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I’ve been feeling something lately. Something that keeps percolating to the top of my self conscious. Then I quickly stuff it down, the exact same way I attempt to wrestle my daughter’s raspberry colored sleeping bag into its proper case.

But feelings are just bastards. They refuse to go away until you take a very deep breath and face them head on. So again and again, they bubble defiantly to the surface.

So I change my strategy. I will experience these emotions. And then, just maybe, they will stop following me around so relentlessly.

What am I feeling? A loss of some sort –ย  perhaps freedom. Maybe youth. Or possibly choices.

I’m enormously, incredibly, unbelievably grateful for everything I have (you see that I fear being punished by the Gods for even admitting anything but sheer happiness at all times). I adore and love my husband, my children, my life. It is all I ever hoped for but never quite trusted could all come true. Not a moment goes by that I don’t feel overwhelming gratitude for all my blessings.

But lately I’ve felt a bit out of choices. Longing for a time, when everything was unknown and scary and filled with promise and fueled with addictive energy. I miss the exhilarating newness of those experiences that are behind me now. Behind. Me. Now.

I could hardly admit all this to myself, never mind dare to find out if other 30 something and 40 something moms felt the same.

But then I started to hear rumblings. A knowing nod from a friend.ย  A similar confession from another.

And then I read this brave, honest, incredibly perfect post by IzzyMom. To quote IzzyMom, “You can call it whatever you want – a mid-life crisis, a housewife’s lament, whatever.”

My friend Alex suggested, a “late 30s, still sexy crisis” as a far better alternative to my self-described “mid-life crisis.”

But whatever you call it, it’s a relief to finally honor my own emotions.

It’s ok to have longing for a time that has passed. It’s ok to miss the newness. It’s ok to confess that everything which brings you such incredible joy and happiness in your present life, can sometimes, now and then, feel a bit limiting.

Because we are just human. We are wives. And mothers. And we are real and not perfect. And it’s ok.

It doesn’t make me love my husband any less. Or my children any less. Or my life any less. Because this is truly, deeply the life I want.

So it’s ok.

And with this understanding, I suddenly feel a bit more free. The freedom to feel what is real.

mama bird notes:

Contributing mama Daphne Biener’s kindergartner is coming home in tears because of… art class. Say what?! Click on contributing mamas to find out who’s causing all the trouble.

I mean, how long has been since I’ve done a giveaway?! Too long mama birdies.ย  So this week I am giving away a cosmetic brush travel set ($45 value) from Design Brushes. Includes 6 essential brushes including a powder brush, shadow brush and angled liner. Because I think you deserve something new in that makeup bag. To enter, just leave a comment this week on the mama bird diaries and I’ll randomly choose a winner. Thanks ladies.

64 Responses to confessions of a wife and mother

  • Aimee says:

    MAN OH MAN have I wrestled that feeling before–over and over again.
    Especially my single–all about me–life in NYC –and the days I slept in..and most recently longing for the days when I was sick and COULD BE sick and stay in bed all day if you had to–not as a mom–you must be ON all the time. I, like you, love my life…but there is something to be said for leaving those days in the past and knowing you will never ever relive them again.
    I am happy you wrote about this –because I have often felt alone in this feeling, and often the other moms have looked at me like I was crazy to even think about anything other then my hubby and kids! The fact is that part of us had to be let go—and that is a LOSS. Death is a process–and we will forever miss THAT girl —younger–skinnier–energized–kidless–do what every you want- you. And when our kids are off to college and we are wrestling empty nest–we will be feeling a loss for “when the kids were preschoolers, and we were still young hip moms” ๐Ÿ™‚

  • I think people who aren’t married with kids also feel this way – it’s a grass is always greener thing. Or, really, boredom – when every day is the same (even if it is good), you can’t help feeling somewhat frustrated and bored. It takes some creativity to get out of the rut without upsetting the whole apple cart.

    How’s that for a mixed metaphor?

  • I just read the post. You know, one thing we don’t have at this point in our lives is perspective – it feels as if we’ve been raising the kids forever, and it will never end. But suddenly, it does change. The people I know with the kids older and/or out of the house have a lot of fun. Maybe not the same kind as in their early twenties; but really, they don’t want that. They don’t have the feeling anymore, though, of being on such a short leash with the kids and all. One friend of mine told me, as his 4th (and youngest) prepared to leave for college and he prepared for a new career, “I haven’t felt this young and excited in years!”

    So hang in there, fellow moms! The best is around the corner!

