The Overwhelming

Confession: I try really hard to keep this blog professional, without swearing, without a lot of angry rants, and to make it appear that I’m a “real” writer whatever that means. I like to post on a schedule, scatter my blog topics so you all don’t get three list posts in a row, etc.

I’m not going to do that today because I feel so completely out of control of my life that it’s time to rip back the curtain and just be real and raw and honest. There will be nothing pretty here today.

I am suffering from a condition I am referring to as “The Overwhelming.” My entire life is in some way touched by this malady and it really, really sucks.

We’ve had some upsetting medical news recently which has shaken up our lives, as well as our diet, and stresses me the eff out when it comes to figuring out what to make for dinner every night. With my husband going to work and school and leaving the house around 3pm five days a week, getting dinner done by 2 o’clock was already daunting and now I have to, like, meal plan and stuff and think hard about what I’m feeding everyone and I don’t have the mental energy for that all the time.

The Overwhelming.

I was on a major writing streak up until two weeks ago. I was getting pieces accepted, making a little money, and gaining hundreds of new readers. And now I’ve been in a dark pit of a valley which makes me think that all this writing stuff is just a waste of time and I should go back to extreme couponing because there’s no reason to waste my nights typing out these pithy things that no one cares about and no wants to read and no big site is ever going to like so what’s the point of all this work and agony?

The Overwhelming.

My children are at impossible ages. My son is 21 months and my daughter will be 3 in May and they suck the life right out of me. Yesterday I made it until 9 a.m. before I was feeling the heavy weight of The Overwhelming crush my chest and force my airways to constrict. It was hours away from nap time and I felt I had already exhausted all of my options for what to do with them. I was low on energy and imagination, they were tired and cranky, and it made for a really crappy day. I felt lost. I felt alone. I felt like an awful mom. I didn’t want to be around them but I couldn’t not be around them, and the guilt of being around them but not engaging with them was too much. There’s no balance. It’s just pure exhaustion from sun up to sun down.

The Overwhelming.

I love my kids so much, but there are days lately where I’m positive I’m not meant to be a stay-at-home mom. I don’t think I’m good at it. It’s not my gift. But the alternative–going back to work at a 9 to 5 job–sounds even more shitty so I don’t want to do that either.

So I feel stuck. Trapped. Overwhelmed with my life.

AND, because I’ve been suffering from The Overwhelming, I’ve been treating my body like crap, too. I wait until the kids go to bed, wait until my husband’s at work, and then I make enough nachos (chips + cheese + salsa verde) to feed three normal-sized people and scarf it down while watching a couple episodes of Friends. Then I get up in the morning and feel awful–physically and emotionally–for treating my body like that. But salt and fat triggers the feel good part of your brain and I need something to make me feel good damnit.

But, I’m also smart enough to know that working out will help me feel better. Endorphins and all that jazz. However. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO WORK OUT WITH TWO SMALL CHILDREN PULLING ME IN TWO DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS ALL DAY LONG? I don’t drive. Taking the bus with two toddlers is laughable considering my current mental state. So I need to work out at home which is a great idea until it requires me to get out of bed earlier than I already do (yawn) or working out while the kids are awake (hahahahaha) or working out after they go to bed which will only energize me and keep me awake longer than my regular insomnia already does.

The Overwhelming.

This is my life. This is my life in full color. No filters. No airbrushing. I am overwhelmed by literally every aspect of my life and it sucks and I hate it and I don’t know what to do about it other than bitch to all of you.

So thank you for listening. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you for helping me feel less crazy. Thank you for being with me and reminding me that these are struggles everyone goes through. Maybe not all at once, but we all have these moments in life.

Thank you for reminding me I’m not alone.

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33 thoughts on “The Overwhelming”

  1. Hang in there, girl…You’re doing great and I know that sounds like simple words but I can’t come up with anything better. I struggle being a Mom – took me 13 years to even warm up to the idea of it, and although some days I feel like I cannot breathe there are more often others where I don’t. Thank you for making ME feel normal, and for stopping MY pattern of self-abuseive guilt for not internally feeling like becoming a mother was the absolute BEST decision I ever made in my entire life. Thank you for writing. Thank you for being honest, when Pinterest simply fakes its way through life. Thank you for being YOU.

