I saw it again. That quote. That meme. The one that says: “The way you talk to your kids becomes their inner voice.”
Can we talk about that for a moment, kids? Because if it’s true, that my voice will become the one whispering sweet nothings from the recesses of your adult mind, we should probably pretend 2015 never happened. Can we do that?
Perhaps we can just let this one go. You know, in the broad scheme? Of the 18 years you hang with me (at a minimum), let’s just call 2015 a bust and move on.
There are four of you. I am the mother to four of you. That’s four brains at my mercy. I do okay with that most of the time. And I started 2015 out okay, too. Your dad got hurt at work, then some stuff went down that damn near ruined me (which I can’t talk about on the internet), and then, well, your dad was called to work 2.5 – 3 hours away. For 10 months. And my life was turned upside down, against my will, with no solution in sight. I guess it was just too much.
Sometimes I handle glitches in my fucking life plan with dignity and grace. Other times I act like a crack addict who misplaced her last baggie.
Never do crack.
Seriously though, kids, usually I can muster the perspective, patience, and strength to roll with life’s bullshit, and I kind of just keep on going, as we do, after kicking and screaming for a few minutes. And then I accept it and move on, because I can’t live with resentments. I can’t live with the inner turmoil caused by WHY ISN’T LIFE GOING MY WAY GODDAMNIT? It will never go your way, Janelle. Not always. So just stop. Throw in the towel. Enjoy the fucking ride.
But this year, I couldn’t. I just could not “get okay” with my husband pulled away from me for 10 fucking months. Every morning, every afternoon, every evening: I was alone with you guys. But I work. I WORK TOO. But I couldn’t do my work. I had to work but couldn’t work because I had virtually no help. How do you live like that? When you have to do but can’t do day after day? The part that really messed with me was that there was nothing I could do about it.
I felt trapped. Cornered. I literally, in a very real and tangible way, could not meet the requirements of my life. I was failing everything and everyone, drowning in mediocrity. I can’t be expected to have a career but live at the mercy of somebody else’s career. IT CAN’T BE BOTH. I CAN’T DO EVERYTHING. I simmered in rage and self-pity, and fought to the death my own powerlessness.
There was nothing I could do, so why was I fighting? Because I fucking hated it. Because I didn’t want it. Because I was outraged. Because I missed my husband. Because I’m immature and ill-equipped for life. Who knows why. It’s just what happened.
And the more I fought, the more I kicked and screamed, the more it didn’t work, more exhausted I grew, and the more depressed. And anxious. It was a slow build to disaster.
My ability to sleep vanished. I was nearly out of my mind with exhaustion. I remember the day I called my best friends and my mom and said “I think I’m depressed.” Their response was something along the lines of “No shit, Einstein.”
But you four. You were just there, looking at your mama. You were just there, in the car, as I drove you around, or made dinner, helped you brush your teeth. You were just there, in our home, waking up and making lunches and doing your chores. You were just living, little kids, doing your kid life, looking to me to do the mom life, while I fell apart under the love of your gaze.
They say my voice will become the one in your head.
Will it be the one that screamed “What the hell is wrong with you?” one morning, on day three of 4 hours of sleep, when I simply lost it?
Will it be the literal grunt I gave you in response to you telling me something about your day? It was 3pm. We were driving home again. I knew all the evening is on me. I had 60 papers to grade. We had nothing for dinner. I guess I’ll take 4 kids to the grocery store. I’m so tired. I’m like a zombie. My body weighs a thousand pounds, my thoughts a million. My eyes are blurring on the road.
Hey mom. Hey mom. Hey mom. Let me tell you about this thing. Can you believe that? Hey mom.
“Mmm.” I don’t even pretend to care. I can’t. I don’t even pretend to listen. Your voice is barely audible beneath the roar of my separation.
Will it be my voice demanding “Come take this baby!” so I can make dinner without him getting burned as he clings to my legs and screams?
Or maybe it will be the 700 “I just can’t talk to you about this now.”
Please give me a moment.
Please stop talking for a second. I can’t do this anymore. I fucking can’t do it. I yell it on the phone. I scream it. I hang up. I throw a picture frame.
My grandmother got depressed once, after she had her 5th child. One day, she lay on the couch and didn’t get up again, for a long time. It was maybe 1952. A friend brought her a paint-by-number art set. She did paint by number, one tiny shape at a time, one tiny minute at a time, for days, until her mind pieced itself back together, and her legs worked again.
“What are you going to do, Janelle?” My mom asked.
“Janelle, DO ONE THING TODAY.” My friend said.
I cleaned the linen closet in the hall. I did that. I did that one thing that day. The next day, I got vitamins and herbs and told myself I had 30 days to feel better and then it was off to the doctor for medications. The day after that I got a therapist. A couple of days after that, I realized I heard you tell me about the kid who took your math book , and I cared a little.
Slowly, I got off the couch.
