Recharging Mama

Caryn: Okay. So I’m going to flake the blog up here a bit—after all these wonderful, deep and moving comments on grief and jealousy and contentment. But I need to vent, to lay something out, and frankly, it’s easier to just start typing than to pick up the phone to call someone (don’t even know who I’d call, really….)

But anyway, last night I took all three of my kids with to the grocery store. God only know what I was thinking—because I know better than to do this to myself and I try to avoid it at all costs. But my husband was harried and trying to work at home and the kids kept interrupting him, and I was trying to be loving. So instead of dashing out by myself at 6:30 pm so I could pick up a coffee cake to bring with to MOPS this morning, I got boots and coats and hats on the kids and took them all with. After all, I just needed some raspberry lattice coffee cake. How bad could it be?

To make a long-at-the-store-story short, my 2-year-old refuses to ride in the cart seat, my 4 and 2-year-old keep bending over to show their butts to customers (everyone else thought this was hilarious—as would have I were they not my kids), and my nearly 7-year-old is angry because I wouldn’t look at the markers longer. And because I ended up getting milk, frozen fruit, peanut butter, eggs, and English muffins when I said we were “ONLY GETTING COFFEE CAKE.”

Point being: This was one of those times when I turned into THAT MOM. And I hate when I turn into her. You know the one? Crazy-eyed, crazy-haired, worn-out, ragged, snapping at her kids while they run amuk. I hate the way it feels—and I hate what I think it does to my kids.

Both feelings stem from the same source, I think: That it’s the sort of out-of-body mom experiences. Where we go through a situation as someone who feels–and even looks—nothing like us. I come home from these situations (which, frankly, involve Wal-Mart more than the local grocery store, though they can arise anywhere really. For what it’s worth: I have YET to have a Target make me feel this way! So feel free to sponsor the Rev, Target!!!) beat down and burned out. My kids are annoyed (because their lovey mommy has morphed into a monster), and I’m annoyed (because ICK, who have I become?).

But then somewhere along the way, I usually remember to breathe and seek some sort—any sort—of recharge. Last night that meant grabbing my 3rd to last Diet Coke (see you on Easter Sunday!), ducking back into my office, and plunking away at the computer. Alone. Often just 10 minutes of quiet time to “process” can calm me down. Though 10 hours would be better. (I’m quite introverted.)

Other times (often times, actually), I recharge by grabbing a book and escaping that way—even as my kids play around me. Sometimes I need a walk or a drive or just to sing along with some loud music.

Okay. I’m rambling here—I just wonder what other people do when they’re SPENT, running on empty, how they get back to themselves after becoming THAT MOM (or THAT WOMAN or MAN, as the case may be). How does everybody else recharge?

Carla: I love that your kids were showing their butts to everyone. That’s the kind of stuff you need to store away to haul out again at their graduation party or groom’s dinner.

I have been spent of late, too. I have a ton of work that’s all due at once, for some reason we are having a three-week run of four-day school weeks which means I am losing three days of work just when I need it the most. And my husband spent the weekend laid up in bed with a bad back. So that meant I was single mom on a deadline, with a ton of laundry to do, people coming over on Sunday night, a child recovering from a sore throat/fever combo, and on a DEADLINE. As you can imagine, it wasn’t pretty. (Single moms, seriously you are strong, strong women.)

Anyway, my coping strategy is to move to the next thing. When I start to think about the long day ahead or how I’m going to get everything done or what we will eat for dinner, I get overwhelmed and then I get snappy. But one thing at a time I can do. It has taken me 12 years of parenting to figure this out, but it helps. A lot. If time opens up for a run to Target (why you go to the other place is beyond me) then we’ll go. But if I try to plan it, I know it’s going to ruin everyone’s day as I get all commanding and demanding trying to get us out the door. If we eat cereal for dinner, no one seems to care all that much.

Of course, I am also now planning to cash in on my “lost weekend.” I’m either kicking the fam to Grandma’s house for one of those long weekends so I can get in a couple of days of solid work, or sending myself to Grandma’s house for a little child-free W&W (work and wine).

Caryn: I may send my kids to your mom too (what IS with these 4-day weeks at school?!?!?)—or join you. Work and wine is a great combo. Especially for those of us who work in ministry. The Spirit really shows up, I think, with a nice red. (I KID. Though this would be a good test to see if any of my clients or my publisher read this thing!)