  2. I hear ya, been there, hang in is all I can say, breathe deep, treasure the present moment, yes, even in the angst, treasure it. Enjoy them while their young. Blast music u love. Throw the kids in a stroller, one on top of the other if u have to- if no double stroller- or throw a 2×1 across the frame and have one stand in the back ( if u dont have the fancy expensive wheely board attachment)— then…. put in some Credence or Beatles or Hillsong on your ipod/mp4 player and walk and walk and strut away to the crazy beat for one invigorating workout! Let the kiddos run themselves wild in some open space, park, whateva.Come back and crash and make yourself a yummy smoothie. NOT. Go for the nachos! After a while you wont want them as much. 🙂
    You’re doing an awesome job raising your wee ones Toni! Tired. Exhausted, depressed or not- you are doing a beautiful thing! 🙂 You can do ALL things in Him who gives you strength!

  3. You are not alone mama. You just basically wrote what I felt like for the first 2 and a half years of motherhood, granted I ended up in therapy and on meds for ppd AND ppocd. Fun times. My daughter is 3 and a half now, and though I consider myself recovered, I still have these days. A lot. It’s been a frigid & snowy winter here and there are days that I just turn on the tv for my kid and do things in the name of keeping “busy”- when in actuality, I’m “avoiding” engaging with her. Even now, I’m trying to write this and she keeps asking me questions and asking me to “watch mommy, no, LOOK at my face mommy” repeatedly until I give in and turn my face away from the computer screen & I feel like telling her to beat it, to leave me alone! I am now entering the phase of either- time to go back to work, or have a second baby. I need to make a decision within a few months. I was a vet tech for two years before I gave birth so I’ve been out of the field longer than I was in it. I remember barely anything about parasites, diseases, surgery, medications, what the normal heart rate of a rabbit, gerbil, hamster, guinea pig, dog, cat, etc. is (they are all different by the way & all have different health issues & requirements to memorize). In vet tech school, I was an honor student, my professors loved me, and I was most likely to excel in the field. But I was already in my early thirties & about to get married. Long story short, I now feel so far removed that my confidence about returning is at an all-time low. I LOVED working before baby, I loved my job, and part of my depression stemmed from being a stay at home mom after years of working and providing for myself & contributing to our joint income. I also feel like I’m not cut out for this stay at home gig, but now my desire to go back to the job that I loved and busted my ass in college for is giving me a panic attack. Animal’s lives are at stake on my ability to know important vital details, and law suits from clients are always a dark cloud looming waiting for one mistake. So, now I am contemplating baby #2 and part of me just wants to do it to avoid going back to work, which will keep me out of the field for 3 more years at least, if not more, and where will my confidence to go back be then? Yeah, I’m screwed. I am 39 and have reasons to get going on this decision very soon. My heart wants another one also for some right reasons & I want my daughter to have a sibling since she has zero cousins and an already older-than-usual family. It’s like choosing between two major self-sacrifices and neither are really probably what’s best for ME. I just weaned off meds (miss them by the way) and I know I’ll have to go back on them if I have another just to get through new & improved “Overwhelming”. How do we look forward to more overwhelming? But doing nothing and hiding from making these big life decisions is a whole other can of worms on the progress of the self, the love for the self. One thing that helped me tremendously is the network of mamas that share our feelings openly without shame. Like your blog, for example, has helped me ENORMOUSLY. Your writing is so important to A LOT of women. Trust me, I belong to a few FB support groups for postpartum mood disorders and we often share your pieces both from here & from Scary Mommy to lighten up our guilt and frustrations with motherhood & marriage & family issues. I even often share your blogs on my regular page & always get so many replies and “thank you’s” for sharing. You need to continue writing, for yourself and for all of us who are scanning the internet in tears looking for any trace of another woman experiencing what we are often to afraid to admit to those around us, sometimes even to those who are closest to us like our husbands, or “normal” mama friends, or moms and mil’s. Knowing that we are not alone is the golden key to healing. You put a humorous, honest, & unapologetic face on feelings and experiences that most of us sometimes feel maybe wrong, dark, or prove us unworthy to this motherhood gig. Thank you for your huge contribution to my own getting well, and to so many others’ getting support from your insights! If you, or anyone who may read this is interested, Mama’s Comfort Camp on FB is a wonderful support group that is safe & protected by loving awesome warrior “den mothers”. It is a closed group so no one else on your FB friend list can read your posts or comments. #PPDChat Support is also another great group on FB. You don’t have to be diagnosed with any disorder, and it also does not matter what stage of motherhood you are in to belong to either group. There are moms of teenagers and even grandmas in the group and it is amazing to hear advice and to get support from so many mothers, at differing stages, from all over the world. I also like getting a head start on teenaged issues (crazy stuff)! The mamas are raw, real, and don’t hold back anything. Any topic, no matter how light or dark, can be discussed without judgement. If any negative responses or judgeyness occurs, the den mothers nip that shit right in the bud with grace and integrity. Best wishes to you! I can say that I do know that these heavy dark feelings are temporary, and the experiences and emotions that correlate with them are ever changing, and we are ever growing- better & stronger in my opinion, even if it doesn’t always seem so. Sometimes the weight of The Overwhelming feels unrelenting. There is a place that can be reached where we can still love & feel compassion for ourselves despite these unconventional mama feelings. I even feel more compassion & understanding towards others who are struggling because of my motherhood experience- whether it be because parenthood, illness, addictions, or anything real & challenging. I see that as a gift.

