Cookies Done…I’m Still Crazy

After finishing the cookies I posted this picture of them on Facebook:

They came out well. And my friends were kind and complimentary with their comments. And I deflected. Z was ready to wring my neck (sadly, he is in a near constant state of wanting to wring my neck. I’m hard to live with). He asked why I was going to post what was clearly a cool thing if I was just going to shoot down what people said. He said it seemed like I was fishing for even more compliments.

How to explain that I’m really not fishing? If I felt bad about the cookies, why did I post a picture?

It’s more like I felt bad about myself. Intellectually I know I can make cool cookies. Someone paid me to do it for years. It’s not because I have some amazing artistic talent, anyone who has worked in a bakery will tell you decorating is just a skill like any other. I expected the cookies to look fine, if they didn’t it would be pretty humiliating because I once made my living doing it. The problem is that there is a mean voice in my head when I’m not doing well emotionally that says nothing I do could possibly be worth anything. I’m a fraud, a joke, an object of pity. And this week the voice has been unrelenting.

When I stop doing well after a good long stretch of decent mental health it really feels like a kick to the stomach. I don’t want this. I don’t want to hate myself. I don’t want to NEED my chill pills this frequently. But I’ve stopped coping. This past week was just too hard. The cookies, attending the SU Fashion Show, attending the fundraiser for T’s school. It was too much putting myself out there to handle comfortably. I got the cookies turned in on time on Thursday, but then I spent the boys nap time tearing apart my closet in search for something to wear to the fashion show that night. It was like I was 16. I tried on everything I owned and I felt gross and old in what I settled on. It was the best I could do. I even tried to do my hair and makeup. The whole time I was there I felt like people must be sneaking looks at Z’s wife and feeling terribly sorry for him. I have never felt so 35, I had the thought that the days were over in which someone would mistake me for being in my 20s.

It was the same thing getting dressed for the fundraiser. I felt like I was back in high school and dressed as such, right down to my Lloyd Dobler t-shirt. What? You don’t have a Lloyd Dobler t-shirt? And you call yourself a member of Gen X! Shame on you! At the last minute I realized trying to relive my teen years was a huge mistake and I put on a sensible shirt. And felt old and gross and uncomfortable in my skin. The funny thing is I mentioned to T’s teacher that we were thinking about having a third, but we felt like we needed to do it sooner rather than later being I was 35. She looked surprised and told me she thought I was in my 20s. And here’s the thing folks. It should have made me feel better. Especially because of the thought I’d had the previous evening. She was being complimentary and kind. Earlier in the conversation she told me she thought I was a good mother. But the evil little voice in my head is so loud that I was sure she thought I was in my 20s because I was so immature and such a bad mom. It’s so twisted and fucked up. SHE TOLD ME SHE THOUGHT I WAS A GOOD MOM! And I couldn’t hear it. I convinced myself she was saying the opposite.

The good news is I recognize all this nonsense. That was not the case during the great breakdown of the early aughts. I just believed everything the evil voice said and didn’t think there was anything crazy about it. So progress. But. But, that stupid fucking evil bitch of a voice has thrown off my equilibrium. It has me running scared. This morning I had to go to the grocery store and my throat closed up, I was gasping for air, trying to breathe past the huge lump in my throat. I was scared to pull out of my driveway. I was scared to put myself out into the world where I knew something terrible was going to happen. This week I witnessed two car accidents (fender benders, both) and it’s made me convinced that I’m next. But maybe it won’t be a fender bender. And my boys could be in the car. How can I risk leaving the house? How can I expose them to that danger? I did swallow the fear and make it to the store. But I am in bad shape. I’m scared. Because it’s going to continue to be a challenging few weeks. T’s last day of school is Tuesday. Z is in NYC from Wednesday morning to Saturday. The boys and I are getting on a plane the following Wednesday.

I am pissed this is all so hard for me. I’m embarrassed that there are a kabillion moms out there who can handle all this stuff without relying on pills and therapy, moms who can leave their homes with no problem. I’m ashamed of myself. For so many reasons. For remembering that I care what I look like. Having to dress up does that to me. Most days I put no effort in my appearance, it’s a great excuse. I look like shit? Well, fuck you, it’s not like I tried or anything. But when I do try, if that is the best I can do and I still look like shit, well, that is humiliating. I’m ashamed that a week of normal events can complete undo me. I’m ashamed that it is so hard when Z travels, that I want a fucking break.

Z went to NYC overnight last weekend. His work event was 2 hours. So he got to go to several museums, he got his hat steamed at the place he’s been buying hats for 15 years, he got to meet up with friends. And I’m ashamed to say I sat here in Syracuse green with envy. I want to have some fun. And he isn’t standing in my way, hell, he encourages me. It’s the god damned voice in my head. It’s the fear of leaving the house. It’s the worry that no one wants to see me anyway, I’m too much of a downer.