So Carla drinks and Caryn reads and writes to recharge. How about the rest of you?

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47 responses to this post.

  1. i am really terrible at this, and we don’t have babysitters or friends or grandma/grandpa to send the kids off to (or myself off to) for recharging.

    i think two things i do are take pictures and blog. those are good outlets for me. but if i have a deadline looming, i really don’t take time to do either one, so that doesn’t help.

    and in the store, i always think my kids are the worst EVER. i look around and see other moms staying calm and cool while i am saying “no, don’t touch that. please don’t break that. get out of the clothes rack before you knock it down. don’t pull your sister’s hair. everyone leave the baby alone. baby, please stop yelling.”

    so it will be interesting to hear what other people do in these situations…at least if they are honest suggestions like what you guys have written. because i know all the “what i’m supposed to do” in these situations, but i swear, the people who came up with those ideas aren’t parents, i’m sure of it…

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  2. Posted by Cindy on February 24, 2009 at 1:14 pm

    Ah, I recognize that screaming-maniac-mother-from-hell I was. I’m blessed, in that I work outside the home and didn’t very often have to take everyone with me. I do remember having them all in the monster-cart at Target, and having people staring at us. I kept trying to figure out what the kids were doing (all are ADHD, so it was a natural assumption). I finally realized it was because they were black and I wasn’t, not because they were misbehaving. Ritalin was our lifesaver. (joking, people).
    Actually, I’d bribe them. They could pick out something small and hold it til checkout. If they’d “earned” it, I’d get it for them. If not, oh well. I’d move them quickly to the car and let the screaming commence. Every honest mom will have had that experience, and few will think less of you. Relax and laugh. Bad behavior at the grocery store doesn’t mean they’ll be mass murders. Usually.

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  3. Posted by Cindy on February 24, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Oh, and be careful when you take them. NEVER naptime or mealtime. Preferably right AFTER a meal. (And after potty or diaper change..)

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  4. Posted by Carla on February 24, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    I want to be clear on one little tiny thing: My parents live about two hours away, so we don’t have Grandma’s Drop-Off Day Care at our disposal and getting my peeps to go there involves a whole logistical extravaganza that is often not worth it. The liquor store, however, is only a few blocks away.

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  5. And here I was feeling bad for ending it with the little joke about you drinking, Carla. Glad you rammed the point home. : )

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  6. I don’t know why, but it always makes me feel better when I hear of, or see first hand, someone else’s children misbehaving in public and see the mother become “that mom”. Its a kind of “been there, done that” club. It helps to know we’re not alone and we are not the worst mom’s in the world!
    If I really think about when I turn into “that mom”, its usually when either the kids or I shouldn’t be out in public anyway. One or more of us is tired, hungry, upset about some trivial thing…. But, then again, its hard to find a time when one of us isn’t!!
    To make life less stressful, I try to get stuff done alone or with just one child.

