Friday, September 3, 2010

Runaway Mom

Two nights ago I sent this email to a friend (slightly edited for content that might rouse undue concern).

It feels like midnight and it's only 9 PM. I have a global disaster to clean up on the premises - dinner, toys, laundry, cupcake crumbs crushed into every corner of our carpeted kitchen. I'm teaching our co-op preschool tomorrow and I still have to do the prep. I would not care one iota right now if my kids sat on the front lawn naked and starving - crying their eyes out until they got grateful and decided having a mom was actually a good thing. All I heard today was whining, crying, gimmes, yelling, and no I wont's. Flat out - NO I WON'T! Who are these kids?

Mostly I'm mad at myself because I lost my tempter twice - this morning when Eliza wouldn't let me do her hair for school and again tonight when she refused to go to bed. She said I'm a "bad mom" and that all the "bad" parts of her day happened when she was at home. (She was right.) Ali has been aggressive and angry and I don't know how to react.

I want to sob out into the dark sky, run away, or put my fist through a brick wall. I don't know if I'm cut out for this. Any shred of patience I have left is dangling by a sinew. I want to talk but I think I would erupt into torrential tears and all I really need to do right now is clean up this blasted house and get things ready for tomorrow.

Okay. I'm done venting.

PS - Don't worry about me. I feel better just pounding the keyboard.

Now don't you worry either. A new day does wonders...
I've recovered and Eliza was very compliant this morning as I combed through her tangled hair.


But Wednesday night these cute little buttons nearly put me over the edge. I was in dire need of a break, anger management, a good cry, chocolate cake, or someone to shake some sense into me then tuck me into bed.

As I washed down the high chairs I remembered... a few weeks ago I bought my plane ticket for this.

Yes - its a RETREAT! In New England. During the peak of autumn color. Put together by a fabulous group of women from Power of Moms.


Check out the details. Registration is open until September 15th. The retreat is at the historic Wentworth-by-the-Sea in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Looks divine, doesn't it?


I'm gonna owe Doug big for this one. He's already asking when he gets to take his vacation. My response was, Doesn't the freedom to check email and go to the bathroom at your leisure count? He didn't think I was funny. Seriously though. I'll be gone over his birthday and he didn't mind. You should go, he kept saying. (Maybe it's obvious I need a break.)

So do you need (or want) to run away?

Come join us. It's not about shopping, pedicures, and finding the perfect purse. It's about taking care of the person inside the mom - assessing how we feel as mothers and how that feeling translates into our family life.

Disclaimer: I don't really proscribe to the "run away from your life" mentality. On occasion, however, a short getaway can do the soul good. I'd love to see you there!

Please tell me you've had a day like mine. (First week of school, exhausted kids, new routines.) Please?


  1. Oh Cath, I'm elated that you're coming to the retreat. Seriously, I'm looking forward to all of it so the break and the beauty and the friends I'll see and make (both old and new....especially you). I was just thinking about you the other day when I was having a "I WANT TO GET OUT OF THIS LIFE" moment. I was thinking, surely Catherine doesn't loose it with her kids. This wasn't a "compare snare" kind of thought but instead an inspiring thought....I really do think about how I can handle things more like I imagine you handle things. However, I have to admit that it did make me feel a tad bit better hearing that you also have days that aren't that great. Thanks for sharing. And thanks for coming all the way to Boston for the retreat. I'm just kind of trying to survive until then.

  2. I'm impressed you only lost your temper twice - j/k. Sometimes it is so hard to keep it together as a mom - the other week I had a day when I felt like I was totally failing at this motherhood thing and probably damaging my kids in the long run because I am not doing this right. You're right, a new day does help make things better. The retreat sounds fabulous - hope you have a wonderful time and come back rejuvinated. Wish I had been able to see you in August. Sometime I will have to come by and see that brood of yours in real life.

  3. Oh yes, I've had those days. Here's an example when I was called the "worst mom in the history" -

    another day:

    ...and another day:

    I have a category in my blog for those kinds of days. And I didn't start blogging until after all my kids were in school all day, when things got easier!

    I hope you're retreat gives you the rest that you need. I have great admiration for you, not just because you have 5 kids 5 and under, but because of who you are (while having 5 kids 5 and under!)

    I love your posts. And I love that you share it all. Thank you!

  4. Oh i have yelled way too much this week at my kids...the first week has been rough! Have so much fun on your getaway...and yes you deserve it!