  • merlotmom says:

    I’m so glad you wrote this post. I have a draft of one just like it sitting in my blogger files. You wrote so eloquently how I’ve been feeling for a few years now. I, too, have found myself amongst girlfriends, confessing to what I thought would stir up shared frustrations and laughter. Instead, they all looked at me like I’d told them I was a hooker in my secret life. It’s nice to know others harbor the same “secrets” and it is okay to have the feelings, normal, even. THanks.

  • Mama Duck says:

    I went out kidless on Saturday night with my hubby, my cute new Stuart Weitzmans, my push up bra and no curfew. We yearn for nights like this when we can be totally carefree but in the end we can’t wait to get home and back to ‘normal’. Pathetic but at the end of the night all I wanted to do was get home and kiss my babies and crawl under the covers with them. I guess we can’t have it all… I can’t keep my eyelids open past 11:30 anymore anyway.

  • Miriam says:

    Oh, I am *so* going to link to this post. You have just ripped open the veil of my late 30s angst, for sure.

    And that brush set is lovely?

    (See how I can switch gears like a mommy?)

  • Amy@UWM says:

    I’m not longing to sew wild oats. Just would love to be able to make life choices based solely on my choices and not on how those choices will affect anyone else. I’d also like to not be exhausted all the time.

    Would it be bad form to lobby for the makeup brushes? I could actually use some to cover the permanent dark circles under my eyes…

  • sam says:

    great post! honest and brave. i love when people share the “real” stuff that no one wants to talk about but that everyone feels.

  • Cathy says:

    Beautiful post. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt this way. I don’t know what it takes to get past “the grass if always greener,” and “what if.”

  • Damselfly says:

    So true, and expressed so well by you. I think there would be something wrong with us if we were truly content with how our lives are. That’s what keeps us striving and trying to make the world a better place.

  • jessica Bern says:

    Found you through Wendi Aarons. I read this post and the first thing I thought was, Funny, I guess the one up side to being a divorcee is the excitement of wondering who will walk into your life next. I feel a lot of the same feelings but now that I’m dating again after 14 years, yes, 14 years, it brings me back to the old days and I’m not necessarily saying that in a good way although the “not knowing” is certainly never boring.

  • Pearl says:

    Very nice post. I feel gobs of guilt for feeling this exactly.

    For now, I am looking forward to a day that I dont have to consider how something as seemingly insignificant as what I order at Starbucks is going to affect other people in my life.

  • scrappysue says:

    totally hear you, and such a \\\’female\\\’ thing to do, to qualify our emotions, but it\\\’s ok! and trust me, you get back to \\\’it\\\’ and BEYOND!!! there WILL come a time again when spontaneity rules once again and everything you do isn\\\’t about someone else. i think we should discuss this further over a very large and colourful cocktail, in say – 3 weeks!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Jessi says:

    I have had these same moments, thoughts, and feelings. But like someone else said, when I try to experience them, I yearn for mommy-normal again. I got married at 19, had my first baby at 20. I “missed” a lot…or maybe I just think I did. I couldn’t change what I have for the world.

  • Diane says:

    I will turn (gasp!) 40 next June and have been thinking all the same things as in your post. In fact, I even wrote about it on http://www.divinecaroline.com called ‘Rethinking the mid-life Crisis’. No you are not alone – and considering possibilities does not negate all the blessings in your life! Thanks for sharing.

  • KidSafe Mama says:

    Good for you girl. You got down to the nitty gritty so many of us are feeling…and heck you will not get struck by lightening for being human. It doesn’t make us bad mommies to admit that hey I miss some of the other, more crazy, spontaneous or self absorbed times times in my life. The good news is that when the girls are just a little older (my youngest is 9), you start getting yourself back. And beware – these years go by so fast so lets enjoy and be in the moment while we can.

  • pamela says:

    you are so right!!!i truly believe we all deal with this emotion @some point in our late thirties!!every one of my girlfriends as well as myself “resemble” these comments….when all else fails,breathe and go on a girls night out!!!!that always seems to help energize your mind,body and soul!!!!!love your posts!!!

  • Rhea says:

    Nicely said. I think everyone has to feel that at some point, but it sounds like you’re breaking it down and analyzing it in a healthy, logical way. And you’re so right, we can run and hide from emotions…they find us no matter what and the longer we deny them, the worse the consequences!

    Nicely written post.

  • Bitsy says:

    Suburbancorrespondent is exactly right. I am in the spot she described. My kids are older (youngest is 11) and even though I still have so much to do, it doesn’t feel so suffocating any more. I did feel the way you describe when they were little, but now it’s gone. When my husband and I go out alone without having to get a sitter or better yet, when we are home alone, it’s a whole new freedom. I do sometimes miss when they were little and it seems like yesterday. I didn’t say that very well, but that’s why you’re the writer and I’m the reader.

