27 June 2008

You've entered the Whine Zone

Disclaimer: I don't think I have a humorous post about my children or anything else in me today, and since I figure the superficiality of my sarcasm will wear thin pretty soon if it hasn't already, I'm instead shooting for something of value at least to me. Everyone else can skip this needy little journal entry if they're not in the mood for such things, which I totally understand-- we've all got our problems.

Since everyone seems to have themed days on their blog, I think I'll call this Confessional Friday, and its lack of alliteration and likely lack of regular repetition just match perfectly with the essence of my life so far.

I have no idea who I am, or what I'm supposed to do with myself.

You ever have that feeling? I feel like I've been stuck back at about 18 for the last 9 years, like it's possible my kids could lap me in the maturation race. They should be so lucky to find a purpose in life and rise to meet it in good time. I'd be so happy for them, and maybe I could even pathetically latch on and steal a little meaning from them, a little reason for existing by extension.

I don't know where I'm supposed to go so I can't know how to get there, and while I understand that's nothing special, I've always thrived only in controlled situations with well-defined expectations and goals at much smaller intervals than "make money somehow and support your family". Since the world and I simultaneously began turning everything on its head around about 8 years ago, even the Standard Life Advice never seems to apply to me.

Or maybe that's because I won't let it.

Then again, that could just be my horribly paralyzing fear of failure meeting up with my compulsive need to overthink everything to jointly beat down my hope, potential, and useful pragmatism to lifeless pulps. My worldview is part conservative Baby Boomer and part needy product of said generation. I know what I need to end up doing and I know it doesn't really matter if I'm happy about it, but then I also know that at a deeper level, my happiness does matter in how it affects my kids and my wife.

But then, if I'm not all that happy in this bizarre limbo in which I'm floating, and I'm bathing my kids in all my neuroses on a daily basis, is that any better than going back to mindlessly slaving away for 50-60 hours a week and never seeing them except to spew back all the negative energy I was force-fed by a bunch of overgrown junior-high-schoolers who considered boldfaced lying a second language?

Even the fact that I'm struggling with all this now at 27, and phrasing it the way I am, and whining in general the way I am, should be proof enough of my arrested development. But what do I do about that? Where do I go from here?

So that's what's rolling around in my head right now. How about you?


Chris M. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris M. said...

Hey Dan, first time commenting, and it's a shame it took this post to get me there.

I, too, have struggled with trying to find out where I'm supposed to be and what I'm supposed to be doing. However, I chose the path of continued education in the hopes that it would bring some clarification. Of course it never did. Never does. Maybe just delaying the unknown inevitability. I guess for you, so long as you have the love of your wife and children, your life is exactly where it should be. Does that help? Probably not, but what the hell?

Weather Moose

Kori said...

Wow. I am almost 10 years older than you and I still don't know what the hell I am "suuposed" to be doing. And while I belive wholeheartedly in personal happiness, I also think that once we become parents, single or otherwise, we have to find a way to be pretty much okay with where we are and what we are doing, unless we want to screw our kids up for life. I can't give you advie, certainly; all I can tell you is what MY life is like. At 34 years old, unmarried, I found myself pregnant despite all possible precautions. My youngest child at that time was six, and I had no desire to ever have another child. I had plans, man, big ones. but then here comes Owen, and well, those plans changed. Am I happy all of the time? Hell no. But I can live with myself, and my family, and I have other grownups and support groups and my blog to vent to and with, and I learned how to be happy as a whole. It takes whatever it takes for oyu, ya know? Yeah. I know, I am so helpful, right?

Mama Dawg said...

Ummm...I was just wondering what to get on my pizza tonight when I picked up my daughter and her friend from the pool on the way home from work and also wondering how I was going to get rid of a dead mouse in my house.

You got me beat, buddy.

Just FYI, it's a rare person who actually does know where they're going and who they are. You're perfectly normal. What you need to work on (pardon me for telling you what to do) is letting that go and just live your life. That's it, man.

Oh, and enjoy the hell out of it while you're at it! LOL!

Swirl Girl said...

By the time you figure it all out - it's often too late to do anything about it.

Life is a marathon not a sprint.

(I am wiser and older than you, so pipe down and just agree with me, allright?)

Anonymous said...

I think we all struggle with this to some extent...I feel like you plucked these thoughts right from my head. I feel a lot more purpose since I started writing again, but I have no way to know if I'll ever be lucky enough to make it my job.

Although this probably won't make you feel any better, I'll share with you that I'm in a writing workshop consisting of women of all ages and I read a piece to them a couple of weeks ago that I wrote about my birthday, and searching for meaning...who am I? What is my purpose? The whole thing. And the most common response was that everyone in that group--from 18 to 60 years old had those same thoughts (still.) I thought, you've got to be kidding me! I was hoping I was going to figure it out someday--not carry it to my grave!

Kevin McKeever said...

Dan, don't beat yourself up trying to figure out life or it will pass you by. Find joy in the little moments and they'll reveal to you the real wonders. Not everyone will be "great" in the eyes of the masses but there's greatness in everyone's life. Cheers, my friend.

MsPicketToYou said...

Happiness, or more importantly, the idea of is, is tenuous at best. Contentment is where it's at.

