Monday, September 2, 2013

A fine balance...

(Maya & me at the beach, August 2013)

Over the long weekend I had a complete meltdown...lol.
Yes, I am disclosing that. So much personal business...aiyoo Rama...

As a mother, there are really just not enough hours in the day. It is incredibly demanding.
My situation is that I'm a stay-at-home mother for 6 days a week (I work one day). I have no help. My parents are working, and also they are finding it hard to handle Maya running around, so I feel bad to ask them for help. Between the hours of 9:30am - 5:30pm I am the main caregiver to my daughter. That has been that way for the last 15 months. I am with her all day, I rock her to bed every single evening. I have never spent more than 4 hours away from her for the last 450 days. And that combined with my low energy, is starting to take it's toll...

My main priority is the baby - I want to make sure she is the happiest child on Earth. I'm absolutely terrified to let anyone else watch her because I'm so scared what will happen to her in another person's hands. I know I can take care of her the best, which is why I feel better to do everything myself.

But...I get run-down a lot. Toddlerhood is really exhausting - ever since she turned 11 months and started walking, I've had a tougher time. It's more demanding than it was in the beginning, when I had to feed her every 3 hours! I hate to even admit that... I feel like a bad mother for admitting that I'm not always the Supermom that I try so hard to be.

Mommy's getting burnt out...


On Friday evening, I decided to take one of my mini-breaks and go get my nails done and do a few other errands. I had some time between appointments, so I decided to get a smoothie and sit in a cafe and write for 30 minutes, instead of going home. It was so great and refreshing just to get 30 minutes for myself - and alone time - oh, how I missed that! Then, it started to hit me...the mom guilt..like a poison it ate me up. How could I be so selfish? How could I want time for myself when I have a baby to take care of? 

As a parent, the baby's needs automatically go before your own. Your life isn't exactly just your own anymore... I think the problem is that I have such a selfless personality that I've naturally put my own needs last. I like to help others. I like to take care of my daughter. I can handle it...everybody else needs to be taken care of before me...I can handle it. I don't need much. Or do I? 

But I really have to monitor myself because I just give, give, give...so much of myself...until the point of depletion. Every free time I have I use it to spend with husband-ji, or us together as a family. But...what about me? What about my hopes and dreams? Will I ever have those again? And I want more children...does this mean my hopes and dreams for myself - are over ...forever?

I have to plan my whole life around the baby - to keep her happy - play times, nap times, feed times...As soon as she falls asleep, it's like SCRAMBLE! Use the bathroom, take a shower, eat, write, bond with husband-ji, reply to emails, reply to texts, call friends, cook, edit my photographs...so much to do...I'm never alone, I'm never alone in my thoughts.

Sometimes I'm scared to tell husband-ji all this. Does he expect me to sacrifice so much like my mother-in-law did? So much...? My own mother worked all the time, she financially supported us, and even when she was there, I never felt like she was truly present. Being a mother, it's my second chance at having a mother/daughter relationship, so I'm doing everything I can to not be like that. To drop everything for my daughter's needs, so she feels confident and loved. But the more pressure I put on myself, the more I realize that the void which I'm trying to fill from my own past with my own mother...it's still there, gaping wide... And I'm getting really burnt out, trying to be the kind of mother that I always wished I'd had.

Why am I doing this? It's hard enough having other women judging me...and now I've gone ahead and put all this pressure on myself! I literally have to remind myself that it's ok to ask/tell husband-ji if I can have an hour to myself so I can think and write these thoughts down that are constantly exploding in my head like fireworks. That there's nothing wrong in having my own needs myself.... Is there...?

The other day I had this random hater reader say I was "sooooo self-absorbed" which I deleted, of course. (Who is she to tell me who I am? lol) I really had a good laugh at that because my blog is literally the ONLY thing I do for myself in a given day. That's it. My life is dedicated to my daughter, my husband, my family...

As a woman, it's a constant balancing act. We nurture, we give so much of ourselves that sometimes we feel as if there is no "self" left. We think of ourselves last...it can wait...there's more important things to take care of...we are the emotional providers of our home. But sometimes the tank runs empty. Sometimes we feel depleted. Sometimes we feel so zombie-ish that there's nothing more to give..

There's just so much damn guilt all the time...guilt to others' if we fulfill our needs....guilt to ourselves if we fulfill our own needs...I feel like my arms are getting pulled at both ends by the needs of self vs. others.

This weekend, I woke up and I just thought, who the heck am I? 
I'm Maya's mother, Madhavan's wife, my parents' daughter...
But where's Alexandra? Where is she? 
Who the heck am I?


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What do you think, dear readers? Do you feel like life is a constant juggling act? Has anybody else experienced mom or parent guilt? How do you guys keep a good balance between your needs/your family's needs? Any tips?

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7 comments

  1. Hey Alexandria, you're right about all of this, but you have to be able to spend time on yourself as well. If you wear yourself out you won't be able to take care of your daughter as well as you would if you were in a perfect mood. I've seen this first hand with my SIL, her husband does absolutely nothing to help her out around the house or with the baby, and when she comes to stay here (with her parents) for the first day or so we always see how stressed she is, she will yell at the baby and get in horrible moods. But after a day or so of us helping her out and giving her time to relax, she becomes a very good mother again. I'm not saying that you have gotten, or will ever get that bad, but still. It is necessary for us to take time out for ourselves, in order to clear our minds and to relax. You should not feel guilty about it!

