When You've Just Hit a Wall . . . *SWH

Updated on January 24, 2017
M.6. asks from Woodbridge, NJ
15 answers

My life just seems so out of control. I'm sane enough to realize that having all of these things on a daily basis would drive ANYONE batty, not just me, and eventually this will pass, but honestly I've just hit a wall and feel like I just can't do it all anymore. My husband is a nice guy, but unfortunately he's not able to step up to the plate on most of my biggest issues (he does try to help, but often his help make more work for me anyway - when he CAN really help, it is awesome!). Right now, I am juggling 4 pending out of town trips, all of which are "life changing events" and cannot be missed even if I wanted to: military graduation, wedding, baby shower after 8 yrs of infertility, etc. I am on 10+ hr days at work and also working weekends (not optional and quitting job isn't an option - I work from home due to special needs children, and I do a very unique job). I have 6 kids, the oldest is ticked because I won't leave the 3rd child's military graduation early to go to her house (silly, but that doesn't make it less stressful for me that she is mad about something so ridiculous). 3rd child just left for basic training. 4th child left to go overseas and is going to be deployed to a not good place (I know he signed up for this - but again, I can't help but be worried), plus I wanted to send him a care package and he says now I can't send any of the stuff I already purchased. 5th child is special needs has a bunch of appointments that I take him to because they are fairly close to home and that is ongoing stress, plus he is turning 18 in 6 months so I have all the paperwork with SSI to get done, plus we have to apply for guardianship - another huge stack of papers to fill out, plus his IEP is due this week. 6th child is also special needs, also has a ton of appointments but normally hubby goes to all of those since they are closer to his office. However, this child has recently attacked 5 people and I need to attend the emergency psych and school meetings tomorrow, as well as all the follow up to that. Tonight I have to get all his records together (I have big file binders, I just have to add this month's notes) for these meetings and likely have to call his lawyer (we have one for him although he is a minor) to see when he is available to meet with depending on what happens at those meetings. My 2nd child is a huge help with the 5th child, and actually has no real current drama . . . this week. Also, she is the only adult child who lives close to me.

In addition, I take care of my mother to some degree (she lives independently still) by cooking most of her meals and checking on her daily. I visit my father in skilled nursing at least 3 nights a week and feed him his dinner. Tax season is upon us and I also do taxes as a second job for about a month (again, not really an option - it is clients sent from my office). I also am part of an on-going benefit for my neighbor/friend whose 3 yr old was diagnosed with 4th stage kidney cancer. I have been trying to get someone else to fill in for me on this - but no luck and I can't just back out.

I'm exhausted. I'm stressed beyond belief. I try to eat right, get a little exercise, take a few minutes to myself . . . but it just isn't working and I end up blowing it off. I'm probably suffering from a bit of depression but that is to be expected. I am open with my husband and talk to him frequently, so I don't feel like talking to a therapist would really be beneficial and even thinking about squeezing that into my schedule stresses me out. My husband would love to help me out more, but most of this just stuff he doesn't have the skill set for. He would love to cook for my mom, but he is a terrible cook. He would love to visit my dad for me, but my dad only remembers me (not him) so gets upset, plus my dad is nearing the end - I really want to be there as much as I can. He is never the guy the kids call with a problem unless it is a broken down car or needing to lift something heavy. He is affected same as me about our two military kids - that's just mom stress affecting me differently. The benefit is food related - so that's not him either, plus it is a facebook thing, which he also isn't on.

There probably isn't a gosh darn thing you guys can help me with and this is more of a cry for help than a question. However, maybe someone will have the magic solution (or say a small prayer that I don't loose my mind). Thanks for at least listening!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the support - it really means a lot to me. Many of you discussed cutting out the events, but unfortunately, I really need those. I do. For 10.5 years, my husband and I were literally trapped in our home due to the extreme behaviors of our now 16 (well, will be in a few days). He requires 24 hr awake care and is violent and dangerous. For these 10.5 years, we had almost no contact with family or friends and basically lost everyone dear to us. Not that they wanted to go away, they just couldn't be part of our lives due to our extreme situation. 2.5 years ago, we were finally able to get an out of home placement for him. I have spent the last 2.5 years trying to rebuilt these relationships and just now we are starting to be invited to things again - important things - things that matter.

