My Children Will Survive If I…

I heard my daughter scream then yell mom from her bedroom. I could tell by how many O’s she put in mom that she was about to throw one of her brothers under the bus. I instantly went into a fight or flight response. Since I had been fighting with them all day and subsequently loosing, I fled. I slipped into my bedroom closet as she came barreling out of her room letting another long-winded mom roll off her tongue. My mind began to generate its usual banter, blocking out her persistent yearning to rat out her brother.  How did I get here again? After months of trying to clear myself a path I was entangled in the vines with weeds growing around my feet. Every time I sit in front of the computer to do some writing (a little something for myself) they smell it. They hunt me down like a pack of wolves and gnaw at me until I have no choice but to abandon post.  Constant interruptions mixed with the drudgery of daily chores had once again taken over and stopped me in my tracks. I was trapped – not only behind the depressing sight of my skinny jeans but in my world where doing something for me is forbidden. As my mind went silent from defeat, I noticed an odd sound; kids, playing together without fighting. While I was throwing myself a pity party in the dark, the conflict that had made me stuff myself in the closet had resolved itself  – I emerged enlightened.

 I realized my children will survive if I don’t referee every fight. For that matter they would most likely survive if I don’t answer every call for mom, do every dish or make every bed – everyday. So, why do I keep doing it? Maybe I am a victim of the routine – the monotonous stay-at-home mom daily drudge that, after years, lulls your mind into a trance until your actions are robotic and each day is a carbon copy of the next.  This routine overrides rational thinking and replaces it with the urge to make chores priority. We allow the routine to lead us into a world of cooking and cleaning because our children deserve to eat healthy and dwell in a sterile environment. So we follow the path of carbon copy day’s barely feeling the cuts from thorns or itch of poison ivy until we find ourselves hiding in the closet from our kids. I am at constant odds with the routine – every time I try to clear a better path by doing something for me, the routine calls and I am pulled back into the thickets.

After the closet episode I was determined to veer off from the routine. I dropped the kids at school, came home and sat in front of my computer hoping to squeeze in some writing time. Then I smelled it – the syrup that was stuck on the plates that were left in the sink from breakfast. I made myself stay in front of the computer, fight the urge of the routine but the syrup taunted me until all I could think about was how much of a mess the house was. I put up a good fight, made some valid points to myself but in the end, routine won. I am caught in this cycle so often that instead of clearing my path I walk in circles digging myself into a hole too deep for an easy climb.

Are all stay-at-home moms just closet routine addicts, unable to hang on to the rational thinking that our children will survive if we leave the breakfast dishes until noon?  Will they survive if I don’t vacuum?  Will they survive if I don’t do the laundry?  Will they survive if I do something for myself? Will I survive if I don’t?

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41 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kali Capps
    Sep 06, 2010 @ 06:04:25

    I think you’re good on everything but the laundry. 😉
    I can totally relate to this post. I focus on doing something for myself during the 2 days a week my 4 year old goes to day care. Unfortunately, that “something” usually ends up being homework. It doesn’t quite have the same effect.
    I’ve gone the entire day a few times without so much as washing one dish. I’ll wash my face – and that’s it for me. I’ll do anything but something productive. When my husband got home after the 1st day this happened, he made a few snide comments. I told him we were having left overs. If he didn’t want them, there’s cereal in the cabinet. The next couple times I took a day off, he didn’t say a word. Smart man. 😉
    You have got to reset yourself in order to stay mentally and emotionally available, in the long run. If the closet is the only place you can get a minute to yourself, put a comfy pillow in there so you can relax your body and your mind while you get your 5 minutes.
    I’m still relatively new at this, but I’ll tell you what – it makes a huge difference. It’s in the best interest of your entire family.

    I found your blog on the “Honest Moms” group. I will be returning to read more! I love your style. Hang in there! You’re definitely not alone.

    Kali

    Reply

    • Kali Capps
      Sep 06, 2010 @ 06:36:42

      For some reason my name (above) does not link back to my site correctly. If you’d like to see what I’m all about (or at least what my blog is about), feel free to check it out: http://www.thebossofu.com

      Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Sep 06, 2010 @ 16:16:01

      Husbands always make the mistake of bringing up when we have not cleaned something but it is usually only a one time mistake. lol. It does make a difference in my day if I can go somewhere and get away, even if it is just for 5 minutes.

      Thanks so much for commenting Kali. Hope to see you here again.

      Reply

  2. amy
    Sep 06, 2010 @ 14:20:36

    Hilarious! Too bad I do not have a closet with a door to hide in right now. But I only have one kid! lol

    Reply

  3. Tomica
    Sep 06, 2010 @ 15:29:01

    I’ve got seven children and tuning them out at times is what I do best. With six boys my house can get loud. They have chores as it can get crazy trying to clean after all of them.

    But I can understand the need to escape. My room is mine.