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  7. all of the above…
    –alone time
    –some sort of caffeine–hot tea or coffee or a treat from starbucks. usually a breve. yes-it’s made with espresso & half & half. don’t knock it til you try it. it’s sort of like a meal.
    –reading–books, magazines, fashion web sites, political web sites, blogs
    –going outside–this one helps all of us. we spend a good amount of time outside, and i’ve learned that if we shake it out there even for 10 minutes, that we all come back in a little more relaxed and a little nicer to each other.
    –chocolate
    –wine. i usually wait until 5pm. i have been known to have a glass earlier than that, though. i’m not advocating alcoholism. just gladdening the heart.
    –my kids have rest time/room time for an hour & a half every afternoon, this started as crib time as soon as they were 3 months old. it has saved my life. seriously. sometimes i work on dinner or do something productive. sometimes i watch tv. usually reality tv.
    –i also am getting better at reading everyone’s mood–mine & my kids. i can usually tell if the trip to the grocery store, walmart, etc. is going to turn into an errand from hell & i try to figure out an alternative way to handle what needs to be handled. iI have a decent amount of time to myself while my kids are in preschool/school to run errands, volunteer in my community, care for others in my neighborhood & whatnot. i’m very grateful for this. i think if we couldn’t afford sitters or pre-school, i would definitely look to my friends more often for help & return the favors to them. we do this for each other pretty often, but probably need to do it more.
    -i also try to not compare myself & my kids to those women with kids who seem to have enjoyable, pleasant experiences while at walmart or the grocery store. i’m not them, my kids are not them. my kids are more curious than a lot of kids i know and they talk more often than a lot of kids i know. (i’m thrilled that God created them this way–i really am not complaining about these traits) i also am an introvert. i like being around others, but after a couple of hours, i’m worn out & need to re-charge. therefore i may need more breaks from my kids than some moms. at least that’s the way i make myself feel better about the whole thing.
    -i’m not afraid to tell them that mommy’s ears & brain need a break, too. i engage with my kids, spend a ton of time with them, love on them, etc. but i don’t have to do all of that 100% of the time. they need to realize that i can’t be in constant communication with them or be mentally engaged the whole time we’re in the car/running errands for a couple of hours.
    -i make sure i get some good time with other adults each week. i get together with a friend or we have others over for dinner at least once each week and we go to community group (small group through our church) once each week
    -my husband & I make sure we have time together without the kids on a regular basis.
    -he also spends a lot of time with them when he’s not at work. he rocks.
    -also–it’s important to realize that it gets easier as our kids get older. i am amazed at the energy i have now that my kids are 4 & 6 compared to when they were younger. i know part of it is me, how i’ve changed, & that i now have more realistic expectations. but part of it is that they are older and don’t require as much of my energy now.

    ok. i’ll stop now. writing and thinking about all of this is making me very grateful… so very grateful.

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  8. kristi-just read your comment. it makes me sad when women don’t have any help. i don’t think God ever intended for us to do this alone. one thing that has been helpful for us is for me to go to the store/run errands on saturday mornings while my husband spends time with the kids. i hope you can get some ideas on how to get some more time alone. 🙂

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  9. well i have to say that my husband is willing to give me as much time as i will take. however, i am a work-at-home mom with constant deadlines, and that’s where i find difficulty separating when to be a “mom” and when to do “work” stuff. so i end up punishing myself and not taking the time away that i need.

    however, i AM getting a haircut tomorrow night! hooray! an hour and a half by myself! 🙂

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  10. Posted by Carla on February 24, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Kristi–I am in that same place. Working from home with a preschooler in the mix. And it is brutal. I mean, I’m grateful to be able to do the kind of work that I do, work that’s flexible and do-from-home-able. But there are so many times when it just about kills me. Breakdown #87 happened about two months ago when I had a gigantic project due and there simply weren’t enough hours left between me and the deadline for me to make it. I am fast approaching that same place (it seems to happen a lot) where I feel like I’m going to lose my mind. And like you, the thing that suffers is anything remotely like time to myself. Those preschool hours are precious and I have to use them to work or I risk not getting the work done. That means errands are always with a kid or three. I keep telling myself that this season will come to an end soon (ish). And honestly, that helps. This is not the picture of the rest of my life.

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  11. kristi- ok. your circumstances are different than mine. 🙂 i’d love for you (and others) to write more about this part of your journey on your blog or here when the topic arises as you figure out how to balance work, family, alone time. i’m going to have to figure some of that out, as well. i hope to start grad school or seminary soon, then will work (if the economy improves & i can get a job) when i’m finished with school. i will obviously have to make some changes because i won’t have as much time as i have now…

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  12. carla~i really appreciate you being honest on here, because i have felt so alone in the struggle in trying to balance motherhood and working from home. most people tell me, “oh you are so lucky to be working at home.” and i have felt depressed at times because i feel like i complain about my job instead of being grateful for it.

    so even though i’m not rejoicing that either of us has a hard time…i am very grateful to have the camaraderie.

    charlotte~i have been thinking of blogging about some of this stuff lately, but every time i want to sit down and do it, i end up having work to do. and honestly, i feel stuck in the “i don’t know what i’m doing phase.” when does that end? does anyone know? is it sort of like adolescence for parenthood? like, when my kids finally go to college and i’m sitting in the empty nest, i will go “oh, NOW i get it.”

    you know, most days i feel like i need serious counseling. i’m too grouchy, too impatient, not loving enough, on the verge of crazy. seriously. and i feel like my husband gets to be the “fun” parent, which i’m crazy jealous of. (ok, that could go on the last post, but i’m not going back there!)

    so i cling to the hope that one day things will be different. and then i struggle because i feel like i’ve been doing that the past 6 years, and i wonder what i’ve missed out on because i’m always looking forward to “when life will be better.” (sigh)

    ok, back to work… 🙂

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  13. Posted by Robyn on February 24, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Just curious… is the Kristi that caps at the beginning of sentences the same Kristi that doesn’t? Is the Kristi commenting on this post the same one from the last post? ‘Cause I think I know one of the Kristis IRL, but not the other…?