  4. I just wish to add one more thought. What you’re feeling now will surely manifest some great writing and wisdom to come. It is making you dig deeper into yourself, it is making you face the very core of your soul, and after you touch the bottom of the deep end of this swimming pool, you’ll return to the surface for air possessing something new & profound to offer others. Hang in there. You already have the gift of communication & wit & it’s only going to become more rich and full of perspective by going through this overwhelming struggle. Love & may peace find you soon!

  5. Oh Toni! Don’t give up, especially with your writing. Just think about all the traction you’ve gained in the past year. It’s definitely inspired me to get my butt in gear. I have thought about your situation. Two small children and no ability to drive them anywhere for a change of scenery. I would go mad too. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed with the result of my life and choices. Vivi tells me that she needs a break from me because she’s heard it from me often enough. 🙂 Something has to give though. I’ll be praying you figure out or are able to find some piece of the puzzle to move.

  6. Brought me to tears. I know this feeling. It comes and goes for me, but when it’s happening it sucks the life out of me. Thank you for posting this!

  7. I know sometimes when people say “yeah, this is me too,” you just want to punch them for making it about them instead of just feeling shitty for you. but, i’m going to do it anyway – right after i say – I’m so so sorry that life is so difficult for you right now. It is shitty, crummy, awful that you are feeling so much Overwhelm all at the same time. However, don’t EVER think that you aren’t making a difference, or that no one reads your words. Your blog posts have gotten me through some really rough days. It makes such a huge difference in my chaotic mess of a head that someone else out there feels at least sort of the same things I feel. I know I am just one little person, but you have been an important presence in the life of this one little person.
    That said, I totally understand how you are feeling. This is been my mode of existence for the past few months, at least to some extent. You are not alone in your Overwhelm or in feeling like a failure, like a horrible mom (wife, person…). I finally gave up and went back to work. Which just makes me feel like an even bigger failure.
    But today, when I read your words, it helped me to feel less alone, like maybe a little bit less of a horrible mom and person.
    Thank you Toni. Your words make more of a difference than you will ever know.
    Good luck with your struggles. I hope that life brings kindness to you very soon. Keep your head above the Overwhelm, you’ll make it. You are a strong Momma.

