Thursday, June 28, 2007

Supermom?

I was tagged by Mother in Israel on this topic. I am not going to use the list - because my life doesn't fit a list, at least not that one.

It really got me thinking, though, about whether or not I am a Supermom. After many days (too many - sorry M.I.I) I decided that I am not a superwoman, but a juggler- and not a very expert one at that.

I am constantly juggling, like the rest of us, family obligations, work, housework, gan parties, graduations, siddur parties, chumash parties, siyums, instrument recital, bar mitzvas, bat mitzvas, weddings of friends, weddings of relatives, community dinners, lack of babysitters, dinner, lunch, laundry, eye doctor appointments, skin doctor appointments, pulmonary specialists, ultrasounds, ob/gyn appointments (when my doc is not booked...), library books, tantrums, hormones, potty training, lost baby bottles, shopping, Shabbos guests, time for kids, time for husband, time for me.....that is just a sampling. Everyone has their own list.

The thing is juggling takes talent. I guess some training would also come in handy - last I checked there isn't any real formal training for motherhood and all it entails. You can take a parenting class, and home ec and go to "How to make your marriage better" seminars, but nowhere is there a degree in motherhood. "Congratulations on your achievement, you have completed the course work and are now fully qualified to be a mother!" It just doesn't exist. So I never really learned how to be a mother. It has all been trial and error.
( A young cousin -about 19 - recently mentioned to by first born that she should be prepared to suffer - as a first born he knows - in his words "They really mess up with us, they just don't know what they are doing, I feel so bad for you." - how's that for a boost of confidence?)

The thing is just when I think I have the juggling thing down - at least the basic juggling routines, I still can't rest. Because I am juggling outdoors and the weather is never predictable. Sometimes it gets really windy and I can't ran fast enough after the balls that I am dropping. Sometimes it is just so hot that I have no strength to keep in motion and keep the balls going. Sometimes- dare I say it - I stop to take a drink, or rest and just let the balls fall where they may. Does that make me a bad juggler, or just a human one.

I happen to know of 2 families that have "perfect" homes. They have very different financial situations, but otherwise are very similar. Always perfectly neat houses, with perfectly served meals, and perfectly dressed children. Never a speck of dust, or a crumb to be seen- let alone a toy on the floor! Always a smile and a kind word. Shabbos guests galore.

Am I jealous? I admit - I used to be. I wish I had it so together. But you never know what lurks behind closed doors. I discovered that both these families, at least one spouse has a psychological disorder. The main reasons that their houses are so orderly is because one of the spouses may have a panic attack and pas out -even at something so seemingly insignificant to us healthy ones, as fingerprints on the fridge! I am not exaggerating. In one home the bookshelves are alphabetized, and the father checks them each and every night to ensure that none have been moved, otherwise he cannot sleep soundly. In one of the homes the toys are hidden away to be taken out only with very special permission.

I know these examples sound extreme - but after speaking to a neighbor recently about how "normal" it is to feel overwhelmed, she told me about families that she knew with even worse issues. So it is much more prevalent then you might think. What's the point? I guess that we all push ourselves to hard - who wants to be Supermom anyway? At least in that 'put-together' kind of way. It may sound like a cop out, but if our expectations for ourselves are realistic, we would all be happier people. Right now I am an advocate for that poem about I'd rather spend my time with the kids - and all those fingerprints are to remind me that my family is healthy and well, and that Hakadosh Baruch Hu has given me the children along with the responsibilities that go along with them, and that He knows my limits, and I can only try my best. Juggling is not easy, and I know I constantly need to practice, though I don't ever expect to reach perfection - happily.

16 comments:

Juggling Frogs said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Juggling Frogs said...

This was such a beautiful post. I started to comment with a story, but it got long, so I posted it here instead:

"Adventures of Supermom"

Thank you.

All the best,
CLKL

Anonymous said...

