Tuesday, January 18, 2011

From the Mouths of Babes

Have been feeling so bad.  All kinds of awful thoughts in my head about how I don't like my life (but I really do), being a mom, thinking how bad I am at it, wishing I was doing something else (but I don't even know what), how much I do wrong and thinking how I don't even deserve the children I have and how I probably shouldn't have any more and subject them to me and how maybe (dare I say this aloud?) I made a 
huge mistake
that there's no way to fix. 
Trying to figure it out, wanting to be more grateful for all of the goodness and what I have and just wanting to get over myself and be better at everything I'm hating about myself. 
 Begging Heavenly Father to help me, please.
Because I'm trying really hard to 'fulfill my calling' but I don't like it and it doesn't make me happy though I've always been told it should.  I'm sitting there with all these words big and loud and sneakily whispering in my head asking Heavenly Father for help.
Big E (at whom I'd just yelled) looks straight at me and says, 
"Mommy, I love you.  
You are my very best Mother."
With his clear brown eyes and his beautiful face gazing at me there was my answer.  All my bad thoughts washed away in one wave.  Big E is my own miracle and the answer to my torment. With those words spoken right then I have reassurance that is more than just the warming of my heart from the words of my sweet son.
I am doing what I am supposed to do.  
Even though it's not what I dreamed of doing while I was growing up.  It's not what I wished and hoped to do    (though it's pretty much where my imagination of reality ended since it's all I was taught to picture for my future.)  I am doing what I am supposed to be doing and for being obedient Heavenly Father will help me figure it out and help me find the way to be happy while doing it. 
This is my weapon for when these dark thoughts come creeping in again.  I will remember that I have this to fight them off with.  From the perfect lips of my son came God's answer to my prayer and I'll take that answer in all it's possible meanings.  
I still have a lot to figure out, and now I feel like that is possible. 

P.S.  This is not a cry for pats on the back and affirmations that I am a good mother.  
Has anyone ever felt remotely like this?  I'd love to know how you reconciled it.  


  1. Wow Heather...Thanks for sharing your feelings on this...I have felt and admit that I still do feel the same way. I feel lost, uncapable and most of the time I feel like a failure, like my life stinks (I actually feel like I have NO life...!!!) and I understand you not wanting pats on the back... I feel like anytime I vent to anyone about that's the impression I send out...I am so very happy for the answer you had/have, I'm happy that it brings you comfort and hope to go on. I get a little mad at people for wanting me to find comfort in generic ways, and by that I mean when people tell me the things that we all wish would work for everyone, should work for me and they don't. I wish things were as simple as we expect them to be you know? As simple as we're taught they should be. Don't get me wrong, I'm not losing faith but sometimes the painting is so perfect it seems unachievable. Everyone comes from different experiences and because of that their remedies are different (although they may all come from the same source they vary)...so I am definitely glad you have found yours! :-)
    I have no doubt that you are trying your best, were you not you wouldn't be desperately seeking your answers! :-)
    Everything will be ok!
    I haven't reconciled so I guess my post isn't all that helpful but your post has helped a TON, so again...thank you!

    Oh btw, I just saw your older post, and I saw Brazil and I felt so special...I think that might mean *me*! :-)

  2. I want to comment, even though I may not have anything helpful to say....you know I would pat you on the back if you hadn't expressly refused said pats, so i won't...:) I will say however, that i agree with Big E, and that is not a pat from me, but from him. If he thinks that, then you must be doing something right.
    Many times I have felt as though I do so many things wrong as mother, well, not even felt, I know that I do...but then there are those wonderful things that our children do our say to lift our spirits and let us know that we can't be doing everything wrong, because they still love us....unconditionally.
    I found these 2 links (one is a video, and another an ensign article)...they may help more than anything I could say.




    Hang in there....you will make it through.

  3. Heather, I know exactly how you feel. How could I have wanted to be a mother sooo bad when I really had no idea what it was all about. My days seem so long. I feel like I have nothing going for me, and I always feel like I deserve a break and I never get one. I guess I am not the only one out there that feels this way. I think this is just one of the tests of life and the reward will be greater than we could have ever imagined.

    Thanks for posting you feelings... maybe we can get together some time and at least feel like we have a friend!


