some drastic changes need to occur.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
I was so exhausted after his week gone that I spent the good part of his vacation sleeping. Yes, I needed it, very very badly, but the house needed some serious TLC and it didn't get it. So now I am alone with 3 of my kids (Devin only goes to her preschool MWF) and facing what promises to be a lifetime of drudgery in chores.
Hubby neglected to unload the dishwasher last night so I have a sink full of dirty dishes and nowhere to put them. The fruit flies are having a picnic in my kitchen sink. I have serious issues with doing other people's chores so usually I just don't. I might end up unloading later, or trying to get Robby (7) to, but for the moment I'm focusing on the laundry. I have 2 hampers full of clothes that need washing (at least 4 loads) and one already in the washer. 3 baskets of clean ones that need folding and putting away. A load of diapers to fold. A ginormous box full of outgrown boy clothes that need to be sorted by size and stored in their respective bins in the garage. Brown paper bags full of outgrown girl and baby clothes that need to be sent to their respective recipients. And my pants are wet because the baby dumped my Coke out in the computer chair this morning and what was left after I attempted to clean it has wicked through the sham-wow I'm sitting on. And the keyboard is sticky because of a marshmallow egg incident earlier. Let's not forget about all the peepee and poopy undies and shorts and pants and skirts that litter every bathroom sink because my four-year-old daughter can't ever stop what she's doing to use the toilet.
Someone just shoot me now.
I know I need to take baby steps and focus on one small task at a time. I feel so utterly alone in this daunting task of running a household and taking care of 6 people. Sometimes my husband feels more like a 5th child. His ADD makes it virtually impossible to rely on him do follow through on a task without some kind of intervention. I love him dearly, and he works hard so I can stay home, but sometimes the little angel and demon on my shoulders make it very hard for me to feel like a good wife to him. On the one hand, he does work hard for me to stay home, and I know he'd go to the end of the Earth for me. On the other hand, I'm so stressed out from dealing with the day-to-day of everyone's unique needs that sometimes I just want to beat him over the head with my grandmother's cast-iron skillet. Maybe that'll knock some sense into him.
Truth is, I married a man that is so opposite from me in most every practical way. What drew us together was our history (knowing each other since the 6th grade), our passions for music and dancing, our religious philosophies, and, of course, the thought of losing him to Operation Iraqi Freedom. I am a meticulous, organized, borderline-OCD, type-A person stuck in this hell-hole of a situation living with 5 slobs. The baby has an excuse. The twins are 4, so they are still learning about personal responsibility. Robby has ADHD and could care less if we lived in a pig sty. He loves junk. He sees potential in every piece of garbage he sees. Hubby's ADD has him in his virtual reality by way of online community or fiction novel every chance he gets. He doesn't have any sense of routine or self-motivation when it comes to chores. He doesn't seem to see clutter and mess until it starts driving me up the wall.
My tolerance of mess has grown considerably, out of necessity of preserving my sanity, but that has turned out to be a bad thing. I forced blinders upon myself in order to not go completely insane, and all of a sudden my friends are performing an intervention regarding the condition of my house. Yikes.
So now I must end this vent so I can go attend to one of the 2,836,455,238 things on my to-do list. I do feel a little better now, but I still want to go curl up in my bed and sleep until someone else is finished de-cluttering and organizing my life.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
The Bitter Homeschooler's Wish List
by Deborah Markus, from Secular Homeschooling, Issue #1, Fall 2007
1 Please stop asking us if it's legal. If it is — and it is — it's insulting to imply that we're criminals. And if we were criminals, would we admit it?
2 Learn what the words "socialize" and "socialization" mean, and use the one you really mean instead of mixing them up the way you do now. Socializing means hanging out with other people for fun. Socialization means having acquired the skills necessary to do so successfully and pleasantly. If you're talking to me and my kids, that means that we do in fact go outside now and then to visit the other human beings on the planet, and you can safely assume that we've got a decent grasp of both concepts.
