Learning to Breathe

I am naturally an idealist and an extremist in pretty much all areas of my life.

this is just how my brain functions.  if you put any weight in palm reading, whereas most people have a line for their emotions and one for their thoughts (heart and head lines) I have just one, which carves deeply across my palm, since for me, there is no differentiation between my thoughts and my feelings.

this is, frankly, a pain in the ass.

I am VERY emotionally invested in my ideals, especailly when they involve something I feel deeply about, such as my family.  if I do not live up to my ideals of what I think I should be as a wife and mom, I immediately consider myself a failure.  but would I ever consider telling my son “wow, you are such a failure at being my kid”?  holy hell, no.  I would never tell Ethan he was a failure at being a husband either.  that word, which I use on myself over and over again, I would never use to lable anyone else.

it’s like cooking mama lives in my head.  I burn dinner, and instantly the words FAIL burn themselves across my cerebral cortex, and some little inner self of mine pops up with flaming eyeballs to declare “you’re not mine!” or whatever the hell she ACTUALLY says.

I was raised with very distinct and self-sacrificing values involving being a wife and mother.

we were taught that if you had a family, their wants and needs always came before yours.

my mother was always self-sacrificing, and she made sure we were constantly aware of it.  she at times be so exhausted after making dinner that she wouldn’t have the energy to eat it herself.  mmm… guilt-free meals.

she put so much effort into being the “self-sacrificing mother”, that she completely neglected taking care of herself.  her emotional needs were always so great that there was no room for ours.  she was so busy doing everything she needed to do to try and keep herself from feeling like a failure as a mom that she had no time to actually… be a mom.

therein lies the danger of being a self-sacrificing parent.

recently, Israel was going through a very rough time.

he was dealing w/ an event that he experienced very intensely as betrayal, and a lack of control over his life.

his method of regaining control and his power was to latently refuse everything we asked of him, and make sure we were aware he could think for himself, by arguing with absolutely everything we said.

he was also very emotionally needy, wanting attention, approval and closeness at all times.  he had to be in the same room with us, we had to acknowledge everything he did.  the only way I could accomplish ANYTHING was through involving him.

also, he had problems sleeping.  no matter what time we put him to bed, he wouldsn’t fall asleep until 11 or later.

by which time, I’d be so exhausted that I would be a crabby, rude, emotionally unavailable mom, and then once he finally fell asleep, I would turn all my frustration towards Ethan, who, to make matters even better, had been working late, sometimes not getting home until 8pm or later.

I could have set Israel up with a project to keep him busy for 20 minutes during the day, while I took a break.  I could have called any of his grandparents and had them take him out for lunch.  I could have let him go over to the neighbors house and watch cartoons and play with her baby.  but I thought, “he’s having a rough time.  he needs me right now.  he needs to know that I can be here for him.”

but the truth of the matter is that NO ONE can be there for anyone else 100% of the time.  you needs to have time to experience yourself, or you end up so drained that you can’t be there for anyone at all.

the whole week of distress he went through, which was immediately followed by three days of stomach flu as soon as he started to balance back out, I spent the day meeting the emotional needs of my son, sacrificing my own needs, and by the evening I would be a heinous bitch.

sometimes I live my life like it’s a competitive sport.

like it’s my responsibility to maintain a kickass home, supply healthy, tasty and fun meals, and have an unbored and well-adjusted family at all times.

as soon as I start doing this, pressuring myself, making everything my responsibility and getting the Cooking Mama inner voice, it’s not fun anymore.

usually, I enjoy being domestic.  that’s why this blog is called The Domestic Anarchist.  it’s me learning how to accept my domestic tendencies, my natural inclination to have fun decorating and up-keeping my house, finding and trying out new recipes, and thinking up fun shit to do with my family.

but the instant that instead of being “fun shit to do” it becomes “shit I have to do”, the martyr mentality kicks in.

if I have no downtime, I become bitter and get bitchy.  I do what I need to do, but I make sure everyone knows that I am fucking pissed about it.

and then I get more pissed that they are not appreciating the sacrifices I’m making for them!

and I always said I do things differently from my mom.

I need to relax.  ask for help when I need it.  sending my son over to the neighbors doesn’t make me a bad mom.

neither does serving scrambles eggs, ramen, or peanut-butter and jelly for dinner, on the days when that’s the most I can muster.

it’s not a competition.  there is no “pass” or “fail” or “first place”.  it’s just like any other life adventure.  it’s there to experience.

and sometimes, having scrambled eggs for dinner at 10pm and watching fraggle rock, can be an exciting experience, if you don’t fuck it up by feeling guilty.

-citrus

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