  4. I felt chills reading this. It was straight from my mind to your typing. I wonder all the time... what about me? I know you were specific about being a mother... but I feel that about being a wife sometimes too. Do I really want to teach my daughter to fall in love and get married? Isn't there more to life than that? Yes, no one wants to be alone when they are 80 with no family to visit them, but even when people have tons of descendents, they are still ignored!
    I worry what my relationship is going to be with my kids when they are older. We grow up and start seeing the flaws in our parents and say "I'm never going to do that!" Oh the eternally flawed parents that we all become after saying those words!
    I always tell myself 'no yelling today' 'listen to them, it's easier' to soon find myself shut away in my room crying because I couldn't be patient while they didn't listen to me. And I see super mom blogs about all the fun crafts they do and the backgrounds in the pictures of said activity is spotless, and I wonder... WHO THE HECK CAN DO ALL THAT?
    Now, for how I cope... when my husband helps with the dishes (the correct way) and isn't grumpy with the kids too quick (only I'm allowed that) when he gives his all to lighten my load, I feel more at peace. When my children come to cuddle me for comfort when I'm the one who caused them any pain, I feel guilty as heck, but I feel loved.
    I know I'm writing alot. Sorry, this was such an honest open post and I am so grateful to Heather for putting out there the taboo emotion. I am determined orginization is the key to my happiness. Part of my frustration comes with the feeling of being out of control of my house, kids, husband, ect. So, I'm starting with my hunny (teaching him calmy what I need from him) then my house (overhaul. I'm becoming a binder creator to help me remember everything I want to do) and then I will be able to spend more quality time with the kids and have time to spend on me and my interest.
    Thank you Heather. You are a dear, and I think more people need to be honest about these feelings that happen so that our daughters won't go in blind like we did.

  5. What did you dream of doing when you were growing up?
    Did you know you can still do it? It might be after the kids are older, but you will have YEARS to do stuff then.
    I love you, my dear, and so do many others.

  6. I've been feeling the exact same way lately. Except Motherhood is the life I always imagined, me at home with my 6 kids...how can something I wanted so much not bring me the joy I always thought it would, or that it should? I think these feelings are normal and are felt by so many. Though they are normal I don't think they're right. Heavenly Father would never intend us to be unhappy in this calling. I guess its something we all have to figure out. I'm still learning and trying and I will continue to pray and find those perfect moments and simple joys until I can find the complete joy that I'm looking for you. I hope you'll find it too!

  7. You know that I know exactly how you feel. Funny, I was just thinking today or yesterday that I don't even know if I'd know what advice to give another mother who is in the place where I used to be. I would never, ever say, "Oh, enjoy it because it goes by so fast and then you'll be able to do more things," (I hope no one above said that, I haven't read the comments but if anyone did, I'm not singling them out, it's just been said to me a lot)(whoops, yes, the comment right above me says that), because it really doesn't help the time go any faster. There's a tension, a cognitive dissonance, between wanting to freeze time as it is now, because you just love them so much and they're so breathtaking as they are, and wanting to push them toward growing up so that you can have a sacred self, someone who's a priority to herself and God, as if you matter just as much as they do.

    It is important to remember that you do matter to the Lord just as much as your children matter to him. Yes, they kind of trump your needs sometimes because they outnumber you. But on an individual basis, they don't deserve more than you deserve. If you are ailing, if you are being truly deprived, if you feel like you're being lit at a stake, then some things need to change.

    My suggestion? TED.com talks. Read poetry (I can give you some favourite poems to read). Create silly competitions with friends, such as dares to do in the week. Get babysitters as much as you reasonably can (money-wise, guilt-wise). Write down stories that the boys tell you, ask them questions to prompt their imaginations, then illustrate them. You can even turn them into books, using Blurb.com. What about making love packages with the kids to mail to friends and family? The kids could make art and you could write a letter about why you love them, decorate the package.

    Being at home all the time is so hard because you lack all the outside motivators that you have been used to all your life: parents threatening punishment, school threatening loss of good grades, possibilities of rewards, paycheques, etc. When you're a mom, everything good that you do has to come from self-discipline born of either hope and faith or guilt and fear, but either way, it's self-discipline and that makes it freaking hard in a way that people who work full-time can't imagine, especially because it's a marathon, and not completely unlike a prison sentence.