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  14. hi robyn~i’m the kristi who gives a link to my blog. the other kristi doesn’t give a link to a blog, so i don’t know if she has one or not. and you are correct: we are not the same kristi. 🙂

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  15. Kristi: Don’t feel bad about sometimes needing to “complain” about working from home! I have the same reaction when people tell me how “lucky” I am. While I am grateful to be able to do it—it’s a crazy, crazy life with few boundaries and zero breaks. And I find that very few people understand that just because I work from home doesn’t mean it’s not “real” work. A lot of people think it’s some little hobby thing that happens here …

    And I’m with you on the feeling stuck stuff, waiting for life to get better. It’s normal, I think. We work-at-home moms are sort of pioneering some new territory here—it’s good territory, but exhausting.

    Back to work for me too!

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  16. Posted by smile4ang on February 24, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    Wow, different boat same destination? I work with kids, and have one. I like the escape (both to work, and from work) but last year with all of the unfortunate events found I could not recharge. Outside time does help, all of us. (today we walked around the icy block at 7:30pm). Last year I made a big change, I decided to take one evening out for myself, with my husband’s blessing. I now go to dance classes every monday night (Scottish Country Dancing, if you were wondering). I am fortunate that the class meets 8 blocks from my house. I have met new people, made friends, and gotten some darn good excersize, along with having some “me” time. (I am an extrovert, and need people). I also take every opportunity to spend time with friends, with or without my daughter.
    I am also fortunate to have a sister with 3 kids (2 within a year of mine) living 10 miles from me. We try to help eachother out. It is nice to have the community.

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  17. i have to share that yesterday morning i met a friend and her 3 kids at the park and we walked around the trail there for about 30 minutes. i have never done this with another mom friend (as i’ve mentioned before, i usually haven’t had mom friends in my life locally).

    that, plus the coffee i drank yesterday, made it a fantastic day! seriously. i think walking and talking to a friend, even for that short amount of time, was so rejuvenating. our plan is to do it 2 times a week right after we drop our kids off at school.

    i think i make up lots of excuses to hide in a hole and not talk to anyone and then complain about how i don’t have any friends, don’t get out. my husband is constantly telling me “go get coffee! go to the mall! go work out!” and it’s just so hard for me because i’m a control freak and i think “well if i leave he will secretly be mad that he has to watch the kids” or “the house will be a disaster when i get back and i don’t want to have to clean it.”

    this is so wrong. i need to embrace these moments, because every time i do it makes such a difference in me. it’s just so much easier for me to be reclusive for some reason, especially when life is difficult.

    and this brings me to another thing i have been thinking about lately: why is it that i can have such a more positive attitude about things when life is going okay? when i don’t have projects all piled up, when we can pay all of our bills this month instead of picking and choosing, when my husband and i are getting along–when life is like this, i think “ok, i can really handle this!”

    but in the midst of serious crap over the past few years, i felt like i was falling apart (ok, i WAS falling apart…). a few friends told me, “we don’t know how you do it–you stay so strong.” but on the inside i was cursing God and blaming everyone around me, especially my husband, even though it wasn’t his fault he lost his job.

    and i have friends who have been through much, much worse than even i have experienced, and somehow they can still praise God in the midst of everything, while here i am, flip flopping back and forth. it makes me wonder some days if i am a believer.

    ok, that was probably way too much information. 🙂 maybe a topic for another blog…i just think motherhood makes me question so much about myself, and it’s so tough finding my way with little people following behind, and wanting so badly not to screw everything (and everyone) up!