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Sep 06, 2010 @ 16:10:27

      Wow, seven children? Tuning that out has got to be a talent. My kids do not have chores as of yet but my oldest is nine so it is about time for him to start doing more around the house.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Reply

  4. Anna
    Sep 06, 2010 @ 18:08:02

    Fortunately my boys are grown and gone, and their house-cleaning woes now belong to their wives. My house now gets the minimum of care to get along (course it’s also very small). My husband can choose to either sweep the floor or listen to me wheezing for the next week. My vacuum usually wins (notice it wasn’t an option). In your case, I think I’d take the ‘me’ time very early in the morning. It’s so very peaceful to sit in front of the computer, coffee between my arms, and write for an hour or two. I’ve even been known to do it in the middle of the night when I’m on a roll.

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Sep 06, 2010 @ 22:24:32

      Anna,

      I usually do take the morning to do some writing but I think I am most creative at night so after they are in bed I am at the computer. My house gets minimum care right now. I wish it was in the budget to hire someone to clean at least twice a month but since that isn’t realistic, I am forced to do the bare minimum. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply

  5. PartlySunny
    Sep 06, 2010 @ 22:27:21

    Hey Torie,
    Great post. I think so many of us have experienced this. And if you haven’t, then I don’t know who the heck you are. Anyway, we’ve had a lot of success with the “let the kids work it out” philosophy (from a pretty old book — “Siblings without Rivalry”). Our son and daughter get along remarkably well, and I think this has a lot to do with it. What I’m getting at is that as long as they’re not hurting each other, I think you’re on to something with the closet idea.

    And as for the writing thing, I’ve had the same problems — always distracted when surrounded by chores. Which is why I end up getting so much more done at night, after everything’s cleaned up and done for the day. But then, of course, I end up going to bed way too late!

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Sep 06, 2010 @ 22:35:51

      I do a lot of writing at night as well but since the kids started school I do some during the day. however, the chores still call my name no matter the time. I wish i could just let the chores go and be ok with it but I always end up doing them first. Hopefully I can find a good routine that incorporates more writing and less cleaning.

      Thanks for commenting.

      Reply

  6. Dana
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 01:53:33

    “Every time I sit in front of the computer to do some writing (a little something for myself) they smell it. They hunt me down like a pack of wolves and gnaw at me until I have no choice but to abandon post. Constant interruptions mixed with the drudgery of daily chores had once again taken over and stopped me in my tracks. I was trapped – not only behind the depressing sight of my skinny jeans but in my world where doing something for me is forbidden.”

    I love how you can write exactly how it feels!!! Please, keep writing!! I have had days like this, only I lock myself in the bathroom and just cry from being so overwhelmed and stressed. There are those days when you just break down just for a moment wondering why did I do this?? You are helping so many women like me know that SAHMs go through some real life crap and it is not all sunshine and roses! 🙂

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Sep 07, 2010 @ 02:18:55

      Dana,

      Thank you for the wonderful compliment! The bathroom or closet – either way we sometimes need to take 5 minutes away. I hope the blog blooms into a place where SAHM’s can come together and talk about how difficult it really can be. Thanks for commenting and I hope to hear from you again.

      Reply

  7. Wendy Irene (Give Love Create Happiness)
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 03:43:24

    I definitely leave breakfast dishes until noon sometimes! Just to change things up 😉

    Reply

  8. akbutler
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 07:28:44

    I fall into routine easily too – how can you not? With three boys, I’m constantly refereeing. And you’re right, it does always seem to happen when I sit down to write. But sometimes I just take a deep breath, tune them out for a minute, and finish my thought. If I didn’t, I’d be up at 3am every night just getting all the thoughts out of my head!!
    Good luck changing up your routine!

    Reply

  9. Linda Boulanger
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 14:46:48

    I have 4 children – 6 to 16. I had a career then mommyhood and it wasn’t until I turned 45 that I decided it was time to focus on me. Suddenly, the house was not a top priority, my writing was. I decided I wanted a book published THAT YEAR. I co-wrote with a friend and we opted to self-publish. It felt awesome…even with dishes occasionally piled high or unfolded towels decorating the sofa. Beds didn’t always get made but I achieved a dream and that made me a more satisfied person. Now, I have 3 books out, 5 novels in the que as well as owning my own small press publishing company where I help other authors achieve the same dream. My kids are surviving and my husband is too (just barely some days!) and I think we’re all a bit happier simply because I’m less frustrated with my inability to achieve personally.

    Reply

  10. Kara
    Sep 07, 2010 @ 19:01:40

    hysterical!!! Glad I am not the only one who escapes to the closet 🙂

    Reply

  11. mommylebron
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 21:23:42

    I am more than just a little relieved that I’m not the only one hiding in closets! (I quickly learned that the bathroom is an ineffectual alternative-that one activates some kind of super kid momdar!) I do work outside the home, but only during the time the kids are in school so I can still relate. I use the Flylady method so I’m getting to the point where things are routine but I’m not constantly stuck in “chore mode”. I am slowly finding more and more blocks of time for me. Mostly once the munchkins are sleeping and I am greeted with a clean house. I can then give my laptop the one on one she so desperately needs!