They say my voice will become the one in your brain. I said a hundred things this year I’d like to erase. My silence perhaps more awful than my words. Does silence echo too? I imagine it does.
But what about when we sat on your bed and I said “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that. You don’t deserve that. I’m having trouble managing my anger.” And we hugged, hard, again. For everything. Or the hundred times I showed up anyway, broken and distant, but by your side with the tenacity of a fucking bulldog, because you’re mine and I’m yours? Does that silence count? Will it hold you too in 20 years? I put on your favorite songs. I watched you sing with blurred eyes. I loved you with perfect clarity.
Do you hear that, too? All the moments I kissed you and said “I’m really tired. I’m having a hard time. But I’m trying to get better.”
I didn’t want to make this your problem. I didn’t want to put this on your shoulders, but I owed you an explanation. This isn’t your fault. I’m working through something. I will get better. We’re a family. We’re broken. We hold tight and get remade. THAT’S WHAT WE DO.
I’m painting, kid, one tiny shape at a time, and pretty soon it will be done, and I’ll be me again, and my voice will stop cracking mid-sentence, in defeat, or rage.
I don’t always love that I’ll be the voice in your head. I’m not sure I even fully believe that. I hear my mom’s voice. I also hear my dad’s (P.S. WHY DON’T WE DO THIS GUILT SHIT TO DADS?), and a few asshole teachers, and a couple good ones, but mostly, I feel what it felt to be in my mom’s arms, to live in her home, to smell her hair and skin and know this is home, even fucked up, loud, sad and weird. I knew she’d always come. I’m lucky to have that. It’s all I ever really needed to know, in the end.
I hope you know that too, that though my voice was shit in 2015, my arms have remained the same. And they’re yours.
Hey, I don’t want to be all alarmist and shit, but these are probably the last sessions I’ll be offering of the live Write Anyway writing workshop.
Get on it, friends. I’d love to write with you.
NatalieTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 13:24
Loved this Janelle. I think of that saying a lot as well, as I am blurring out terrible things in front of or to my child when I just don’t have the energy to turn on the filter. When you have to raise your kids on your own day in and day out, it’s easy to get run down. There’s only so much energy and patience to go around, and some days it’s nill. I tell myself often , “ok, I’ve fucked up today pretty hard. Maybe I’ll do better tomorrow.” And sometimes I do and sometimes I dont. But I talk to my kid about it and explain to her that it’s nothing personal. That I’m only human, and she gets it. I think sometimes it’s just good to explain why things are happening the way they are. I feel like it’s also made her more aware of other people and how her actions can affect them (me). Not that I’m blaming her, I am the adult. But I think it’s ok to tell your kids that you are stressed out and it would really help if they helped you out by just chilling out! Sometimes that works. Anyway, kudos for taking care of 4 kids on your own and admitting your humanness.
LisaTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 13:27
Man, I really needed this today. Thank you.
hkTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 13:32
Oh man, thank you. 2015 is the year I got diagnosed with cancer. My youngest was 14 months old, his brother, 2 years older. I just finished 7 months of chemo last week. I am so very very very VERY not proud of the number of times I have snapped at them during all this. The number of times I was just TOO FUCKING TIRED or sad or feeling sorry for myself or just busy having cancer to be patient. The number of times I was mad at myself and took it out on them. The number of times I was scared I’d not see them grow up and so snapped at them about utterly meaningless shit. I hope they are little enough that I didn’t put my mean voice in their head forever. I hope they remember the times I apologized or the times they got to draw with markers on my bald head instead. Thank you for reminding me I am not alone, that everyone fucks up, that 2015 can screw itself, that I can do better, that we all need a break. Here’s to better times.
EllenTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 13:43
Love this. And how you show up with whatever you’ve got at each moment in life, writing, mothering…The love comes through very clearly. And the truth.
METuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 13:49
2015 can go fuck itself. It’s trying to mess with 2016 too but I will fight it to the death.
Another MeTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 14:20
Same here. Fighting with you.
Another Another MeTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 14:55
Same here as well!
KerryWednesday, 2 December, 2015 at 7:38
Same here. I’m about at the end of this little rope. JACK DANIELS!
If By YesTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 13:56
I feel like you just described my life, too.
DaphneTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 14:08
I’m glad to know I am not alone. I have had sole custody of my two boys since 2010. Their father has mental health issues – in addition to being a total ass – and can’t take care of them. I have no family here, and I work full-time. And you know what they say about working mothers – you are expected to work like you have no kids, and you are expected to parent like you don’t have a job. My ability to cope ebbs and flows but somehow I always manage to pick myself back up. And rather than feeling guilty, I just remind myself that I am doing the best I can, which is better than most. And if anyone criticizes me – like that bitch at the office who snipes when I bring my sick kids to work with me – I sweetly offer to switch places with her for a week and see how she copes.
