Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Help. (The real help.)

My aunt (Brad's aunt) Diana called the other night. To say she was sorry. And to offer encouragement.

My Grandma called.

And then my mom called this morning. Crying. Told me she thought people were taking care of me here, where we live. Where she cannot be.

And (if I may be cliche for a moment) what she said hit me like a ton of bricks.

Because, yeah. Sunday was bad. All I could see on Sunday (and on many days like it such as grocery-shopping day) was my misbehaving children and a crying baby and an annoyed woman and my pitiful, incomplete, imperfect attempts at motherhood.

But today. Today. After a little space. Today I can remember that I ran to the bathroom with Claire in my hand and sobbed big great gaspy sobs on the step stool in front of the sink. When I heard the door open, I didn't try to put on a happy face. Because, seriously. It was obvious I'd either been crying or had missapplied my blush in a streaky mess down my cheeks and stabbed my eyes with mascara. And the woman who came in didn't ask what was wrong. She said, "Oh, Elise," and wrapped me up in her arms and just let me cry. And every other woman that came in did the same. And none of them left. I don't know if they even actually ever used the restroom. They didn't ask me to explain. And it wasn't that I didn't trust them enough to tell them. It was that I couldn't talk about it. I couldn't think about it without wilting into a puddle of tears. And they didn't make me. They got me wrapped up in conversations about other things--houses, moving, babies, ward callings--until my face had cooled. And I could speak without weeping. And I could finish the remaining two hours of church without looking like a hot teary mess.

And then Monday, after blogging, as I pulled up to Grace's school to pick her up, a woman from my ward (who also happened to be in the car queue, waiting for her son) told me she had heard what had happened on Sunday (I don't know how) and although she couldn't find out who had said it ("because no one will gossip!"), she assumed that it was so-and-so (and it was--but I didn't say). And this incident was not this poor woman's only (or worst) offence. And, I felt... pacified.

And then. Well then I came home to a pile of messages from you. Perfect little packets of hope and help.

Several of you mentioned that I should not be afraid of asking for help. I am. I am terrified of asking for help. But this incident stung so that I couldn't ignore it. I couldn't laugh about it (as I usually do over life's tragedies--can't decide if that's healthy or demented). I couldn't get over it. I couldn't sort through my feelings of anger and disappointment and lonliness. So I blogged about it. I asked for help without even realizing it.

So today I can see God's hand in the incident. I can see that He gave me an opportunity to ask for help. I can see what He's been attempting to show me for a long time. When my mom called this morning, I could tell her that I have dear, sincere, loving, wonderful friends. I am taken care of. I am not alone. My efforts (dinky as they are) are not unobserved by Him. That He has given us each other to bear one another's burdens. And that my biggest burden is the fear of failure, and that sharing that fear turns out to not be so bad. That none of you thought, "Yeah, Elise. You're really a screw up." Not that you said, anyway.

And so today, armed with your encouragement and love and support, I largely ignored the laundry. And I played. It's not something I do. Usually I clean and cook and research on the internet the best way to: make a homemade Christmas, bake dinner rolls, take hard water stains out of toilets. I guess I'm looking for a way to measure my success. To feel like I've accomplished something. And I suppose my failure and feelings of overwhelment (yes. I'm making that a word.) stem from never really succeeding. Never being done. I mean, laundry is never. done. And the living room never stays clean for two consecutive hours.

And for today it was okay to not accomplish anything (in the strictest sense of the word). I guess the encouragement made me feel like earning my way to happiness and self-satisfaction was... unnecessary?

So Weston and I played chase around the pantry in my kitchen. Claire and I played pirates. Then we played restaurant and she made me mop the kitchen/dining/living room floor for her customers while she dried it so they wouldn't slip (which is, well, the most fun/productive [fun-ductive?] thing I've ever done, even though the floor is now covered in crumbs again from who knows what). Grace and I sat through piano practice without fighting. We even laughed.

I'm not saying that I'm cured of being overwhelmed and distraught or hopeless. Tomorrow I may be psycho again. But I am saying thank you for reminding me of hope. Thank you for bearing my burden. For being an army of support and help. For being the world's best and sincerest and dearest friends. I can't tell you enough what it has meant.


  1. xoxo

    Love you, Elise. Sometimes motherhood is just crap. Hang in there, beautiful girl.

  2. I'm glad you found hope. Funny how it's always sort of there, right? But we have to be the ones to see it, and sometimes we have to be shown how.

    Love you.

  3. Elise, your lame aunt wanted to post a comment the other day, but I kept trying to think of the perfect thing to say. I just wish I could make you a smoothie and give you a hug. You are a wonderful mom, wife, sister, friend, niece, etc. etc. and it has nothing to do with your laundry, house, etc. but everything to with the fact that you are one of the kindest, most generous persons I know. I think it is admirable that you can be so candid and open on your blog because I think we all moms struggle with those same feelings and its always reassuring to know we aren't the only ones who are "psycho" and its ok to be psycho. Love you Elise! P.S. My laundry room looks worse than the pics you posted and I ate a brownie and coco puffs for breakfast. :) Aunt Elizabeth

  4. yeah, glad you feel better but I still need that lady's phone number

  5. I wish I could hug you. I love you. Call me anytime. You're one of my heroes and I'm you're biggest fan.

  6. You're great Elise. Go ahead and be psycho tomorrow. Just try to play a little in between the psycho. And forget about a clean living room. What mom on the plan has a clean living room and non-sleeping children an the same time? None of them.