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Sep 09, 2010 @ 00:34:38

      mommylebron,

      I am relieved I am not the only one as well. As I write this, my children are in bed and the house is semi-clean but it is the only time I have.I am still adjusting to all my kids being in school this year and using that time wisely. I am torn between doing chores and writing but I try to make the chores wait. Maybe it is a little bit of a struggle for me because I have a clutter/germ issue. Thanks for commenting. Hope to hear from you again.

      Reply

  12. Shannon Gray
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 02:51:13

    I wish I could hide! haha I can’t escape until my husband gets home from work! We have twin 16-month old daughters so they still need me around. 🙂 Cannot wait to have ME time. Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to stay home with them. The stress is always there though. I try to get work in when they sleep, clean, etc…and there is little me time…
    Today I had a little breakdown…and had to go out right when my hubby got home…I feel better, but still thinking about stuff that needs to be cleaned!! ahh!! When does that stop? 🙂

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Sep 10, 2010 @ 12:09:15

      Shannon,

      I remember the toddler days. Getting into everything, on the go constantly and you have two. Work in some of your me time everyday, it is so important but I know just about impossible to do. Good luck and thanks for stopping by.

      Reply

  13. CalmandChaosMama
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 15:26:28

    What a great post! I’m fairly new to the whole SAHM thing and it’s been a struggle. I have uncovered how truly OCD I am and that it is a constant battle to look away from the grime and focus on me time. Your post spoke to me and reminded me to stop with the “busy” work and get done the important things instead. My children won’t remember a clean house, they will remember a happy, sane Mommy.

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Sep 10, 2010 @ 20:24:55

      You are so right, our children will not remember the house being clean when they recall a memory. I have so much trouble letting go of the chores, it is a struggle everyday but I am trying to make myself up a schedule to help. Thanks for the comment.

      Reply

  14. JDaniel4's Mom
    Sep 10, 2010 @ 20:18:05

    I need to listen to the call of my housework sometimes at get off the computer.

    Stopping from Mom Loop!

    Reply

  15. Lucille
    Sep 11, 2010 @ 05:17:34

    How refreshing to read your honest comments. I am a mother of two adult daughters who is loving and enjoying her empty nest. I love my children but…

    http://www.thejourneytowealth.blogspot.com

    Reply

  16. Elyse
    Sep 12, 2010 @ 00:43:43

    I am stopping by from SITS and this post is just perfect. It sums up my past week!

    But I found that rooutine was my way out of the hell of constant fighting and whining and needing. I made myself get up earlier and said that before 7AM is my time … exercise, mediatate, a little email, a shower. Between 7 and 8 is their time. I focus on them. I love them. I enjoy them. And they are out the door at 8 and I get all the work done that I need to and when they are home again I am all theirs until 4:30 when I start dinner.

    The routine has freed me because I focus on me at some points in the day and my daughters at other points and the household at some others.

    And now there is less fighting and whining and hiding in the closet!

    Reply

  17. Myrtle
    Sep 12, 2010 @ 04:27:41

    I started reading your post yesterday and guess what? My children needed me. So I came back. I can relate to everything you are saying. I find it very difficult to let my children sort it out. It unsettles me- the fighting. I don’t know if it is because i am an only child. I just find it hard to watch and listen to their meanness. I hope they will grow up to be close and lean on each other- if they survive growing up with each other. Found you through blog frog.

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Sep 13, 2010 @ 02:56:57

      Myrtle,

      Thanks for coming back to it. It is hard for me to listen to the fighting too but I try to talk myself through it. I am sure the kids will be close but right now they are just being kids. Thanks for commenting.

      Reply

  18. Karyn Climans
    Sep 17, 2010 @ 21:00:13

    You will survive! What choice do you have?

    Reply

  19. Melinda
    Sep 17, 2010 @ 22:23:59

    Ha Ha I used to hide in the closet but they know about that now. I think the only place left is under the bed and (a) that is dusty and (b) I might get stuck. You aren’t alone! Great story! A messy kitchen drives me crazy. I can’t accomplish anything until it is clean.

    Reply

    • Torie Combest
      Sep 17, 2010 @ 22:47:29

      Melinda,

      I am sure my kids will catch on sooner or later and I will have to find a new hiding place. Thanks so much for your support. I hope to hear from you again.

      Reply

  20. Prerna
    Sep 18, 2010 @ 23:36:30

    You’re totally spot on! And yes, as I learned, you and your kids will both survive if you leave the dishes for a while or don’t vaccum everyday.
    New visitor and really liking your writing. Can totally relate to you.

    Reply

  21. Hott Mama
    Sep 25, 2010 @ 22:52:47

    Tell me this: We have 6 people living in this house that has 7, yes 7 computers! My husband got lap tops for each of our children when (are you ready for this?) they were just 2, 3, and 6 years old. Our oldest, 16 at the time, had her own computer already. So, why is it that whenever I manage to squeeze in a little computer time, suddenly everyone wants on MY computer??????
    Great writing! Your posts are fantastic! Can’t wait for more!
    love, Angie

    Reply

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