All of that to say, you are doing fine. Your kids know you love them, and that is what matters most. And best of all, you are teaching them how to be strong, and weak, and how to pick themselves up and recover. So that voice that they hear in their head 10 years down the road just might be, “Fuck this. Mom wouldn’t let this shit stop her. Time to pick myself up and get on with it.”
TeriTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 16:00
this was awesome. I’m going to remember “Fuck this. Mom wouldn’t let this shit stop her. Time to pick myself up and get on with it.” and I hope to hell all my kids, born to me and otherwise, hear this when they need to.
Another MeWednesday, 2 December, 2015 at 9:04
You know how you occasionally hear little phrases that stick with you forever? This is one of them for me.
Another MeTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 14:20
Crying because I could have written this. Thank you.
lauraTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 14:21
again grown kids with the blessing/curse of hindsight. All I thought of then was how I was failing. All I think of now is them seem ok. I think WE are OK. Did the fierce love erase or reduce the messes and the mistakes I made. Will finally leaving their dad screw them up forever? Did it even screw them up then? I know it screwed me up but, then, so did the 20 years I tried to make it work to make him love me.
Thank you for this. I’m so overcome with emotion reading it. I’m wishing you a peaceful, easy 2016. I think we could all use a little of that.
A STuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 14:27
One day I’ll start painting too. You are my imperfect hero, Janelle. Your honesty and raw beauty help me find my own ground. Even if it’s just a leaf in the quick sand.
MelisaTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 14:36
Y’know. While I think it’s obviously not OK to not shout obscenities at your kids regularly (tempting as it is to scream “O.M.G will you fucking stop talking for 5 fucking minutes!!” after listening to a 6 years olds stream of verbal diarrhea for the last 2 hours) …. I think it’s good for kids to see you as only human.
I come from a family with a number of members who have raging narcissistic personalities – and I reckon that being constantly attentive and available to kids, just fuels their natural narcissistic tendencies.
I think it’s actually good for kids to see us fuck up, to see us apologise, to know it’s not always about them and their needs. It builds resilience. They’re going to need that in the adult world.
Give yourself a break lovely. You are doing a great job, with humour and love, under difficult circumstances. You help keep ME sane (which is, frankly, a bit of a challenge!).
Love your work!
ChristinaTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 14:56
Three for three, tears again! You write with brazen honesty and I adore and need it. I often feel alone in my struggles with anger, like no other female gets it. Thank you.
cecielMonday, 7 December, 2015 at 15:56
Yes, the rage and anger feels so WRONG when you’re mothering. I appreciate heading that it is what it is. We apologize and try to move on after yelling or slamming the laptop closed so hard that the little key pad now has a shattered spot. After being asked to get yet another item for your children. Showing them we’re human is all I’ve got. Thank you Renegade Mama.
KristinTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 15:34
Oh Janelle! We could be twins this year…….its been a rough one here sounds damn near identical but my husband was here. I give you mad props momma, you made it thru this year, you are a fuckin rockstar in my book. We all have our days we lose our shit, and really you wrote my life in this one, I understand. I have been on meds for a month now for depression, but damn it somedays are so fuckin hard I want to run away. Keep on keeping on……all my love and strength sent! 🙂
ErinTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 15:42
Get the hell out of my brain! Your realness is almost too real sometimes. I am experiencing this now. Thank you.
Sara HowardTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 16:03
SusanTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 16:08
for the last 10 years trying not to press replay in my head on all of the total shitty-you-are-indeed-winning-worse-mom-of-the-year things I’ve said and ways I’ve been with my daughters
is my longing, aching need to have them back to age 3 or 4 or 5 more about the need to do-over? to not be absent, exhausted, depressed, scared and scary to them..?
let me be home, love, safety and strength for them – if only one wish, that’s it, the only one I ever really have, the one that truly drives me to get off the couch and paint the next square
TeriTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 16:08
After reading all the comments I realize I have almost successfully managed to survive…my son will be 18 next month and I haven’t scarred him very much. He knows what it is to be a human adult…and is respectfully a little scared of it. maybe he will hear that voice when he needs to…..
SusanTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 16:12
I started sobbing while reading this, just because your writing is so vivid and honest, and somehow you find the happy. Thank you for inspiring me to write with a true voice.
Nicole S.Tuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 16:31
Crying. Thank you for your true, obliterating, wonderful words.
DesTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 16:46
ive been waiting for you to write this. And it couldn’t have mirrored how I’m feeling more perfectly.
VanessaTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 17:22
Our voices may waver for them at times but letting them know you are human, being honest about it, and doing what you can to get back, that will ultimately be a gift. You have this. You SO have this.
Vanessa D.Tuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 17:48
My boys are 20 and 24 – there are a million and one full sentences, not just words – sentences, I want to take back and can’t. But you know what? They’re ok and I’m ok.
HeidiTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 18:01
Me. Tonight with 4 boys wanted to to do everything to screw up a dinner out with a relative visiting from out of town. To the homework not done ahead of dinner but instead when it’s 8 and they are worthless and cranky. I feel this is my mouth also. My venom being spewed forth even threatening to cancel Christmas unless they behaved. The fucking elf may not make it back tonight but may be left hanging by a noose on the front porch because it couldn’t handle the yelling. The reindeer head cut off and left in one my kids beds. It’s possible. I fail every day. I have such grand ideas of a great working house in my head. But that’s where they are. In my head. Speak on J. I hear you. And I thank you for letting me know I’m not alone!
DoniTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 18:02
What your kids are going to hear whispering in their adorable ears is that they’re worthy of love from somebody that’s resourceful, resilient, and caring enough to climb out of the hole even as a truckload of shit was being dumped on her.
JessicaTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 18:07
At some point, we have to grow up and realize that “voice in our head” is and always has been our own. Our parents are human, we have to forgive them for that. Our children will have to come to the place where they forgive us for being human too. If they can’t forgive us for being human, they won’t easily give themselves any grace and the cycle continues.
So, anyway, I’m babbling.
Thank you for writing. Thank you for being you. Breathe in and breathe out.
KarynTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 18:45
That ‘inner voice’ meme really pisses me off. The only inner voice we mums need to worry about is the one telling us we’re not good enough. Messages like ‘you’ll be their inner voice’ are the problem, not being an authentic, frustrated, tired, loving, real parent like yourself Janelle. Hang in there, you are doing an awesome job and your kids know it xxx
KerryWednesday, 2 December, 2015 at 7:45
I totally agree. Fuck the meme; it has no idea what you do every day. My revenge on 2015 is simplicity in the face of guilt. My kids are having a lovely Christmas, but it will be small. No credit cards this year and they won’t get everything they want, but they’ll be fine and after they open their 4 gifts we’ll move on to making cookies and loving one another. And I said “no” to about half of the million food drives and money collections – not because I’m a grinch, but because last week I couldn’t buy groceries for my own kids, so I won’t feel guilty that I couldn’t contribute this year. We are borderline poverty, living in a teeny tiny house on the far edge of what has become a very wealthy community. You can imagine the competition to keep up. I won’t do it anymore and I’m done with feeling bad about it. My kids might not be happy that they’re the only ones without a gaming system, but I just can’t believe it’s actually going to destroy their lives in the long run.
mugsyThursday, 3 December, 2015 at 19:58
Kerry, even if you could ‘afford’ the gaming system and all the things they wanted, you would be just as far along to give them the four gifts and the cookies and love. The items will be opened, loved or hated, and usually left behind for the new thing that will draw their attention. Most likely your children will be miles ahead of their peers who will struggle later in life to recognize what it is to live within the means their jobs accommodate. Let them struggle now in your guidance and influence to recognize that affluence is all in your neighbor’s head. Being a person of high character is much better than being able to say that “I got the latest game system”. Happy Days for the rest of 2015 for you and yours.
MKTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 19:27
“You were just living, little kids, doing your kid life, looking to me to do the mom life, while I fell apart under the love of your gaze.”
Wow…WOW. This one sentence describes this entire last year for me. After years of infertility and too many miscarriages to count, I have one sweet, amazing, beautiful, incredible almost 2 year old via IVF. I decided it worked once, it should work again, only it didn’t, either time, and it was expensive, and I started a new job, and two dear friends died, and I’m doing this all solo. 2015 has been fucktacularly bleak. There are days that I’m not sure how I got out of bed and got us both dressed and out of the house. But no matter how my day goes, my little miracle baby shows up with nothing but love, every single day, even when he’s smothering me with it. I’m not sure what changed, but somehow yesterday was ok, and today was a little better. We made it out of the house on time this morning, I sent him to daycare with a healthy lunch, we got home in time to go for a run, and he snuggled up against me as he fell asleep. It was a day where I could see the fog beginning to lift, finally.
Thank you, Janelle, thank you. xo
LeeSunday, 6 December, 2015 at 21:12
I am copying this and reading it daily. And on the days my boy is smothering me I’ll read it hourly. Touched me so much, thank you: “But no matter how my day goes, my little miracle baby shows up with nothing but love, every single day, even when he’s smothering me with it.”
MSTuesday, 1 December, 2015 at 20:34
I got postpartum depression six months after the birth of baby #3. Totally didn’t expect it and took me several months to figure out what was wrong. I thought my anxiety, anger and general rattled feeling was just busy life with three little kids. But it wasn’t. The yelling I did around/to my kids during those months still haunts me but I try to apologize to them, forgive myself and focus on today. For me antidepressants were the answer along with exercise and good food. Still get teary when I think about how grateful I am to my midwife for identifying my postpartum depression and helping me get better. Good luck with all of this Janelle and thanks so much for writing. It’s so healing to read about another mom’s experience and see reflections of my own and know that we’re all just trying to do the best we can.
