Holy cow! I had no idea I would get such a response to my last post. Thank you for all of your comments and input. I know I, as well as T, truly appreciate them. And to those of you who do not have children yet...please do NOT let that post deter you from having kids. They change your world, no doubt, but the experience of being a parent is so worth it. Not everyone has the same experiences, so do not let my account make you think that is how it is for everyone.
I kind of like this being "real" thing. So today's post...it's another one of those. See, I am a part of a church group called Ministry of Mothers Sharing, and we meet weekly to reflect and talk about the ministry of being a mother, the trials, the blessings, the shared experiences. I'm one of the newest moms there, so they all kind of chuckle when I tell them my worries because they've all been there. But I get so much out of it, and I love it.
Last night's topic was on spirituality. And one of the discussions was on who you "minister" to in your life and who "ministers" to you. I could answer the first one very easily. But not the last one. I minister to my husband, my daughter, my family...friends, my community. And my immediate response of who ministers to me was obviously my husband. He does so much for me. He runs the finances, he keeps the house standing, he helps raise our daughter and take care of her. But aside from that? Do I let others help me? I had a hard time answering that.
We went around the room and said said what our "ministry as a mother" meant. It came around to me to answer, and I was asked to describe my role in my family and basically in general. I had written something down, but rather than read that my gut reaction was "I'm everything to everyone." Before I knew it, things just came pouring out. I had no idea where it came from, but it did.
It's true. I don't put myself first. Hardly ever. I put other's feelings, other's thoughts, etc. first. It's what I have been trained to do. Growing up, in my family dynamic, I was the good one. I know my brother who reads this might laugh, but really...yeah, I caused trouble as a kid, but as I went through junior high and high school, it was just expected for me to be independent, good, have my "shit" together. Every family has its dysfunction, and my family is no different. I don't want to go into the dirty laundry that is my family, but sometimes I feel like I'm the glue that holds the dysfunction together. I am the punching bag. When I call others in my family, rarely do I tell them how I'm doing or how my day is going. I listen to their problems. And I absorb them and want to fix them. It is what it is. I do things to please them not because I want to, but because I know it'll make things easier on everyone, it'll make peace. And when I don't, when I speak out and say how I truly feel, I feel absolutely awful.
At work, I'm the boss. I run the agency. I write the grants to make sure we have money to keep our doors open, I am the person who people come to with complaints - employees, board members, disgruntled clients or volunteers. But I really don't have anyone to talk to about it because I'm the boss. I can't break that dynamic. I'm kind of alone in that respect. It can be hard. I don't always have the answers everyone needs. Our agency's funding is tight. I have to make tough choices. It all is on me.
When 4:30 hits, my hats change, and my focus shifts. We get Aubrey, we drive the 45 minute commute. We get home, change Aubrey, I rush to unload our lunchboxes, wash out her bottles from the day, make her bottles for the next day, make dinner, make our lunches for the next day, make sure she's fed, be sure that I'm being attentive both as a wife and as a mother. It usually involves me stressing out, feeling like I'm doing too many things at once, and it almost always ends up in me being mad at T for not stepping in. But I don't ask him to step in. I just do it. Occasionally I'll ask for help, but it normally comes out of pure frustration and doesn't come out the way it should. And results in a fight. But I can't help it. I lose it because it feels like all too much.
We eat, usually trying to entertain Aubrey with a Play with Me Sesame show. I shovel the dinner in, and I'm pretty much always done before T, cleaning my plate and the dishes from cooking dinner. We take turns bathing Aubrey and putting her to bed. I come downstairs, clean up from her mess, vacuum the floor, Swiffer the floor, put away her toys, make our smoothies for breakfast for the next day.
By the time T and I get to relax, it's 8:00 or 8:30. I have so much I want to do, so I try to do it - write my blog and work on Mary Kay. But it's just two hours from when we hit the hay, and I feel guilty. Am I paying enough attention to T? Should I be? Man, I suck as a wife. I shouldn't be focusing on the computer. But when else will I get this done? How am I going to pay off my Mary Kay inventory if I don't put the work in? But I shouldn't be doing this and ignoring him, right?
It's a lot of bitching, I know. But this all just kind of came out. I told the ladies that a perfect example of me trying to be "fine," to not need help, was when my Grandpa died before Aubrey was born. T was trying to take care of me, be my support, and was doing a great job but I still was trying to be the strong one and be "fine." No help needed. We get in the car after the funeral, T looks at me and goes "Are you okay? And my response is, "No. But it's okay, I'm fine." One of the ladies asked me what that meant really. And I said "well, I mean, I was high risk and 10 months pregnant. Everyone kept telling me to not let the stress get to me. I had Aubrey to put first. So I had to be fine. It would be dangerous to her to fall apart."
Before we left last night, one of the ladies who leads the group came up to me, gave me a hug and said "you know, it's okay to ask for help every now and then." I know she's right. But I just don't do it. It's like I need a white flag or something, wave it in the air and go "Um, everyone? I need a little help here!"
Maybe it's time I let others step in and minister to me. Maybe it's time I get it through my head...or at least one day I will. I can't be everything to everyone. Any of you out there have this same problem?
There I go being all honest and shit again.....