  8. As a stay at home mum with 3 kids ,husband gone to work abroad for a few months I could write that I understand. But I will tell you something else : I am from Poland ,living in UK with Ghanaian husband. So imagine that sometimes I translate your words for someone in a small Polish town and my husband is sharing your story with his sister in Accra. Can you see how far your word can reach? Isn’t it great? So just a bit thank you for brightening our days around the globe. Overhelming will pass but the smiles you are putting on our faces are staying. Kudos to you

  9. I know how you feel Toni. I can completely relate to everything you said. I’m sorry your husband is gone so much and you don’t have enough support. Thank you for being so brave and posting this transparent story of your life at the moment. I feel so much better knowing I’m not alone!

  10. Your blog is the first mum’s blog I can really relate to. I am looking forward every day to your funny comments and articles so please don’t stop!! I think we’ve all been were you are at the moment, I can definitely relate. If you have any money spend it on a babysitter for a few hours, sometimes that makes all the difference. And don’t stop giving me all this inspiration, I need you. Big hug.

  11. Never give up. As moms we sometimes lose sight of who we are, we put ourselves so far down on the list behind being a wife and mother that we forget to take care of ourselves. I’ve been through The Overwhelmings, for me, it was realizing that I battle with Bipolar Disorder, and coming to grips with my life, and my situation. But coming out on the other side makes you look back and truly realize how strong you are. Don’t give up on your dream, where would we (all of us moms who love reading your raw, true, funny, amazing posts) be without your writing? And where would you be without your writing outlet? Take life one day at a time, because sometimes that’s all we’re able to do. And that’s okay. Life with little ones can be hard, no one expects it to be easy, easy is a fairy tale, and normal is only a setting on your dryer!! Sending you love and prayer!

  12. You probably hate to hear this, but this was me. I have 4 grown kids, but I have very vivid memories of days, weeks, months, just like this. You are not alone. And I believe many of the moms with the “perfect life” blogs feel the same way sometimes. I wasn’t cut out for the stay at home thing, and that’s fine. I never felt like a failure. It takes a special kind of person for that, and I’m not her. I tried doing home daycare too. Epic fail! I’m definitely not that special kind of person either! Just remember, this isn’t forever. It’s a small moment in time. The kids will get older. You will have more freedom. Hang in there girl! It will get better. And you ARE a great writer! I love your honesty!

  13. You are not alone. The Overwhelming is very real. I deal with it often. Keep writing. I found blogs like yours a few months ago and they seriously help me stay out of the deep end of the sanity pool a lot of times simply because I know I am not alone. Keep doing something for you, it’s very important so if that one thing you want to do is writing do it it helps you stay our of the deep end. Yes it’d be great if we could fit in time to do that one thing we love to do just for us And work out to make ourselves feel better but these small, adorable, sweet (sometimes p.i.t.a.) humans take out so much time and energy that there’s just not the enough time. One day we’ll get some of that time/energy back (I hope) and we can focus a little on ourselves. Until then try to hang in there. The only thing I’ve found that helps is to flip the script a little, do something you wouldn’t normally do: if normal play time is blocks and cars pull out the paints and play dough. And play with them forget the dishes playing with the kids makes me feel better. Sometimes I find the change can help to stabilize the situation so I can breathe. Sometimes it just takes me to say forget it and do something for 10 minutes just for me because I know my mind will be a bit better after and that’s better for everyone. Hang in there. Thanks for writing.

  14. I admire you and your writing so much! I see you getting posted all over the place. That’s something to really be proud of! And the fact that you are getting that done AND being a SAHM with two children roughly the same age as mine…Well, honestly I don’t know how you do it. I can barely concentrate enough to remember to brush my teeth some days, and I have an escape to work. You are a hero in my eyes! Do not lose hope. You are incredibly talented as a mother and a writer. Thanks for sharing the raw side of things. It’s hard right now. I am right there with you, trying to keep my head above water too. So many of us are and we need each other’s support. You certainly have mine!

  15. This is page from my life right now, absent getting paid for my writing. Mine are 3 and 16 months and it seems like the more tired I am, the more mean they are to each other, which means the more energy I have to have to not yell at them and want to put them in their respective corners for the rest of the day. I think about going back to work all of the time, but my 3 year old is a beast by the end of the day, and refuses to nap, so I don’t know how I’d feel about her if I didn’t see the good with the bad. I’d only see the bad, every single night! I think talking about it is the only thing that gets you through!