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  18. Posted by April G. on February 25, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Recharging is something I have recently decided to make more of a priority. Otherwise, honestly, THAT MOM comes out! And, I hate her – she scares me. Just in the past week I have started to feel a bit of a weight lift. Maybe it is because my son has been in a surprisingly good mood. I am praying this is because he is almost three. Maybe we are seeing the light at the end of the two-year-old tunnel. I am finding myself enjoying him more than being afraid of the next meltdown. This past fall I joined a MOPS group. I LOVE it! It gives me a scheduled break, and I really enjoy connecting with the other moms. We get together as a group regularly outside of MOPS also. I have also reconnected with old friends and gone out with them, and I joined a knitting group that meets twice a month. (Quiet time away from children!) All of these things help. But, maybe what has helped the most is my decision to go back to teaching. (If I can find a job!) Knowing that my days at home are numbered has helped me enjoy the ones left. And I feel like I have more of life purpose. I am certainly not saying that being a mom isn’t enough for some women, maybe it should be for me, but it just isn’t. I am just not happy staying home, especially in this economy.

    I think there are a variety of ways to recharge, and those ways may be different for each woman. But, for me, those things have helped recently.

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  19. I’d love to say that I eat complex carbs and hit the treadmill, but, well, yeah.

    I am a firm believer in herbal supplements: taking motherwort when I remember to, helps, YES, most definitely red wine helps. Laughing with my friends. Going to bed early after a hefty dose of valerian. Cracking open one of the Outlander books is always a favorite escape of mine, too.

    Honestly, just knowing that “tomorrow is a new day” keeps me going most of the time. It’s so cool to me that we get so many fresh starts in life.

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  20. Posted by April G. on February 25, 2009 at 9:13 am

    I forgot to mention, Carla, that I agree with you on the liquor thing. A glass of wine can make many things better at the end of the day. (Everything in moderation – this is coming from someone who has never been drunk. Well, I tried once…but I didn’t get very far.) Also, B vitamins help a lot. I’ll have to try the motherwort.

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  21. Posted by Carol H. on February 25, 2009 at 9:19 am

    I once had a child with a melt-down in Target. It was horrible with people looking at me with blaming in their stares. In the parking lot (with the child still screaming) a kind soul told me I was handling it just great. I cried.

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  22. I’m in the camp of people with no family close by, and all my friends have young children of their own, so I don’t really rely on them either to give us breaks. But I do use a babysitter a couple of times a week and that is an expense that is absolutely worth every penny, not to mention necessary if I am to have any hope of getting meaningful work done (I’m a freelance writer). Being able to exercise my gifts and use my brain in ways that go beyond trying to negotiate with my 1st grader to do his homework is critical to my well-being, even if I don’t actually make all that much from my professional efforts (usually just enough to cover that sitter!) but the psychological/mental benefits are huge.

    And, as a pretty high “I” (introvert) myself, I find that I need some regular escapism to balance out how drained I feel at the end of the day. (I have three little boys, 6, 4, and 18 mos.) I love to read but frankly most nights after the kids are asleep, I don’t have the mental energy for it. So here are my favorite guilty pleasures: 1) 24. Whatever Jack Bauer is up to immediately makes me feel that my day is going pretty well in comparison. 2) Top Chef. Tonight is the season finale which I’m glad about as it means I’ll gain an hour to do other things on Wednesday nights after this, but I will miss it. 3) Ugly Betty. Let’s just call her a soulmate in many ways. It’s a little embarrassing to confess to enjoying television but quite honestly, it really helps me relax and I try to keep consumption in check.

    On a more productive end of the spectrum, I’m also part of a monthly writer’s group with other awesome and amazing Christian moms…some of whom are regular readers and contributers to this blog but I won’t reveal your identities!…but being with like-minded, inspiring women is so restorative for me. I don’t need a big social life but regular interactions like these are just right and give me a great boost. Women need to connect with other women in particular, I think. Something about sharing all our similar experiences helps to lessen those feelings of isolation, even for someone like me who values her solitude so much!

