Have you ever felt alone in a house full of people? Have you ever felt like their lives are moving forward while yours is stuck in one place? Have you ever felt sad or even depressed but you don’t know why? Have you ever wondered if you were invisible? What I mean is, do the people around you notice your life and what is going on in it or do they go about their own lives and just assume all is well with you?
My life is hectic to say the least. I am married with four children. My wife and I both work fulltime jobs on opposite shifts. We get one day off together each week, but it’s usually a busy day scheduled with doctor’s appointments or grocery shopping. My oldest son is in school 5 days a week and when my wife is at work, I am home with the 3 younger children. What usually happens is that my youngest (6 month old daughter) is needing to be fed when I don’t really want to still be awake. It’s either too late at night or way too early in the morning. My two youngest boys (2 and 4 years old) run around when they should be in bed, laughing and playing through the night. My wife and oldest son are asleep in their rooms in preparation for their school and work days in the morning. I just stay awake and think. I stay awake until I curl up on the couch, not wanting to wake my wife by crawling back into bed after everyone is asleep.
More often than not, I am fine. I just read the news or some sports stories online and check my WordPress site. I pass some time that way and eventually drift off to sleep once the children have all settled down. But then there are nights like tonight where I am troubled. I am uneasy. I am a bit lonely and I wonder what I am doing with my life. I should be happy all the time, but a house full of children is both a joy and a fulltime migraine. Spending less and less time with my wife is the new routine. It comes with a full house I suppose, but it can be tough. When I am wide awake, listening to the quietness of the night within the four walls of my house, I begin to wish life was different. I begin to wish for better days, without stress and without loneliness. I don’t wish for a single life or a life without children. I just wish there was a better way to get through each day.
It’s not easy to be a parent, as any parent will tell you. There are challenges with every child and when you’ve got four, the challenges are sometimes hard to endure. Each child needs a different thing at all times. It gets to the point where you feel like a butler or a referee instead of a parent. You are either cleaning up after them or telling them to clean up after themselves. Either way, there is always a mess to clean up. Toys and food in places they shouldn’t be. One child needing to be wiped while the other runs around without pants on. All while the baby girl is crying for another meal or a new diaper for herself. Then the two youngest boys are fighting over something and need to be talked to. I am happy to do these things because I love them, but do they see me as a father or do they see me as a maid? Am I just an on-demand food and drink dispenser or am I Daddy? Am I their loving Dad or just the mean man who sent them to their room for fighting?
I have my own stress. I have my own fears, doubts, frustrations and emotional baggage just like anyone else. I just feel like because I am the Dad, the husband, the “man of the house”, I am supposed to be a rock. I am supposed to be strong and “just deal” with the obstacles in front of me without showing any signs of weakness. I am the budget manager of the house, which means all the finances go through me. If I screw up then the results are my fault and are for me to fix. I am the landscaper, lawnmower, snow remover, wood stacker, leaf raker and handyman of the house, so all those chores are on me as well. For the most part I enjoy them, but at times, I just want a break. I feel like it’s just expected of me so I go about my business and get it done…mostly without complaining.
I think the hardest thing for me right now is nighttime. I am alone for far too many nights with nothing but my thoughts to keep me company. It seems like the world around me is asleep while I go through my worries, my fears, my doubts, my regrets and just feel sorry for myself. Too much time alone in your thoughts can be a bad thing. I don’t think anyone really knows what goes on in my head. I don’t think my kids or my wife know how much the weight of the world on me is often bringing me down. I don’t think they know how alone I feel sometimes when I am in the same room with them. Everyone going about their business without a care while I overanalyze just about everything and stress over the littlest thing. I know that I can make more of an effort to not feel that way, but sometimes I wonder, how much am I supposed to do? How much is my responsibility to fix a stressful situation?
I guess this is not really so much a post as it is a rant. It is a venting session from someone who tends to hold it all in. This is my way of admitting that I am human and I have just as many emotions as anyone else, but I tend to keep them bottled up. This is not a cry for help, nor is it a plea for pity. It is simply me being real and saying that there are people who seem to have it all together, but who feel like life is unraveling on the inside. Life is far too short to take it on by yourself. Changes can be made to make tough situations better and no one should feel alone in a house with a large happy family in it.
The days of a parent and spouse are filled with a lot of responsibility and juggling family life with work life and your own personal needs is a challenge. My parents fought all the time and yelling was the best way for my dad to communicate with us kids. I always wanted better for my wife and my kids. And I think I’ve succeeded for the most part. My wife and I don’t fight as much as my parents did and I don’t yell quite as much as my dad did. Any is too much, but sometimes kids just don’t listen. No one is ever really prepared for raising a family and maintaining a marriage. You need to learn and adapt as you go along because every situation is different. It needs to be a team effort to make things work and go smoothly.
So am I invisible? No. But I do feel that way sometimes. I sometimes feel like I am just a fixture. Sometimes I feel like I’m just a gear in this familial machine. I just keep spinning because I am expected to. I keep functioning without fail so that this machine keeps on chugging along. But if I’m being honest, I’m cracking. This gear has too much stress on it and too much wear and tear. I just wish that someone would check the gears every now and then without having to be asked. Maybe just do an inspection once and awhile to make sure things are in order and not about to break down. That’s it. Routine maintenance shared by all.