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Cathy: Crying out in the wilderness

I’m having one of those moments — one of those really bad moments of a stay-at-home mother or a writer. The kind where you can hear yourself screaming, but it’s as if everyone else in your home is looking right past you, no matter what you may be saying. In a movie, the lens would be panning through the doors, around the room and from a distance into close up, the sound of a scream gaining momentum until the camera is zooming into an open mouth of a crazed woman standing, in — Oh, I don’t know, let’s put her in the kitchen, with a steaming pot on the stove and a mess of undue proportion all around, but finally the camera goes into that cavern of a mouth, dodges past teeth and tongue, spotlights the uvula, and goes black, and silent. When the scene comes back up, she’s standing there, stunned look on her face, flyaway hair escaping ponytail, and breathing stiltedly.

This is also a common feeling for anyone who deals on a regular basis with someone on the autism spectrum. So I am having a triple whammy day of it — the regular wife and mother moment, the writer moment, and the aspie mom moment of it. So I thought I’d put it to good use. Maybe if someone stumbles across this blog as any one of the above, they’ll know they are not alone without having to feel like they should go on Oprah to talk about it. Following are just a few parts of my particular scenario that have led me to this moment:

  1. I’m still kind of feeling like I’m writing in a void since I don’t have an income from it, although I’m generally doing much better about that feeling while actively working on a novel.
  2. I spent much of yesterday, side by side with my aspie son, looking for the floor in his room — a sea of drawings, started and stopped over and over, because it just wasn’t perfect enough for him. He kept zoning out into whatever caught his attention. I kept calling his name and giving a different list: his list of choices to put things: paper to be recycled, paper to be saved, non-paper garbage or toy bucket. We made it about ¾ of the way through the mess in three hours, mostly by me and by my yelling “S- S- S– look at me — look at this — is this drawing to be saved or recycled? S- S- S– look at me — look at this — is this drawing to be saved or recycled? S- S- S– look at me — look at this — is this drawing to be saved or recycled?”
  3. My husband has not mowed the lawn in a month. The grass is taller than the dog. I know I got us out of the house last weekend for the whole weekend, essentially, so I intentionally backed out of plans for this weekend, except trick or treat, so that we could focus on what slid last weekend, especially the lawn. I finally started to ‘nag’ about it, and then he actively refused to do it. Now I must mention, we have a history with the lawn that involves my ‘green’ mower and doing it myself vs the gas mower and his doing it, in which I have been shut out of the argument due to my recent bedrest pregnancy complications and the fact that I’m still ‘recovering’ from that year in bed and one of the complications.
  4. I also have a teen son. His reaction time, if there is one, happens in stop gap motion. Have you ever seen anyone really look as if they are moving through molasses? That is K. And his slow motion voice has deepened to sound a lot like one of those slow motion effects, too. “Whaaaaaaa…”
  5. I’m more often than not, pinned nursing my lovely baby, which leads to a feeling of helplessness to accomplish one complete task from beginning to end. Not to mention the sleep deprivation involved. Too late.
  6. Economy is a huge issue and my darling husband is a classic sort — the quiet type who thinks he has to take care of it all himself and will probably give himself a heart attack trying rather than communicate better, so I end up having a freak-out moment because of the periodic buildup between us. Of course this only leads to my looking like a drama queen, and doesn’t get us effectively communicating, because he stands there in stunned silence at the monster who has taken possession of his petite, usually fairly sunny disposition wife, complete with flying laundry baskets.
  7. I have my period. Period.

Thanks for listening, and if you ever have the same feeling, feel free to leave a comment below. I must say, having vented, I feel much better already, nearly as well as if I had called a girlfriend and laughed about the same. Maybe now I can rewash that laundry that flew down the stairs last night along with the three day old few sips of coffee I had left by my bedside. Yuck, spotty.

16 Comments Post a comment
  1. I can relate. I too am crying in the wilderness, but because of a completely different scenario.

    First of all, I’d like to get my book finished and out the door at some point in my life, but first I need to do a re-write, and in order to do the re-write, I need to be able to think and concentrate, and get out of the house and into a quiet coffee shop where I can write uninterrupted.