    You will get through it and you won't look back and care about all the messy house days, I guarantee. Jude and I never talk about how the house used to be so messy (still is a lot of the time), even though I hated it so much. I looked back on photos recently and wish that I had done more, enjoyed more, said more nice things. And when you get through, you will appreciate your freedoms so much more, and you'll feel satisfaction that you did something so hard and so important and you will be able to give to yourself without guilt because you so earned it.

    Definitely pour yourself into your marriage and demand the same. If your marriage is good, you can weather a lot. Not that this was my problem exactly but kids CAN ruin a marriage if we let them. They can't always be the priority.

    I think I'm out of advice.

    Just, if it helps at all, know that I have felt everything you expressed, at least fifty times.

    Love you.

  8. Whoa. I just read Kelli's comment. Way off the mark in all kinds of ways. Not only incorrect, but so wrong to kick someone when they're down. Life is not bliss. It's not meant to be. Yes, motherhood is hard and we ARE meant to be unhappy in it sometimes like we are with anything— so we can know what joy is. No job is wonderful all the time.

    That kind of mindset, that Heavenly Father would not mean for us to be unhappy, is spiritually immature and dangerous.

    You know I could write an essay to explain, but I know you don't need me to.

    Feel safe and warm and proud and not alone, Feather.

  9. Heather, I love how real and naked you are in your blog entries. You don't try to appear better than you are which makes me really admire you even more. I think we can all relate completely to how you are feeling. Lately I have been feeling like I have lost me. In all the day to day things that I take care of, me as an individual has disappeared somewhere. For me it's not so much that I think I'm a horrible mother/wife but that I feel like my position in life has diminished to one of a mere servant -- always catering after everyone else and never myself.

    I sometimes find myself jealous or resentful of those in my life who get time to enjoy things that makes them who they are because I feel like I never get to. Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming my family, although they do go into phases of inappreciation, but for the majority of the times, they are just living life and this negative view of my life is just that -- my limited perspective.

    The funny thing is when I am given time to myself, I no longer know what to do with it. I have no hobbies worth mentioning and feel like I have no talents or personality anymore. I don't even know what to do to enjoy myself and relax. I, somewhere down the line, have lost myself and miss the old me. I figure if I'm not happy I can't make my family happy either. So lately I've been trying to stop complaining so much about the things I don't like in my life and try to change it so there are more positive things to focus on. Instead of focusing all of my day on my husband and children, I'm trying to take time for rediscovering myself. I've been starting up some of my old hobbies, and interests and I've been trying to have more of a social life by getting together with you girlfriends of mine more. I feel positive that feeling better about myself will help me be a better mother and a wife. I pray daily for this and know that if I continue to put the effort in Heavenly Father will help me see how special I am.

    Thank-you for being so open and honest with all of us Heather! We love you and all know that you are a great mother (I know you didn't want compliments but you need to accept it anyways!) :)

  10. Wow. I'm sorry if I "kicked you while you were down" Heather, that was definitely not my intention AT ALL. I only meant that Heavenly Father WANTS us to be happy. I know its impossible for us to be happy all the time, but that we should always be doing all we can to find it. I've had some really low moments where I felt exactly the same way as you, where I literally sat there staring at my kids and felt nothing but emptiness. I don't want to feel that way, as I'm sure you don't. I just meant that Heavenly Father doesn't want us to feel that way. Yes, its a part of life, but thats why we have some wonderful gospel tools to help us get out of those funks. Thats all. I'm really, really sorry if I didn't say that well and made you feel bad. I really didn't mean to.

    Natasha: you really said some hurtful things about me and you don't even know me, or know anything about me. I'm sorry if I said something you didn't agree with. You could have wrote Heather a private message, but to diss me right there for everyone to see was uncalled for. If you knew me, you would know that I would never say anything intentionally to make someone feel bad.

  11. Kelli, I know what you were saying in your first post. Happiness doesn't happen on it's own but we have to strive for it, because that's what Heavenly father wants. When you were saying it's normal to feel that way, but it's not right... it's the same as why we wait until we are married to have sex. Yes, we are attracted to other people, but we don't act on them bc they aren't right. They are right with your spouse.
    I hope that's along the lines of what you where saying. Anyways, let's keep this about the honesty Heather started with and share how we relate. I realized another thing this morning, excersize helps me feel better. About everything. I know it sounds cliche, but it's true. I had started excersizing last week of DEc, and was feeling more energetic for things. I missed most of last week and i'm dragging again. And I'm snapping more, and it's harder to get out of bed. But it's so hard to start again. Anyways, that's what i think.

