I Flopped the Bread so the Meltdown Continues

I hadn’t planned to post again today, but after flopping a loaf of bread in the bread maker, I found myself sobbing in the bathroom.

I am trying to recover from this weekend shit-storm, but all that’s happening is that I’m fixating on the train wreck that is my marriage.

Piers walked in and asked why I was crying and I said, “Because I can’t even make bread in a stupid bread maker!!!”

He looked confused, but then glanced at the deformed loaf and said, “Can we have a piece?”

So now my children are eating nasty bread on the front porch.

I think I’m crying because I suck so bad at marriage, and I want out so bad but I’ve been in it so long I don’t know if I could even manage on my own.  Don’t get me wrong.  I know that I am perfectly capable of living by myself, but dealing with myself and my kids is a whole other thing.  I’m so tired of feeling sad and unenthusiastic and just getting through the days.

I don’t know how to manage marriage and kids and myself, and I’m questioning whether or not I could manage myself and the kids.  The loaf of bread was what brought me to this breakdown.

You guys, I loathe cooking.  Preparing meals day in and day out is my version of hell.  I sat through months of eating disorder therapy listening to women drone on about how they felt fat even though they were wasting away.  I listened and tried to contribute in my own way, but I didn’t relate to any of it even though my therapist insisted that I had an eating disorder.  I’m not fat, and I don’t feel fat.  Yes, there are times that I look in the mirror and don’t like what I see, but I never think that I’m fat.  I think my weight plummeted when I had kids because I wasn’t capable of feeding myself and my children.  What I did learn in those group meetings is that there are many ways to have eating disorders and mine was not cut and dry anorexia.  It certainly wasn’t bulimia because I will do anything in my power to not throw up and I am not joking even a little bit.

I think I don’t eat because I hate so much about my life. I feed and clean up after others and feeding and cleaning up after myself feels like one more thing. It feels simpler to just eat less — still disordered, yes, but not in the way everyone thinks. Typing that I hate so much about my life makes me feel so guilty because there are so many people who have it so much worse than I do. UGH!!!

The biggest problem that Gil and I have is that we have evolved into a traditional marriage and that does not work for either one of us — especially me.

Gil has a job in a very male-dominated industry.  I know this firsthand because I used to sell building materials to contractors.  I took men out to lunch regularly.  They bought supplies from me because I was young and pretty and friendly and smiled a lot.  Once a month I would take them to lunch and would let them pick the place — often, it was Hooters.  It was fine back then, but many of the men repulsed me.  When I finally couldn’t take it another second because I felt I was metaphorically prostituting myself, I turned in my notice to my boss.  Later that day another guy who worked in my office stopped by my desk and asked, “Don’t you think you should stick around a little longer?  You should probably save up for when you and Gil have kids.”

The implication was that there was no way I could continue working there once I was a mother.  They wouldn’t have fired me — that would have been illegal, but the schedule was brutal and not at all conducive to raising a family if you’re interested in actually seeing your  children.  The construction industry as a whole is male-dominated and extremely unfriendly to families. Gil is expected to work long hours, but maybe not as much at his new job. It’s better which is why I’ve had more hope the past year.

The problem is that Gil is from several generations of men who’ve worked in the construction industry in one form or another. These men pride themselves on their strong work ethic. But now Gil isn’t actually building the building — he’s managing the process. He supposedly bettered his situation by getting a good education and working for several companies while learning the industry. He’s smart, well-educated, and has plenty of experience in different areas within the field.  His solutions to problems work because of his ingenuity and creativity.  Gil was recruited for his current position by an owner who had seen his work.  He needed Gil to make his company better and it was a good fit for Gil as well.

This company is different…in a good way, but Gil sometimes struggles with change.  I also think he’s afraid of failure and now he feels more pressure because his boss recruited him so heavily and he wants to live up to his expectations.  I get frustrated because he gives SO much to his job, but at the same time I’ve tolerated it because he’s the main contributor to our income.  Once the kids came along I felt like I didn’t have much of a choice.  Guys, our problems…they are SO layered.

