Monday, July 9, 2012

Mediocrity

Sometimes I feel so lost; angry too. Life has given me so much, awarded me my every dream. But it feels cheap. It feels wrong to ride the coattails of my husband. Every success in my life from the house I live in to the food in my cupboards – all of it is because of him. God knows I love him. I love him, and our kids, but for the life of me I can’t find the will to love myself.

I don’t think I’m depressed. I’ve lived feeling this way for as long as Scott and I have been together. I’m capable of a lot. I’m smart and hard-working; I can string a sentence or two together to make a paragraph that’s clear, concise, and sometimes beautiful. But I haven’t used any of those skills. Anxiety ruled me for so long that even now I fear it will raise its ugly head if I dare to dream something more than “housewife”.
When my children go to school, when they leave the house, what am I then? Deadweight, a voice whispers. It shrivels me, the realization they won’t need me forever. It terrifies me that one day I will have to define myself outside of this house and how? How the hell do I do that? I was a chambermaid before I met Scott, a girl struggling to make ends meet, a girl dying from the heavy weight of independence.  

And now I am a wife, and a mother, and all of those roles can be lost in one form or another. Shouldn’t I have something more definitive, something that can be declared out loud and on paper – a career perhaps? But my anxiety – the disorder I claim to be cured of. Is it still there, lurking to send me for a loop? Last week I wrote that I was a loser. I meant to put it in the past tense, but I realized that it wouldn’t be true to how I feel if I changed it. I still feel this way; some days more than others. I’m a loser.
The irony is that I know how stupid this sounds. To judge your worth by how much money you make, or don’t make. The problem with this world is that “money talks and bullshit walks” and sometimes I just feel like I’m trudging through a whole bunch of bullshit – my own and others.

I just want my kids to look at me with pride. I want them to be able to take me to career day and to never think I’m useless; shallow right? Here’s my truth, laid bare for everyone who reads this… Every day I struggle with the inevitable decay of time and the realization that they won’t need me forever.
And I’m terrified. I’m terrified that in my search for myself, I won’t find anything great, just mediocrity.
read to be read at yeahwrite.me

38 comments:

Joe said...

Don't worry, your children will always want you, and it's better to be wanted than to be needed. A need compels one's actions. Wants are driven by desire.

carrie said...

@Joe - Very wise. I agree it's better to be wanted than needed. Thanks Joe :)

Karen said...

This is so heartfelt. So much of my identity is based on having young children so I really relate to what you're saying. I appreciate your transparency.

Jack said...

Maybe there is something you can find or do that will help mitigate some of the anxiety and concern.

Maybe whatever it is starts small and you build slowly and can use small victories to work towards something larger.

Pish Posh said...

Well I think part of you might feel that way because of some of the bullshit feminism that I've seen out there - women who criticize other women for being stay-at-home moms. It makes my blood boil. I'm neither a mother nor a wife, yet I will ferociously defend your right to be a sahm and to hold your head up high with grace and self respect.

There is no way that anyone in your family could be who and how they are without you. Sorry, but all the awesome heroic and normal things Scott does he does because you support him with a home a family and with love. That is not nothing. that is the foundation of everything.

I suffered from defining myself by my career too - who am I if not a teacher? Well I'm learning to live with just being Pish, and you can be Carebear with the laser death stare whether you are a sahm or a mom of school kids or a mom of kids who have left the nest. You be who you want to be. THAT is feminism.

Are you happy? Are you good at what you do? Then don't let anyone get in your head.

Sometimes the voices in our head are our own worst enemy. And if you really need to say "I am..." then say "I am a writer." Because you are. And if you want to build on this, in time you will. If you want to walk away, you will. You're a super kind queen of the universe, to me.

That's way better than anything.

carrie said...

@Karen- Its so true. Being a mom takes up so much (especially if you are a SAHM) it's so hard to find a way to differentiate your life from theirs sometimes.

@Jack - this is a very good idea. I have been doing little things when it pertains to my writing. Trying to do it everyday, joining the Yeahwrite community, applying to writing competitions, things to make myself feel like a person, not just a mom. Thanks for the advice :)

carrie said...