  12. Wow you wonderful girlies, wow! Thank you so much for your honest and detailed comments! I suspected that there were many more people out there trying to figure things out like me. I am so happy to open this dialog and that you all feel safe enough here that you can be open too about topics that are, as Hearts and Bubbles said, taboo.
    Keep it coming! I think we are doing something really good and helping each other out.

    Much Love!

  13. Ariane,

    I'm glad it helped! Your comments helped me too. Thank you. I used to feel like I had No life. We moved several times each year. Whenever I had a new baby we were always new in the ward so I didn't have a support network of people to make me and my baby feel special, didn't really have friends because of all the constant moves. I know that's not the same as coming from a different country, I also think that as you live somewhere for a while and your kids get older you will find that you are starting to carve out a life for yourself. It takes a while but you will!

    I know what you meat too about not finding comfort in generic ways and that it's not as simple and nice as it looks or as we were taught it will be. That is an issue for me too, the discrepancy between what we were taught to want and do and how it would make us feel, the way we actually feel while doing it, and the lack of actual teaching about what it would really be like. It gave us the wrong expectations.

    Thank you for your encouragement! I'm sure you are trying your best to. As you so wisely said if we didn't care we wouldn't be trying so hard.

    You said you haven't reconciled yet. If you want it it will come. Just keep wanting it, that's all you have to do.

  14. Crystal

    Thank you for the encouragement. And that nice little pat on the back you managed to sneak in there, you tricky girl! ;)

    I'll check out those links at nap time. I'm sure they will be good, and it's a reminder to make sure I read things like that more often.


    You have so much going for you!
    This for one:
    Take a look ladies, she makes adorable, vintagey things.

    Let's do it for real!

  15. Hearts & Bubbles

    I loved everything you said! Especially the parentheses.
    It is and amazing feeling to read someone else's words that sound like they come from your own brain. I am so happy you had that here.
    Your ideas for coping are really good. Particularly about being organised, I have the very same thoughts (my thoughts to your typing this time!) I really do want to open a dialog for topics that somehow are taboo. It is so much more healthy for us to be able to talk about how we truly feel and glean from each other's experiences.
    I don't have daughters yet but I am seriously thinking about how and what I am going to teach them. Let me know what you come up with.

  16. Anonymous

    What did I dream of as a little girl? Well beyond being a Disney princess voice/illustrator and the generic girl things like nurse and teacher (which I didn't really want that's just all I knew about) and ballet dancer, which I knew was unrealistic, something with art. But that's about as far as I got because I knew it was an inevitability that I would get married and have a family which meant that my life was pretty much planned for me. Or so I somehow thought.
    I do know I can still do those things, I know this is just a stage and that I will have years after the kids are older. That is not the point.
    The point is trying to reconcile the discrepancy between what I've been taught (and what's been left out in that teaching (not by you if you're who you think you are, please don't feel bad, you are wonderful, it's more the church and church culture)) and reality and find a way to make it work for me and overcome the feeling that I've been duped.

    Thank you for your love. I love you too!

  17. Kelly

    Please don't worry. You didn't make me feel bad at all. I felt what you meant and how you meant it. We're both trying to do the same thing. Trying to do what we feel we should and learn to be happy doing it.
    If we are unhappy sometimes maybe that's okay because we learn to fight our way back to happiness and Choose it. If I hadn't been unhappy I wouldn't have written this blog post where we all found that we have people who can relate to us and that we are not alone.
    That feeling of emptiness you described, I've felt that too. It's scary for lots of reasons. I think Satan is really sneaky about how he gets to us and those gospel tools you mentioned can really help us fend him off. Not so much intellectually, which is usually how I try to get out of those funks but it's like reading them somehow gives us an invisible force field that make a lot of those bad things just bounce right off so they can't get to us.

  18. Natasha

    Woah! What a revelation. Mother's matter to the Lord as much as children do.
    I am going to paint that and put it on the wall so I can see it every day! (and then I'm going to sell it to Deseret books and they will promote it and soon it will be in every Mormon home in the world! Ah ha ha ha!)
    I love your suggestions. They are really good. I just was talking with Katie about doing things like that. We may be separated by distance and both forced (by circumstances) to be at home a lot but we can totally do things together like that. I've seen a couple of TED talks and they are like juice in the raisin of my shrinking brain! Thanks for the reminder. Blurb sounds really cool to. And reaching out to other people like with the love packages is always a good remedy for feeling self pity.