3 Quit interrupting my kid at her dance lesson, scout meeting, choir practice, baseball game, art class, field trip, park day, music class, 4H club, or soccer lesson to ask her if as a homeschooler she ever gets to socialize.
4 Don't assume that every homeschooler you meet is homeschooling for the same reasons and in the same way as that one homeschooler you know.
5 If that homeschooler you know is actually someone you saw on TV, either on the news or on a "reality" show, the above goes double.
6 Please stop telling us horror stories about the homeschoolers you know, know of, or think you might know who ruined their lives by homeschooling. You're probably the same little bluebird of happiness whose hobby is running up to pregnant women and inducing premature labor by telling them every ghastly birth story you've ever heard. We all hate you, so please go away.
7 We don't look horrified and start quizzing your kids when we hear they're in public school. Please stop drilling our children like potential oil fields to see if we're doing what you consider an adequate job of homeschooling.
8 Stop assuming all homeschoolers are religious.
9 Stop assuming that if we're religious, we must be homeschooling for religious reasons.
10 We didn't go through all the reading, learning, thinking, weighing of options, experimenting, and worrying that goes into homeschooling just to annoy you. Really. This was a deeply personal decision, tailored to the specifics of our family. Stop taking the bare fact of our being homeschoolers as either an affront or a judgment about your own educational decisions.
11 Please stop questioning my competency and demanding to see my credentials. I didn't have to complete a course in catering to successfully cook dinner for my family; I don't need a degree in teaching to educate my children. If spending at least twelve years in the kind of chew-it-up-and-spit-it-out educational facility we call public school left me with so little information in my memory banks that I can't teach the basics of an elementary education to my nearest and dearest, maybe there's a reason I'm so reluctant to send my child to school.
12 If my kid's only six and you ask me with a straight face how I can possibly teach him what he'd learn in school, please understand that you're calling me an idiot. Don't act shocked if I decide to respond in kind.
13 Stop assuming that because the word "home" is right there in "homeschool," we never leave the house. We're the ones who go to the amusement parks, museums, and zoos in the middle of the week and in the off-season and laugh at you because you have to go on weekends and holidays when it's crowded and icky.
14 Stop assuming that because the word "school" is right there in homeschool, we must sit around at a desk for six or eight hours every day, just like your kid does. Even if we're into the "school" side of education — and many of us prefer a more organic approach — we can burn through a lot of material a lot more efficiently, because we don't have to gear our lessons to the lowest common denominator.
15 Stop asking, "But what about the Prom?" Even if the idea that my kid might not be able to indulge in a night of over-hyped, over-priced revelry was enough to break my heart, plenty of kids who do go to school don't get to go to the Prom. For all you know, I'm one of them. I might still be bitter about it. So go be shallow somewhere else.
16 Don't ask my kid if she wouldn't rather go to school unless you don't mind if I ask your kid if he wouldn't rather stay home and get some sleep now and then.
17 Stop saying, "Oh, I could never homeschool!" Even if you think it's some kind of compliment, it sounds more like you're horrified. One of these days, I won't bother disagreeing with you any more.
18 If you can remember anything from chemistry or calculus class, you're allowed to ask how we'll teach these subjects to our kids. If you can't, thank you for the reassurance that we couldn't possibly do a worse job than your teachers did, and might even do a better one.
19 Stop asking about how hard it must be to be my child's teacher as well as her parent. I don't see much difference between bossing my kid around academically and bossing him around the way I do about everything else.
20 Stop saying that my kid is shy, outgoing, aggressive, anxious, quiet, boisterous, argumentative, pouty, fidgety, chatty, whiny, or loud because he's homeschooled. It's not fair that all the kids who go to school can be as annoying as they want to without being branded as representative of anything but childhood.
21 Quit assuming that my kid must be some kind of prodigy because she's homeschooled.
22 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of prodigy because I homeschool my kids.
23 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of saint because I homeschool my kids.
24 Stop talking about all the great childhood memories my kids won't get because they don't go to school, unless you want me to start asking about all the not-so-great childhood memories you have because you went to school.
25 Here's a thought: If you can't say something nice about homeschooling, shut up!