I am struggling. Hard. I have been for quite a while now, and it has come out in parts and pieces, but I think I am finally landing on the actual “thing.” I am sure most parents, and people that live, can relate. There is some inner dialog that sounds like “I do everything for them and they do not even know or appreciate what they have. I am weary and over it. Can someone <my children> please lead with an attitude of appreciation and valuing me instead of a “what have you done for me lately” complex. : reference Eddie Murphy Raw for further explanation about the Janet Jackson quote:
I do a lot for them. On any given day I have typically made 4-6 meals before they ever leave the house in the morning. The girls get a gentle wake up 20 minutes before the actual wake up call when I ask them what they would like for lunch that day. A few of my kids have some special dietary needs, and I am fully happy, and commited to accommodate those. It isn’t easy, but it is REALLY important to me but It. Is. Dang. Hard. Even so, a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, apples are out for some, oranges for others. Avacados are gold for one and anaphalactic for the other. Leftovers are life for her and death for her. Some have cheer practice and games, others have soccer, and another may have a law class meeting and work. They are all busy and engaged in things that we fully support and believe in. But those things also require a lot of “things;” uniforms, carpools, snacks, dinner on-the-go, and we sneak in Dr. Appointments and the ever loving “oh, I forgot I need 570 certified nut-free cookies for class tomorrow” in too.
Smoothies, minus mango plus acai, depending on the kid, for breakfast. Eggs and bacon for others. Presentations practiced, check. ALLLLLL the school forms signed, check. (Full disclosure, if I ever sign a form I have to copy my daughter’s signatures of mine because they sign for me most of the time. Throwback to when one of my kids didn’t turn in a form for class registration and she FREAKED out. I told her what every good mom tells their children. Daughter, you have an older sister at your school. Next time ask her to sign for me and I would have never known about this and you would have gotten your form turned in on time without me having to frantically drive to the school at 4 pm. Oh, and also she will be good for a fake ID. But we haven’t had that conversation, yet. We will. Because oh how I longed for an older sister that looked like me. My co-worker Sarah Witt looked nothing like me and I could NEVER remember her Minnesota address. I digress…
The morning that I put it all together was this week. My super great, amazing husband was saving the day, as usual. I had an urgent work issue to resolve and needed to be on a conference call that could only happen at exactly the Everyone Needs Me hours, between 6-8 am. I was checked out, but still amidst all of the usual morning happenings. I should have removed myself completely. The kitchen counter was not the optimal place for my call to happen. But I didn’t. Instead, I sat on my call, snapped my fingers at people being too loud and then did all of the ensuing urgent work while “observing” the morning routine. Nobody did it right….enough.
My husband didn’t know how to make the bacon without smelling up the whole house or how to make an egg. (He has never cooked an egg, how, HOW?) The kids didn’t know what they wanted in their lunches because they usually get a menu of 1-3 choices. He was also trying to get his own work done because he was saving my ass and had not planned to work from home that morning. He isn’t used to giving food options accommodating all of the dietary needs. The kids also had one of those mornings. The ones where everything was just off rhythm and taking longer than expected. People were late and short tempered. When I jumped in to “help” I was super annoyed, to say the least. All I could muster up were snarky comments educating all on the obvious. The egg goes like this. The gluten-free bread is here. They have to leave in 2 minutes, oh and by the way, we all now smell like pork fat. Do they even have full water bottles? <insert scoff and eye rolls> Thank you for your help. By the time I jumped in and offered up my help, my kids came to my husband’s defense. And I lost it. I didn’t say much, but I was DYING inside, holding back the tears. I heard about 47 million thank yous to dad. And everyone left mad at ME. How was I the asshole?
It took me two days, with a bad attitude and a scorned spirit towards all of them before I could put words to it. I was angry and hurt but I didn’t know why. My rational self knew my husband was helping. And my mom-ness was resentful that he could step in and save the day, while I am here every day pulling this magic choreography of chaos off every day with no regard to the toll it takes on me. No appreciation. No help. But also, no preservation of ME. I missed it, and have been missing it for a long time. But I figured it out.
I tell people all the time that you teach people how to treat you. I tell my friends all the time that they are doing a good job, even if nobody knows how much of themselves it took to pull off their life. I speak gratitude and offering yourself in the form of love often. But in thinking through a way to tell my husband how upset I was I heard my actual problem at hand. I have lost me. I have forgotten to enter myself into the equation. Self-care, a luxury not afforded to the “selfless types.” I have become resentful at my people for acting exactly as I have taught them to act. And in my resentment, I have called this their bad behavior.
Whoa. Hold my beer. I need to reevaluate what my expectations are of others against what I have told them about how to expect me to show up. I was frustrated and hurt by what I have created, and I have blamed all of them. When my daughter says to my husband that she is thankful for what he has done, I should NEVER be hurt by that. When my husband plugs in and pulls off a symphony that was composed by me, I should never be annoyed when he misses a few notes or be brought to my knees by a few generous accolades that he gets by the ones he is serving so well. I could never do his job to the level that he does. I would expect a standing ovation for ANY ill attempt I could make to do his job. He is the expert in his field and I am at mine.
Beyond that, I should never see my children’s gratitude towards anyone as a threat to me. We have raised gracious children. Pat on our back. What I am missing is ME. My expectations have been misaligned. I expected them to make me feel valid and important. Instead, I should have cared for myself well enough to be so thankful for the help and love everyone offered. I messed up, and I have been messing up for quite some time…like forever.
This topic will be continued in a new blog series called “recover from toxic.” But today I make a stand for 3 things:
- I will NOT be ungrateful for people that love others well.
- I will set boundaries and expectations and communicate what those are so we can all be more in tune with one another.
- I will seek the care of myself as important before I expect others to care for me. No martyr mentality. I am not a victim and I am not selfish for taking care of myself.
Put on your oxygen mask before securing the masks of others. The flight attendants had it right. I cannot die while saving others and call it their fault.
Let’s talk more about this. How do you feel this is relevant to you? What can we discuss on this topic that would be helpful to you? What has your gender, religion, codependency, or upbringing taught you about self-care? Tell me more and lets discuss!