@Pish - you made me cry. You are so right. I think sometimes it might be a little of the feminist bullshit out there. Like i need to be supermom, have it all or something. You are so right. I am happy so why let someone else define what makes me important? It's just so damn hard sometimes not to let the collective voice get to me. God, how are all you guys so wise?!

Kenja Purkey said...

Some of the most successful women I know feel the exact same way you do. I have a friend whose book was one of the top books of the year and she confided in me that she feels someone will figure out she's an imposter and lose everything.
I feel the same way, a loser most of the time.
So I don't think that it is limited to SAHM or working moms or even moms.
It's like we women don't have the faith in our inherent value and self worth. And I think that building each other up is the only way to fight it.
You are talented, smart, write very well, and can do or be anything you would like.

Pish Posh said...

I think many people feel like that, telling themselves they should be doing something else, or something "more" or doing what they do better.

Life is too short for that nonsense!! If you're happy, be happy. Let yourself be happy.

That is what EVERYONE wants. And if you have that you WIN.

:)

Kathleen said...

I think the fact that you are afraid of being mediocre guarantees you won't be, and your children will never consider you useless. Your relationship will change as they get older, but you will always have value in their lives.

I love your honesty.

carrie said...

@kenja - you make a great point, I wonder if all people feel this on some level. The need to be better, do better, attain higher and higher heights all so that we can feel like a true contributor to our families and to society. I do remember feeling this way as a chambermaid too. Like I just wasnt good "enough".

@Pish-You're so right. I watched 20/20 the other night and the Dalai Lama said the point of life is to be happy. And to be happy we must know compassion, and practise compassion. I need to be reminded of the simple pleasures sometimes I think. I get all theses grandiose ideas and sometimes they serve more to depress me than lift me up or encourage me.

@Kathleen- Thank you :) I think the major hurtle I have to overcome is the belief I need to make lots of money. My father drummed it into my head that money makes the world go round so better do something that makes a lot of it. I originally went to school to be a lawyer but I dropped out. Its not what I wanted, its what my father wanted and I guess I've felt adrift since.

Jacqueline Bryant Campbell said...

Relax. Just enjoy this now. When they get older and less needy (though they will always need you), your next step will present itself. You'll be fine.

momfog.com said...

I think everyone feels this way, on some level. It's especially hard when you're at home with kids all day with no adult conversation. I wonder if I'm even capable of it, much less anything else.

I agree with Jacqueline. When the time comes and an opportunity presents itself, you'll know what to do.

Werdyab Blog said...

I ditto all of the above! I work outside of the home and I still struggle to find my way and my place in the world. That sort of introspective nature is what makes you an excellent writer. That little voice inside you that says, "What if...?" has quite a story to tell. Keep sharing your story and the rest will work itself out. :)

carrie said...

@Jacqueline- I know. I need to stop worrying so much about tomorrow and start enjoying today

@momfog.com- I wonder too. Sometimes I feel like the only words I say in a day are directions, or admonishments!

@werdyab- Thank you. I'm glad that little voice has something to contribute other than paranoia. LOL. ;)

Carinn Jade @ welcometothemotherhood said...

Such a moving post. You spoke to something deep inside ALL of us and you said it well. It makes me think of a book I want to read: "The Price of Motherhood: Why the Most Important Job in the World Is Still the Least Valued." It makes me angry too. I want to do something about it but I don't know what or how. I guess I will start with myself.

IASoupMama said...

I'm struggling with this right now, too. I want to do so much more than I'm doing, yet I seem to be thwarted at every corner...

Jennifer said...

Oh honey... they will need you forever. I'm 40 years old and I still need my mother. Maybe not like when I was seven, but still, the need is there.

Here's the thing (I think), if you want people to value you then you have to start valuing yourself. We all have different lives with different paths. Maybe yours is supporting your family behind the scenes. That does not mean that you do not have value. At all. You just need a change of perspective.

carrie said...