    The thing about self discipline. Spot on.

    Really you touched on every specific issue that is a part of this larger one. I know you've thought about this a lot!

    Feeling warm and safe and a tiny bit proud.

    I do think you were a bit hard on Kelly. She was just trying to share like everyone else and she is a good, kind person. Whether her thinking is flawed or not I think you made her feel attacked.

  19. Christa

    I'm so glad that you are doing good things you like and are starting to find yourself again. Way to go for choosing to focus on the positive! I am working on that too.
    Our girlfriend get together's are so good for all of us I think.

  20. Wow, I came back to check your comment on my comment and there were 20 comments, whoa!!! I'm glad you brought it up and I too admire you for being so honest. I'm happy all your other friends commented too, their insights were very helpful too! I was actually just reading this thing about mormom moms blogs and how they are so perfect and fun and don't get me wrong, I'm in no way dissing our beliefs, it's just that sometimes it feels to me like I have to fit a certain mold and if you don't it just seems like everything is so wrong, like your life just stinks!!! Like you have to be home, happy all the time, taking amazing pictures of all your children's adventures, cooking like a chef, wearing cute and trendy outfits, making these super cool crafty thingies and adoring your ever so perfect husband who is so charming that he seems to be taken out of a fairy tale book. I don't know. It's harder than that. It's not always perfect. My dilemma now is that I need to go back to work and have started to look for a job and I'm constantly filled with guilt and at the same time constantly worried about how on earth I will make it if I don't do it (go back to work). Who will take care of my kids? What scars will they carry from not having me at home? Will I ever forgive myself for working outside the home? Will my husband be able to help me more? Will I endure it? WILL IT BE WORTH IT? It seems pretty dramatic but it's always haunting me lately. And it's tough. Anyways...thank you for your words...you are a kind spirit. And so are all your friends. Good advice ladies! :-) Ariane
    Btw...I have a blog too. It's abandoned...I'm going back to it sometime...!

  21. This is the article...


  22. Kelly, I don't know you so what I was saying was not a personal attack upon you. I was responding to what you said, not who you are. I am sure you are kind and lovely and all sorts of wonderful things. Of course you are: Heather likes you! It was nice of you to share your own experiences with Heather. I am sorry that I did not include positive feedback about your comment. I was just so genuinely shocked and indignant about part of your comment, and felt defensive for Heather and any other woman reading who might feel as Heather does and feel sensitive about it. It was also first thing in the morning and I was tired.

    It might have been unfair of me to assume that you chose your words carefully. The reason I assumed you did is because Heather's your friend, she was expressing some personal feelings on a sensitive topic, and also because I have heard other young LDS women utter that same sentiment, so it seemed reasonable that you really believed what you said. It's my honest opinion that it's a dangerous and spiritually immature sentiment to say, "Though they are normal I don't think they're right. Heavenly Father would never intend us to be unhappy in this calling." While I understand that saying that could hurt your feelings, I care more about the damage that mindset does to women, not just Heather. What if other people read your comment and felt shame and self-loathing? This is a real problem within the church today. If I were to say something on my blog that you felt was damaging to other people, I would theoretically expect you to speak your mind.

    It would not be right if we felt negatively toward mothering all the time. But to feel so some of the time is more than normal, it's rational. Who wants to clean up messes all day everyday? Who dreamed of that as a little girl? There are parts of mothering which I don't think the Lord expects us to like at all, nor do I think he expects us to paint on a phony face or repress our feelings.

    I would be hurt if, when I'm sharing feelings I'm uncomfortable with enough already, a friend of mine told me that my feelings were not "right", implying that they're wrong. I don't see any other way to interpret that. Your comment about Heavenly Father suggested that motherhood is meant to be happy for everyone, because it's a calling from God, and that if we're not happy, we're doing something wrong. If I am misunderstanding what you meant to say and didn't give you enough benefit of the doubt, I am sorry.

  23. Oh heather, I definitely have moments like that. Especially when my son has speech problems. I think about what I could have done better, could I have had him tested earlier, what more can I do now, and on and on. Its a mom thing, Its why we are the mothers and not the men. We worry things so much eventually the answer comes and strength follows!
    And during the winter, if al else fails, VITAMIN D drops!
    Lots of love!