Thursday, January 28, 2010

Breaking Up The Pity Pinball Party

"If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."

The old adage is so very true, and more than a little grammatically painful for me to utter. One thing I hear repeatedly from my fellow friends who are mothers is how easy and detrimental it is to continually put yourself last. In my case, sometimes it becomes a weapon of (self) destruction: overtired martyr mom. Run for the hills people, it's not pretty. This week, in a fit of maternal exhaustion and frustration I told my husband that I felt like a giant pinball machine as a parent. Of course I had to describe the game I was visualizing to my husband in the throes of my tantrum, because my completely spun out brain couldn't remember the name of the dammed thing. That's a whole other post: Mommy Brain. But Mommy Brain on full tilt meltdown is a thing of unparalleled dark humor if you stop to actually listen to yourself. Honestly, I don't know how my husband holds it together listening to me sometimes.

The pinball metaphor is especially apt for me. When my husband plays pinball, he is strategic and focused on his timing when flipping those paddles to keep that little ball in play. And while he is fully engaged and wants to win, he doesn't sweat it when one ball drops through the slot. Now me on the other hand, I start off carefully and tensely flipping those paddles, but as time goes on and I get more and more frustrated, I start pressing those buttons wildly and fiercely. That's usually when the ball usually shoots straight down the chute and I don't even get a flipper on it. Game over.

Mothering small children and infants is intense, at least it is for me. While I practice attachment parenting and support its principles, I struggle with balancing my own needs. I jealously watch my husband disappear to the shooting range, and lets face it, the office a lot of days, and envy him what I imagine to be an escape. But at the same time, the thought of not being with my kids daily literally makes me lose my breath. I chose this path, I still choose it, even when I'm ready to get in the car and drive away. But it's really easy to become hyper-focused and let a lack of self care snowball into a ball of exhaustion fueled resentment that I'm sure my little ones don't understand, and my husband certainly doesn't appreciate.

Tonight I took a break, and it was good. I returned from an evening with friends, and I didn't dwell on the fact that my five month old was still awake, I could once again appreciate that he was really eager to see me and be held BY ME. I am the center of his world right now, and for now I am OK with that.

  • Macro Goal: Self renovation and repair
  • Micro Goal: Take a mommy break a least once per week to restore sanity

Photo courtesy of Rev. Xanatos Satanicos Bombasticos (ClintJCL)

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