Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Truth About Desperate Housewives

What does it truly mean to be a desperate housewife, or housemom? As shocking as this may be, I have never seen the show, nor do I have any desire to. I get the impression that the wives on that show are driven by their desperation into the arms of men other than their husbands. Just to be clear, I do not condone this behavior under any circumstances. I do, however, understand desperation. I have not dealt with that type of desperation, but think about it. Where does it come from? What is the inner desire that drives these women to do what they do? They want to be somebody. They want to be seen. They want to be seen as somebody of value.

Husbands with careers get caught up in their jobs. They come home from work tired, and perhaps in some cases they veg in front of the television or the computer for much of the evening. It is their way of resting their tired brains, or in many cases, of avoiding their families because they cannot cope with any stress beyond that of their jobs. The wives feel lonely and ignored. They feel devalued, taken for granted, or worse, invisible.

The desperation of a house-mom is no different. What do we do all day? I can tell you how I spend the majority of my day. I run from one room to the next, averting disasters, or picking up the pieces of disasters I failed to avert. I do mounds of laundry and dishes and other cleanup all day and then watch as moments later it is destroyed by human torpedoes. When I speak to my children, I am ignored, or worse, I am told exactly what they think of my rules as well as how they intend to disobey them. They do not get away with speaking to me like that, but it doesn’t matter. The fact is, regardless of consequences, they continue to treat me like a completely impotent and invisible nothing. This is the source of my desperation, as far as I can see.

Somehow, everybody finds ways to cope. It’s called survival. There is physical survival, and there is mental and emotional survival. Often I feel I am on the edge of a precipice in the latter two categories. I have taken comfort in the fact that while other mothers don’t seem to be struggling the way I am, they do not have my three boys, all born within three years. That’s right, I told myself I was special. My boys are crazy. Crazier than most. I have more crises than other mothers on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. Somehow, knowing this helped me to hang on, if only by a thread.

Then a week ago, at the end of one of the worst days I have ever had with my boys, I vented to my husband about the non-stop craziness, disobedience, and literally horrifying incidents that I deal with all day, every day. I noticed he was not saying much or sympathizing, or confirming my struggles in any way. I asked him if he thought it was just me, or if our boys were over the top. He said flat out that it is just me, that they are completely normal and that I am overreacting. I was very upset by this and asked him if he really thought all the other mothers are dealing with the same thing and he said yes, but they don’t react like I do. Then I spoke to someone else about this situation yesterday and she agreed with him.

I am left in a dark place. It turns out, I have no excuse. My children are perfectly normal. Motherhood is just as hard for everyone else, only they don’t find it hard. They have clean houses. They do not have to hide in their bedrooms when their husbands get home because they cannot take another moment of the insanity. Where is the value of the house-mom who can’t keep up? Who sees her, beyond her failure?

Desperation is knowing that you are completely alone and invisible. Knowing that your unbearably hard day is only unbearable because you are somehow not as good as the other mothers, who let it roll off their backs. Desperation is having no validation for the feelings you feel because normal people don’t feel them. I don’t know where to go from here. It’s like I’m in a classroom full of peers and the teacher has just given these elaborate instructions and everyone else gets it but me. I can’t ask anyone for help because they think the answer is obvious so they just give some quick little explanation and it goes over my head. Drowning. I’m drowning and nobody sees because I’m only in three feet of water. 


Christine said...

Hey - that's really dark. I hope I wasn't the one who comfirmed your husband's view - if so - you misunderstood me!! Don't stay alone in your desperation. Help me to be a better support to you - and don't be afraid to ask for help! I do think your kids are crazy...and I would not be able to cope as well as you have....!!!

Jo said...

I don't think you are alone. Not at all. When our youngest was little I thought I was going to die. My hubby made the other girls tow the line and we worked hard at getting the youngest to learn 1st time obedience. It was hard work. It was tiring. It was worth it. I think I may have unraveled if we had not. Yes, boys will be boys. BUT some behavior should NOT be acceptable. In our house it is disrespecting their Mother. Their Daddy enforces this one so much. It was his idea and he makes it known. Back up is amazing. That said, some people have a lot of patience, some have a lot of creativity. Some don't need much sleep...some know how to block out noise...and other can't. Find your perfect day and strive for it. Some organize to the max and find that works...give the kids activities for 15-30 minutes at a time. ROUTINE. See if it works and if you can survive better with something like that. This is your life right now and your mission right now. I'm on a different mission right now trying to figure out homeschool curriculum and a teenager. Just remember that the seeds you sow into your boys now will grow! Playing and loving and instruction will grow and pay off. We've heard stories of some of your hubby's side of the family and I think they all turned out pretty good! Be encouraged!

Wendy said...

Hi Cheryl - I hear you and I "see" you. I know you feel very alone right now and I want you to know that I love you and am sorry that you are hurting. You are a wonderful and exceptional person - you are NOT a failure. You have the right to respect and obedience from your children, and respect, acceptance and love from all you choose to share your struggles with. I love you.

Wendy said...

Did this work? I just tried to leave a comment and it disappeared - not sure if it's floating somewhere to appear again, or if it's gone - in case it is floating somewhere I won't repeat myself except to say again:

Cheryl, you are a wonderful and exceptional woman - you are NOT a failure. I love you.

Sharlette said...

Cheryl - please don't be alone. I am here! I want to be there for you! I don't think that this is all because you are overreacting. I too have been in some very hard places with my kids and have needed rescuing. It's OK to get help! In fact, we all need to come to a place of dependence. I am praying!!!!!!!

CAT said...

Thanks for your encouragement girls. I am sorry this post was so extremely despairing. I wrote it on a really bad day, but it is true to my life right now and yes, I sometimes feel like I'm in the dark, completely alone. I think most moms must have days like this, and just to be clear, Mike does not expect me to have the house clean and all that. I think the expectations come more from myself. I just don't like the thought that I am somehow abnormal because I have meltdowns because my kids are driving me crazy. And speaking of meltdowns, Micah is now having one. Time to run.