About Me and 180 Degrees

180 degrees in 365 days.
A few weeks ago in a rare state of midnight confession (which is actually 10:00 when you have toddlers) I told my husband that I didn’t like who I was. In a pregnant induced teary state I whimpered about feelings of inadequacy and inefficiency. I brought up our three children as a defence, and then argued against that defence using examples of friends with multiple children who also have careers (Sarah Classen-Stickland); of women that have three children and run amazingly successful companies (Karina Birch) I used the defence of my carrying our fourth child and then effectively argued against that one as well; citing a girlfriend who has four children (the final of which she birthed days after completing her Master’s degree) who lives on an acreage, grows her own food, and home schools her kids. (Monique Blom-Metcalfe) HOW IS A PERSON TO COMPETE WITH THAT???  In my teary eyed pregnant self doubting state my husband graciously listened and in his ever gentle husbandly way said, “What are you going to do about it?”
I know this is French for beef, but really it is the only way to describe the sound that escaped my lungs at that moment; like a brick hitting a balloon.
Well, I stopped crying. Then I laughed. Because what else can you do with all that emotional support? I listened to the rest of his words intently. Experience rather than actual memory states there was no more than a paragraph of words, and there was one particularly helpful thing I remembered. It takes 27 days to change a habit.
I find myself a person that swings dramatically between fits of organization, feverish cleaning, desire for routine and quests for self improvement into a state of couch ridden fatigue, general grumpiness at children, and extreme self dissatisfaction.  This needs to end.
Years ago while driving I passed a billboard that read “Do the Thing You Think You Can Not Do” I still haven’t done it. The thing I think I cannot do is become the person I so desperately want to be.  This person would run marathons, have an extensive and varied garden, be able to actually incorporate things out of her garden into meals and be able to preserve things from her garden for winter attempts at cooking things from her garden. She would never yell at her kids, she would have a completely organized calendar with colour coded highlighter marking birthdays and anniversaries of all her family, her friends, and her friend’s kids. She would send out Christmas updates on handmade cards, she would be an active member of her community volunteering for school boards and community associations, and perhaps someday run for municipal office.  She would coach her kid’s sports teams, and teach them about the world and personal finance.  She would have hard working academically focused children that are socially adept and have fun with sports, she would be able to cook Christmas meals for 20 without sweating or yelling at anyone, and she would be a better daughter and sister and friend.
Well, no wonder I lay down on the couch and cry at night to my unsupportive husband. I mean, my utterly practical husband who holds out his hand and says, “you can do it, you can’t do that, but you can do something”
As of today I am a 36 year old mother of three children with a fourth on the way.  I am a stay at home mom or homemaker or housewife, or whatever the label is.  I have an undergraduate degree which I feel obligated to say is a 4 year honours degree majoring in political studies, and I graduated with distinction. My obligation to say this stems from the awareness that if I don’t only the inside of the dark envelope on the bottom shelf of my closet which holds my diploma will ever know. I have never been employed post graduation; I convocated while 8 months pregnant with my second child, I had my third 18 months later, and my fourth is percolating 2.5 years after that. All my transferable skills have been used up on diapering and breastfeeding, fatiguing and refereeing, lunch making, bed making, laundry washing, grocery shopping, bus driving (in a minivan) meal planning, meal making, house cleaning, teeth brushing, bum wiping, night waking, puke cleaning, nose wiping, homework helping, game playing, massage giving, hug giving, kiss giving, love receiving. I have to say, it is the best job I could ever hope for. But something is still missing.
The thing that is missing is that I am not doing my job well enough. I am not proud. I can do better.
In the weeks that have passed since my husbandly wakeup call I have come to realize that in order to feel my life will not fall apart once the fourth child comes, things will need to change.

The very first thing that needs to happen in this journey is to establish a schedule regarding household tasks and playtime with my kids. I have specific goals I would like to meet and I see now that in order to meet them I need to schedule myself. This will be my first step.


14 responses to “About Me and 180 Degrees

  1. Wow! That’s some complicated thinking you’ve got going on there. A lot of it seems familiar, too.

    Re: your schedule.

    I’m a terribly disorganized person. Funny thing is that I’ve learned so many coping mechanisms over the years that, at least at work, people think that I am super organized. What this really means is that I am physically organized (I make lists, set alarms, meet goals), but I am still mentally… blah!!! I’m learning to appreciate this more and more. I’m a divergent thinker and dreamer. My mind wanders. I forget (some people can’t — how horrible).

    Re: huge checklist to be a good person

    So, that’s a lot of stuff that you think you should be able to do. Is doing it going to make you happy? Will it make you love yourself? I’m going to go out on a limb here; Doing more will NOT make you feel happy. It might distract you enough to stop feeling the way you are now. And… you are, doing an awful lot right now, it just isn’t filling you up, right? But, I do like your statement “I can do better.” I really think you would benefit from looking into the concept of flow, as we’ve touched on previously. I’d be happy to meet you for coffee to discuss it, if you like.

    I’m so excited to see this blog. Good for you. I love a grand challenge. You’ve thrown down the gauntlet. Kick some ASS! Hmmm. Can I say that here? I’d hate to have this comment deleted due to foul language 😦

    • I am super curious about ‘flow’ and it is definitely something I would like to talk with you more about. Thanks for the feedback. My huge check list to be a good person had a tiny bit of tongue in cheek to it, although yeah, not accomplishing all those things has a tendency to make me feel not good enough..
      I am also really excited about this blog. I have used writing as a release in the past and it feels really good to have an outlet at the very least. This whole process is allowing me to maintain some me.
      Thanks Mike.