GaelWednesday, 2 December, 2015 at 1:38
What a great message to all us mums trying to get through each day as that is all I seem to do one day at a time. I’ve 3 boys 6,10 and13 and have being doing it all by myself for about the last 7 years( from when my hubby got sick with cancer and they thought it was a urinary infection ) not stage 4 prostate cancer which had spread to his lymph nodes , bone and finally lungs. No mum there to help she died of cancer when I was 12 dad remarried and chatted with his wife’s friend (a nurse) who thought we were attention seeking.., as prostate cancer doesn’t usually kill you. Two years ago while at a wedding my dad who was trying to be part of mind and my boys lived again as his daughters were now grown up, looked after my boys. I got a phone call to saw he’d dropped down from a brain aneurism and I needed to get back. He was brain dead and died 3 days later. My late husbands family live south and we visit for a couple of days maybe twice a year. To top it all off I be rheumatoid arthritis which is gradually getting worse and now affects my ankle and therefore walking as well as my fingers and my wrists don’t move. What a ducking life but what can u do you cant give up moving forward is the only option even when all you do is sit on the sofa watching crap on tv while ignoring the dishes and million other jobs you just can’t get yourself to do. Depressed ? Probably .. Trying so hard to get rid of this malaise I feel is not easy some days are better than others. As long as the boys are ok ????
EWednesday, 2 December, 2015 at 3:20
I am touched by every post of yours Janelle. You are an incredible writer and after everything of yours i read i am always left thinking how lucky your children are to have you as their mum. Your fierce love for them will always be enough. They will be okay and you will be okay and your family will be okay because of that.
Thank you for all that you share with your readers. It leaves me inspired and hopefull every time.
I hope things start to get a little easier for you soon.
KatieWednesday, 2 December, 2015 at 6:06
Brillant, once again! I swear it really is like you are in my head sometimes. Thank you for making me feel more okay with myself as I stumble through this thing called life.
AnnaWednesday, 2 December, 2015 at 6:45
You just wrote my 2015, with all the clarity and honesty and insight that I haven’t been able to muster.
EWednesday, 2 December, 2015 at 6:55
THANK YOU for this. My husband lost his job in March of 2015, ten days before I delivered our second baby. TODAY, right this second, more than eight months since then, we wait for an answer about the first job that has seemed even remotely possible for him. On the one hand, I have absolutely NO room to complain – he’s been home, and he’s been great – but it has felt SO SO hard. Our schedule is all messed up, I feel pressure to take over with the kids when I get home because he’s been with them all day and really isn’t “cut out for that,” and my mind just isn’t fully at work any more. (I’m an English teacher too. We won’t even talk about how behind I am on grading, planning, etc. I’m an expert at “winging it” these day.) I’m sad and exhausted, and I KNOW my four year old has heard “later,” or “not right now,” or “maybe tomorrow” WAY too many times. Earlier this week, I thought he was maybe developing a nervous tic as a result of all the stress I’m sure we’ve put on him (as hard as we’ve tried not to). It’s been a tough year. Full of good things – like a new baby – for sure, but I’m SO SO ready for it to be over and for our “normal” to resume again… THANK YOU for this post. Thanks also for this space to “vent” a little. (I don’t blog about it on my own blog for my husband’s sake.) I hope 2016 is wonderful for you!!!
P.S. A girlfriend told me yesterday, “We all mess our kids up somehow, the key is teaching them how to notice and forgive.” I liked that.
charlotte wiseWednesday, 2 December, 2015 at 7:37
I can’t stop crying. This. This is exactly how I feel. Thank you so much!!!!!xx
PWednesday, 2 December, 2015 at 9:39
You slay me.
JessiWednesday, 2 December, 2015 at 9:44
Your blog takes a lot of time and effort and dedication to have posts witty, edgy, filled with love, and has managed to connect people around the world each living in their spheres of whatever life has created to throw at them. It’s a lot of responsibility when we’re telling you our thank yous and screaming JACK MUTHAFUCKIN’ DANIELS from our couches (mostly in our heads, but sometimes not so much). You’ve become an outlet for so many to put words to our emotional states of freak outs, tantrums, panic attacks, and going on strike for anything that demands pants. I guess we’re all on the struggle bus trying to limp to some magazine air brushed TV ready “true story” version of what we’ve been force feed to see as the golden ring of adulting correctly.
We’re not. We all have failings and regrets and want do-overs, are demanding take-backs, and where the fuck are our Delorans already?
But you know the thing of it is, you’re our amazing grace and we’re all separated by miles and can’t even come over to give you a hug, slip you some ready made mac & cheese for the masses, sneak a load of laundry in and away, or go a little red pen happy with those papers.
I wish to God though that we could do something for you because you’ve done so fucking much for so many of us and you’re having a horrific time and instead of writing fluff pictures coupled with “look happy dammit! Just be still for one damn moment!” pictures and Vanna White that shit like “look at me now bitches” you’re writing your heart out in the public domain admitting you’re not perfect, we’re not perfect, and everyone is so over 2015. It would be so easy to fake it.
