Friday, June 22, 2007

Reentry Pains

In the last five years my life (and that of my parents, I should add) has been nothing but "linear." And I'm not talking about the fact that I had two babies and we moved to another state three years ago, I'm thinking more about the ways in which the patterns of our daily lives have been disrupte by house guests and by travel.

The first two were quite "peaceful" years:
2002: Kelvin was born, my mom was here for two months and my dad, one.
2003: My parents came for three months and we traveled for a month in the Southwest/West (we visited 7 National Parks, including Grand Canyon and Yellowstone). At the end of the year we went to Brazil (4 months pregnant and with a 21 month old Kelvin).

The most "chaotic" year:
2004: Parents came for 6 months. I defended dissertation prospectus, we sold a house, I had a baby, we went house-hunting (with a 2 week old), bought another house, moved, and my husband finished his dissertation.

2005: I went to Brazil for almost two months by myself with the two boys (February and March). My parents were here from August to November when I started to work on the dissertation. We all went to Brazil in December.

2006: I came back from Brazil in January, parents were here for six months so I could "dissertate" and they left in September.

2007: After a 6 month break, my parents came back to help me "dissertate" ("for the last time" they said) and were here for 3 months.

I really want to be able to have a "normal" life again with not so many changes, but I feel that I won't be able to do it until I finish this dissertation (more on this later) and my husband starts his new job and we finally, finally settle down. [insert huge, heavy sigh or relief here, followed by a feeling of utter disbelief that it looks like this is finally about to happen in our lives :)]

More specifically, my "reentries" into full-time motherhood have become harder and harder as the years go by. I have so many twisted feelings about this and tons of other issues that I can hardly begin to straighten them out in a linear narrative. My mind doesn't work linearly, I'm afraid.

I know it's probably just part of the "reentry pains," but sometimes I feel that I'm such a flawed, self-absorbed, lazy, messy person that I'm never going to be a good mother. I hardly have the strength to continue this line of thought, but these feelings of inadequacy and of helplessness have been with me for over 30 years now. From ever since I remember I've been messy. It's pathetic, but sometimes I feel like I have selective ADD. I can spend hours concentrating on things that interest me (like reading blogs) and when I try to do things around the house I only start a myriad of tasks and I can never finish anything.

Semi-productive days like today (I changed sheets on all beds, did 2 loads of laundry, cleaned 2 bathrooms, vacuumed stairs, did grocery shopping -- without the boys, wow, that was good! ;) are not the norm around here. And to make matters worse, the boys are changing, going through new phases (hopefully more about that in another post) and making discipline much harder for me (I've said before that it's the hardest thing for me in parenting), or for us...

I know what I needed to do, but I've resisted it all my life with all my strength because it seems that something essential within me will be broken if I surrender (and I'm not sure why!). I need to have a routine, scheduled activities, planned days and weeks. How am I ever going to home/cyber school Kelvin? I know I should be actually doing "unschooling," which is the term that Dawn likes to use, but then I guess I just wouldn't do anything. I'm kind of afraid of the cyber school because if we sign up we have to login everyday and do a report of all we did and there's a set curriculum to follow... Well, more on that later.

I know that the reentry, the re-adaptation exacerbates these problems, but I still have to deal with them, I can't simply dismiss them since they're always with me. I'm sorry to bother you with this, but it's just a tiny portion of what I feel about these issues. And the worst part is that I'm posting this on a weekend and nobody out there will read. Nah, forget I just said that, I'm writing this for myself too, so I can think it through and hopefully later look back on my life and see that I was able to "improve" it. :)


Aliki2006 said...

Oh Lilian--I'm sorry you're feeling so overwhelmed by the 're-entry" pains. I know exactly what you mean. I'm a bit like you, too. I can focus incredibly on some things and yet just need a kick in my pants to get other things done. I do tend to be incredibly productive with housework things, but that's also bad because it keeps me from doing things I need to do like writing and preparing for classes.

I do better with a schedule, too. Now, in the summer, I have so much unstructured time (well now I'm teaching a summer class) that I feel I'm wasting it all.

Hang in there--know that you're not alone. Things will get done and don't be so hard on yourself!

zabrina said...

Hi Lilian...I usually read or read a few blogs once in a time. I can't follow every day. I think I feel like you. I don't have a dissertation, I don't work outside home, but one day is enough to this home here gets really a mess. I am tired of this everyday cleaning and cooking. I wish I could have parents to visit and help me out. Since I had kids I never had any help. My kids are jealous and if they see me here, they will bug me till I turn the computer off. If I am reading, they jump on me, if I am watching tv they will stand right in front of makes me mad and guilty. I think we should stick with the idea that we are only human beings and besides procriation and nurturing, we gotta live our lives and search for enjoyful times. It's hard to stick with that, speacially when people point to your mistakes, and criticize us in different ways. In magazines, in the tv, family members, those so called perfect friends, etc...Motherhood is so difficult for me, but at the same time, I wish I could have a baby girl...ooops, better not. Hee,heheh, just kidding. Seria a derrocada, acho que não agüentaria!!!
Beijos e abra o sorriso!
If you wish to call me, I give you my phone by email. Just tell me.

kate said...

Oh, Lilian, I know this is hard. Right now I am getting ready to deal with the fallout of my month of studying and it's not a pretty sight-- the house is an absolute disaster, with books, papers, and all the other stuff I never got around to putting away all strewn around the house, plus all the grime... yet I too can spend hours reading blogs etc. And I definitely need to plan some activities for the summer for the kids...

I'd like to hear more about your homeschooling ideas. I don't know much about what's out there, but if you don't want to be tied down to a daily report yet still want some structure and accountability, maybe there is something sort of in between?

Anyway, I'm sending out some cyber hugs, and hoping you feel a bit better soon!

Sarah Sometimes said...

Lilian, you seem like a GREAT mother to me, from what I've read on your blog. Try not to be down on yourself about being "disorganized"--it's not the most important thing in life. This from someone who is always having those same feelings, that I should be more organized, take better care of my apartment, etc. I will try to take my own advice and stop berating myself!

Keiko said...

Oi Lilian!!!!

Estamos de volta!! Eu sei, eu sei, vc me ligou, um email sobre isso amanhã, droga!

Bom, pra mim vc é uma ótima mãe, ao que tudo indica seus filhos pensam o mesmo. Digo isso não só porque penso mas também na esperança de que eu mesma possa ser uma boa mãe sendo tão messy, ou até mais do que vc parece ser. Só pra dar um exemplo, antes de viajar (há mais de uma semana) eu deixei um pano de prato de molho na cândida, já voltei há 2 dias e adivinha...ele continua lá! Minha casa agora não tá dando nem pra pisar de tanta sujeita e bagunça e ainda assim, cá estou eu lendo blogs...

Acho que auto-crítica é bom, porque no fundo, a gente tenta melhorar, mesmo sabendo que assim mesmo, tudo dá certo.

Beijinho, boa semana!

Andromeda Jazmon said...

"sometimes I feel like I have selective ADD. I can spend hours concentrating on things that interest me (like reading blogs) and when I try to do things around the house I only start a myriad of tasks and I can never finish anything."

I feel the same way, and for me I know it is ADD :) I am not organized unless I have to be. I think I have learned to give myself a break at least some of the time though...

Don't be hard on yourself. You are doing fine!