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    1. Hi Mezy, thanks so much for your kind and thoughtful words :) I think I need to take more time for myself, at least a little bit every day or every other day. My mini-breaks which I take every other week, are just not enough anymore! I need to figure out and prioritize the "me time" in my daily life. That is my new mission!

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  2. Alexandra, I think you've just realised something very important.

    My experience as a mother has been one of many weanings. In the beginning when the baby is totally dependant on you, you have to give so much time and energy. But as the child grows more and more independant, then it's important to introduce distance and boundaries. And you are giving a good example to your child when you take care of yourself.

    Your husband didn't fall in love with a guilty emotional provider but with a strong, creative, fun loving woman.

    Now that your daughter is 15 months old, I am sure you can find a nice playgroup in your area or exchange baby sitting sessions with another mum.

    And your priority right now should be to take care of that low energy. Stay at home mums often get burn out. Be a mother to yourself.

    If I may add something, Alexandra, beware of internet. It is relaxing but it can also cause many emotional problems. (Padparadscha)

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    1. Hi Padparadscha, what lovely words, and very encouraging too. Thank you for this. Since Maya has started walking she has been both more independent but clingy and fearful too, so it has been a little hard.
      I don't know where this mom guilt came from! It is so crazy, as soon as I had the baby, this ridiculous mom guilt surfaced and I hate it! Although I have heard it is very common. I really need to squash it! ugh.
      When you wrote "be a mother to yourself" I really had an Aha! moment. That is so very true. I need to figure out how to do that, if only for my own well-being.

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  3. Hi Alexandra - as a woman you also have to take care of yourself FIRST!!! What good would you be to the people around you that you love and love you back if you are angry, sad, stressed out, depressed and feeling guilty all the time. Not that you are but all these feeling that you are having will pile up if you don't give yourself ME time and eventually will blow up. I don't know you but I have been reading your posts and I can tell that you are an excellent mom :)

    You must make time for yourself and also make time to spend alone with your husband. Lots of men feel abandoned and neglected by their wives when kids arrive because the wife gives all her attention to the children. You also need to talk to him about these things. We sometimes don't give them enough credit you know. I'm pretty sure that he will be loving and understanding.

    Even if you take a 20 minute walk a day after your hubby comes from work will get you out of the house and clear your mind. Go for a coffee run. Have a fun movie or spa day with your mom or friends when you are feeling this way. Your life does not end and becomes 100% your daughter's. I can tell you that my mom in my opinion was too involved and fussed about us a lot about everything and at times we felt suffocated and in turn we could tell that she felt frustrated and guilty that she was not giving us enough attention when in reality she was over mothering us (I just made this word up :) ). It always ended in her having a fight with my dad or taking it out on us.

    And I agree with Padparadscha; while the internet can be a great outlet for networking and staying connected it can be very overwhelming and full of drama and nasty ill intended people. Make sure you keep those one on one human relationship going. Take care of yourself. Hugs.

    Millie B

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    1. Hi Millie,
      That is an excellent idea to go out for 20 minutes after hubby gets home from work. There are several coffee shops near me that I can go to and sit for alone time, and he can also have some bonding time with Maya while I'm out. Yesterday I just went into my bedroom and just simply sat in silence for 20 minutes while he was feeding her dinner and it felt so refreshing. But getting fresh air outside by myself would be much better.
      I have noticed that Maya has been more fussy lately as my exhaustion has gone up, I'm starting to think that maybe she can sense my energy? Which is not good...
      I think my parenting style is almost identical to my paternal grandma's and as I became an adult I always wondering why she didn't do more for herself or if she even wanted to do more. I used to go over to visit her when I was a teenager and do a "spa day" to treat her and do facials, back rub, bubble bath, nails, and makeup.
      It is true that kids start to pick up on these things...and better I get a handle on it now so I can moderate it.
      Thanks so much for writing and for your kind and thoughtful advice. I have the best, most uplifting readers :) I am humbled, and inspired, and find strength in your kind words.
      xo

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  4. Thank you for your wonderful blog. It helps me to feel a little comforted in my situation. I am an American dating an Indian. We have been together for almost two years now, and although we have progressed as a couple, we have had no progression in terms of his Indian parents...particularly his mother. Him and his parents to the US about three years ago as he was attending college. I have never been formally introduced to his parents, but I have tried in my own way to somehow, just somehow, show them that I am a good person and wish to know them. He has told them that he has a girlfriend, and they reacted poorly, telling him that he was ruining his life by dating me (by the way, they do not even know me at all). His mother has seen pictures of me so I know she knows what I at least look like. Once, she came into my work and I assisted her but she acted like she didnt know who I was (I have a feeling she knew as she has seen pictures of me), she deleted and blocked me when I tried adding her on Facebook, and I have even given a gift which she never thanked me for. It seems as though she uses every small opportunity to treat me with disrespect. It hurts me greatly and especially hurts my mother, who wants me to be loved and respected because she feels I deserve that. My mother loves my boyfriend. My boyfriend and I have talked marriage, potentially in the next couple of years, but I am unsure if this problem will ever be resolved. When will this woman ever act decent toward me? His mother has acted so poorly toward me that I do not even wish to have a wedding if we get married. An Indian wedding is all about bringing families together, but I have felt no sense of family by his parents and the fact that they do not even want to get to know me as a person speaks volumes. Not only does this show they do not care about me, but they do not care about their son as well because if they did, one would think that they would care to know if I am a nice, safe person for their son to spend his time with. Sorry if any of this sounds disrespectful, but being in my shoes, I feel very wronged and pained. Can you offer any advice?

    ReplyDelete

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