    This is hard to do when you have whooping cough, possibly pnuemonia, and are so contagious that your doctor told you to expect a call from the CDC. In the meantime, I have an only-partially vaccinated infant who’s been waking up at night coughing with cold symptoms, a 2 year old who needs constant attention, and a workaholic husband who didn’t see fit to leave work to help me when I was caring for the boys with a nearly 102 fever, and only got it through his head how seriously ill I am and how dangerous this could be for John when I started throwing the word “die” around a lot. As in, “He could die.”

    Thankfully, the pediatrician called in antibiotics for me and the boys, and we should all be fine. But never more in my life have I wanted to scream “What does it take for me to get a little help around here?????”

    November 4, 2008
  2. Cathy #

    oh, brittany! yours is definitely an extreme example, but part and parcel of the syndrome known as what the hell would the dads do without us to manage everything?

    how can they ever see past themselves to the bigger picture we deal with every day?

    on the rare occasion that they have a thought in that direction on their own, they are praised at home and in the media (sahds, 50-50 parenting on oprah).

    while if we drop one ball, the whole suburban word tumbles into chaos. and they huffat us because they need a quiet dinner to unwind after the office or don’t want to look at whatever corner of the house isn’t perfect at the moment! phlrphlrphlr! give me a day at the office, PLEASE!

    November 4, 2008
  3. Cathy, your post is eerily similar to one that I was composing in my head. The week before last was a great one in the productivity department — and then last week was a swing in the other direction.

    As I mentioned on the Monday Page (, I had a good day Tuesday (wrote and ran) but was then utterly derailed by a showing on Wednesday (it had been about a month, so I had a tad of catching up to do in order to make the house show-worthy) and a sick teenager at home — then trips to the doctor on Thursday and Friday with my pre-schooler home on both days. A trip to the eye doctor for myself on Thursday, which ate up an hour and a half. I had to shop for two birthday party presents, so took advantage of shopping by myself to knock a few things of my Christmas list. (This year’s goal is to be finished with my holiday shopping by the end of November.) Then, the weekend. Where did it go? A birthday party, lots of nursing a fussy baby, driving kids around, and taking care of bills and paperwork (which was overdue and took about 5 hours). I was exhausted Saturday night and passed out with the baby at 9:00. Laundry, planning the week’s menu — things that I normally try to do every Sunday — and a quick lunch out — that was it.

    But meanwhile, I was growing resentful — here I was doing all this stuff that had to get done, and my husband was still managing to do what HE wanted to do (play a video game). He did help with the kids, as he always does, and can often play his game while entertaining the baby, but the baby still defaults to me and I started getting annoyed. I get to pay bills and do laundry all weekend and he gets to play? I did get a run in on Sunday, but that wasn’t enough to make me feel better. No work on the book at all. At all! I was in tears by Sunday night, which of course never helps.

    My husband tried to make me feel better by pointing out that the week prior I’d had a good week, and then I’d had a bad week, but that that was bound to happen and I shouldn’t feel so derailed. He’s right, and with any luck I’ll be on the upswing again this week, but when I get into that dark place I’m like: If you people can’t pick up your freaking shoes instead of leaving them in the middle of the living room, if you can’t put your clean laundry away (notice I said CLEAN; it’s been washed, dried, and folded for you), if you can’t put your own dirty dishes in the dishwasher, if you can’t hang up your wet towels, if you can’t put your newspaper in the recycling bin, I am going to lose my freaking mind!

    In short, I blame everyone else when I feel unreasonably overburdened. Do I have to be the only one who pays the bills? (That’s a rhetorical question, because yes, I do have to be the one who does that.) Do I have to be the only one who cooks dinner and makes sure there is something around to cook? (The answer to that is no.) Do I have to be the only one who takes care of the laundry? (The answer to that is definitely no — although normally I don’t mind the laundry, unless I’m in that negative space.) My husband does a lot, but the bottom line is that it’s not enough in the face of all that there is to do. He’s one of the good guys, but I still hate asking for help with things that aren’t helping ME, they are just things that need doing. (Cathy and her overgrown grass, case in point.)

    I’m thinking I might need to try to get away for a few hours every weekend. Even just two hours out of the house to go write in a cafe would be a huge help. When I’m at home, this one wants me to hear his new song, that one wants to show me her handstand, this one wants me to fix his toy car, that one is hungry, this one needs a ride somewhere. Those are all important things, but things that can either be handled by someone else, or wait until I get back. The baby isn’t real keen on the bottle, but if I time it right he’ll survive without me for a couple of hours. (A girl can dream, right?)