Friends. I am struggling right now. I’m in a bad place. Anyone want to come hang out in Syracuse while Z is in NY? I know, I know I’m really selling hanging out with me. But I’m going to keep trying. The best fucking thing that has ever happened to me is those sons of mine. I need to get better for them. I need to be a good example for them. The deserve more than I am, I will never live up to what they need, but god damn it, I will still try.

Look at this sweet, perfect face. Who wouldn’t want to get better for him?
 He smiles all day long.
And this one, this nutty kid made me a Mom and it was perhaps the most significant and beautiful gift I’ve ever been given. He’s also a hell of a lot of fun.

12 thoughts on “Cookies Done…I’m Still Crazy

  1. Ah, but I'm not sure I look younger…We just couldn't figure it out with the two little guys, so I'm going to miss this trip. Sorry I won't make it to the party, I'm sure it would have been the most fun I'd have all year. But when I do eventually make it down there (and it will be soon because Miss Anna is moving back) I'll get in touch.

  2. PS: I suffer from “closet block” at least twice a week. It's an epidemic and I am patient zero. It's obviously very contagious because I passed it to you and we've had minimal contact. I should be quarantined before the entire East coast becomes carriers.

  3. Karen ~ I'm sorry you're in a rough place. I hate those times/places. I really can't tell you anything other than that in my darkest times, I can only find comfort in my relationship with God. I know you struggle with knowing whether there is any truth in believing in God so I don't know how to help other than to pray and to tell you that I am – in earnest – praying for you.

    I don't mean to be glib…I know some people say that and then go back to their lives and don't actually think about you. But I truly mean that I will fervently hope that this next week and a half go smoothly for you.

    I know you don't like compliments but I will also pray that the truth in what else I have to say about YOU will be louder than the evil voice you hear so loudly right now…

    Regardless of whether you got paid to decorate cookies for years or not, you have incredible skill and talent at it. You are an artistic soul – from your jewelry, to your raw writing, to your culinary skills. I honestly think that first of all, no one would ever pay me to decorate one stinkin' cookie but secondly I just don't have the patience for it!!! I could not do what you did with those cookies even if we walked in the exact same shoes for that time in your life. Believe me…it just ain't in me!

    Also, I too get green with envy when my husband “gets” to do fun things that he likes. I, too, choose not to indulge. I don't do pamper days like some moms, or girls night out, or frankly, have the same friends-coming-over-nights that you do. I work, shop for the family, and hermit myself at home. I do see parents or in-laws once a week or so which is nice. It's my choice…but I still resent my husband's freedom. His freedom of his mind – he doesn't carry so much guilt, need for perfection, overprotection, and pressure to do it all – that allows him to relax and enjoy life more.

    Lastly, I share your amazement that there seem to be mothers/women who can do it all. I often think my own mother and mother-in-law are such women. They have faults, sure, but they could function well. I do not, more times than not, feel like I'm functioning like I should or could.

    Please know that there are moms who are similar to you. I don't have panic attacks when I have to leave the house but this morning I had to literally make myself go out to a group baking session with some women in my area. (Can you imagine!? I've only just started learning how to bake and suddenly I'm in a GROUP baking situation with other SAHMs who got married ten years earlier than and me and had kids almost ten years earlier than me? Really, it's quite humorous. I took two boxes of brownies and made them instead of trying anything remotely dangerous.)

    My daughter came with me which was a relief but if it weren't for my daughter's, husband's, and parents' needs for me to find “friends” in our new area (we've been here about 8 mos and I just keep putting that off), I would have stayed at home.

    And as I'm making myself leave this morning, I'm making the morning pretty miserable for my poor husband as he's trying to get ready for work.

    I am a mess, too, Karen. I can say, however, that I'm not as big of a mess as I was ten years ago, or even five, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

    (I hope I've helped.)

  4. For what it's worth, I can think of little else I'd rather do than come to Syracuse and spend time with you and finally meet the boys and EAT SOME COOKIES. But I'm on Official Travel Lockdown. Freakin' demanding kid, wanting to come into the world and all. Hrumph!

  5. Yes, but your closet is filled with marc jacobs and other such delightful things. Mine is filled with Old Navy and Target. Your closet block resolutions are undoubtably sartorially acceptable. Mine are just kind of sad.

  6. R-thank you so much for the thoughtful and kind comment. The point about being better than you used to be is a great one, I guess that is all we can strive for. And I'm glad you are putting yourself out there. We've made a couple of big moves and even Z (who revels in socializing) finds it takes a couple of years to really find your crowd. I think you are doing amazing for only 8 months!

  7. Oh S, I'd love to see you so much. We'll have to organize something after your little one makes his/her appearance. We really do miss you guys. You are in the home stretch (see that? I did a sports metaphor for you!) and then the real fun begins!

  8. irretrievablybroken is right. About both the cookies and your children. Hang in there! You are not alone. No mother I've ever met has it easy–we all have our own demons to fight and insecurities to overcome. Sounds to me like you are doing better than you think you are.

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