  5. oh cath. i've had many of those days.

    i'm so glad you get to go to the retreat. i SO wish i could go. i guess since i went to the one in june it would be too selfish to ask my hubby for another one.

    i am jealous i won't be able to be there with you and saydie though. two of my most favorite people. have the best time and i'm sure you will actually do much of the inspiring of others...actually...i'm sure of it!

  6. ummmmm Cath that would be my life everyday! you are so wonderful. i hope you enjoy your trip. you soooo deserve it.

  7. I'm just happy you are alive and not in a mom coma in the closet. Your mountains blog was so fun. Hang in there. Love ya

  8. Saydi - Here I am wondering if YOU have days like this!! You're such an inspiring mother. Isn't it nice to know we're all slogging through together? I'm over the top excited about coming to Boston for the retreat. I plan on soaking up your spirit, learning oodles from you, Saren, and the other moms. It almost feels surreal. I have to pinch myself to realize I'm going! I cannot wait to see you!!! Countdown to the retreat. Only 48 days to go...

    Mimi - wish I could have joined you for lunch in August! One of these days we'll get together again! I'm still hunting for your blog URL. Will you email it to me?

    Melissa - you are the queen of keeping it real. Thank you!! I loved your posts. And the chocolate milk with Jack - you were right. The Best.

    Aim - you too??? It's not just me? Man. What a week?

    Kara - how I wish you were going to be there!! But I know you went to the retreat in June. Maybe next year we can plan another getaway. I would LOVE to send more time with you. Your sister (and Mary Grace) are in Eliza's music class with Liz. Way fun!!

    Heath - I'm glad you have days like this too. You always seem to have the right perspective on things. I felt like drop-kicking everyone to the curb that day. That's pretty bad. I appreciated your comment. Thank you.

    Andrea - "mom coma" - I love that. Says it perfectly. And it sounds like you speak from a place of knowing. Sure love you.

  9. Cath I love how real you are. I love reading your blog and it makes me feel like I'm real too. Thanks.

  10. I can very much relate. While Kade was last in Afghanistan, I had 18 months worth of locking myself in the bedroom to have a good "UGLY CRY." You know the kind you never want your kids to see you have as the sobs (and the sucking of air like a child having a tantrum) can be somewhat unsettling to young children:) At least you didn't smack any of them. I not so fondly remember a morning when I wacked Spencer in the head with his violin bow as he was having a tantrum about practicing. That was his last day of violin. He is now playing the piano.

    It can get rough in the trenches of raising children.

    Doug is a saint! Enjoy your getaway!

  11. The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

    "What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

    "Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

    "Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

    "Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

    "Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

    "It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

    "I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

    "The Boy's Uncle made me Real," he said. "That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."

    The Rabbit sighed. He thought it would be a long time before this magic called Real happened to him. He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished that he could become it without these uncomfortable things happening to him." Velveteen Rabbit

    Dear are on your way. xox

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  13. Cristine - thanks for the violin story. And the sobbing in your bedroom. Funny how just knowing someone else understands makes us feel better. I don't know how you did those long tours with Kade gone. "It can get rough in the trenches." So true. I love you. And... how does Spencer like the piano? :)

    Cristie - I can't thank you enough for the excerpt from Velveteen Rabbit. I have NEVER liked this story. In fact, I dread it when my kids bring the book to me. But I've never read this version. And for the first time, I understand (on a whole new level) what the story is about. I'm not sure if I'm on my way (weeks like this make me realize how far I have to go). But I believe in the process. Thanks Cristie. xo

  14. I once fractured my wrist from beating it on the kitchen counter to prevent myself from either screaming at the top of my lungs and waking the baby I just spent the night trying to get to sleep, or hitting someone. When I told the young physician (no children) the story, he looked at me like he thought he should refer me to a psychiatrist. He probably should have. Love your blog! (Found you from Saren's blog.) I just went to the retreat in June, but I still wish I could go to the east coast in the fall for another one. Sounds perfectly dreamy. Enjoy it to the very last drop!

  15. I am taking my own retreat of sorts this weekend to Southern Utah for a relay race. A car full of 6 mom's who like you, are dying to getaway for a day or two so we can once again want to be moms. I hope it is wonderful.

  16. I think the freedom to go to the bathroom at one's leisure counts. I have to admit--working four days/week makes me less wanting to go somewhere away from my family during the evenings and weekends. I wish I could go with you, though, just to see you in such a great setting! The fall colors will just be breaking in New England then.