I know my oldest is being a pouty brat, but you have to also remember that for these 10.5 years we couldn't attend sporting events, conferences, concerts, anything, because we couldn't leave the house and it often took two of us to control things here (as soon he saw there was only one of us, all hell broke loose). Mostly she is just reacting to the long term effects of that. My other children and our relationship have suffered as well and we are working on rebuilding those bonds. They aren't really angry (they understand) but it still hurts them. We literally never miss a single event of our other kids right now - because we are working so hard as a family to come back together now that our youngest son is out of the home. For that son, we DO attend every meeting, every time the police are called we come, every time the school has a problem we come, every doctor appointment for our son we attend, plus we see him once a week and talk to him on the phone every night. He is about an hour away from us, but we do everything in our power to be the best parents we can be given the situation. Unfortunately, due to his most recent extreme behaviors, he needs to be moved to a more restrictive facility in another state shortly. No one can find a place that will take him so we don't know where he will be going.

On top of this, I met my mother and her twin sister at their doctor appointment (same facility as my son's appt - the Mayo) since I couldn't go with them - had to be at our son's emergency appointment today. Unbelievably, they were both diagnosed with lung cancer. Neither smoke and they are both marathon runners. This is my mom's 5th bout with cancer in 6 years, and my aunt's (identical twin to my mom) 1st. Both are needing surgery to remove it and then based on the biopsy (they remove the area and then biopsy since they really don't do "lung biopsies") it will be determined as to whether they will also have chemo and or radiation (or possibly that new chemo pill for lung cancer).

The icing on the whole day was the text I got from the boyfriend of my daughter in basic. Her dog was hit by a truck last night. The dog will likely make it, but the boyfriend will have to make some hard decisions about her quality of life going forward. My daughter cannot be told this - she needs to focus on her training (and we couldn't reach her even if we wanted to).

I just need to hold on to the fact that eventually things will get easier. Not right now, and maybe not for awhile, but they have to . . . That's what I need to hang on to right now.

Thanks again!

Featured Answers

V.B.

answers from Jacksonville on

Wow. Talk about stretched thin.

Can you just set it all aside tomorrow night (or one night this week) and draw a warm bath and sip a glass of wine and go to bed early? Just Decide you are doing it, and do it.

Big hugs.

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M.G.

answers from Portland on

I agree with Julie. I think seeing a therapist actually would be very helpful for you.

Some of the stuff you describe, appointments, work, etc. of course you have to do.

Worrying about your kids - serves no purpose. You have to let go of that. I saw a therapist for something similar, three sessions and I had a totally new perspective. It was just making me more stressed - in turn, not as 'there' for my kid as I wanted to be.

Talking to a therapist is nothing like talking to a spouse.

I'd drop everything non essential. It's like triage - just tend to the most important things and let things go.

Some people (my sister for example) takes on more and more ..because she thinks if she controls everything (and everyone) then the stress will be manageable. It has the opposite effect. She just becomes burnt out and stressed.

I'm the opposite. I say no, and don't feel bad. My husband? He can't cook. The thing is, he tries and has gotten better. I'd let your husband try. He obviously wants to help. Anyone can follow a very simple recipe. Start delegating, finding others to help out (who might not do quite as good a job, but that's ok), and just drop what isn't essential. Worrying over your grown kids should be part of what you drop (that's where I think a therapist could help).

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J.T.

answers from Binghamton on

One of your children attacked 5 people and you're worried about going to a baby shower and wedding? People have good advice below. You decided to have 6 children so you had to expect to be stretched very thin. But if it's too much for you now, prioritize. Two of your kids are gone, one at least is living somewhere else it sounds like so really you have 2 or 3 home. Concentrate on them and making sure there are no more attacks. I'm sure your husband can help some. And your mother can have take out food for a week if needed.

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J.S.

answers from St. Louis on

Has it occurred to you that you bring a lot of stress in your life? Like you seem to go out of your way to make sure your life sounds more stressful than the life of any other? I have 4 kids not 6 but most of the issues you have listed yet, are not stressful because I deal with the stress that is handed me but don't go out of my way to create more.

Perhaps a therapist could help you figure out why you are making your life harder than it needs to be.

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E.B.

answers from Honolulu on

Well, there's no denying you have a lot to do. I'm sorry your oldest is being petty about the graduation, but let that be her problem, not yours.

I have nowhere near your number of kids, but I do have a medically complicated child who is still at home and has numerous appointments and multiple complicated diagnoses. I'm on a first name basis with the pharmacy and insurance company, so I know that it's time-consuming.

It's so nice that you cook for your mom, but is there another option? Is there a Meals on Wheels or a Senior Care program in your area? We have an unofficial "grandmother" who lives alone and is elderly, and her town sends daily meals through the Council on Aging, and people to clean her house and help her bathe. Is your mom able to prepare anything for herself? Could you order those deliverable cook-it-yourself meals, like from Blue Apron or any of the other meal delivery plans?

Could your husband take over for the neighbor's benefit program for her child? What do you do as part of this program?