But you don’t.
You come real and raw, crawling wounded weeping and still you write on for us so that we can release our pain and suffering because you’ve given voice to our guilty feelings we feel so isolated in and have made a community where the comments are generally Wheaton-approved and thanking you for your honesty and being there for us.
2015 has been a bit of a douche bag hasn’t it?
Also, HUGE Thank Youfor the Dad shout out. I work 100+ bi-weekly crazy hours scrambling for the end-game goal of the ever just out-of-reach whatever it is I’m killing myself on night shift trying to obtain. The bills? The food? Oh right, those pesky essentials. And my husband. My dear husband is the stay-at-home Dad homeschooling our (wait for it) 6 minions aged 16 to 4. Must have been something in the water.
Anyways, I work, I collapse and try to sleep, then go back to work, and slither back into my blackout bedroom exhausted, wanting to just be “normal” whatever the hell that means and have the energy to snuggle my kids without being like “okay your crushing my head. Ow! Get off my hair! Omg you’re crushing me! Hot breath! Hot breath! Ok, Mommy loves you, now get out of my room so I can sleep and then go back to work with my nurse game face on oozing compassion, caring, strength, determination, and brain power for 13 hrs so when I come home, I can decontaminate myself and bury myself under my fuzzy blankets to stay warm from my artic blast, m’kay! Great, good talk.”
And after I peel away my nurse-self and try to find what’s left of the “authentic” me, I aim for the bed to find my beautiful husband with a few kids draped around him, the fan that has frozen him for years on because the kids like it “because it makes it feel like Mom’s here a little”, on the edge of the bed in that deep exhausted sleep because OMFG home schooling 6 kids and doing small farm work? Who does this?
Crazy people. We’re certifiable. And we had a miscarriage this year, which really sucked, and we’re still trying to heal from it, and it’s our lives so no, it may not make sense and no we’re not Catholic (but he’s Irish and it’s been said that I’ve got to be Irish too by now with all his…ermmm…input. Sorry, Janelle, no more ick talk to squirk you out).
I miss the sun.
I miss playing at the park with my kids and watching the at soccer or t-ball or at their dance recitals or gymnastic meets.
I miss swimming with them and staying up late watching movies on our family movie night camp outs.
I miss the energy to do normal human stuff.
I just need the make up and boom: Walking Dead ready (unless there’s not some serious character resolution #NoSpoilers #Netflix1YrBehindHumanity).
But only if you’re there too and there’s Jack Daniels bottles filled with coffee, hot chocolate, Coke (because fuck you Pepsi that’s why and yes, that escalated quickly), or some of that sleepy time tea my parent used to have us drink after dinner and we’d get so sleepy.
Hey! Wait a minute! Did I just miss a loop hole? This is what 2015 has done to us all.
Anyways, I didn’t mean to go and write my own blog but there it is. You’re our gate way to releasing all the horrible nagging voices in our heads that ramble on about how horrible we are as parents and we never should have been allowed to reproduce.
Thank you for taking in all our comments and bearing all that stress of our release in your in-box, and continuing to do it one square at a time. Ohio’s about 500 miles and then 500 more to get to your door (and yes, that came out way more creep-tastic than I meant it), but if you sound the alarm, just know you have a horde of underlings at your ready. Because winter is coming and that usually makes all our mental health issues go into elite ultra rare world boss mode.
But should you need us, yes Janelle, should you need us, sound the alarm, raise a flag, release the krakens, or you know, write a post, and however I can help you I will.
You’ve got people here who genuinely love you and care about you. If you need anything any of us can do, please don’t ever hesitate. Want chocolates and red pens?
As you wish.
Paint by numbers or those window color ins or the felt poster coloring pictures?
As you wish.
Overnight casseroles? As you wish.
You are our inner voice being brought out into the light and allowing us to grieve and work through all our own shit without losing our minds as completely. Thank you for that. Thank you for being you. Thank you for just being. And my 4 year old just sent you a “kissy attack” because that’s what’s up today. Sending kissy attacks and a whole lot of whatever positive energy I’ve got and prayers to boot to you that the remaining 29 days of this fuckery of a year stop being such a prick to you.
SavThursday, 3 December, 2015 at 11:36
Umm… also, Jessi, you are amazing. Not only did your comment say everything I was thinking and more (only way the fuck more eloquently than I could have, as I lay here exhausted with my sickly youngest kids- 2 under 2- asleep on top of me because they fucking FINALLY fell asleep), BUT ALSO you snuck in a few fantastic references to boot. Labyrinth? Princess Bride? Yes, and yes.
Janelle… Jessi… thank you. I agree- should you need us, we’re here.