      • I re-read your comment. I am also a mind wanderer and am learning to embrace my ability to forget. And yes, you are possibly right, doing more may not make me feel happy. I guess the key is to feel OK today. Although I have been feeling much more content with myself and more calm on the days I stick to my schedule. I find the days I go off road are the days I snap at the kids and pick fights with Jeff.
        How long have you been setting goals for yourself? This honestly feels like the first time in my life where I have made an attempt at it. How the hell did I get done what I have already done? Who was driving the car?

  2. Kyla,
    First I want to thank you for your honesty, and your desire to be an even better mother than you already are. Your children are lucky to have you! The women you describe who you aspire to be like, are truly “superwomen,” and while I admire them also, and may use them to strive to do more and do better, I also have to realize my realities at any present moment and my limitations due to those realities.
    As a fellow mother of four, I want you to know that it is normal (at least I agree with you) to feel like all you do is parent. This is the stage of life we are at. All of the necessities you list above will get done (or not) one way or another. It is important to realize that this stage will pass and we will have time to acknowledge ourselves as individuals – whatever that may look like. We will also look back on this stage and actually miss some of this chaos we live in now – yes – we will!
    I have to say I am grateful to know that we share some feelings of inadequacy but while I have struggled in my feelings and emotions and choices as well, this is my path, and I will do my best to get through it with humour and happiness I hope! You are living your path too and I have to say, I admire you – you always have a smile for me whenever I see you, you are brilliant – congratulations on your academic achievements (because I have one remaining year until my convocation I can tell you – getting a degree IS a huge accomplishment – we ROCK!), and like I said before, you truly are a mom to look up to (I have to admit to you that when Nenagh told me that she and Ellia were watching Adventures in Babysitting instead of the standard CRAP that my children watch albeit sneaking around behind my back, I had a pang of: “Shyte, I should be a better mom and just cut out cable altogether.”) and without knowing it, you do inspire the people around you….
    I keep telling myself that if I didn’t have these crazy kids and instead had a career that kept me just as busy, I would dream of a life full of diapers, dishes and minivans….so I just choose to be happy with the life I have….not to say that it’s not work…parenting is work, marriage is work and happiness is work….just take time to enjoy friendships, exercise, read to your kids everyday and know you are doing a good job…love yourself baby – and thanks for making me think about my own life a little – now….back to work!

    • Jane, such smiles you gave me.
      I was just telling Jeff the other day that you were finishing up your degree and how much I admire you for taking on that challenge. We do Rock.
      “I keep telling myself that if I didn’t have these crazy kids and instead had a career that kept me just as busy, I would dream of a life full of diapers, dishes and minivans…” I love this. On one hand it speaks to that shitty inability to be happy with what we have, and on the other hand it simply evokes a sense of truth. regarding Adventures in Babysitting, they say the F word in that you know!! And don’t worry, the girls also watched cable crap too. My friend Monique down there has no TV and insists this is why her kids have an imagination. Personally, I am not up to that challenge yet!
      Thanks for the feedback Jane, it is nice to have you here.

  3. There are so many things that I want to say about how you inspire me….everyday…..for being who you are and always have been! Thank you for that! And I also wanted to share with you that we all have our supermom’s (this one is mine-http://www.soulemama.com/)that we find ways to compare our own journeys to in order to see if we measure up (and I don’t on this one!!!) Instead of beating myself up for what I don’t and haven’t done….I look at Amanda’s website and think….THANK YOU Soule Mama for the inspiration! Thank you for sharing your life in ways I don’t know how to and for inspiring me to look at mine with a different set of eyes…..and Kyla- reading your blog tonight I am inspired to say the same….Thank you Kyla for your honesty and vision….you are amazing!

  4. Thanks Monique, you will forever be one of my sources of inspiration as you have been throughout my life. I embedded that link and had a quick scan. Amazing woman! I love that type of creativity!
    p.s. V needs you. She has taken to colouring with soap on her papers and is desperate to get her hands dirty. I was thinking that perhaps we should be having some art classes with you…

  5. Hey you there,

    Life is definitely a bitch with an attitude. It appears that life is moving in and taking over, which happens to women of pregnancy. I admire the honesty that comes from your heart, because in most cases most women would bottle it up rather than release n conquer. You know people would look at you and believe that your life is perfect with all the trimimings, but I have always sensed your earthiness. You are for real and no matter what happens or where you go that is a beautiful thing to have, real-ness. I believe in destiny and this is your destiny and you will aspire to whatever comes your way. I admire you. Let your dark passenger go and know in your heart it will be ok just for today. It’s a beautiful thing if we allow it to be, you are a Warrior in my mind, Mikwec!

    • Wow, you put mist in my eyes. Thanks Sharon. I will tuck your words about the dark passenger into my heart, and please know that the respect I have for you makes your words so important to me.

      • Wait, that sounds confusing, I will NOT tuck the dark passenger into my heart, just your words about him (yes apparently he is gendered).

  6. This blog of yours is awesome – I LOVE everyone’s comments and the fact that all of us are so willing to help each other feel better somehow….gives me hope in humanity!…A thought occurred to me too: that we wouldn’t be so wise if we didn’t have the sh*t to go through….thanks again Kyla xo

    • Shit needs to be waddled through in order to appreciate the other side. The comments have been great and I like that people are offering their own book recommendations and websites. So cool!

  7. Kyla- I love it. I can only admit those feelings of inadequacy myself. As a mom of two about to return to work, I am hoping that I can be happy with that decision! You have always inspired me…so keep being you! You are LOVED!!

    • As are you Shauna. Good luck with the return to work and I hope that things find a really good balance for you. I often consider what life would be like if I worked as well. Situation critical….woah woah woah it’s critical. 🙂

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