    Lastly: occasional time away from the kids really helps to make one’s heart grow fonder for them! I don’t have these times away often, but maybe once a year or every other year, I participate in some sort of event/conference that gives me a chance to hang out with adults for a day or two, and provides my husband a chance to play Mr. Mom. There are so many fringe benefits to doing this that I cannot even list them all. Let’s just say that even though I come back to a house that’s in shambles and laundry that is piled high in every room, it’s all worth it to know that my husband experiences, for at least a short while, what it’s like to be me. =)

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  23. Posted by Heather on February 25, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Wait. THAT MOM/WOMAN isn’t the normal one I’m supposed to be? I thought that was a main part of being a mother/employee/spouse/friend/sister. It’s easier to let the frazzled hair, dark circles, unbrushed teeth show for me…I don’t hide it well, or rather I don’t try to. There is no energy to do so.

    And I’ve walked through the grocery store crying because it was either that or set my kids on a display and walk out alone (to go home and take a shower and brush my teeth).

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  24. my easy solution is wine and any amount of time ALONE – preferably away from my house. My best option is to go out to eat by myself with a book, then after that go to the coffee shop and listen to an audio book while knitting then smoke a clove outside and stay at the coffee shop as long as possible then take the loooong route back to the car just breathing deep and taking time to be present in the moment.

    My deeper answer is that “crazed mom” usually emerges when I have other, usually deeper emotions going on. Yesterday I went off on my 7 year old and realized that it was because I was feeling jealous and resentful of my husband’s freedom because we only have 1 car.

    I’ve discovered that generally, women are good at just “getting on with it”. We care for sick kids when we ourselves are sick, we run and get groceries at midnight when we’re exhausted because it has to be done, we clean the house with sprained ankle because, frankly, who else is going to do it? This comes in handy in practicalities but isn’t so great for our emotional health.

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  25. Posted by karineyh on February 25, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Getting out of the house helps me tremendously. If someone had told me when I was single and busy with more things to keep me occupied than I needed to be doing that something as simple as getting out of the house would become a respite for me I would have laughed out loud. Back in those days I wished for time at home. Anyhow, I have been having a really tough time managing my “dark” side lately. And, there are days that I literally feel like I am coming out of my skin by about 5 p.m., and mothers know that is when the toughest time of the day starts…dinner, bathtime, chasing son around house while trying to brush teeth…you know, the mad dash to bedtime. And, I am learning that I can’t stay home for more than one day without getting out. Now that my son started pre-school I have two mornings a week to myself, although they are usually filled with a small group I attend and grocery shopping, but having that break is sanity in a bottle for me. That and coffee with a friend, which I call sanity in a cup.

    I also have to admit that I use TV as a break, too. This is one of those things I thought I would never turn to before I had kids and still clung to the dream of being a perfect mom. Sometimes popping him in front of a DVD or cartoons (the educational PBS kind) does just the trick. I am only admitting this because I don’t really know any of you, so you can’t call me up and tell me what a bad mom I am!

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  26. Posted by karineyh on February 25, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    Oh, and of course a glass of wine once we’ve made it past bedtime. As I am living in a Latin country it’s a chance to explore more Chilean and Spanish wines. Hmm. When’s bedtime?

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  27. Posted by karineyh on February 25, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    OK…seriously. I don’t know why my picture shows up. I tried to take it off so I could be anonymous like everyone else, but it still comes back up. Anyone, help! I know it’s annoying!

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  28. Posted by April G. on February 25, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    All this wine talk makes me think I should call my hubby and have him pick some up on the way home.

    karineyh, I was always anti-TV, too. Now I thank God everyday for PBS Kids!

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  29. Posted by April G. on February 25, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    See, here I was wondering how all of you got your pics up. LOL

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  30. mmm, wine. yes, must have a glass tonight to celebrate finishing a job!

    this conversation has really made my day. it’s so comforting to know i’m really not alone.

    and karineyh, you know how we feel about tv at our house. i’m sure you learned all about how to use the tv as a sitter from me! 🙂 i like to think that Noggin really is like preschool on tv…

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  31. Posted by smile4ang on February 25, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    “the dark side” I like that. I do find that taking a walk with friends is a great “force” stabalizer. I don’t do Caffene but Chocolate is a great help! Gardening is nice too, and now that my daughter is 4 I have a feeling she will be helping and bonding with me over it more now. Walking to the coffee shop that is a few blocks away for some improv play dates is a nice way to cope also.

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  32. Posted by Bookgirl on February 25, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    Caryn: Flake away!

    I hesitate to post here because I’m not a mom. But I ask myself what I do to recharge, and to be honest, I don’t do much.