Yahoo. Glad you're back. Glad you mentioned the obssessive compulsive neighbor. I just don't know what to think when I see all those neat houses. Truth be told, I know my Nisyonos--I have a difficult husband. It saps my energy. And since noone ever talks about their difficult husbands and stressful marriages, I suffer alone knowing that my small successes in parenting and personal peace are huge for me and also knowing that on some level--sometimes more visceral than other times--I really wish I had one of those neat, happy homes with the calm, well-adjusted kids. My kids are pretty great. Everyone says so, but I know they would be calmer if I was.

Inca said...

Loved this post....thank you

I saw it on Juggling Frogs blog

Inca

mother in israel said...

Beautiful post. Worth the wait! I had always thought that I would have lots of Shabbat guests, but that hasn't been the reality. Except for this week!
Anon--I'm so sorry about your situation. I wish you a lot of strength, and I hope you can find someone to talk about it with you. It doesn't even have to be someone in a similar situation, just a non-judgmental friend who can sympathize with you.

unsupermom said...

Great post. Juggling is an acquired skill, and even the most skilled juggler still drops the balls sometimes.

It is also true, that we never know what goes on behind closed doors. I have a relative who lives in a beautiful mansion, yes, mansion. She was always a neat freak. However, as an adult neatness has become a compulsion. She has a few kids, but there are no signs that there are kids living in the house. You could eat off of her floors. She never cooks - they eat out every night. Her home is an exerise in exemplary interior design. If you didn't see the kids, you wouldn't know she had them. Their bedrooms could be in a House & Garden magazine spread. Childish furniture and expensive toys/stuffed animals strewn artfully/purposefully about - but not a thing out place. It's a sickness. I actually feel sorry for them, even with their beautiful home and money.

anonymous - I feel your pain. I too suffered for many years in a bad/horrific marriage. As my husband is on medication now, things are better. They will never be great, and my marriage will always remain the biggest mistake of my life. When I try to reconcile it - I used to think I didn't marry my basherte and he was still out there somewhere. Then I realized - no one said your basherte was supposed to make you happy. I think that my husband is my basherte and a nisayon I was meant to face in this lifetime.

My unhappiness in my marriage zaps my energy too. However, for my kids sake, and the fact that at least there is calm in my home now, I know I will stay on until one or the other dies. Which will probably be at a ripe old age. I can't tell you how often I have prayed for Hashem to put me out of my misery. Sometimes I tell myself I will leave when the youngest grows up - but by then I will probably have grandkids. Then I won't want to leave for the grandkids sake.

"Baruch's bar mitzvah is coming up. I don't want to spoil it by Bubbie and Zaydie getting a divorce."
Or else, "Malkie just had a baby boy. Don't want to ruin it by Bubbie and Zaydie divorcing and not speaking at the bris."

It will always be something. So, no out for me but death.

I am a blogger. I would never post this under my blog, even though my blog is anonymous. But yeah, we women bloggers can complain about parents, kids, work, friends, community - but it is tabboo to write about unhappy marriages. It's the one thing we frum women can't blog about.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this, unsupermom. Absolutely no one talks about this and when I found blogs this year, I hoped to get some Chizuk from others about this most difficult Nisayon. Not a day goes by that I don't think about how much I wish I had a partner. I calculate the years all the time in the hopes that the math will somehow miraculously add up to my children being grown and married and I being 21 and thin at the same time. Now that's difficult math. In the end, it is about one of our deaths and--though I don't wish him dead, my kids love him--I want a little piece of happiness before I die. My children are the world to me, but I have never been treated nicely by my spouse and that is a monumental challenge. Yes, we've been to a wonderful psychologist and I have gone alone, but I think since I have decided to stay in this for the long haul, I really would just like a support group. Impossible in the frum world. So, your comments have been invaluable to me. Thank you so much. Now to those math equations of mine.

mother in israel said...

Why, oh why is it impossible to have a support group in the frum world? There is so much divorce, that is losing its stigma, and staying in a bad marriage should not have a stigma. At any rate no one has to know who is in the support group.

Who said it is taboo for a frum woman to start an anonymous blog about an unhappy marriage? Didn't Aidel Maidel write about hers for a while (before my time, and true she deleted the bad parts of it).