@Carinn-I'm going to look up that book. Mothering is such an important job but when someone asks me what I do and I respond "I'm a mom" the immediate response is "Oh, what did you do before you were a mom?" Like thats more interesting or of more value!!

@IaSoupMama- it's such a difficult struggle. To find yourself and feel valuable. Right now, yes I'm of use, but when they are gone for half the day, what then?!

@Jennifer- You're right. I need to value my contributions a bit more. It's my own self-doubts that are hindering my ability to appreciate and love myself.

catpoland said...

You are a writer, and nobody can take that from you. :-)

Stephanie B. @B4Steph said...

All the insightful and intelligent comments that preceded mine say what I would want to say. I'll add that it's not a matter of the kids needing you, its who they are because of your presence in their lives, what you teach them, how you love them. How we judge ourselves is ultimately based on how we treat our fellow humans, not someone else's definition of success. And you're already a darn good writer, whether you get paid for that or not.

Mamarific said...

There is NO MORE IMPORTANT job in the entire world than being a stay at home mom. You are shaping/nurturing/creating adults who will positivily contribute to this world. What "real" job can compare to that?? Very brave and honest post. Thank you for sharing.

Jester Queen said...

I think that your fear speaks to the heart of what divides people up in the Mama wars. On the one hand, stay at home Moms are often made to feel as if their job isn't a job at all. On the other hand, work-outside-the-home-moms often feel like they are neglecting the most important job. But I think both attitudes are wrong. If anybody ever identifies you with only your kids, then that person has cheapened you. If that person identifies you only with a job, then you are equally lessened. And people degrade us every day like that, by reducing us to roles. We are more than roles. And you don't have to have a certain role to have worth. You are awesome because of you. And your job with your kids is fabulous, too.

carrie said...

@Catpoland- thank you so much! :)

@Stephanie- you are right it's all about how I treat my kids that will ensure they are with me always. but as a mom sometimes I feel like I fail in this too. I get too frustrated or yell too much etc. Thanks so much for your comment. It's really made me take a step back.

@Mamarific- it is a pretty terrific and beautiful job, if not exhausting and sometimes full of self-doubt. I want so much for all of us, sometimes I have to realize what I already have is pretty damn good too.

@JesterQueen- you are so right of course. It is the heart of the issue between working and SAHM moms. Isn't it insane how much we judge ourselves and the other mom's out there? I think we are hardest on ourselves though.

And I love love love how you said we are not our roles. So damn true. Thank you.

deepeningwisdom said...

i appreciate your courage and vulnerability in sharing your self-loathing. i also struggle with my self-worth and self-concept-- i believe acknowledging it is an important first step... xoxo

Michelle Longo said...

No. I refuse to believe that all you will find is mediocrity. I don't accept that. Keep writing. You have talent.

If you are confident that what you do matters, regardless of what "it" is, you will shine and your children will see it.

It is scary to put yourself out there. Sometimes people will still be cruel or simply indifferent, but that is about them. It is not about you.

Great, honest post.

Louise Ducote said...

My experience is that my family needs me more than ever now that my kids are in school, because they have so many more activities. Every second of my day is filled with taking care of them: growing a garden to feed them, packing up water bottles, snacks and baseball gear for after-school stuff, being "team mom" for their teams, volunteering for their school, etc. I love it and feel that it's a privilege to do this as my work, but I know it's hard to get that in the early years. All I can say is that I think better times are on the way for you, and that you are not, not, not a loser: you're someone's mother.

Dawn Beronilla said...

You are amazing and sweet and just so honest and real! I love this post. My heart aches for you, and I understand what you are saying.
I think some of our fellow peeps have said some very wise words to you about it all.

You are so awesome for sharing!

carrie said...

@deepeningwisdom- I'm sorry that you share these same feelings. They suck so bad sometimes. Xo to you too.

@Michelle- this is high praise to me because I really admire your writing and your skill at weaving a coherent story. I know you're right. It shouldn't matter what I end up doing - even if I am forever a housewife - if I do it with pride. I guess sometimes I feel like I want to contribute something real and tangible. I don't want my life to always be measured in feeling and metaphor. But this is truly my own issue and I will have to get over it or do something about it.