  16. You are not alone! I’m a widowed mother of a seven and five year old and go to school full time and at the end of the day It’s just them and me. It’s hard, exhausting, and at times I feel as if it’s sucked the life right out of me. I also know that when I lay them down at night for bed and snuggle, there’s no other place I’d rather be. I know that for that day, maybe I failed in a lot of ways but God willing, tomorrow is a new day. God bless you!

  17. thank goodness you are awesomely honest. makes the rest of us feel like we are doing half okay. i’m a new reader and love your blogs… please don’t stop! i usually sit down with a cup of tea and something sweet and read your blog and some others on scarey mommy to remind myself i’m not alone in this craziness!

  18. I love your writing… I found your blog because of something you published on another website. Please don’t stop.

    You’re not alone. I feel exactly how you feel, and it’s so hard. I’m a freelance journalist, stay-at-home mom to two small children (and a blind dog, who has a hard time when two terrors are whizzing past her at top speeds). We even have recent medical news that changed our eating plan as well, and I’m already a terrible cook to begin with.

    It’s hard to keep up, and impossible to get ahead. I understand.

    Thank you for being so real. I have yet to do so in a public forum.

    Big hugs.


    Big internet hugs to you. Your writing makes a difference to so many people so until a big site pics it up please dont feel that your words are going out into the ether and getting lost.I admire you for being so brave to become a writer as it is the path less travelled but those are ultimately the most fullfilling xxx. I want to personally thankyou for your writing being the antithesis of all the-
    how to lose the babyweight

    10 things that will f up your child
    and you must know or you are a bad parent and going to hell and santa clause wont visit you,

    how to perfectly coif your hair and look good in spandex with a toddler pulling on your leg

    I thank you for calling bullshit on so many stupid mother guilt/ bashing things that women hold themselves and others to ransom for. It makes me feel that being a good mum doesnt mean I have to be a glossy haired, make up wearing, nutrionist developed organic foodfeeding, pinterest activity addicted, totally in love with my child every second, breast feeding, sex machine, lycra covered gym treat. These things exist on tv and magazines only, but with it being so hard to get out of the house and women not speaking honestly about this – without you how would any mother know this? Thank you xxx


    PS I know how to spell Santa Claus – typo xxx. Any other mistakes however do actually mean I mean I fail at English 🙂

  21. You have just described how I have been feeling for MONTHS now. It is overwhelming being a mother and a wife. I used to write all the time. It was a great release for me. But now I have this 2.5 year old that sucks the will to do anything at all out of me every single day. I’m going through a dark patch, too. I haven’t done dishes in a while, there is over a foot of snow on the ground outside here so add the normally outside dog to the mix, and our 5th car in 3 years just decided to keel over. I am needing a job and have been actively searching for one, but now have no means of getting to a job if I could find one because there is no public transportation in this area. My husband is out of work because his job is seasonal and just had hernia surgery leaving EVERYTHING up to me. And I feel I am failing miserably. Thank you thank you thank you for being so open and honest. Keep it coming! Your blog makes me feel normal when I have so many people staring at me wondering why I am not happy super mom that controls her kid, serves 3 healthy square meals a day, and has a spotless house!

  22. On Tuesday I had such a bad day, I’m a SAHM to a two month old and almost two year old, both girls. My toddler was crabby and everything I tried made things worse. My infant wouldn’t sleep and I spent my evening crying and thinking that I wasn’t cut out to be a mom, etc. I came to your website because you’re the only blogger I know who is real and honest and truly gets my struggles. So thank you for your work and don’t give up!

  23. There needs to be a movie entitled The Overwhelmed. Of course all of us are so overwhelmed we would never see it. You should certainly journal and continue to blog about this. You will find ways to get through this-we all do. I am a mom of 4 and I am just coming out the other side. You will have lots if wisdom that will make a great book someday. You are a great and real writer and people want to read “real.”