Maybe I will start a new blog for this purpose, and you can send me your stories to post--with a code name. Or you could just post your struggles as comments for even more anonymity (I won't have your email). That way no one in your family will accidentally come across that blogger account. What do you think?

jill said...

I firmly believe that my honest admition that I am not supermom is the reason why I love being a mom.

Anonymous said...

Mother in Israel, please do this. This would be monumental. For me and for others like me. I feel like even just knowing that I am not the only one who chooses to stay and who struggles each day would help me. Intellectually, I know I am not an idiot for choosing this situation and remaining in it, but emotionally this Nisayon is so hard on a person because if my child was autistic or if I was ill C"VS or I couldn't conceive all these would be no fault of my own, I would always have the intellectual comfort to know that I did not play a part in this situation at all. But being married to a difficult, verbally abusive, challenging person is partially my own fault. And so many frum homes--I know, not all--but so many are very typical. Typical in that the frum husband is usually attentive, usually helpful to some degree--even when they are not, they are a little, usually respectful of a rabbinic authority so that helps with authority in general...Frum men are usually more docile than most so I tend to feel like an idiot for choosing someone who is not. And I'm sure those of us who did this, saw signs as I did. That's also hard to live with. I saw the signs late in the engagement (that all too popular frum short engagement) and I was embarrassed to break it off. I thought I would never get married. I just feel like hearing other people's stories and suggestions about how they handle family situations and inlaws and disputes about children would help me. It would help me practically face my challenges and it would help me feel less like an idiot that I know I am not. Even to hear how others got into a mess and how they maintain their sanity, their calmness in front of the kids would help. Anyway, if you do do it, please post. Thanks.

unsupermom said...

I might be interested. However, only if it was completely anonymous with no site tracking, etc.

I too saw the signs at engagement and actually called it off. After weeks of harrassment, fear of embarrassment, fear I'd never marry, etc - I finally agreed to call the wedding back on. Biggest mistake of my life. I should have run screaming in the opposite direction. But that's all water under the bridge with joint debts, a houseful of kids, and family and friends who can't imagine us not married.

Once again I was embarrassed by his antics at a gathering tonight, where people actually left early because they were offended by him. A few years back I would have been mortified. At this point, I am pretty well numb. I can't control him and have given up trying. The worst thing is that after that fiasco, I had to go to the mikvah. I dread going to the mikvah. I love being a niddah. I can't even talk about it...

I hate my life.

mother in israel said...

I started it here:

www.shalombayit.blogspot.com

I chose the name because shalom bayit is given as an alternative to divorce, and it seems to me that's what you have chosen. Please let me know if you feel it's not appropriate.

As per your request, I have not set up a site tracker even though I would prefer to. If I did I would be the only one to have access to it, and the purpose would be to see how many come there and from where. In theory I could compare the IP addresses to those of bloggers who leave comments on my other blog, but I'm not that obsessive.

mother in israel said...

Anon, if you get divorced after your children are grown, it will be hard for them and cause awkward situations. However, from what you describe, they may be happy that you are no longer suffering.

Anonymous said...

MII, Who knows? I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. All I know is that for now, I have made an active choice to stay for a long period of time. You know, if this doesn't work out--this blog thing--just know that it was much appreciated. There is wackiness everywhere, but I'd like to think that frum people can help other frum people with matters such as these. There is great, silent dignity in the choice to stay married. There is also great dignity in divorcing if that is deemed best. The point is that there are those who have commented about Halachic approval on your new blog. There are those who are squeamish about this completely. I would just like all to know that we are your neighbors and friends, sisters and cousins. We do not share this with you. If this blog for us does not work out, at least I hope you will come away knowing that we exist silently among you and that our experiences are never, never talked about openly. For those of us who are experiencing it, I hope we can help each other for the time being. Thanks again, MII.

mother in israel said...

Unsuper--I have decided to add stat counter because I would like to know how many people are visiting and from where. I do not plan to compare IP#s to those on my other blog, nor do I have any reason to refer to those numbers at all (unless I suspect trolls). I hope no one will be deterred from commenting because of this.

muse said...

it's all juggling

enjoy, since obsession just causes more obsession