Thursday, December 18, 2008

You Just Don't Know

Posted by Anonymous.

I need to get something off my chest. You (my sibling, my mother-in-law, my mother, my friend) call me and you ask me how I’m doing. I answer “overwhelmed.” And somehow this is your cue to gush “Oh! I know!” and then launch into the many ways you are busy and also overwhelmed.

I’m sorry. You don’t know.

You, with your no children or older children or grandchildren cannot possibly “know” how overwhelmed I feel with three small children, a busy husband, a house, volunteer commitments and the other million little things that need my attention every day. You who sleep all night cannot possibly understand what it’s like to tackle all I have on my plate after night after night of little sleep. So please don’t tell me “you know” because you don’t. You can’t fathom my level of overwhelm right now.

Listen, I do know that you’re overwhelmed. I believe it! I too have felt completely overwhelmed without all that I have going on right now. The point of this is NOT that I’m way more overwhelmed than you are. The point is that I don’t share this information with you so that I can hear about everything going on in your life. I tell you I’m overwhelmed because I really need to vent and get some support right now. When you respond “I know!” and launch into a litany of all the things on your plate it feels like you’re taking my plea for help and throwing it back in my face.

So in the future, when you ask how I’m doing and I respond “overwhelmed!” instead of “good!” please, please don’t take this as an opportunity to add even more to my plate. Please take a breath and acknowledge that I’ve reached out to you. Because you really can’t know unless you’ve been here or you’ve asked me what it’s like.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I hear you, sister.

Stacy said...

Halleluiah and Amen!

Well said. I may copy you letter and send it to my friend who does the exact same thing!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for putting into words how I'm feeling too. I'm listening to you. I hear your plea. I can relate. I'm so sorry that you feel overwhelmed. If I was in your life I would ask you what I can do to help...

My mother does this to me too. I'm so sad. She says to me, I don't understand why you're whining (which I don't because it gets me nowhere) I raised my kids......

I cry. I hurt. I'm so tired.

Anonymous said...

Tell your friend/sister/mother what you need. Explain that you need an ear. They're not going to know otherwise.

I have a friend who is completely overwhelmed with two small children, a busy husband and a house to run right now. Conversely, she can't see past her being overwhelmed long enough to even hear what I'm saying most days. She uses every opportunity to tell me how much harder she has it than me, how busier she is than me, how I have no idea what she's going through. While she may be right, that's not an excuse for her failing to be my friend in any way shape or form lately.

So I told her. She unloaded a little bit to me to and now we have a better understanding of where the other is coming from.

Good luck. I hope things let up for you soon.

Loonstruck said...

I'm so sorry you feel this way. It's so hard being a mom and we often forget to be sympathetic to other moms. I hope that your friends and family come around.

Can you ask for help without volunteering you're overwhelmed (and opening up to hearing another person's litany of complaints)?

Sometimes people just need to be told what to do. I remember just wishing someone would knock on my door and offer to clean my bathroom. I mentioned it to my MIL years later and she asked me why I didn't ask for help. A specific job she COULD do but my generalized helplessness made her feel helpless too.

Liam's Mom said...

That sucks how their immediate reaction is to unload on you when you are obviously crying for help. I am sorry they do this to you every time. I hope you have loved one or friend who listens and lets you rant. Everyone needs a shoulder when things get rough... not a blabber mouth that really doesn't get it!

Rachael said...

EVERYONE should read this post. It's so true.

Anonymous said...

I think so many people feel this way. One of the biggest lessons to learn, in my humble opinion, is how to listen to each other. Everyone, myself included, could work on that!

Maggie said...

I could have written this post myself - I just yelled at my mother for the same thing. I know that she as commitments with elderly parents, and (as she points out all the time) that she raised children too. IT'S NOT A COMPETITION! I hope someone gives you a chance to get a break sometime this holiday - as a mom of two little ones and one on the way, I know how much you need it!

Anonymous said...

Next time someone asks you to volunteer....SAY NO! That one little word will help a lot.

Arizaphale said...

I think a bit of 'reflective listening' is called for here. Like:...."wow...you are really doing it tough right now..."
It's so rare for people to do it but when it comes it's like a blinding flash of light....
Good luck

lorrielink said...

i think i have yet to meet a mom who has all the support she needs. there is too often entirely too little help when we need it the most. its too bad. there really just is not enough communication between moms and the rest of the world yet and even sadder that moms still cant talk to each other easily.
it is so so difficult to express yourself clearly without misunderstandings or assumptions. and even harder to be in need of help and have a realistic perspective on other peoples lives. and even harder to notice the parts that didnt get understood and reiterate what you said.
if you do need help i hope you find a way to express clearly what you need to those who can give it. and find ways to ease the stress of your life. no one will do it for you, its no one elses responsibility but it doesnt just take a village to raise a child it takes several villages to be a community for you and your whole family.

ok thats enough bad grammer babble from me. just know your not alone and i hope for you better times to come soon.

::::wifemothermaniac:::: said...

word!