JessiFriday, 4 December, 2015 at 5:03
Crossing the streams baby, one space-time continuum at a time. It’s my why so serious in the face of crippling doubt, sadness, anxiety, and guilt that I wasn’t a good enough parent so with prayer, witty one liners, and by the honor of Greyskull, I will have my humor as a shield in one hand with my other scrolling through Janelle’s posts to take heart in the comment after comment that we’re all a clone army with just a touch of Internet skill to add pixels on a screen commiserating in the commonality that we’re all in this together, no one gets out of here alive, and we’re just trying to make it.
One day at a time. At least until 2016 and the please dear Lord let it rain joy and Target coupons aplenty. And while we’re all a little mad, maybe we’ll all start to creep outside the box into a slightly better box to color in. Also, Vines help make them super anti-pants vow slightly less appearing and one more willing to brave the burning day star to take back some time to breathe in and out and give our minions a bigger squish hug than normal that so hopefully those days start to outnumber the ????????????????????????☹️ Emoji abuse that peppers our conversations with other life forms.
Peace and good energy your way, Sav. I hope your babies get better quickly and are back to their normal toddler selves.
BrookeWednesday, 2 December, 2015 at 20:49
This post almost made me cry. You really described my 2014. Every damn thing fell apart last year. But things slowly got better.
TiffineyWednesday, 2 December, 2015 at 23:48
Crying reading your words running around in my head on any given day.
Stay strong Mama–there are so many god damn voices in our heads and theirs, and thank god there is also that saying,
“People won’t remember what you said or did, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.”
And I can feel your love for your family through your flaws, and your humansness and through my own tears and choked up throat as I read this.
God Damn life asks too much of us sometimes.
Hope he’s home soon. And that one day our MOFO country sees fit to provide affordable childcare and education and support for families.
allisonThursday, 3 December, 2015 at 8:04
Oh my goodness. Just had to comment and join the chorus of folks identifying with this, sobbing while reading it, feeling cathartic validation. I don’t know what else to say but thank you.
JessiThursday, 3 December, 2015 at 11:23
Ah, the things we think but don’t say….. and those we do and can never take back. We pack our kids luggage. They carry it for life…. we just keep hoping the good times keep those bags light. Love your blog.
LisaCThursday, 3 December, 2015 at 11:27
Usually, I giggle uncontrollably at your/my inner voice. This one made me cry.
I said a hundred things this year I’d like to erase. My silence perhaps more awful than my words. Does silence echo too?
I hope the silence echos as love.
caffeine_lightsThursday, 3 December, 2015 at 13:01
No word of a lie, Janelle, after reading this which pretty much left me stunned and like I had been emotionally gut punched (your best posts always do) the very next post on my feed reader was this:
I want you to read it. I’m sorry that I left it so long to post this comment, it’s basically because of the same reason that I’m always late and I never remember the school dates. I know the post isn’t talking about the same situation as you, but I still think you’re a superhero. Really, truly. I especially liked the part where she remembers her dad not for the “battles lost”, as she says, but for the fact that he got up every day and kept on fighting. That is something special.
CarrieThursday, 3 December, 2015 at 14:18
HeatherFriday, 4 December, 2015 at 10:06
Wow, this kind of perfectly summarizes a thousand conversations I’ve had with military mothers over the years.
I know your husband isn’t military, but you are not alone in these feelings, these struggles. Separation, putting your career second to his, carrying the load of all the work at home while maintaining your job. You are not alone in the resentment, despair, numbness, loneliness or exhaustion you’ve experienced this year. What you’ve felt this year is an experience I’ve heard hundreds of women try to put into words at military marriage counseling, at retreats for spouses of deployed soldiers, over cups of coffee and bottles of wine. You are not alone.
I don’t know how much it helps to know that, but I do know I’m going to be referring this post to women I know.
VictoriaFriday, 4 December, 2015 at 11:22
I just found out that a close friend tried to commit suicide on Monday by taking over 100 pills. She is in her late forties, Mom to 2 gorgeous children ages 11 and 8 and this year has been going through a separation and an imminent divorce from her cheating husband. The friend who called to tell me about it couldn’t believe it and was angry at our friend for being so selfish that she would try to kill herself leaving her two children motherless right before Christmas.
But I get it. I understand that feeling of thinking your children would be better off without you than having to deal with your depressed, cranky, snapping, useless self. The thought that someone else, a better Mom than you, would take care of your children better than you can.
But that’s FUCKING BULLSHIT!!!! Our children need US!! They need us to keep getting up when we fall down. They need us to show them how you can lose your shit, recognize you are losing your shit, get some help and support and then come back stronger from that experience.
My mind and heart are reeling from hearing about my friend. I hope that when I see her I will have the strength to sit with her through her despair and still hold a space for hope and faith.
There is SO MUCH that is GOOD in all our lives. If we could just STOP judging and shaming ourselves and others and remind each other of what’s truly important – to live life as open and real as we can and to LOVE. Love ourselves exactly as we are in this very instant. Love our children and show them in whatever way we can in every moment. Love our husbands and friends and connect with them however we can every day. Put one foot in front of the other and do your very best in every moment. That’s all you CAN do. And in the end, that’s all that’s required. All the rest is just fluff and filler and ultimately means very little.