    November 4, 2008
  4. oh my goodness…first, hoping you both are feeling better, cathy and brittany. cathy, i can totally relate to the screaming. when i need a “moment” (usually when dh is around..more on that to come), i get in the car and drive down to the end of ramoth drive near our house. the end of that road is surrounded by water on three sides. i sit there and stare at the water, and let out the biggest scream i have breath for. literally. gets the pent up frustration out every time.

    now back to that having those moments when dh is around. i do have the “benefit” of going to the office everyday, but i can tell you ladies, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be–if we could afford it, i’d be at home. so after working at day at the office (dealing with 18-22 year old children) i still have to come home and clean up the messy house–dh doesn’t really seem capable of that–and deal with my children. and because i don’t see the girls all day, i also have to make up for lost time with them as well as try to get them to focus on their homework (and their teacher told me this morning she needs to meet with me about livvie’s struggles, but that’s a whole other story)….this is in addition to spending some time with dh so he doesn’t feel neglected, and the animals so they don’t feel neglected. EVERYBODY WANTS MAMA!!! and doing laundry in between. and while dh will cook dinner, actually cleaning up after himself is totally foreign to him. and of course, children learn by example, so one day when i asked the girls to clean up their mess, they said to me “but, mommy, that’s your job.” no lie. that was one of those get in the car and drive to the end of ramoth drive and scream moments. strangely enough, my house is far more peaceful when it’s just the girls and me at home all day. it’s adding dh into the mix that increases the mess, and therefore for me, the stress level.

    and as far as being sick, brittany, i totally feel your pain. i was sick most of march and then was finally smacked with pneumonia in april. and the world just doesn’t stop, does it? didn’t get much more help from dh, even though he kept telling me i needed to take more time off of work…there in again is where that “benefit” of going to the office is also a burden. i couldn’t take time of work because i was two weeks away from my end of the year awards banquets and three weeks away from graduation, which i am responsible for collegewide. (did i tell you we have more than 60,000 students at our college?). so other than dh telling me i needed to stay home, that was about all the help i got. now….when dh gets sick, the world stops. there’ve been times when we were both sick, and when i say, “gee honey, i feel like s*#t too,” his response is “but no, I’M SICK!” as if his being sick is far more earth shattering than my being sick. so yes “What does it take for me to get a little help around here?????” right there with ya, sisters.

    November 4, 2008
  5. miranda, looks like you and i were writing simutaneously. i think what you said really echos my “everybody wants mama” syndrome. it doesn’t matter if dh is home. if i’m home, the girls are up under me, no matter what i’m doing. if i’m folding laundry, they want to “help”; if i’m working on jewelry, they want to work on jewelry, which totally defeats my working on jewelry, etc. i do understand that full-time work outside the home moms do get a little breathing room from the kids while they are at work, but that breathing room comes with a very big price tag. i’d still trade places with you all in a heartbeat.

    November 4, 2008
  6. Cathy #

    me thinks i opened a hallelujah can o’ worms.

    kel, i just want you to know, i really appreciate being home even with all of the above. when i mentioned begging for a day at the office, it was to be a guy and go to the office and not have to think about everything else, that when i was working, i was thinking of, too. i can appreciate your torn feeling, esp when you do get home and everyone is pulling you apart in different directions, at the seams! definitely a scream moment.

    miranda, now i’m not exclusively nursing – getting there yet? – my mil will take baby c for a couple of hours here and there. yesterday, i tried necessary shopping errands therapy, which devolved quickly, but i was able to buy myself one pair of jeans and a couple of sundries(not even the maternity store carries 32E nursing bras! mind you, that’s only boob’s size – double the other, ah joys of womanhood) among the to-dos. today, i am volunteering as a pollwatcher for obama. it does make a difference to get out on your own, no matter what you do with the time.

    November 4, 2008
  7. Cathy #

    bad typo correction: only 1 boob’s size!

    November 4, 2008
  8. Kristine #

    Big hugs, Cathy. Sometimes crying (or screaming) is the best remedy for when motherhood gets out of control. I shed a lot of tears when I was going through the sleep deprivation period. Things are little better in my house now, but there are days when it all seems to come crashing down and I feel stretched in a hundred directions.