My confession: even though I shift my thought process from "happiness" to contentment, I still have feelings and thoughts like yours all the time.

One of the most enlightening parts of the blog world for me has been seeing and learning that gender plays such a little role in the personal struggles all at-home parents or primary caretakers feel: it's been so liberating in a way for me as a woman and a mom too.

Which I guess is just me saying: we're all in this together and thanks for sharing.

Mrs. B. Roth said...

I can't find the remote control, and we "childproofed" the buttons on the TV, so my TV has been stuck on cartoon planet, muted, all freaking day. My boys have become mud monsters out back and I can't work the booger-sucker on my baby girl.

When I start to think that maybe I'm not doing anything with my life, that maybe if I was working, I'd feel fulfilled, I try to imagine myself at the end of life, looking back to now. It helps me realize that no job, no other interest will be more important than my contribution of time, energy, and talent, what little I have, to my children. I won't ever look back and wish I could have put in more time at some crappy job while my kids rot in daycare.

Whine away, this stay at home stuff is hard work with a good 20-30 years before the job review and bonuses (i.e. grandchildren, I hear they are great) come in. But you've gotta sell it to yourself: that it's the best thing for the kids and family, therefore the best thing you can be doing. It's not nothing, it's everything.

That, and your blog is pretty funny, so that's cool, too. You're set.

Anonymous said...

This post encompasses 83% of my blog material over the past 3 years.

I'm almost 7 years older than you, which in dog years (since so many think I'm a bitch anyway) means I have half a lifetime of experience on you. The culmination of all this wisdom and life experience?

I give up. I drop out of the cosmic existential contest and fully embrace hedonism. It's the only thing that doesn't give me a headache.

TerriRainer said...

I have so missed you one-eyed Dan!

And I came back to this...UGH! I'm not sure about what you did before becomeing Mr Mom...but I sure as hell can see where your "Dan" talent lies.

You are a brilliant writer!

Ever think about writing a book about the trials and tribulations of being a stay-at-home dad/domestic engineer in todays world??? You certainly have a ton of info on your blog to use, and I'm sure you get more daily.

Just a though!

:) Terri

Petite G. said...

I think everyone at one time or another has a moment or twenty when they start to second guess their path and start comparing the grass to see which one is better but your case more like the lesser of two evils.

Neurosis are what make you, you. And whether or not you think you are running around freaking your kids out, you're not. And even if you are, so what? It's who YOU are. I cannot imagine the choice between spending time with your children all day (good or bad) or working 50-60 hours a week being a choice. Let your gut guide you. You have all the time in the world to go back to work (or school). Your children will only be young once and if your wife is a decent woman, she will input a whole lot of herself into those kids so that they become a good part of her as well as crazy you.

Kids are smart and resilient and really do know the difference between right and wrong as they grow. What they will remember is spending a whole lot of time with you.

Whine on. It's healthy.

Anonymous said...

I think that wherever you are in your life, you have to embrace it in order to be happy. Will you be happy at every moment of the day? NO, but that only happens in fairy tales, anyway.

There are so many ways to improve on yourself and your relationships. I think THAT'S where I find the accomplishments I'm looking for in a life where I am in contstant contact with poop. To that end, I'm always striving for something, always having a goal, always able to look at my day/week/month and analyze how I did and what I could do better. The biggest bonus of ALL is that it benefits the people I love the most (and me, there's that too).

I too like controlled situations and when you're a stay at home parent, there's just not a lot of control. Because, no matter how you plan things, the outcome is going to go according to the naps/attitudes/hunger/poop of others who need you to put them ahead of yourself. So having those goals and even being able to somewhat quantify them help my analytical brain to put something scientific to what ordinarilly is not in that spectrum.

OK, I'll stop typing now before I burn up the keyboard.

LiteralDan said...

Thank you so much to everyone who commented-- I have read and reread all your comments and will try to take them to heart.

A little bit of time and thought, along with the surprise of such reassurance from so many people I haven't met, have brightened my mood considerably. I'll keep chipping away and always looking for the bright side.

Great, now I'll have more Monty Python bits in my head-- http://youtube.com/watch?v=i35WRFDcKGo

At least it's a catchy song.

Jenny said...

Yes!!! YYYEEESSSS!!!! Are we related? This is THE topic my best friend and I talk about the most. Is it a stay at home parent condition? I don't know. I saw a lot of other peeps gave you nice inspiring comments, but I will just say I'm 33, and it hasn't gotten any better. I thought when my youngest started all-day kindergarten it would all change and I would know EXACTLY what I would do to help provide finances for our family, but still have the flexible schedule needed for 3 children. Nope. I'm still flailing. Trying to keep a good attitude, but flailing.

Andrea said...

I think the "Life is what happens when you are busy planning" might apply here. I'm not sure that many people know that they are right where they should be in their lives until thay can look back and reflect later in life.

Just my thought.

There are many days when I get disppointed that I am not doing what I planned, but then there are other days where I wouldn't change a thing.

LiteralDan said...

I hate flailing, but at least I'm not alone, right?

I think I'm less troubled by "what do I want to do with my life?" than "how are we going to live for very long on a teacher's salary?" The former will always be a question, I'm sure, but the latter is so much more pressing.

It seems that what I need to do is go into the daycare industry, because around here they rake in over $10K per kid.