I guess the point of the above paragraph is that I would prefer to work and adequately contribute to our family financially, but I don’t know how to do that and take care of the kids.  Gil works A LOT.  We have no family in town, and while I have friends who I can rely on, they have their own kids and it’s just hard.  My career has taken a backseat to Gil’s our of necessity.  Plus, he’s good at what he does and it pays well.  I’ve had different jobs in different fields and haven’t exactly found my niche.  I’m pushing forty with no clue what I want to do with my life.  Being married has almost allowed me to be a slacker.  The smarter move sometimes seems to be to take care of things at home while he climbs the ladder at work, but doing this has not been good for our marriage or my occupational self-esteem.

I recently talked with a friend from college who is a civil engineer and has had a successful career in the construction industry.  She was telling me about her struggles with infertility.  I didn’t know this but had assumed she and her spouse had chosen to not have children.  She had resolved that she likely would not have children unless they adopted.  I also assumed that she and her spouse would go the adoption route, but she said that they probably would not.  He also works in the construction industry.  “I don’t know how we would do it, and I can’t stand the thought of adopting a kid and then passing it off to nannies and sitters.  There’s no other way for us.  We have crazy schedules and no family nearby.  And I love my job.”

She looked as though she might have offended me and quickly justified, “I mean, I can see that you love being a mom and you’re obviously great at it.  I don’t have that in me, Viv.”

You guys, I get this ALL the time.  My friends see me as someone who is naturally good at parenting.  They also think that I love it and that I see it as my life’s calling.  This could not be further from the truth.  I don’t see having a career and being a parent as mutually exclusive, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out how I would ever manage a full-time job and parent, and I’m not even remotely a super-mom.  I’m incapable of that kind of balance and unfortunately so is Gil.  So we’ve made it work with his primary focus being on his career while mine has been the kids.  It just kind of happened because it made more financial sense.

The problem is that I suck at so much of what is involved in mothering — scheduling, preparing meals, grocery shopping. Good lord, the bread is just the tip of the iceberg.  I’ve had stitches more than once after chopping vegetables. I’m a bloody hazard in the kitchen. I’ve improved, but that doesn’t mean I’m good. Before Piers was born I could cook microwave meals. I’ve had to learn A LOT. But the worst part is that I do not like something that is just so necessary.

I want to go back to work and do something that I feel like I’m good at, but I don’t know how to make that happen because I feel like so much of my life is limited by Gil and his job which happens to pay for pretty much everything.  He’s resentful because he married someone who he thought would be a better contributor to the household — at least financially, though he would never admit that.

Gil and I want different things. He can’t handle change and I thrive on it. For god’s sake I was a flight attendant when he married me. He should know that I like to see different places. I’m never going to be happy living in a suburb and vacationing at the same beach every year.

I’ve tried so hard to be happy in this life, and in many ways I am very very happy, but I’m not being true to myself. I mean, last week before all the weekend drama, I was looking at airline jobs and seriously considering re-applying to be a flight attendant. I had decent seniority when I left but if I went back I’d have to start completely over.  Could I handle that erratic schedule now? I think I could but how would we manage it with Gil’s job and having kids? Could I even get re-hired?

It all started with that damn bread. Gil tries so hard to make me happy, but he tries in all the wrong ways and it’s not his job or his responsibility. We are just different.

Gil likes working all week and relaxing on the weekend. He likes to brew beer and work in the yard and do house projects that drag on for years.

I like exploring new places and interacting with different people. I’d love to move to a smaller more manageable home but I don’t know if that’s possible with him.

At the same time, I know he feels like he’s done his share of compromising, but really I don’t know how he feels because I don’t think Gil knows how he feels. Gil tells me he’s happy with whatever.  hat’s a big part of the problem. He can’t say exactly what he wants. I’m to a point where I am saying what I want and if he doesn’t feel the same about something he says that I’m being ridiculous. Then when I complain that he acts like I’m a moron, he acts offended like how could I ever accuse him of thinking that?

