At some point, every mom feels useless, lazy, inept, stupid, sad, fake, or guilty. Useless because she’s “just a mom” and doesn’t have anything else to offer the world. Lazy because the dishes are piled in the sink, the laundry basket is full, and there’s a strange smell coming from the kid’s room and she doesn’t have the energy to care, much less do anything about it. Inept because she’s just yelled at the kids for being kids and is probably doing things on a daily basis that will screw them up for life. Stupid because she can’t remember the word for that round glass object she piles the mountains of food on to scarf down in a mindless comfort eating session. Sad because she spends too much time reading Jane Austen novels and watching too many chick flicks and then wondering why her husband isn’t making grand declarations of his love and appreciation using words of four or more syllables or pithy statements like “You complete me.” Fake because no matter how she’s feeling on the inside, outwardly she’s smiling and pretending everything is great. Guilty because her kids and her husband know the truth.
Usually, these emotions don’t present all at the same time. There’s a brief moment of weakness and then the joys of life take over. The kids say the cutest thing, her husband does the dishes, complete strangers compliment her kids’ manners, she answers 75% of the questions on Jeopardy, there are clean spoons, or when somebody asks her how she feels she can honestly answer, “Great!” These are the normal ups and downs of motherhood–life spent in the slightly hazy outskirts of mom fog.
Then there are the unusual times. When all these emotions are weighing so heavily, it’s difficult to get out of bed. And that is where I’ve been for the past month or so. I’ve been walking around in a mom fog so dense I can’t even see my hand in front of my face. I suppose it’s a kind of depression. Luckily, it’s the situational kind. I know why I’m depressed and I know what to do about it.
I have lived away from “home” for 9 years. I get back every once in a while for a completely inadequate amount of time for the things I want to do and the people I want to see. I miss my family and friends. It’s normally just a vague feeling in the back of my mind that occasionally moves to the forefront when I stop and think too much. Usually, I’m too busy to dwell on it. Lately, it’s been thrown in my face.
First of all, having kids is a constant trip down memory lane. Every birthday reminds me of my childhood at that particular age. Every slumber party revives the memories of late nights giggling, gossiping, and swooning over boys both “real” and famous. Every goofball thing my kids say and do reminds me of the goofball things I did as a kid. It’s impossible not to compare my experiences with theirs.
Then there’s the stupid wonderful thing that is Facebook. I get to read what my family and friends are doing without me. A simple status update of “Best girls night out EVER” reminds me of what I’m missing and nearly brings me to tears.
Worst of all, there’s The Blog. I started Momfog as a way to combat mom fog–an outlet for frustration and creativity, a way to connect to adults, a way to discuss non-kid-related subjects. It worked. For a while. Then I started using a writing prompt–RemembeRED. I love doing it. I read some fantastic writing and get some feedback for my own. But it’s all about memoir. I’m forced to look back on my childhood and the constant stream of memories only make me more homesick. It started with The Games of Life which made me think of my best friend and cousin (the writer of the offending Facebook status) and my mamaw. That made me think of my grandma, aunts and uncles, and my other cousins. That led me to write My Old Kentucky Home. That only made things worse. The fog that I thought was harmless and amusing became an ever-present, black, suffocating thing. I thought I was doomed to wander aimlessly in it forever.
And then I got the phone call.
My dear daddy is going to help me come home. My husband has graciously agreed he can survive two weeks without me and the kids. He’s even got a plan for the food situation. He’s going to take advantage of his female co-workers’ sympathy and beg leftovers. I sincerely hope he’s joking, but after tasting the Korean egg rolls he brought home, I’m not sure I’d blame him for trying. His mother has also offered to let him come to her house if he gets lonely. It’s comical, really. The man can cook and I’m sure he will fare just fine in the loneliness department. He’ll have his mistress to keep him busy. I’m speaking of golf, of course. Two weeks of as much golf as he can handle with absolutely no one to gripe about it? Yeah, I’m sure he’ll suffer greatly while I’m gone.
So, just like that, the fog has lifted. I wasn’t depressed. Not really. I just wanted to go home, see my family, and have a girl’s night out with old friends. Guess what? I feel like cleaning my house from top to bottom. Maybe I’ll watch a Lifetime “men are evil” movie and thank my lucky stars for my husband, who may not say “You complete me” out loud but shows me in a million subtle ways that I do. When my kids are fighting and doing their best to make me lose my marbles, I’ll attack them with kisses and get them on the ground for a good ol’ tickle fight. No feelings of inadequacy, no guilt, and no yelling.
Until I have to spend 12 hours alone in the car with them, anyway.