  7. On the planet, I mean. And the plan. both. Anyway.

  8. I accidentally burst into tears as I was reading this to my husband. (Hope you don't mind, I always read your blogs to my hubby). ANYWAY, I am so grateful for those women who offered you comfort in the bathroom. Your previous blog, all I could think of was how mad I was at that woman, but someone mentioned how impressed by Sister Smith calling you and checking on you. That really "hit me like a ton of bricks". Some people understand charity (and some DON'T) but I'm so grateful for the support we can receive from each other. Look at how many people agreed with what you wrote... we are all struggling to be the best that we can be, and it's so nice to be reminded that we can all be there to buouy (sp?) each other up.

    I Love you, Elise.

  9. I'm so sorry Elise! I want to thank you for being so brave and honest with your feelings!! All of us have been there and felt that way! Sometimes being a mom is more overwhelming than I ever imagined!! Just know you're not alone!!!

  10. Elise, my darling girl:

    Motherhood is not a results-oriented work, it is a faith-based work!

    Kneel down each morning and pray to Heavenly Father for each child by name; tell Him of the things you wish to accomplish that day and ask for His guidance and direction. Follow the Spirit. If you feel prompted to ignore the housework and focus on the children, then you can feel assured you are doing His will. At the end of the day kneel again and make a report of what you did. Feel His peace and assurance--that will be your motivation.

    When one does things for the love of the Lord, then you are successful regardless of the results.

    Sometimes FHE, family prayer and scripture study don't garner the results we would like (angelic children!)but by setting the pattern, as you wisely said, you are doing what Heavenly Father and the Savior desire of you.

    Perhaps one reason Heavenly Father entrusted these children to your care is because He knew you would take them to church regardless of the result. He knows your heart and intent.

    When all 4 of my children were little I often took them to church alone because of my husband's schedule. One Sunday the sacrament speaker encouraged us to look around and notice those who struggle and to reach out to help them without waiting to be asked. Suddenly arms were coming from every direction--my children were being pulled off the pew by well-meaning brothers and sisters. As I sat alone in the pew I felt embarrassed, judged and like a failure.

    Eventually I learned that my worth was not associated with the thoughts and feelings of others but came from my Heavenly Father. It was only His approval I needed.

    You have some "large" personalities in your home but you have a large spirit--it will all work out! You are loved!


    Obedience is the price.
    Faith is the power.
    Love is the motive.
    The Spirit is the key.
    Christ is the reason.

    Deidre Oliver

  11. Brittany's comment made me laugh - that's how I feel. =) I just got online to comment on your last post (I read it days ago and actually spent a good 30 minutes lying in bed thinking about what I would have said to that woman and how it would have ended very ugly if I had been in the same situation...I'm glad you handled it so much more graciously than I would the way, if you need any great one-liners for her, I have a few you could hand her next time... ;)
    Anyway, this post was amazing. Thanks for the reminder to play with my kids...I mean, after all, I certainly don't stay at home to be a maid! Although that's what it ends up too many days. Thanks for the reminder about asking for help - that's something that really doesn't come easily to me, either.
    Christopher took a class in business school from a very busy person who was successful both in his work and his family. One thing he always said is that it's easy to measure things like work, jobs, housework, etc., so we often gravitate toward doing those things because they kind of give us an immediate 'pat on the back' or sense of accomplishment. Family ties are more of a long-term thing that we often don't get immediate rewards from (actually, I often get the opposite of rewards in the moment, I'll go to all the effort to make my kids happy and I get a tantrum in return - in the short-term). Anyway, family relationships are rewards that bring the most satisfaction but often give the least immediate sense of fulfillment since they're always there and don't have any tangible evidence attached to them. I try to remember that, although it's hard.

    Anyway, I'm's late...hope this made sense. So glad you are finding some peace with that situation and that you have a great support network around you!!!

  12. You've got a great sister. If anyone should have your back, it should be her. Give her the number. You can trust her with it. ;)

    I know you're in town. Can we do lunch? Still have my mobile number? Text me! Xoxo.

  13. elise, I haven't read your blog for awhile and I just now read your last entry. I have a Nurse's advise for you if you are so inclined to hear.....Please make an an appt. With yor doctor. sometimes these episodes of being overwhelmed can reoccur and there is help out there if you need it. :)

  14. Elise, I am so sorry! Something like that incident in church should never happen! And after reading your last post, I agree with Marilyn. I would go see a doctor just to make sure everything's ok. I had postpartum depression after having Henry and I wish I had gotten the help I needed when I needed it instead of trying to figure it out on my own. It was something that scared me, that I was ashamed of, and something I didn't think I could talk about with anyone. Of course I don't know your circumstances, besides what you wrote, but know this at least: in whatever you are feeling or have felt, you are not alone! Please let me know if there's anything I can do, even if from hundreds of miles away.