Housewife Burnout

overwhelmed-mom-1950s

It took four punches of the snooze button to get me out of bed this morning.

I wasn’t tired. Or sick, for that matter.

But I was sick and tired. Sick and tired of the same old routine, minute after minute, day after day, year after year, since 1995, when I made the decision to stay at home to manage our family.

Now don’t get me wrong — I truly love my life and wouldn’t have it any other way. I am proud that I gave up my own professional ambitions for the humble satisfaction of providing home cooked meals, a warm and loving environment, and a constant and dependable presence to my family.

But frankly, after two decades, I’d rather chew my own arm off than empty the dishwasher again. I’d take a frying pan to the head to put me out of the misery of defrosting another pound of ground beef. If given the choice, I’d rather swallow a fistful of wriggling grubs than dust the ceiling fan blades one more time.

I often fear that I’m on the brink of some sort of total housewife breakdown. Emptying the lint trap gives me the shakes. Putting the steak knives away makes my left eye twitch. I can’t sponge another sticky spot off the countertop without feeling palpitations, and I have completely lost the ability to par-boil anything.

Over the last year, my poor family has been witness to the steady decline of my cooking, cleaning and parenting skills. It has come as somewhat of a shock to them, because for almost two decades, I was Supermom.

A licensed and gainfully employed litigation attorney, I made the decision to put my lucrative career aside two years into marriage, to raise the kids and support my husband Francis’ active duty military career no matter where it would take us. I’ll admit that my initial high standards and work ethic were based primarily on one thing: guilt. Since I wasn’t bringing in any income, I felt that I had to knock it out of the park as a homemaker.

But as the years passed, I saw the value of my choice. Not just during the obvious times when being at home was crucial, such as deployments, but also during the subtle everyday moments when my family was better off for having a dependable presence in their lives.

My kids knew that, no matter where we were stationed, I would always be there to walk them to school, pack their lunches, keep them home when sick, bring cupcakes to soccer games, and chaperone field trips. The subtle sense of security they felt was crucial in turning our typical military kids into the independent, accomplished, confident individuals they are today.

I was fortunate too, because I’ve had a front-row seat to our children’s lives. While Francis worked long hours to support our family, I got to see each kid get Citizen of the Month. I cheered at every raucous flag football game. I secretly cringed at every pitchy middle school band concert. I toasted every waffle, mashed every potato, posted every chore chart, and kissed every boo-boo.

Now, with only two more years left before our youngest goes off to college, I’ve lost sight of how lucky I’ve been. After fourth alarm went off this morning, it dawned on me. “Anna’s graduating in a month,” I scolded myself, “now, get up and fry her a lousy egg!”

“No thanks, Mom, we’re leaving early to have breakfast with our friends,” Anna told me, her hand held out in hopes that cash would land in it. With the melody of “Cat’s In the Cradle” playing in my head, I gave her my last $20, and watched out the kitchen window as they drove away.

That was all the motivation I needed.

I may not skip around the house in search of dust bunnies today. I won’t do any cartwheels over the latest Crock Pot recipe. I’ll probably avoid cleaning the rust stains off toilet bowl. But I won’t let myself get so bogged down in the mundane tasks of every day life, that I forget the subtle yet countless blessings of making a loving home for my family.

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Comments: 12

  1. Anjelica May 29, 2016 at 7:19 am Reply

    Oh my gosh! This was just hilarious and so relatable! I’ve just discovered your blog and I’ve enjoyed exploring it. I really love your writing style and humor.

    • Lisa Smith Molinari June 8, 2016 at 11:51 am Reply

      Thanks so much for stopping by Anjelica!

  2. energywriter May 19, 2016 at 7:36 am Reply

    You described the feeling so well. When my children were still in elementary school I had to go to work. I felt so guilty and, knowing what I was missing and regretted every moment I had to be away. Even so, they grew up to be adults I’m proud to call family.

    • Lisa Smith Molinari May 23, 2016 at 5:28 pm Reply

      Yep, it can work either way, but no matter what you do, somehow you always feel guilty as the mom!

  3. gracile2 May 17, 2016 at 9:20 am Reply

    Been having the same feelings here…. and as youngest son came in yesterday saying I put $20 of gas in the car…am I being reimbursed? What? Who drives that car… there goes another $20 out of my wallet! ❤️ Gotta love our kids!

    • Lisa Smith Molinari May 23, 2016 at 5:27 pm Reply

      Honest to God, if it isn’t Francis taking money out of my wallet, it’s the darned kids

  4. Jackie Nasca May 16, 2016 at 3:50 pm Reply

    Dust the ceiling fan blades…. I knew I was doing it wrong….. now it’s documented….

    • Lisa Smith Molinari May 23, 2016 at 5:26 pm Reply

      I never got the manual, but apparently, dusting the ceiling fans is a thing.

  5. Melissa May 16, 2016 at 1:19 pm Reply

    I agree, those mundane chores and awful repetitive tasks aside, cherish this time with your family. When the nest empties out, you will miss these days like you cannot believe. And don’t forget to congratulate yourself for a job done very well, you have earned it.

    • Lisa Smith Molinari May 23, 2016 at 5:23 pm Reply

      Thanks for being in my corner Melissa!

  6. M. Mikatarian May 16, 2016 at 12:19 pm Reply

    And just like that, you have crying at work again. I’m behind the desk at my part time job that I can do now that my nest is completely empty, but there are those days when I wish I could smell the top of my babies’ heads and blow raspberries on their chubby little feet. When did I blink? Hang in there Lisa!

    • Lisa Smith Molinari May 23, 2016 at 5:22 pm Reply

      Oh Good Lord, we have become sentimental old fools, haven’t we?!

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