    For me, weekends are extremely stressful. I have a schedule and routine that works during the week when it’s just the baby and me. During the weekend, between cleaning/errands, grandparent visits and DH being home, all my routines get thrown out the window. Monday is my favorite day of the week. 🙂

    I did manage to get out for a little while to write Sunday afternoon, but I was so stressed out after having spent an hour looking for my car keys that I couldn’t even get anything done. All I did was sit and stare out the window. And then I was angry at myself the rest of the afternoon because I wasted that precious writing time. Go figure.

    Hang in there. I’m sending happy thoughts to you today.

    November 4, 2008
  9. Kristine #

    Oh, Brittany. Your sickness sounds awful. I hope you all feel better soon so you can get to work on your rewrite.

    November 4, 2008
  10. Cathy #

    thx, kristine, i am feeling much better already – mostly from writing the vent yesterday morning. but i was just working as a poll watcher for the obama campaign and having a front row stand to what people’s reactions seem to be in this very conservatrive corner of a swing state – so i’m feeling pretty good that if our percentages here were about a third, then i would think that would extend moreso in the more liberal areas of this states. at least for the 90mins i stood in the rain at the polls.

    November 4, 2008
  11. Jen #

    oh my heavens…. i sure wish i could foot a spa day for everybody! or whatever sort of relaxing you time would help folks. everybody DOES want mama, don’t they? sometimes you just gotta yell, scream, cry. i’m glad there’s this safe place for doing so.

    November 4, 2008
  12. Cathy #

    thanks jen, i’ll go to that spa day in my mind! 😉

    November 4, 2008
  13. kerry #

    Yeah, another day in the life…

    Feel for you all. Baby boy woke up at 3:30 am last night and he didn’t go back to sleep. Wait, no, he took a nap at 5am but baby girl woke up at 6. Yipee! I let R sleep because he’s been so tired lately. I thought he might be more motivated with some extra sleep time. All those projects he was all about two weeks ago, including my studio space, have fallen into that “may never get finished place” he likes to store things.

    My eighteen year old is hyper pissed because I won’t take her to look at some car across town. She has a plan to buy a $500 car, and with this particular car, the owner seems to keep dodging an actual appointment. But my darling girl still wants to go, and tries to lay on a guilt trip, telling me all of the things she does for me when she hangs out at home. Like what? She does hold the baby boy so I can get baby girl to bed. Yes, and I appreciate that. But I make her dinner, do all of the dishes, allow her to use my computer…
    And why don’t my teenage girls get how hard it is to load two cranky babies into a car and drive them all over town? My fifteen year old once told me it was my job to drive her around, and if I didn’t have 40 kids, I could do that.

    But anyway, R has been “helping” with the babies this week. He lays on the floor and falls asleep when the little one is doing tummy time. And our yard…a disaster. Needs to be mowed, raked, and have all of R’s project materials cleaned up and put away. Yesterday I threw a tantrum and cleaned up the small yard my children play in. Then I took out all of the trash, cleaned cat boxes, did the dishes, made the bottles, cleaned the bathroom and finished the laundry. And R told me he was watching the babies so I could have some time to do what I wanted. Ha. Like I want to clean. My family really acts like it’s my hobby, telling me I clean all of the time. To which I respond with “If I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done.” No volunteers in my house. Yeah, I watch the kids all day. And I figure out how to do everything else at the same time. R, he can only do one thing at a time. His days off are harder on me than when he’s at work. Really.

    Keep up the good work ladies. I appreciate all you do for your families. Get better and be strong. I’m screaming with you here in Colorado.

    November 4, 2008
  14. Cathy #

    thx, kerry, and all, i’m feeling much better now, not like i have much to complain about – health, home, some help in general, just sometimes need extra reminders and maybe a ‘kick in the pants’ or a laundry basket thrown down the stairs and a few choice words at a certain volume and pitch.

    this kettle’s gotta blow sometimes. thanks all for being in the trenches with me! (with a few mixed metaphors along the way)

    November 4, 2008
  15. i have a molasses boy too … but he comes by it honestly … inherited from his dad …. hurry up looks exactly like slow down …. i…… f….. e…..e…..l ….. y…..o…. u…..r…. p…..a….. i….. n ….

    November 5, 2008
  16. Cathy #

    lol! yeah, teen boy has always been like that, too.

    November 6, 2008

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