Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Identity crisis

Recently I have been struggling with my identity. Mostly, I feel like I've lost it. The "old, fun" Tracey has been replaced with sleep deprived, stressed Tracey. Not that there is anything to be stressed about. I mean, we just moved, unpacked, hubby deployed, unpacked some more, my grandmother died, found out I had a heart condition...

With the passing of Mother's Day, I realized that I'm having an identity crisis.

I gave up my old life to be a Mom about 4-years ago. Soon after my daughter was born, I freaked out. Gone were the days of going to the movies, taking a weekend trip, or catching a concert on a whim. Now, everything had to be planned with time built in for feedings, unexpected diaper catastrophes, and all the other things that come with a newborn. This wasn't my life anymore. It was her life and I was somehow entrusted with taking care of her. You would think that they 9 months leading up to her birth would have prepared me but apparently that wasn't the case.

As my daughter got older, however, I settled in to motherhood. I even ventured out of what had become our routine to do things like pilates and yoga. Taking time for myself as they say. Then my son was born and I felt the old feelings creeping back. How am I going to do this? Do I really have to plan my day around naps and feeding times again?

We, as moms, put ourselves on the back burner. We sacrifice our time, our looks, our wardrobe, our plans -- heck, our life -- all for the sake of our kids. And what recognition do we get for our efforts? Awards, pay raises, days off? Not usually. We sit back and tell ourselves that we are paid in hugs and kisses and, if we're lucky, a Mother's Day present. But there are the days when that's doesn't seem like enough.

Yesterday was one of those days for me.

My husband is deployed and my daughter has been acting out. I can't tell you for sure that they two are indisputably linked but I'm willing to bet on it. It started out like any other day. I went to get her out of bed and she started scowling at me, telling me to get out of her room. I'm not one to start the day off with a fight so I kept my cool and asked her where she'd like me to go. When she replied "Wait in the closet" my blood began to boil. Who did she think she was talking to?!? But, I kept calm. We continued with the usual routine -- bathroom, breakfast, get dressed -- and set off for music class.

When we got there, something was off. She sat in her spot pouting as the other kids sang, danced and played around her. I gave her about 5 minutes before I asked her what was up. She wouldn't reply. My rule is if you're not participating, there's no reason to stay. So after another 5 minutes or so I suggested we leave to which she agreed. Once we were out the doors, however, her attitude kicked in. Gone was the pouting and in was the screaming. She was mad that I had her leave and told me she wanted to go home without me. Things continued to escalate as she screamed that she didn't want to live with me anymore and she didn't need me. The fit continued in the car and even in our house. I was livid. Eventually she calmed down. We played, had lunch, and went out to ride bikes. About an hour later, she asked to go to the playground. I told her no -- I had already told her the TV and playground were off limits for the rest of the day due to her behavior. And on came another fit. Worse than the first one. Again she screamed that she didn't want to live with me, that she wanted to live in another state. She screeched at the top of her lungs. Kids from other houses stopped playing and some of them came from inside of their homes to see what was going on. I was mortified.

Is this what I gave up my former self for? To be abused by the very child I love and take care of day in and day out? To feel so unappreciated and hurt that she actually made me cry? We're not talking about a 14-year old. She's 4!

As I write this, I wonder if I'm being selfish. Wanting the recognition of dealing with a day like yesterday. Wanting time away. Wanting to be able to do things when I want to without interruption. Are these the thoughts of every mother? The ones we don't dare speak out loud for fear we'll be judged, or worse yet, be deemed a terrible mother?

What do you think?


  1. You're not being selfish, Tracey! I hope things start getting better for you soon. I hope Sam realizes her boundaries sooner than later. Keep your head up!

  2. You aren't selfish Tracey! It's perfectly normal to feel this way I'm learning. Unfortunately you don't have your other half around to help you when you need a mommy time out. So you don't get that breather which we all need more than we realize! Hang in there!

  3. Absolutely not selfish at all!
    Being a parent is a sacrifice, plain and simple. We go into it KNOWING this - but that knowledge doesn't make it any easier.
    We KNOW our children love us. We know we love them right back - 1000-fold. But when they say the hurtful things they do at times, act out, lash out, put us on the fine line between "I'm going to kill you" and "I'm going to cry"'s hard to remember the good stuff.
    My lil guy is very much the same these days - possibly because of separation, possibly because he, too, is nearly 4.
    I know it doesn't make it easier, but parents like you and me ARE out there, feeling your pain and thinking your thoughts. Commiserating.
    And you know what? We need a spa day. ;)
    Hang in there hun! xo ! Dee

  4. I am not a mom, but have several of my friends share the same sentiments you just shared. I can't imagine how hard it is to be a mom, but you're a GREAT mom and Sammy is going through a phase. She's saying those things to push your buttons to test the limits, but that on top of all the other things you listed that you've gone through/are going through right now can just be too much at times, I'm sure :(

    You CAN do this. You're one of the most amazing people I know and I admire and respect you greatly. Hang in there and you know where to find me if you need to vent! Love you!