  • Memarie Lane says:

    I can definitely relate to the feeling. I find myself envious of younger women who are still in college and such and haven’t really made many huge decisions.

    My friend G is a very young mother of two, and is a university student. She’s gorgeous, smart, and sweet, has it all basically. She started a new job with several women over 30 who were all giving her a hard time and making her feel stupid. I told her I suspected they envied her place in life, still being at the point of return, still being on the cusp of things.

  • Becky says:

    oh honey, you are so NOT alone.
    Honestly I think these feelings are so healthly because it does make you appreciate the good times and what you do have.
    If everything was always rosy and happy and frosting, then what fun would that be.

    Good for you for letting these feelings fly. I, for one, am proud of you that you posted this!

  • sarah says:

    k, have you been watching gossip girl? i watched it last night and could not help but reminisce about years gone by. but this morning when my babes climbed in my bed i again felt so blessed and am so looking forward to my forties.

  • laura says:

    Wow Kelcey — looks like you tapped into a gushing river of sentiment. pretty amazing. good for you for being honest and real. think that’s what moms need. oh…and i vote for a night away from the entire family one night a month! just you and a hotel bed and maybe a dinner with friends!

  • LB says:

    There must be a a full moon or something in the air. I’ve spent the last week or so in particular entrentched in very similar guilt-laden, nostalgic musings. Maybe it’s the recent birth of my 2nd child, or my upcoming 20-year high school reunion coupled with way too much Facebook activity. Regardless, thanks for the validation.

  • Jen says:

    Great post Kelcey — we all go through those emotions!
    And we all go through those times when we need new brushes in our makup bags! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • tracey says:

    Yes… I do believe it’s a requirement of your 30’s to feel as though you’ve been robbed of something. Something that you just can’t quite label… Youth? No. I don’t want to be younger. Freedom? A bit. I don’t mind my ties but could handle a bigger range of choices.

    It comes and goes. You realize that the things you have are GOOD. That they are definitely what you want, but that doesn’t stop the desire for other things, and other experiences…

  • erinb says:

    you wondered if you were alone in your thoughts?? ummmm judging from the 30 something responses above me and many more to come, I would say no! AWESOME post and its kinda like you were in all of our heads- thanks for being our voice and putting it out there- very proud of you mama bird!!!

  • Um, yah! You voiced and I thank you. And I loved how you assured yourself and others (me) that it’s ok to have a great life and still grieve for innocence, recklessness, and fire that was our youth. . . but I have a really good feeling that the fire is even hotter if we continue to stay the course!

    Great post!

  • Mary says:

    Great post and I think you hit on something every woman feels at some point. I love my son and hubby more than anything but sometimes miss the joy of waking up when you want and not basing trips to the store on nap times and feeding schedules!

  • Dixie Chick says:

    I’ve been a mother now for nearly 6 years and I’m still getting the hang of it. I don’t think we can every be picture perfect happy. That whole thing about “happily ever after” – way too much to live up to. Too much pressure. At the ripe age of 40, I realize that sexy is my attitude, with a few extra pounds on the chassis, yet I did a mini-triathalon. And that made me know I can still set goals and go for it. I also never realized how self-sacrificing motherhood is, that I did it too much and now I’m taking time for myself which I need SO badly. I’m working the girls nights out, and took my first me weekend in 6 years recently. Great post, keep ’em coming.

  • Jennifer H says:

    I\\\’m feeling a lot of the same things right now, and am very glad you wrote about this (even if it meant facing the bastards head on…).

    It throws me when I discover that some people actually don\\\’t feel like this. But still, it\\\’s not often that we all talk about it. I\\\’m glad you did.

  • Oz says:

    Our options shift as we get older, don’t they? I mean, now that I have a child, I can’t – or won’t – run off to LA on a whim with my girlfriends. I miss that. But I love what I have now.

    Great post.

  • I think we all long for that time. That time before we were wife and mother. When we were just single, adorable and had the world at our fingertips. How could you not miss it? Then while you are thinking about it, and missing it, your little girl walks over and out of nowehere gives you a big hug and kiss for no reason at all. Ahhh, then all seems right in the world if only for a few fleeting seconds. Then you pass a mirror and oops…back to reality. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • One of my sister’s favorite quotes about life is by Dr. Seuss- “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” I love that brand of wisdom.

    I agree that it’s important to honor our emotions. As a wife and mother, a large part of my day can be sometimes spent (joyfully, albeit) recognizing and validating the needs and feelings of others- sometimes to my own detriment.

