Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy? I'm Too Tired to be Happy

In the interest of mutual learning, I think it’s time we moms tell it like it really is. I haven’t been as happy as I thought I would since having the baby. There, I said it.

What with yesterday being Mother’s Day and all, I thought we should jump right in to the big stuff.

It’s sort of a universal assumption that women will feel complete when they have children and that stay-at-home moms, in particular, should be happy to be home all day with their little ones.

I have been home with my baby since he was born over a year ago. My husband and I had planned and saved money so I could do so. I was really looking forward to it.

I envisioned floating around feeding and changing a baby, cleaning my house, puttering around, cooking real dinners, writing books, playing peek-a-boo and smiling all the time.

Are you laughing? You must be a mom.

So as you might imagine, it’s pretty much been nothing like this. I was sorely ill-prepared for the near constant attention babies require, making all that housework, cooking, and puttering really difficult.

There hasn’t been a day since he was born that I haven’t felt tired. Not a little tired like “oh, if I just sit for a minute, I’ll be fine.” I mean dog tired. The kind of tired where I’ve done jumping jacks just to keep my eyes from closing.

Don’t even think about asking me what I do all day. It makes me punchy. I’m not sure I could tell you, anyway. Though I know I am constantly busy, the hours blur together into even blurrier days until I realize a whole week has gone by and I didn’t wash my husband’s and stepson’s baseball uniforms. Even I want to say, “Really? In a whole week, you couldn’t find the time...?”

Seriously, where is the time going and why am I always so tired?

Of course, I love the baby, so let’s not get crazy thinking I’m a horrible mom (and really, isn’t that what we’re all afraid of being?).

I love that I am around when he learns something new. I love seeing his little brain at work. Those are some of my favorite moments.

I’m also glad I don’t have to try to balance full-time work and home because that sounds like way too much for me at the moment.

Here I am trying to figure out how other moms look somewhat refreshed, how they managed to get a haircut, and how they magically know when it’s time to switch to sippy cups or teach a new trick. (Your kid says “mama” and “dada” and “car?” Wow. Mine says “uh-oh.” But he is darn good at it!)

So, happiness? Honestly, not so much these days. Certainly not as much as I had anticipated.

Last year I had a goal of happiness. It was my word of the year. I tried to force happiness on myself like forcing size 3 shoes on a size 4.5 foot. (This mom thing is a continual learning process.) I mean, the pursuit of happiness is our constitutional right, for goodness sake!

I realized, though, that forcing happiness wasn’t working. It actually made me feel worse because it felt like I was being fake. People would ask how I was doing... “Great!” “Isn’t it the best?” they’d say. “Amazing!” I’d say.

Sure, I’m happy sometimes. Occasionally, I’m even ecstatic. A lot of the time I’m just freakin’ tired and foggy. Which doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m unhappy, it just means I’m tired and foggy.

You know what, though? Even when I’m tired and foggy, I’ve found I can still be wonderstruck. And wonderstruck moments contribute to my overall happiness. Who knew?

As you know, that’s my current project. I’ve ditched pursuing happiness in favor of pursuing wonderstruckness. Maybe happiness will settle into place when I’m not chasing it so hard.

What do you think? Does pursuing happiness work for you? If you're a mom, do you feel as put together as you appear?

7 comments:

  1. Oh, Sherri, I just love this! I think we can all relate! We love them with all our hearts and souls, but man, are we tired. Now, imagine me doing that with TWO babies, just 13 months apart in age!!!!! I wonder if you thought I was looking "together" back then? I sure wasn't feeling together!!

    That's why you see bumper stickers that say, "If I knew grandkids were so much fun, I'd have had them first!" ; )

    Love you!

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  2. Another new(ish) mom here and I completely understand. Part of those incredibly stupid "mommy wars" is the each side -- the full-time workers and the full-time SAHMs -- thinks that the other side gets off so easy. That they're floating around on their rainbows of non-exploding diapers and somehow always have an extra can of formula in the house.

    Nobody is *that* put together with a child, unless maybe they have a full-time nanny. Yes, I find a way to put on eyeliner each day -- because it makes me happy to feel like I'm a little less of a mess. Of course, I'm also walking around with spit up or just plain spit on me most of the time. So, there's that.

    Nobody can say that they're happy ALL of the time -- whether they have children or not. The goal is to just appreciate the happy moments when you have them!

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  3. [...] This is why I’d like to point you towards a wonderful new blog written by a friend of mine, Live Wonderstuck. Today’s post really resonated with me and a bunch of other moms out there, so I wanted to share it with you: “Happy? I’m Too Tired to be Happy“. [...]

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  4. Wow, thank you for this gut-honest and insightful post! I'm not a mom, but I relate to your thoughts on happiness. I like this Nathaniel Hawthorne quotation:

    “Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you."

    It's not always sitting down quietly that does it (thank goodness!) but it's doing the right thing even when you're tired that leads to happiness in the long run. It's serving something and Someone bigger than yourself. And from the sounds of it, your life right now is all about the service of others. Absolutely exhausting. But there's nothing more worthwhile (this coming from a kid whose mom is her hero :)). Don't give up! The child you are raising is your legacy in and great gift to the world :)

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  5. Bethany FitelsonMay 14, 2012 at 12:29 PM

    As a mom who spent some of Mother's Day crying because I was so tired and wasn't ready to a face a new week, this was encouraging to read! I know exactly what you mean when you feel like "Really? That's all I accomplished in a week?" It's amazing how much time and energy kids take. What we accomplish in a week is a kid who is fed and avoided multiple trips to the emergency room!

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  6. Looks like we hit a hot topic today! Thank you for your comments.

    Marla- You always looked happy and in control!

    Julie- I like your tip to appreciate at the happy moments when you have them. Thank you for linking!

    Alina- That is a great quote! "It's serving something and Someone bigger than yourself." So true.

    Bethany- I'm so sorry you cried on Mother's Day. Thank you for coming by and reminding me that we're doing pretty darn good just in avoiding emergency room trips. :)

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  7. I agree with you. Happiness is one of those things which, like humility, can only be approached sideways. Pursuing happiness only seems to make me a more miserable person. But when I seek joy (very different from happiness), gratitude, love, passion, and other goals, I often find happiness is the byproduct.

    As a parent, it's almost a cliche to want happiness for my children. I want to tell them--forget happiness. Pursue God, pursue wonder, pursue passion, pursue love, and happiness will be added to that portion in plenty.

    Thank you for your honest post!

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