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Facebook Follow-Up

Between blog post comments and emails,
I’ve received quite a bit of feedback from you parents out
there on yesterday’s “Facebook Depression”
posting. Clearly, I’ve struck a familiar note with a lot of
you, as pretty much everyone was echoing some refrain of
“Sing it sister! I feel ya!”

So I’ve been stuck chewing that cud all day, still trying to
work my way through it. I had a playdate today (four hours at the
pool – and Maddie still went back after dinner for more.
Those aren’t wrinkles, they’re permanent pruney lines
from being in the water All. The. Time.) with a fellow mom
who’s definitely been there – six kids, making me feel
like the amateur as I crab about dealing with two! And while our
conversation skipped over several different topics, we kept coming
back to land on how we felt as moms, our job dissatisfaction even
as we know we wouldn’t trade it for anything. And throughout
my friend's words of wisdom and encouragement was woven a constant
stream of conversation that went something like this:

"Get out of the pool." "Why? What'd I do?" "You whined." "No I
didn't!" "Yes, you did. Speaking in an annoying, sing-songy voice
is whining. Out. And you - (to a brother) - you get out too." "What
did I do?!" "You laughed at her having to get out." "Do you see a
smile on this face?" "I see a smirk, yes I do." Then, under her
breath - "Lord help us, I don't think we're going to make it to
dinner today. This just might be the day we don't."

Huh. Guess it doesn't get any easier with practice, I think to
myself, right before I see my friend's daughter slip scarily in
the water and run sobbing to her mother to be comforted, slights
and bickerings forgotten and forgiven as need overtakes pettiness
and my friend's arms offer absolute grace, the look of muted joy
shining on her face as she is able to make her daughter feel

It’s this dichotomy of constant
restlessness, constant straining against the self-imposed leash
called Motherhood with which I’ve collared myself, juxtaposed
against my deep satisfaction and sense of completeness I have that
I know only exists because of my kids. Thanks to my girls, I know a
side of myself that never existed before them; thanks to those two
beauties, I’m stronger and wiser and more patient and still
than I ever thought I could be.

Because I freakin’ have to be, or I’ll slap them into
next Tuesday as they work my last nerve.

See what I mean? I keep finding glimpses of rest, of contentment
and satisfaction, only to slip off that perch and go flailing again
in stormy water. And what I’ve learned today is that
I’m not the only one – that many of you out there
struggle with this same issue. I think that’s why so many of
us turn to the Internet for comfort and companionship: first off,
God bless the Internet for allowing us to write that chatty note to
a girlfriend at 3 a.m., or check in with an online community during
those dark morning hours when we’re in full thrall of the
post-partum baby blues and looking for someone-anyone –
who’s been through it. But beyond all that, we can hear the
tales of tedium and temper tantrums from other women and know
we’re not alone. You find your girlfriends where you can, and
the Internet’s anonymity offers a chance to be more honest,
more truthful and raw, than you might be face-to-face, worried
about appearances and how you’ll be judged.

Of course, since many family members use this website as their own
personal “I wonder what Jen did today . . .” my
anonymity is somewhat shot. But judging by the letters I get from
you girls out there, saying I’ve touched a nerve or hit the
nail on the head or whatever as I rant about yet another
mind-numbing day that I’m entirely too ungrateful about,
I’m not alone here.

So to all everyone who sent me those notes of encouragement and
“Amen!” I say thank you – I’m happy to hear
there are other restless women in the boat with me, and that you
don’t think it makes me any less of a good mother for
admitting it. And these moods pass – the lure of the
childless life palls before the last note of my child’s
laughter dies down – and I’m reasonably recharged and
happy to go on.

As I said to my friend Michelle last night, don’t worry
– I understand the privilege I have in raising my kids. I
believe that children are our future, blah blah blah.

But sometimes all I want is a spa day. I don’t even care if
the cotton towels are organic.

Ok, yes, I care. But it’s not a deal-breaker.


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