This pattern even happens with sex. He never initiates anymore but he’s ready to go as soon as do. He also doesn’t act attracted to me — other than when we’re actually doing the deed. I mentioned this the other day and said something like I don’t think you like sex anymore. And he replied that that was ridiculous. Of course he likes sex, but you never want to do it anymore. We’re out of sync on so many levels. What the hell is wrong with us?

I mean, I think it’s a problem that he doesn’t feel like he can talk to me about the fact that we’re not having a lot of sex and that he wants more. When it’s been a while and I want sex, I go to him and we do it. That makes me sound like a control freak, but I guess he looks at it as I want sex less than he does and so he doesn’t bother me with it and is happy waiting til I make the move… but he’s NOT happy with it.

Well, I’m not crying anymore. I think I’m upset because things seemed so much better for a while and now that the weekend that I was looking forward to was so awful, I’m questioning and analyzing everything.  But the reality was that the weekend wasn’t all awful.  I enjoyed the time with my mom.  I saw my niece and my SIL. I saw lots of friends that i hadn’t seen in ages. That was all good. I guess I should have gone without him. That’s what I normally do. And now it looks like I’m going to Asheville by myself next week with just the kids. He’s refusing to go now. We were supposed to all go together for the weekend.

Then there’s the fact that Gil can’t manage himself.  If he gets away from home his routine is all broken.  I think part of the reason he acted so nutty yesterday is because he never had coffee.  He’s a serious caffeine addict but when he was refusing to stop for tampons, he was also refusing to stop for coffee.

And what have I accomplished here?  I’ve created another all-over-the-place post.

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17 thoughts on “I Flopped the Bread so the Meltdown Continues

  1. Ah, just saw what you wrote about working Part Time 🙂 Yeah maybe whatever it is just isn’t doing it for you!

    And being a domestic goddess – WHUT-ever. Who needs that as a life goal 🙂 Just say no to Pinterest, lol.

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    • Yeah, I was very vague about my work, but you’re right. It’s not doing it for me. As for Pinterest, well, I just can’t go there! My more Pinteresty friends give me hell about it — they send me links with the disclaimer “I know you don’t do Pinterest, but you HAVE to check this out.” Uh, no thanks.

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  2. So much here to respond to, so much 🙂 Well here’s some random thoughts. First of all, the bread thing really made me laugh. Not AT you. You just wrote it well and hey…sometimes life’s screwups are actually funny. The kids eating nasty bread? That was hilarious. Why? Because we all have these things happen; they’re relatable. But there’s one little detail here that I think you might have missed. You were so busy thinking “I SUCK AT THIS” that you missed the fact that the kids weren’t worried about it. They were just asking to eat it. They didn’t say “Can we have some of your perfect bread? Wait, it’s not perfect? Then NO WAY.” They were all “cool, bread, let’s eat it”. Kids don’t always see things the same way we do, and sometimes we can learn a lot from it. And hey, even if they ended up thinking it wasn’t the best bread ever? Well now they know that life isn’t perfect, mom isn’t perfect, bread isn’t perfect, and hey, let’s try it again sometime. No biggie 🙂 No need for bread perfection.

    Eating disorders: I would say that when I was a teen, I had a problematic relationship with food. I really don’t anymore, but I’ll tell you what – when I’m anxious, I cannot eat. Just this week I had to go to the store and get a big jug of nutrient dense juice, and some rocky road Klondike bars, just to make sure I had something I knew I would eat, because I was feeling very anxious. Maybe your own life stressors interfere with your appetite. It’s a thing. Mood affects appetite.

