Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Are You a Happy Mommy?

So I’m reading this book called The 10 Habits of Happy Mothers: Reclaiming Our Passion, Purpose, and Sanity by Meg Meeker, M.D.  Of course, I’m only on Chapter two because I barely have time to read it. 

I saw Dr. Meeker briefly on the Today show and decided that maybe I should check it out.  The premise is that mothers need to find what makes them happy.  It’s not a parenting book, and it's not about how to be a better mother; it’s about how to be a happy mother.  Two different things. 

Before I even purchased the book I started thinking about whether or not I would describe myself as “happy.”  Sadly enough, I don’t think happy is an adequate description.

1.    I’m often frustrated.  I spend the bulk of my time picking up.  I feel like my house is ALWAYS cluttered.  There’s stuff everywhere: legos, laundry, dishes, the little end pieces of the yogurt squeezables that they cut off and then leave sitting on the counter, books that Small has pulled off the shelves, carpet samples from a month ago when I had this brilliant idea that we need new carpet,  [The previous owners had girls. . . . and white carpet.  We have three boys.  White carpet ain’t gonna cut it in our home.] mail, magazines, clothes that need to be put away, stuffed animals, uncapped toothpaste, hangers, art projects, jackets that haven’t found their way to the closet because I’m apparently the only one in this household who knows where the closet is located, pacifiers, wayward sippy cups, baby gates, the Netflix movie that arrived weeks ago and still hasn’t been opened, empty wrappers, half-drunk juice boxes - the list is endless.  I know it is my responsibility to teach the boys to pick up after themselves, but there’s always more.
2.    I’m exhausted.  My job is not hard.  It’s not hard to drive the boys to various practices, it’s not hard to push them on the swings, and it’s not hard to do a load of laundry.  But it’s monotonous.  It’s the same thing over and over.  There’s always more laundry or more dishes or more vacuuming to be done.  It starts at 6:30 am and doesn’t end until I collapse into bed.  I often stay up later than I should, either watching some mindless show that allows me to veg for an hour, or reading, because it’s the only time I can carve out for myself.  I know I will be tired in the morning, but late at night is the only "me" time I have.
3.    I’m lonely.  I miss having colleagues with whom I had something in common.  I have plenty of mommy friends, but what draws us together is our children, not a mutual love of literature or a shared hobby.  It has been eight years since I was employed outside the home; I have now stayed home with the boys for as long as I was a teacher.  I plan to go back eventually, but for right now the time isn’t right. 
This is what HAPPY looks like . . . 
4.    I’m envious.  I admit it.  I am one of those women who looks at other mothers and thinks, “wow, she really seems to have her sh*t together.”  Motherhood is such an important job, and I don’t want to f*ck it up.  I don’t need my children to be perfect, but I want them to be happy.  I put so much pressure on myself to do all the “right” things that I set myself up for failure because a lot of it is beyond my control.  They are independent little beings, and my role is to help guide them.  I can’t MAKE them be happy, and it’s difficult for me to relinquish that control. 
5.    I’m lucky.  I have healthy children, and that, in itself, is a blessing beyond words.  I know that this is not always the case.  Things happen.  Babies get sick.  Pregnancies fail.  Bad things happen to good people.  I can’t explain why we got so lucky, but I know that I should wake up every morning and be thankful for our health and many, many other gifts.  This is something with which I have always struggled.  Intellectually, I KNOW I have been given SO much and I have a lot for which to be thankful.  And yet “happy” is not a word I would use to describe myself.  What the hell is wrong with me?

As I said, I’m only on chapter two of 10 Habits, but already the author has suggested a couple things that have forced me to be introspective:
  • that mothers need to recognize their own importance.  This is difficult when you’re trapped beneath a huge pile o’ laundry, you’re out of juice boxes, and you’re force feeding green beans to unwilling participants.
  • Mothers need to continue to cultivate their own friendships with other women.  Again, easier said than done since many of us are trapped in the same whilrlwind of activity, none of which is mommy-centric.

There.  I have bared my soul.  It’s a rainy, gray day and I’m afraid my mood matches the weather.  I tend to convince myself that external things will make me happy and I know I need to look inside myself because that’s where it resides.  I’m not unhappy, but I’m not happy, which makes me wonder how other mothers view themselves.  I think we tend to portray ourselves as we want others to see us, but that’s not necessarily our Truth.  Ask yourself: how do you think other mothers view you, as opposed to how you view yourself?  I’m curious.

On a side note, if you ask Medium, he’ll tell you, “coffee.  Coffee makes Mommy happy.”  ;)


  1. Hi, Mommy o' Boys:
    I would say that every life ain't a bed o' roses, and that feelings of joy mixed with frustration, a little envy, and WTF? make you the glittering empath you are. Thanks for posting--and I'll tell you, glam city life, writing, editing, acting--it's all not easy, either. LOVE, mama, love.

  2. "I’m exhausted. My job is not hard."

    WRONG!!!! Please know that.

    Thank you for that post. I don't feel like such a bad mom now for feeling frustrated and overwhelmed sometimes. Or because my house hasn't been really clean since we had Sophia and the brilliant idea to get not one 100 pound dog- but two :) The cleaning is never ending. BTW...I was at your house and I am jealous of the cleanliness.

    Anyway- I already read your next post. Don't apologize. You are allowed to vent. Your job is hard. A mom's job is hard period. Stay at home mama or workin' mama- a mom. If you feel exhausted and want to B**** about it- go for it. Your only exhausted because you are doing a good job. It doesn't make you ungrateful to feel frustrated, lonley, and/or EXHAUSTED sometimes- it makes you a human mama.


Be nice, kids.