    I was struck by that. And as a singleton, my life and my answers are going to look very different from the answers listed above.

    And here’s why: I live alone. I eat alone. I do a whole lot of stuff in my life all my myself. I recharge by getting outside and exercising, but most often, it’s alone. I shop alone. (I know this is sounding dreamy to some of you, and that’s why I’m writing carefully.) I’m more of an extrovert. So I find that recharging means inviting people over, making lunch dates, often with FAMILIES. And this brings me back to the post earlier about collective balance. And I’m not going to be arrogant and speak for all single women. That would be foolish. But sometimes, especially in our culture of fragmented community and far-flung family, single people, both men and women, really need family time. Please don’t interpret this as single-neediness. Healthy singles know not to monopolize people’s time. We don’t really expect fancy meals or lots of entertainment. Some of us would be willing to babysit or cart kids to preschool.

    I have always been one to challenge singles to reach out to families first. Because we know you’re tired and might not have time for one more person in life. And I think singles need to fight the temptation to stay at home all the time. But since I’m on a mom blog, maybe I’ll try to bridge the gap a little bit here and say that sometimes the best recharge (or singles ministry?) is an invitation to lunch/dinner or to the park.

    I have some families that have shared holidays and special events with me. Sometimes they share ordinary events, too. And those times have been precious — and recharging — to me.

    Reply

  33. Posted by Bookgirl on February 25, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    And as I’m posting this, I’m reminded of the simple things I need to do more: Garden (in a few months), listen to my favorite podcasts. Connect with more friends by phone instead of just by e-mail or FB.

    Reply

  34. Posted by Bookgirl on February 26, 2009 at 2:07 am

    Now I’m tempted to ask my mom how SHE recharged circa 1979. Because she had a houseful of us. And certainly no computer and often no car.

    Reply

  35. Posted by Anonymous on February 26, 2009 at 8:03 am

    Bookgirl-I’d love to hear what your mom has to say. I asked my mom & my grandmother about this a few years ago. My mom worked full-time. We were in daycare by the time we were 6-weeks-old. She was also involved in community organizations, started her own business, etc. She also had numerous affairs (hence the anonymous name here.) before becoming a Christian when I was in high school.

    My grandma had a full-time “housekeeper because it was really cheap back then.” She basically had a black female employee who came every day to clean the house, cook, & help out with her four kids. She paid her very little to do all of these things. My grandparents were not well-off by any means, but they were able to afford substantial help. I’m not advocating practical slave-labor. I’m just saying this isn’t really something I can talk to the women in my family about because they have no idea what I’m going through.

    My mom & dad are very helpful with my kids & have been since my first child was born. They spend long weekends with them several times each year. That is a gift.

    Reply

  36. More proof that we can’t do this alone, shortly before our third child was born, a friend of ours asked if she could live with us while she was in grad school. We don’t have a big house, but we were able to rearrange so she had her own room. She lived her for 4 years and I have often told her that I would have been institutionalized if she hadn’t been here. Just having one more set of arms/hands around make a huge difference for all of us. Since she was in school, she had some flexibility in her schedule and she did about 10 hours a week of babysitting for me so I could work.

    I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but it was such a great experience for all of us. Our friend wrestles with the loneliness of being single in her 30s and it was a huge blessing to her to have a family to come home to. Obviously, it was a blessing to us to have another wonderful adult in the house. And it was a huge blessing to our kids to have this wonderful woman around who was the perfect combination of parent, friend, and big sister.

    We really can’t do this on our own.

    Reply

  37. Posted by Kristi on February 26, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    First of all, ((hugs)) to all of you! Those moments really get to all of us. Right now, I feel like I am having them a lot- I am 6 1/2 months pregnant and have a 2 year old! Everything is a huge battle for me, either from his being 2 or from my fatigue/nausea/hormones, etc.

    What helps me is 10-15 minutes alone time. I put a TV in his room early in the pregnancy (I will admit to this major mommy no-no), and he plays independently while I blog or upload/edit photos. It really does help.

    Also, I try not to go to the store with him. I leave him with my husband, so that when I go to the store I can start by getting myself a nice, hot latte and take time surrounded by the fresh and brilliant colors of the produce section. That usually helps.

    Otherwise, mostly, just recognizing that everyone gets there sometimes is the biggest help of all.

