Monday, September 19, 2011

A Meandering, Fractured Diatribe on Feeling Like a Failure

I get so disgusted with myself and my lack of...everything...and I sometimes just throw tantrum. Like shoving an entire toasted tuna cheese sandwich in my face in front of my starving family.

Let me back up.

Let me confess.

I have a fear of inadequacy. Of not being enough. I find myself faking my way through life so others won't realize exactly how deficient I am. I am the type of person who never asks questions for fear of being thought stupid, then struggling silently for hours, days, months, whatever. I am the type of person who overcompensates with big gestures just so the world can see how put together and amazing I am, while inside I am struggling to be enough.

Yesterday was one of those (frequent) days when things came crashing down.

I woke up not wanting to go to church. I didn't say anything and when my husband made the tiniest remark about feeling dizzy due to side-effects of his new medicine, I said, "Let's stay home." I feel so guilty because I do this more than I should. And it's one thing for me to make this decision for myself, but I hate that my lack of follow-through affects my daughter.

All week my house has been messy. Justin was on-call for Child Protective Services last week and he was gone a lot or emotionally drained. I try to clean my house but I am not good at it. Justin is amazing. I would've never thought it, but there can be house-keeping talent, but Justin has it and I do not. I will be cleaning off the counter and find something new there - a piece of mail that seems kind of important but could be junk or some birthday toy Joci got at daycare. That unknown item cripples me. I don't know where it goes - it's new. It doesn't have a place yet. I spend so much mental energy trying to decide to do with that one item that I can't move on. I will clean up the things I can (and I am talking clutter clean right now) around the Unknown Object and just leave it, untouched. I won't even move it to a less obtrusive spot. I am frozen!

And if your household is anything like mine, these Unknown Objects appear almost daily.

I will spend an hour trying to clear off my kitchen counter and after an hour's time, very little progress appears to be made. It's depressing. Justin can clean the counter, the table, the dishes, everything in like 20 minutes and it's perfect. I am glad I have him, but it frustrates me. Why can't I do that? What is my problem?

I am decent about filth cleaning. Better than Justin so we balance out. But I get overwhelmed. I don't know if it's because I am out of the house so much with my job, but it is never done. And never all at once! Dirt and dead bugs in the windowsills. Grime on the blinds. Fingerprints on the glass cabinets. Spotty windows. Weeds in the garden. Crumbs under the toaster. Black grout in my tile. Soap residue on the counters. Birdseed hulls on the floor. I refuse to list anymore because I am embarrassed, but believe me, the list goes on and on.

And right now, flies have invaded my house. I am constantly swatting them away from my face, my food, my baby. A fly swatter has been attached to my hand for the past few days. I kill a dozen or so every day, their disgusting bodies smeared against my cabinets and dropping dead on my floor. Gross.

This is what happened to me yesterday. I had tried for a week - seriously, spent so much time and energy - trying to declutter and clean the house for my dear husband, and I had realized that NO ROOM IN THE HOUSE LOOKED DECENT. Not one!

I was making grilled tuna and cheese sandwiches for lunch. Joci was whiny and getting in my way. I snapped at her. It broke her heart and made her cry. She wandered around aimlessly, screaming, not sure what to do with herself. She couldn't come to me for comfort because I was the meany. She doesn't go to her dad for comfort, which is frustrating for both of us. She shut herself in the backyard. It took me a moment to take a few deep breaths and calm down and I went to rescue her. She was laying face down on the back deck, crying into the rug. I picked her up. Her tear-and-snot-streaked face was coated with dog and cat fur. I noticed my unwatered, unmowed yard. I saw the caking of lint filth along the edge of the deck under the dryer vent. My flowers in my planters are dead. This could seriously be a Halloween house.

I cleaned Joci up and went to finish lunch. Justin sweetly came up to me and rubbed my back. "When Joci goes down for her nap, let's watch another episode of Vampire Diaries."

"Or how about we burn down the house?" I snapped. "It's so disgusting. We just have to burn it down."

That outburst caused Justin to leave in a hurry.

As I flipped the sandwiches grilling on the stove, clutter got in my way and cramped my motion and I seared my thumb on the edge of the skillet. Great.

I was done. I gave up. I grabbed my sandwich, plopped on the couch in self-pity, and ate the entire thing in three bites.

Justin looked at me. "Aren't you going to tell us that lunch is ready?"

"Lunch is ready," I grumbled angrily.

(I am such a joy to be married to.)

Later on, Justin did his magic cleaning. The house looked great. I was even motivated to make dinner. He cleaned up dinner. Took him less than 20 minutes and the house was immaculate. I love that he can do it, but it makes me cry. Why is it so hard for me?

I proclaimed that it is a dang good thing that I am not a 1950's housewife whose value was greatly defined by her ability to keep a spotless house at all times. And not for the first time, we talked about having Justin be the stay at home parent when our financial situation allows one income.

This post is getting really lengthy. I suppose it is more of a journal entry than a post. For me more than for you. I just wanted to strip off the mask for a little bit and say that I often wonder when I will actually be a grown up. I often feel like a little girl playing make believe. I post pretty pictures on my blog and try to write insightful things. It's all showmanship. It's not a lie...because that is part of who I am...but I definitely hide a lot of who I am from the public eye.

Oh, I would do anything to have a professional cleaning service help me out a couple times a month. That would be the best thing ever. I have talents, but they do not include house-keeping.


Debra said...