  17. Allyson - thanks for sharing! Isn't it nice that we can be so honest with each other? Pounding the kitchen counter is probably better than punching a brick wall! I'm so glad to find your blog. And from the looks of things, your getting settled. Glad you are here!

    Michelle - you're a running maniac mamma lately! Go girl! Love this - "moms who are dying to get away so they can want to be moms again" - there is truth in what you say!!

    Erin - your circumstances offer a different perspective and I love it. If I were working four days/week I would soak up every second with my kids too. (Sad commentary though for me, maybe...) I hope you're feeling well! How was the OBX?

  18. Seriously, Cath, I think I win the worst mom in the universe! I relate to your day almost daily. It's my constant struggle to remain calm, and not loose it numerous times a day. Starting my day at 5:30, getting four cranky, tired kids up to eat, dress, do hair, and leave the house by 7:00 to drop two off at daycare and the other two at school and to work by 7:30 does not make for a happy start for the day! Oh, what to do? I am so tired by the end of the work day, that my patience bag is nearly empty! So here's a story for you that should land me in a not so happy place if you catch my drift. After a very stressful day of work(very hard class this year!!),we raced to Coleman's Dr. appt, then rushed home to do dinner and homework, then it was off to London's soccer game when Stetson threw a fit about what shoes he was going to wear and I completely lost it and said those unkind words we won't repeat here and told him he needed to find a new mommy that had more patience for him! I went back in the house for something and came out thinking he was in the car with everyone else, we drove 15 minutes away to London's soccer game. As we were getting out, Coleman and London say "Where is Stetson?" I reply, "What do you mean where is Stetson?" London say's "He's not in the car!? "What!!!!" Searching the car, I discover the most gut sinking feeling that sure enough he is not there. Trying not panic, I call my neighbor and tell her to run over and get him until I can get home. She calls me back as I am driving, no-- racing home and say's she's looked everywhere and can't find him in or out of the house! By now I am totally sobbing--worst mother ever! Long story short-he had done just what his "loving" mother had told him to do and went to the neighbor down the road to find a "mommy who had more patience than I did"!!! So, the moral of the story is, be careful what you say and pray for more patience!!! Now, off to work I go! Love you and hope to see you soon! Are you going to the IPM sisters reunion or the one with Pres. Sorenson? Love, Trina

  19. I just stumbled on your blog and I want to just say “hang in there”. You don't know me but I have quaduplets plus 2 older children..... that are growing up way to fast. Life is fun but honestly it gets to be soooo much funner!!!! I can’t even imagine not having all these precious babies, what a true gift. When I was at your stage we did a lot because we had older kids that we wanted to do things with so we had to figure out how to keep their family time exciting. We loved all the cute phases the “babies” went through but we also just “survived” some days.... okay, many days. I wish I had been more tech savvy and I was able to blog all that we did. What a great journal you have here. I can tell you are enjoying the moments. Thanks for sharing your craziness, it makes me smile and brings back memories of not so long ago. Your doing an amazing job.

  20. Joanne - Genuine kindness from you. Thank you! I really appreciate your perspective. Quads?? Wow. But look - you survived the early years! I loved seeing pictures of your beautiful family (and those babies!!) Looks like you are nearby. It's so nice to connect. Thanks again.

  21. My favorite line,

    "I would not care one iota right now if my kids sat on the front lawn naked and starving - crying their eyes out until they got grateful and decided having a mom was actually a good thing."

    Even though I only have two, I've been there!! Margot has said things to me like, "So-and-so's mommy is NEVER mean to her kids!" and "I want to go live with Grandma instead of you." It breaks your heart, but than you laugh about it later because you know they don't really mean it.

    I'm glad to hear you're going on a fun retreat. If I wasn't so preggers, I'd sign up too--sounds like fun! I hope you have a blast! Heaven knows, you deserve it!

  22. Catherine...I'm loving getting caught up on your blog. It makes me miss you so much!!! You insprire me. I am so excited for you to get to go to the retreat. I have been to a couple and it does wonders for the soul!!! And how fun to get to be with Saydi. I wish I could go! I really, really would love to come visit you sometime. I'm serious. You will always be one of my favorite people. Your kids are so lucky to have you for a mom. Love you!

    One of my favorite quotes..."Oh God of Second Chances and New Beginnings, here I am again."

    Thank goodness for the new beginnings of each day.


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