  24. I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum in terms of work, but I feel exactly the same! I work full time as a project engineer in the construction industry and have 3 kiddos (That I never really planned on having) My oldest is 12 (she was supposed to be my 1st and only) #2 is a three year old boy and #3 is a two year old diva. Daddy is awesome and has endless patience- thank god because he picks up when I just cant. But recently the whole routine of coming home from work, picking up 2 screaming toddlers, trying to cook dinner (with 2 screaming toddlers), trying to get the daily chores of dishes and laundry had just been overwhelming. I want to scream at the kids to leave me alone for 2 damn minutes and I want to scream at my husband and remind him that those 2 kids were his idea. I want to run away and take a vacation alone and not have to wipe anyone’s nose or butt or plead with anyone to eat their vegetables. I just want one night without a tantrum and the idea of reading good night moon one more effing night makes my eye twitch.

    By 10PM everyone is down for the night and replay all of the shitty things I said or the times I lost my patience or the moments I wished I wasn’t a mother and this wasn’t my life and I feel like a complete failure as a mother for not “treasuring these moments”. For a moment I want to wake my babies up and hug them and tell them I love them and just be near them. I make a mental promise to do it all better the next day, but the next day is a shit show just like the day before and the day before. I feel like I’m drowning in tantrums, dinners, and laundry.

    This hasn’t always been the case and I’m trudging through hoping it’s just the toddler phase that’s making this all so damn hard (I actually enjoyed having two babies, but the toddlers are hell). I’m trying to learn to let go and enjoy the kids and not worry about the mess or the little things. I try daily to remember that they are still just babies and find the fun in interacting with them instead of being annoyed at the constant interruptions.

    I feel like I’m in over my head with work and a pre-teen and two babies. But To me work is my vacation – it’s a place where people can wait and I don’t have to be at everyone’s beck and call. It’s a place where all my shit is in order, I know what I’m doing and I’m in control.

    Sometimes, I feel like total crap for working and missing “their formative years” and actually enjoying it, but I know I’m not cut out to be a stay at home mom.

    I guess what I’m saying is thanks for letting me know it’s shitty on both sides of the fence and I’m not alone in this.

  25. I wish I could tell you something that would make you feel better, but I am living the overwhelming, and I know words only go so far. The only solace I can get is that I am not alone. Misery loves company! I think this is important to talk about because I have realized that we all have so much mom guilt stored inside! Look what we put up with every day. I mean, I absolutely love my kid, but I am convinced that being a mom is a form of slavery at times. A cruel joke. When I have to lock myself in the bathroom and pretend I am going “potty” for an extended period of time just to get a sliver of alone time, well, it’s just insane. But it is mommyhood, and it’s the way it goes. Still doesn’t make the pill go down any easier. Lately I have just been trying to make myself laugh or I’ll cry. And I have so little time or anything else to myself, that when I do, I am going to eat the s%&* out of some popcorn or chips and salsa verde while watching back to back episodes of whatever I want. I think we all deserve to be able to be honest and open about the overwhelming, and do what we need to do to get through. No guilt involved. That stuff will kill you! 😉

  26. This is my life today. I have three kids under five, a thriving photography business and am training for a half marathon. Trying to keep all the balls in the air and a smile on my face isn’t easy, but I know for all the shit days, there are also amazing ones. I hope tomorrow is amazing for you.

  27. Toni, thank you again for your openness & honesty. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat crying telling myself I wasn’t cut out to be mom & I’m letting my daughter down.
    You make such a difference to us moms out here. We’re not alone-you’re not alone. I’ll tell you what I’m trying to tell myself daily…lose the guilt, you’re a great mom, your kids are happy and healthy. Take one day at a time. If it’s a crappy day, the next day just start anew, afresh.
    Thank you again Toni. Please please keep writing! We need you!

  28. I SO needed to read this!! I too stay at home and do all the shit for the family and write and blah blah…you are not alone!!! That feeling that you don’t want to be around the kids but then feel guilty because you are around them but not interacting with them..UGH, that can hit me the hardest some days. I have 3 kids 11, 8, 4 and the school, the soccer, being a good wife, it is absolutely overwhelming. Support is what we all need. Thank you for posting this! I hope deep breaths and clarity are in your near future.

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