Thank you, Janelle for being real. For describing your experiences so truthfully and candidly which then allows the rest of us to say YES! YES! THAT’S what it feels like sometimes. Take care of yourself! Keep putting one foot in front of the other. And do the best you can. We love you for it!
HestherSaturday, 5 December, 2015 at 13:13
You did it again, captured the worry and fear of many moms so honestly and beautifully. How many mothers struggle in silence, shamefully watching all the “perfect” moms and knowing we will never be her. It’s not that we care what they (other folks) think, but that we want so badly for our kids to be happy, full, and unbroken…or at least that we wouldn’t be the ones doing the breaking. These past few months, my head has been filled with guilt and raw fear that I’ve fucked my kid up so badly because I lose my temper and say horrible things regularly. I only have the one toddler and a baby…dear god, I should be able to do this, I say to myself. I know this: we do the best we can, our best is sometimes not so good, we are imperfect and broken and don’t have all that we need at times. And this: we are often awesome, we keep trying, and we show our kids that we can own our mistakes. And this: kids must learn about reality, rather than believe in perfection that one day is absolutely shattered.
Last night, I picked my toddler up roughly and set him on the toilet hard, and yelled “now go the fuck to sleep.” Yep. Not a good moment. Sadly, one that has occurred far too often in the past 6 months. Then I cry in bed and feel so worried for the damage I’ve done. This morning, I hugged him and apologized. Again.
It’s the best I can do. I am going to forgive myself. I’m going to keep trying to do better. I’m going remember the other moments when I’m awesome, instead of getting stuck In my mistake moments.
Thank you for your writing. You are amazing and revolutionary. We need to talk about this stuff…do we don’t suffer in guilt and shame alone with irrational expectations of ourselves.
AllisonMonday, 7 December, 2015 at 2:46
2015 can fuck off and never come back. Worst year of my life. Amen to you, just keep swimming
AmyMonday, 7 December, 2015 at 5:59
Every time I read one of your posts, a weight is lifted – I feel “normal”. There is comfort in knowing none of us is June Cleaver, but that our kids (hopefully) will be okay! <3 I hope 2016 is amazing to you!
Cheryl S.Tuesday, 8 December, 2015 at 8:30
My daughter is going through some STUFF. Stuff she can’t help. I know this. And I yelled at her anyway. And then I cried and apologized because I shouldn’t yell at a child who is already obviously suffering. I promised her that I’m dancing as fast as I can to get her the help that she needs. (She thought that was a funny expression. And told me I’m a terrible dancer.) I know what she’s going through. I’ve been there. And I can’t help her fast enough. My heart just breaks. I pray my arms are enough too. Please, God, let them be enough. (Her first Dr. appt is Thursday. Hopefully that will be the starting point of getting better. . .)
KateTuesday, 15 December, 2015 at 17:34
Thank you so much for this post, could relate very well. I get even more angry though, on all our behalves, because it was never meant to be this way, we were never meant to be so bloody isolated doing this parenting thing. OF COURSE we go bananas and are impatient and angry and fail to show interest in our children, because it’s so full-on trying to be a good parent and work and provide not only physical but also emotional care for your children and a vaguely sanitary living environment when you don’t have much back-up, whatever the reason is for that. It’s really, really hard – and really unfair too, because from my perspective I see a primarily structural problem with individual consequences day in day out that break my heart, especially when we blame ourselves for them or become vulnerable to shithouse memes / quotes like the inner voice one that are frankly only to be read by parents who are rich in support / cash, whose lives enable them to be loving and kind all the time because they’re not under constant financial or time pressure or both.
While it’s on the dry side I highly recommend Gosta Esping-Andersen’s ‘The Incomplete Revolution: Adapting to women’s new roles’ (2009) to anyone interested. Basically argues that women’s roles have changed radically in last few decades but social arrangements have not kept pace which is causing all kinds of messed-up-ness. Still reading it so can’t say much more but what I’ve read so far is great / enraging. Too many old men from a different era still running the show, and they don’t understand and don’t care, then blame people of partnering / childbearing age anyway for the so-called breakdown of the family (esp women, obviously).
alishkaTuesday, 15 December, 2015 at 22:30
same story from across the globe…. funny how that is…. mother hood i guess has the same ups and downs, fights and wars and love and hugs….
lets keep it going!!
HepiMonday, 11 January, 2016 at 17:12
your words are brilliant and so on point. you have really helped me realise that you can love your kids and also be completely and utterly swamped with other feelings at the exact same time, and thats ok.
your words are stretching all over the world, even to a little country town in victoria, australia.
JuliaFriday, 26 February, 2016 at 20:54
So, I’ve always thought people were saps when they wrote, “your article made me cry”. Well, it did.