    And cooking…man, when I’m already anxious, nothing makes me more anxious than having to prepare food. Not everyone loves cooking. I kinda hate it, myself. That also doesn’t mean you have an eating disorder. Maybe it could be a chance to teach the kids how to make food for themselves sometimes. Maybe it means you could come up with like three super easy meals you can make when you’re just not feeling it.

    So here’s my advice and you can do whatever you want with it…first, quit trying to be so perfect. I struggle with this myself, big time. Give yourself a break, nobody else is perfect either. There’s some real assholes out there and I’m pretty sure from your posts (you seem like you have a conscience, after all, lol) that you aren’t one of them. Fuck the bread. Sometimes life is just one big fail.

    Second: Find something to do that doesn’t involve parenting, that doesn’t necessarily involve working outside of the home, that you can get engaged in. It would give you a place to start in terms of rediscovering yourself. I have a friend who sells stuff on eBay. He’s a stay at home dad and in the morning he packs up his toddler and they hit all the thrift stores for cool finds, and then he lists and packs and ships them throughout the day around his dad stuff. Toddler naps, he lists stuff. He gets to have a business, make some extra cash for his household, think about something besides being dad, interact with people at least via email, who are grownups. I have a lot of friends who make and sell things on Etsy. Maybe offer to walk some neighborhood dogs or something? You’re a good, clear writer, dabble in some freelance writing 🙂 There must be something you could try, that will connect you to the world outside of your home. It sounds like you really need it.

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    • Thanks for such a thorough, thoughtful response. I definitely struggle with perfectionism — I get it under control but then at times it seems to bite me in the ass. Honestly, writing this helped me put a lot of things into perspective. It’s like being able to see how irrational I’m being (in black and white on a screen) forces me to counter my crazy. That was just a really rough week. Things are much better now. I get really caught up in the fact that I bring so little to our household financially and then I fixate on how pathetic I feel I am at what I do contribute. Work is not going particularly well and I had had really high hopes that this job would work out well. It’s stressing me out and the pay is not great for how much I put into it (mostly my own fault, but still — again with the perfectionism.)

      I really appreciate your take — you’re very wise, insightful and you get the ADD thing. So again, thank you for taking the time to write this. In addition to the good advice, your comment was also a reminder that there are good people in the world who truly care enough to take time out of their busy lives to send good vibes.

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  3. This was such a fantastic post–so honest and funny. Please don’t beat yourself up over not being a domestic goddess. I suck at all things domestic. I hate to cook and I don’t eat regular meals, so the fact that my son needs to pisses me off royally. Frozen food has become my best friend. I constantly feel guilty for not cooking better meals, cleaning the house more, baking cupcakes for his school parties, forcing him to play educational games with me so he can become smarter. Gah, the list goes on and on. There are these moms on Facebook who detail what they’ve accomplished that day…worked full-time, cleaned, cooked dinner, did homework with the kids, and are now enjoying quality time with their husband before they work on their novel, and I’m like, “Are you fucking kidding me?!”

    I love my son to death, but I hate being a mother. There, I said it. Please don’t hate me.

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    • I was looking back over this old post and realized that I didn’t respond to your awesome comment. Strangely, I think I did but perhaps I was distracted and never actually hit “post.” I am so sorry. And girl, I could never hate you. I totally get this — “I love my son but hate being a mother.” I actually like many parts of parenting just not the never-ending schedule keeping and flipping non-stop meal prep. Do they REALLY have to eat every day?! Anyway, hope all is well with you and again, sorry I’m months later with the reply.

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      • haha, no worries. I now realize my statement sounds a bit harsh. I believe I may have been in “I’m an exhausted single mother having to do everything myself” mode. Even though I’m always in that mode, some times are worse than others. It’s more the routine and schedules I hate, because I’m not that kind of person so being a mother forces me to be. And since I fail at it more often than not, I feel guilty. Although guilt seems to be the prevailing emotion of motherhood for me. Anyway, ironically I always knew I wanted to be a mother, and if I had it all to do over I’m 86% sure I would choose it again 🙂

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        • That’s totally NOT why I didn’t respond. Oh my gosh, I’m sorry that crossed your mind. Girl, I SO get that. I’m thrilled someone else actually said it out loud!! I realize that what I’m about to say is a broad generalization but I think I would have made a better dad — as in I need a partner who’s good at tending to all the tedious crap that I just hate. Hope things are well with you!