    As I’ve gotten older, I recognize and protect my need to cultivate new passions. It’s beneficial to myself and my family.

    Love the honest post.

  • Aunt Marcia (Guess Whose?) says:

    The only thing I powder anymore is my ass when I get out of the shower. So, if you’re sending me a brush for that; make it a large paint roller…Kelcey if you married at 18 to the local garage mechanic and are living with him and 2 kids in your parents basement in Shits Creek, PA; I can excuse the ‘kvetching’. You’re living a ‘large life’; so suck it up.

  • Kim says:

    I have to say that I admire you.. so many moms keep these feelings hidden.. I am not one of those..sometimes I miss “me”.. outside of the kids and husband.. I find that I have to reconnect with just me to feel slightly okay and that I have energy to keep up with how demanding being a mom and a wife can be..

    This was a wonderful post!

  • I know the feeling, especially now that I am on campus one day a week for my master’s class. I feel older than I care to admit. And when the burrito guy calls me Ma’am I almost break into tears. I don’t want to be ma’am.

    Btw..I am heading to NYC for a little getaway, I would love to meet you!

  • Elizabeth says:

    Contests are one of the things that help me cope with this feeling you describe. So thanks for helping with my “still sexy yet folding laundry” issues!

  • johanna says:

    I hear you! I often feel guilty for having that same dialogue in my mind. Despite loving being married (for 70 years now, oh sorry, I mean 7 -at times it just feels like 70!) and having an amazing toddler that I would stop the earth for, I still also long for newness, excitement, some oomph and fresh change every now and then. Thank you for sharing and allowing us all to see that its not “just me”!

  • Deb Ringold says:

    Those feelings creep up now and then for everyone. And if anyone tells you different, they lie. I have noticed, however, that lately I get this feeling more often. I realized that since I became addicted to facebook, and people from my high school and college years come creeping in with “remember when…” stories, I am more nostalgic than ever about those years. But then I turn off the computer (after reading mamabird) snuggle with my kids, and thank goodness that I am in the place where I am today. I feel lucky to have those memories, and even luckier to be making new memories every day with my family. And so are you. Knowing your family personally, I think that you are one of the luckiest girls I know!

  • Ree says:

    My thoughts tend towards what could have been. Not so much towards a “loss”, and not necessarily with “regret”, but I realized, in talking with my 16-year-old the other day, that I’ve never lived ALONE. Never. I’m 45, and I’ve never lived by myself. I’ve either been with my parents or my first husband or this husband. With or without kids.

  • this is just beautiful, m. bird. it’s so true, that deep down unsettled, bittersweet feeling that there’s so much behind you now. there’s no longer the feeling that you may be walking past your future husband on the sidewalk. no longer the question of what having a baby is like. no longer the endless possibilities. i live in a college town, which i love, but sometimes i have to stop myself from being bitter about all the wide-eyed cluelessness of the students. here’s what we have still to experience: teenagers. travel (i don’t know about you, but there are TONS of places i still have to go before i die). and, i don’t know, $500 champagne. and i’m still holding out for the opportunity to be an expat somewhere. maybe if the country elects mccain…. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Milena says:

    Yes. Just so. Wonderfully well said. No punishment for you. Ever. You are too good and too great. I’m sorry I missed reading this when it came out. Ike got in the way and now everyone has duly said all your beautiful post merits. I’m with you on this wagon cart of this particular train.

  • Taylor says:

    This article reminded me how pathetic it is that this morning I got excited because the cat was already outside and I didn’t have to worry about tripping over it as I rushed to make it to the bathroom… AND THAT WILL BE THE HI-LIGHT OF MY DAY! (Until my kids get home from school).

  • Allison T. says:

    So, it seems clear to me that this topic merits national attention. Way to hit the nail on the head, MB! Something that “everyone is thinking but no one is saying” is just one of those things we can all come together on.

    Not that we need a solution- what would it be? But more of just a, “Yeah, I totally know how you feel!”

    Plus, I think it’s stuff like this that starts the “mommy wars” and makes it really hard to talk about work/life balance. I mean, if you’re working (hard) and being a mom (always) and on top of that you’re struggling how to reconcile your options, age, situation, blessings, wishes…I mean, come on!

    Do guys think about this stuff to?

    p.s. Kelcey- I hate to ruin your “__ days Palin-free” goal, but I have to say that as I wrote those last thoughts, I was thinking about how Sarah P. went back to work THREE DAYS after having her baby. Way to reinforce the misconception that maternity leave is just a vacation. Sheesh.

kelcey kintner