I understand how you feel. My husband asked me the other day what my dreams for the future were and I said something about a lady coming in once a week just to do my floors and bathrooms, then I realized that he meant like big dreams. Yeah, I kind of think that is a big dream of mine. I clean the bathroom and my husband comes and does it again after me because he grew up with a neat freak mother and I just can't get it clean enough.
I think it is wonderful that you posted about this. Sometimes it feels like everybody around me is perfect and that is kind of disheartening. :)

UK Yankee said...

Oh sweetie here's a big cyber hug! {HUGGGGG}

I know you're just venting, but you do know you're not alone, right? I don't have half the things on my plate that you do and I still have nasty groutwork, sticky fridge shelves, and rotting fruit on the counter.

You balance being happy and doing well at your career with being a wonderful mom and wife - that's a talent! Not everyone can do that! So please don't beat yourself up; think of the talents you have and the ways you bless your family that don't have anything to do with the house. There's quite a list, right?

I know tomorrow will be better. Hang on till it comes!

Beckie said...

Amen Amen Amen-- and I think it makes it worse when you work full time!! Your time is not now split between work and home and husband- but work, husband, home, kid, clothes, cleaning and some where you have to find time to pee and/or shower (or pee in the shower!) I totally can sympathize with you - i do understand- and you know-- nothing anyone can say will make you feel better-- it is what it is- and that's alright! Life will go on- and no one will die cuz - there are dead flies on the wall - or the clotehs you put on are out of the clothes basket- that is clean - but left unfolded in the corner of the room!!

Michelle said...

Lara, I don't have your writing talent, so I can't say I could have written this post, but I can say it could have been written about me! This is so very frustrating :( One thing that has helped me SO much with loving myself and appreciating my differences while leaving me room to improve myself is a book called, "It's Just My Nature" By Carol Tuttle. In the book she describes 4 different "types" of people and their different gifts/ potential challenges. It is enlightening and has brought me more harmony within myself and key relationships. I hope you are feeling better today. I really think you are incredible!

Meagan said...

Ben is the same way. It takes him 3x longer to do dishes, or make dinner than me. But I am SO grateful when he puts the effort in to help me out. We all have things we are not good at. I clutter. I clutter, pile, but I try to keep all the piles in our bedroom, out of sight of any person that walks into our home.

My windows are dirty, I have flies in the house, my flowers are dead, the house hasn't been cleaned in 2 weeks, and I stay home. It happens, it doesn't mean we have failed as mothers, wives or people. Love you!

Stephanie May Anderson said...

You make people like me feel normal. I blame it being artistic, it's hard for us artsy folk to keep up on daily cleaning and clutter and dead bugs. There are just so many more rewarding things in life than cleaning all day. I could drive someone insane with the way I am not at all bothered or stifled by a messy house. You are amazing and talented in many ways and I love how honest and real you are. It's refreshing to read your blog when there are so many other blogs out there that make me wonder how in the heck they can be so obsessed with cleanliness and organization! PS I hope you enjoyed all 3 awesome bites of your sandwich, you deserve it!

Cory and Becca said...

great post because I can relate quite well. I have many talents and interests, and sadly, housecleaning is neither of those, and I do get frustrated several times a month about it, because it is a magic show how my husband seems to be Mr. Clean & it takes me over an hour to clean the kitchen thing we can recognize our other talents, right?! :)

Anonymous said...

Dearest Lara, I had a good friend tell me that they spend their extra money on a housekeeper that comes in once a week at first and then every other week. She claims that this saved their marriage and they don't even have children. Figure it into your weekly budget and just do it. If you can afford 2,3, or 4 hours anything would be great. One thing to remember - don't go through your house and make it spotless before this person arrives to help you out. Have them do the things that you really don't want to like vacume and dust. Lighten up on yourself as we have all been there a time or two and totally understand your position. Let me know if you actually get a housekeeper and for heaven's sake don't feel guilty about doing something that your mother wouldn't have. Love from your other Mom

Frederick Family said...

Hey, you are part Belcher and the Belchers are notoriously ADD. At least I think that is their excuse for exactly what you just described, so it must be genetic.

I am soooooo the same way on the clutter thing. I will straighten things up and I am still left with this big pile of "I don't know where to put it stuff." Jeff and I are like you and Justin. He whips through the house straightening and making everything look neat and I can follow behind him scrubbing and disinfecting.

When you feel that way, don't skip church. I know I always feel better getting out of my house, feeling the spirit and mingling with people who have faults and flaws and are still wonderful.

I often take a nap when I am in one of those moods. Call it procrastinating but when I am tire, I am a basket case.

Jessica said...

I agree with Meagan, the real success is in the happiness of your has nothing to do with how clean your house is or how perfect your meals are. I'd say you're pretty darn successful from where I sit.

Though I completely understand your frustration with meals and cleaning...this summer has not been stellar for me in that area. My husband commented on the amount of dishes that were left over after dinner last night (meaning it had been quite some time since I had actually made a meal). And I could probably count on one hand the times I've cleaned my bathrooms and swept my floors this summer. Gross? Yes. But we're still happy, so I try to focus on that!

Just keep pluggin' along. We can only do what we can do. And if it counts...I think you're pretty great!

Ben and Jennifer Steinmetz said...

Two things - Thank you so much for writing this. I couldn't sleep for hours the other night because I was feeling like a failure, and so it's reassuring to hear that I'm not the only who feels that way some time. Second thing - Even though I've been there, it amazes me to hear it from you, because I honestly admire you so much, but not for being perfect. Just for being who you are.


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