    I think that mothers who pretend to always have it together really do a disservice to new mothers. New mamas need to know that no one has a perfectly clean house, a perfectly behaved child plus time to train for a triathalon. TV moms are not real moms- they are fiction.

    Honestly, something has to give somewhere, and that should be normalized. They need to know that it is ok to have hairy pits and dust bunnies in the corners from time to time.

    So, again, ((hugs)) to everyone.

    Reply

  38. Posted by Kristi on February 26, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    Oh, and yes, we are different Kristi’s. I do blog, but it is private so linking it would be somewhat worthless… 🙂

    Reply

  39. Posted by Bookgirl on February 26, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    I really don’t know how my mom did it.

    Maybe I should get her on the blog. She would probably just say something like: “I don’t know. I just did what I had to do, one day at a time.” In fact, that’s exactly what she’d say. She was caring for very ill parents AND in-laws and baby-sitting all the time, too. I don’t know how she did it. But she was busy all the time. I know, though, that she expected us to stay busy with chores and housework, too. We definitely did a lot of fun stuff, but I remember all of us working alongside of her, too.

    She cleaned houses for other people. Maybe she recharged then!

    Reply

  40. Posted by Robyn on February 26, 2009 at 2:28 pm

    I read. And take hot bubble baths. And drink wine. And eat chocolate. Mostly, though, I am a firm believer in escaping into fiction. I also love my Netflix.

    I am a super introvert, though that really surprises people who don’t know me well. Sometimes, I tell my 2.5-year-old, “MOMMY needs a time out.” So I put on Wonder Pets or Backyardigans, go in my room, and shut my door for 10 minutes. Sometimes it even works. If it’s after my husband is home, I run a bath and tell him, “You are on duty. Do not disturb me.” Sometimes that even works too. 😛

    Reply

  41. Posted by Laura S. on February 26, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    I really need to thank all of you for the honesty. I am a month from delivering baby #2, while still adjusting to parenting my two year-old…..forever adjusting.

    As I prepare for this second child the predominant movie reel I have running these days pictures me in a messy living-room, toddler running around crazy, I am crying on the sofa nursing all day long…another part of this lovely picture is that I’m starving for good food, and there isn’t even any cereal. Day after day after day.

    I just want to say how helpful it is to hear other women’s stories, it makes all the difference knowing we’re not alone and crazy. Sometimes I think parenthood is way more than I ever bargained for…. and somehow I will get through the next bunch of years.

    Reply

  42. Robyn: I’m a super introvert, too, and sometimes I think that’s at the root of my problems. I so desperately need time alone and yet am so constantly surrounded and clung to….

    Laura S.: It DOES make “all the difference knowing we not alone and crazy.” Thanks for writing that!!! Even if some days your movie reel IS real life (my living room is currently messy beyond belief and I still feel like crying on the sofa while my kids play), you won’t be alone in your craziness and you will get through it. : ) Congrats on the impending birth of your baby!

    Reply

  43. Hello Carla/Caryn,

    I follow your blog mostly bcuz I know Carla from the porch. And, I find you ladies wonderful.

    Recently I came across a website you may or may not be interested in. But to be honest, I don’t know a ton about it. It seems to be a good way to maybe connect with other moms and what they’re doing in the realm of “momhood”.

    “The Mom Bloggers Club”

    Reply

  44. So nice to read and know I’m not alone.

    Reply

  45. Just passing by.Btw, you website have great content!

    _________________________________
    Making Money $150 An Hour

    Reply

  46. Posted by Pamela Heatley on March 3, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Man, do I wish i had a blog to come to when my 3 kids were young. I had them so close together. 3 in 3 and a half years. Was I crazy? Yes, and I spent many an afternoon in the Shoprite or the Walmart stepping over a screaming child (mine of course) at the check out counter because she wanted the candy coincidentally right at her eye level. What to do? – give in and make the next visit even harder or endure the screaming and bare the looks of the other shoppers pretending this never happened to them.

    I don’t really remember how I relaxed but I can tell you that now I have 2 teen-agers and I throw the tantrums and they stare at me.

    Reply

  47. Posted by Bookgirl on March 3, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    http://blogs2.startribune.com/blogs/cribsheet/

    Similar discussion of “that mom” in Target…..

    Reply

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