@Louise-I never really thought of it that way. I guess I kinda assumed I would fade away after school came into the picturebut I guess it doesn't have to be like that. Thank you!

@Dawn- thanks. I'm glad you liked it. And the peeps here have truly given some awesome insights and advice. I was going to post my last blog about being a teenage dork to the grid but this post has been haunting me for a while. Always in the back of my mind. I knew I needed to put it down and it took some major courage and a nip of alcohol to post it to the grid. But Erica said to me once "be brave" so I'm doing my best lol.

Shiftless Mommie said...

I think a lot of women from different situations share your fears. I know I do, even when I'm not at home with my kids. We get into a mode of go-go-go and when we have to stop because kids don't function on that mode, we feel like we aren't doing enough. But we are actually doing a great deal, just not in the same linear, goal-driven way most careers operate. It is difficult to be present in the moment because there is always that nagging thought that we should be doing something "more." There is always something "else" but that doesn't make it "more."

aplaceofgreatersafety said...

So many insightful comments before me, but I just want to say I saw myself in what you wrote. Anxiety and depression have taken away so many job opportunities - it's not that I feel like being a SAHM mom is lesser - if I felt like I had really chosen it. I don't feel that way, though. I feel like I fell into it because it was the only thing I could do as someone with a mental illness. I'm learning to believe I can do more, but it's a hard road. Thanks for writing this!

Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms said...

I do hear you clear, honest voice here, and you definitely have a talent for stringing a sentence or two together. I am a couple of steps beyond you in this parenting thing, but this year is a big year for me as the baby goes to kindergarten. I understand the fear of what next, so I don't think that your anxiety is unfounded. I think it's even warranted a little. All I can offer is that you are driving the bus. You get the life you choose. Spend it doing what you love and you will be happy and then all of your family will be happy too. Good luck, Erin

fiftyshadesofpeach.com said...

Why is it so hard to be kind to ourselves? I believe in you, whatever you are. You can too. Wonderful, raw and honest post.

carrie said...

@shiftlessmommie-I agree. Life is so busy and things dont always adhere to these go-go-go schedules. And you're right, just because I could be attempting a career it doesn't necessarily mean it will enrich my life. It might do just the opposite I suppose.

@aplaceofgreatersafety-Im surprised you picked up on that. I try to hide that part of me but you're right. Anxiety is such a bitch and a big part of my fear when it comes to "doing" more is that I won't be able to handle it...

@Erin- thank you. You are right. As long as I'm happy doing what im doing then things should be okay.And it is scary when your kids leave you and enter school! I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels this way.

@Fiftyshadesofpeach- Thank you :)

Cindy ~ The Reedster Speaks said...

Carrie, brava you for coming out and writing this - baring your soul. Know that so many of us share in not only the anxieties, but also the doubts. Who are we, why are we, what are without these relationship roles that define us? Coming forward, voicing your questions, well, that to me is impressive as hell. I can't wait to see as you discover the force within and share that with us too.

carrie said...

@Cindy-thanks so much. It's been a tough ride lately. So much has fallen on my plate and I'm feeling weaker and weaker and sometimes I wonder if I'm still me at all...

Bah.

Larks said...

I totally hear you. I feel the same way. Right now I am so wrapped up in being A Good Mom that sometimes I don't know what else I am. And it's terrifying. What do I even really, truly want from life when my kids need me less? And then what if I suck at it? A big chunk of the reason I'm focusing so much on the Good Mom thing right now is that I hate sucking at stuff. So the prospect is terrifying. This is a really relatable, heartfelt piece. I can totally hear your voice.

carrie said...

@Larks-thanks hun. And I totally know that feeling of trying to be a great mom. Being the good mom, the best mom, doing anything and everyhting for them because it's something that you can always strive to be better at. But then comes the day they walk out and you're left with art projects, and snack cupboards, and schedules, tossed aside like yesterdays garbage. And now who are you?