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  4. Damn those bread makers anyway! That is exactly why I’ve never used ours. 🙂 I worked when out kids were small. I needed to. It means you talk and interact with grown ups. Part time possibilities?

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    • Thanks. Actually I do work part time, which is another post altogether. I think I need a new gig. I work from home and this summer I’m procrastinating because I can’t get stuff done with the wild ones here ALL day. This too shall pass, but I’ll be griping a lot in the meantime. Thanks for reading, Shelley, even when I’m nutty!!

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  5. I’m sorry to hear you had such a rough weekend. Relationships can be so much work and require a tremendous amount of patience, especially when dealing with men who hold onto their childish qualities! I don’t see having a family and a career as being mutually exclusive either. I don’t have a husband or children so I can’t relate fully, but I do think how you are feeling is completely justified. I have put a lot of time and effort into my career and sometimes feel that that is the path I have chosen, but I do want a family as well. The balance seems difficult, but I do believe it is possible to achieve, especially when your happiness is at stake. Have you considered beginning with some part time work to see how it goes? Maybe you could ease in to it. I hope things start looking up. Take care of yourself!

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    • Thanks for such a thoughtful comment. I need to write more about this. I actually do work part time but I do it from home and this summer has been disastrous work-wise. Everyone has to find balance I suppose and I guess I’m just frustrated that I’ve had to put a lot of my stuff on the back burner. I also believe that it can be worked out, but right now just feels hard. Thinking of you, too, and hope things become more manageable.

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      • I would be frustrated if my needs were put on the back burner as well. I am a firm believer that we shouldn’t have to give up our interests or what is important to us in order to make a relationship work. It is part of who you are and the person you share your life with needs to respect that. It doesn’t mean you aren’t a great wife or mother. It just means you are human too who has their own wants and needs. I understand feeling like things feel too hard. Getting through the day’s ups and downs feels too hard right now. I just wish I could fast forward to years from now so that I know for certain I will get through my problems and actually find true happiness. Since that is not possible, hopefully blogging will provide me with some clarity!

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  6. Interesting read. I too, love your honesty. Life has so many complexities. It is truly hard work trying to combine two lives, more so with kids I imagine. Life happens, people grow apart or have different lifestyle interest, it’s quite the balancing act, especially since change is always happening. Change occurs and we have to adjust and create a new normal that fits our situation. While you love your kids, & husband, there is apart of you that needs to be fulfilled and separate. I think you need this in order to feel more fulfilled so to speak, as do I. I pray you’ll achieve this balance with time & find your niche. I find myself searching for that niche as well, as I’ve been reading more E. Tolle lately on Awakening to your life’s purpose. Love ya and miss ya bunches! Hope we can discuss via phone. Been trying to contact you for a bit of advice in regards to a friend of mine. ta ta for now

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    • Thank you! So great hearing your voice yesterday! “Change occurs and we have to adjust and create a new normal that fits our situation.” Wise words, my friend! I might need to pull out Eckhart again. He always helps.

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  7. Stupid WordPress lost the comment I tried to leave, but anyway, I really get all of this. I am a little further down a very similar road and love reading your honest feelings, things just like what I always felt but could never share with anyone. It DOES get better. It would take a novel to explain how it worked out in my own life and I don’t want to highjack your comments page with my own story but just keep faith in yourself, in your husband and in the choices you have made.

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    • I hate it when that happens (a comment gets lost)! No worries about hijacking the comments. I love to hear other’s stories! I know from what I’ve read on your blog that you seem to have worked things out and I can’t tell you how much hope that gives me. Thank you! Hope all is well with you.

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