I grabbed my keys while staring blankly into the distance and simultaneously uttering one simple sentence to my husband, “I’m leaving now.”
Through my peripheral vision, I could see him raise his brow, glance in my direction, and nod once. I think he knew better than to ask where I was going or what I was doing. Maybe he knew I needed to go. Or maybe he was just willing to take one for the team.
Sometimes in marriage, you don’t ask questions.
In fact, my urge to leave was so overwhelming, I was no longer willing to consider the needs of others.
It was like the entire floor of my house was covered in a bed of nails. There was no where I could walk or stand that didn’t make me cringe in pain.
I had to get out.
With my keys in one hand, I collected my wallet and phone into the other and held back my tears for later.
I closed the door behind me.
When I reached the car, I sunk into the driver’s seat and my head plummeted into my hands like a twenty pound bowling ball. The tears followed. Whether I was willing to admit it or not, being a stay at home mom was breaking me. Raising both a toddler and a baby at the same time was sucking the oxygen out of my lungs, and breath-by-breath, I was suffocating.
The truth about being a stay-at-home mom.
I wish I could tell you that it was because my husband doesn’t help out (he does) or that I don’t take “me” time ever (I do) or that some horrible and challenging life event whittled me down to nothing (nope, didn’t happen).
Simply put, it was a culmination of life with two small children that broke me down every day for nine months—until finally—I wanted to run away.
Once I stopped blubbering enough to drive, I lifted my head from my hands, wiped my eyes with a tissue, and put the car in reverse.
I didn’t know exactly where I was going or what I was doing, but I sure as hell was going to a place where no one needed me.
I was going to a place where no one was going to wipe their snotty nose on my shoulder, pull at my shirt to breastfeed, or accidentally yank my hair and kick my face while practicing a “ninja move.”
I was going to a place where no one was going to throw a temper tantrum or yell mom thirty-six times exactly half an inch from my face.
And I was definitely going to a place where no one was going to try and sit on my lap while I was going to the bathroom.
I knew where.
I went to the one place where I knew I could enjoy a latte, a nap, and a tiny slice of silent heaven: the library.
And while I was there, I couldn’t help but recall all the hard truths about being a stay at home mom to little kids.
(You know…to process and heal.)
Truth #1: Your hardest parenting day will come when you least expect it.
It won’t come immediately on the first day. Because initially your tank is full enough to push through. And it won’t come during some crisis because you’ll be in survival mode at that point.
It will come on a regular day when the culmination off all things motherhood will dump straight into your lab like a pile of garbage and you’ll know you’ve had enough.
You will break. This is normal. We all turn into an angry mom at some point. It’s how we move forward that makes all the difference.
Truth #2: Someone always needs you—desperately.
Someone is always crying for you in the most urgent way. Fork falls off the table…tears. One kid touches the other…tears. And the other one usually chimes in with a few tears for good measure. You wave your hands in the air like a musical conductor and sing…
“All together now!”
photo credit: US Army Band
Your little people desperately need you in all. the. ways. They want you to be right there alongside them for everything. At the same time. Always.
And then, of course, there is your spouse. He needs you too. And it’s not because he wants to sing Mary Had a Little Lamb or learn the alphabet.
Truth #3: You don’t own you anymore.
Your deepest wants, needs and desires are side-swiped by the needs of your family. Your lunch with friends is replaced with your kid flinging macaroni in your hair. Your spa-like shower is replaced with your kid peeing in the bathtub. Your nights of uninterrupted sleep are replaced with waking every two hours during the night for the next three years.
Eventually you are a distant memory of your prior self.
You take a few hours of “me” time, but it never feels like quite enough. Because before you blink, you are back in the trenches of motherhood. You are zapped, again.
Truth #4: It’s a constant cycle of do-overs.
You clean all the time, yet your house is never clean. You cook all the time, yet someone always refuses to eat. And it’s not because your kids don’t pick up the toys or eat vegetables.
It’s because they are little kids.
It’s because they aren’t capable of being a full-service Merry Maid.
And it’s because your kids eat stale crackers off the floor 30 minutes before dinner when you aren’t looking.
Truth #5: You will miss this…someday.
Even when you want to run away, and it feels like you’re walking on a bed of nails in your own house, you know without a single ounce of doubt that you will miss the days of being a stay at home mom.
You will wish your babies young and little again so that you can be wrapped up in them. You will wish that they would “need you like they used to.” You will wish that everything could go back to the “way it was.”
Nature made us this way. Tough parenting phases are just like child birth (or a bad hangover). You forget the pain because you remember the pleasure.
I went home.
I did the same thing I always do after escaping for a few hours: I went home. Because that’s what moms do. They run away to the library to get a grip, and then they go home. They survive. They push through the tough parenting phases.
No matter how irritating and frustrating your kids are.
You do it anyways.
Because you love those little buggers. Snotty noses. Screaming voices. Night waking. Hair pulling. All of it. You love it all; even when it breaks you.
Being a happy mom is harder than it looks.
I’ve had my share of days at the library and wanting to run away from the chaos of motherhood.
But my biggest secret?
Happy You, Happy Family…because it offers moms something beyond “make time for you” and “exercise more.” Because when you’re overwhelmed and at your breaking point, you don’t need the “experts” telling you more stuff to do on top of everything else.
That’s how I discovered the secrets: 10 secrets every parent should know about being happy. Happy You, Happy Family taught me the simple daily habits that I needed to make the biggest impact on my happiness. I know it can do the same for you, mama.