Start trying to say "no" a little more often. The out-of-town trips, especially considering your younger child's impending emergency meetings and problems: is it possible to send gifts to these weddings and showers? If the people who are celebrating don't or can't understand the demands of two special-needs children, one of whom is in crisis, well, that's their issue to work through.

I can only encourage you to prioritize, say no, find other ways, and oh, by the way, you have my encouragement and prayers for getting through this season of your life!

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T.S.

answers from San Francisco on

I don't understand events that can't be missed. I assume your family and friends love you and would miss you on their special days but I can't believe they are so selfish that they wouldn't understand.
Your husband doesn't need to cook for your mom, there are plenty of wholesome, already prepared healthy options these days, either from a store or restaurant. How hard is it to pick up some soup and roasted chicken and fresh bread?
The benefit thing? No one will step up until you actually step down, that's just how it goes.
Your job and special needs kids seem to be the priority, so focus on those. Stop trying to do/control everything and please everyone, especially a petty gown daughter who is too old to be whining about not getting enough attention (seriously?!)

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R.B.

answers from San Francisco on

Wow, that's a lot.

You are very busy right now, but that will eventually change. The only thing I can suggest is that you take some of the things off your plate -- your adult kids don't need you to worry or fret over sending them stuff, for example. Stressing about your children in the military won't alter their situations, so it's of no use.

And if one of your children is going to get pissy because you don't leave your son's graduation early, just let her be pissed, if that's how she wants to feel. She will get over it. My daughter is currently annoyed at me for something trivial, and I couldn't care less. Your oldest is being a brat, and you should not be catering to it.

If you have money, you should consider hiring people to help with certain things, such as cooking for your mom, or maybe hire a service to bring prepared food to her.

I think because of your parents it's reasonable to back out of the benefit for your neighbor's child, there must be someone else who can do it.

You sound like someone who has a hard time saying no and who feels compelled to help everyone. You have a right to take care of yourself, and if you push yourself to exhaustion and misery, you won't be able to help anyone at all. Stop saying yes to everything.

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D.B.

answers from Boston on

I get it. I'm you.

You're doing too much, but you already know that. And you have the emotional roller coaster that comes from 2 kids in the military and all that uncertainty. And, yes, they volunteered, but still....

Your father is at the end stage - and you're mourning while he's still here. But you can't really, because he's still here. That's normal. And you are basically doing your mother's job, taking care of him. She lives independently, so she's not incompetent. Sign her up for meals on wheels - those volunteers often visit/provide socialization. Does she have any spare money? Hire someone from "Home Instead" or another agency that will come in, do a little light housekeeping, cook or take her shopping for prepared meals, and take her to visit your father if that's a good idea. This can be on her budget, not yours.

Your husband doesn't have the skill set? And how is it that you developed them yourself? I'm guessing you developed the skills by actually doing the job. So he really can step up more than he is, and you need to let him do it his way and be content with it. It's the stereotypical situation of "I need help in the house."/"He helps, but he doesn't do it right."/"No one else can load the dishwasher the right way, except me." Most of the women on Mamapedia can relate to that, and we can all say, "It doesn't have to be YOU!"

Find another alternative for your mother - stop the damn cooking, and buy ready-made meals, Have your husband take one night and the adult child who leaves nearby take another night. Whoever is "on" that night decides on the meal - you do not supervise that!

You stay with your dad since he only remembers you, but get some help at the assisted living residence or nursing home. Surely there are people who are dealing with him the rest of the time - if he doesn't know them, okay. He's still getting help from them on other days so either he knows them and it's fine, or he doesn't and it's just messy. So one more messy day won't be worse than the current situation.

Skip the baby shower. Good Lord, you will have many years to be there for birthdays or graduations. Wedding? Only if it would be totally fun and relaxing, and all the other bases are covered.

Sounds like you and your husband divide the 2 special needs kids in terms of appointments. But why are you the only one with the paperwork on top of a job and a tax job?

Find out if there is a respite care agency in your area that will take on some of this. You need a break. See if they can help the neighbor with the cancer problem. I'll bet you could find another neighbor to take this on if you didn't give off the vibe (which I give, big time), that "it's so much work and only I can manage it or do it to the Nth degree."

Go back to your husband. If it helps, see that you are depriving him of the opportunity to be a support system by telling him - and us - that he cannot meet your needs. People can and do rise to the occasion. Let him. Just because he doesn't do it your way doesn't mean he can't do it fabulously.

Good luck!

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B.C.

answers from Norfolk on

Grr.
I just wrote a response and it's gone.

You have a lot on your plate.
If YOU want to get away to these things as a much needed break - then go for it and don't feel guilty.
If getting away is causing you more stress than it's worth, then send some flowers and/or a card and call it a day - and don't feel guilty.
These are life changing events for OTHER people - and how often do they help you with your burdens?
You can acknowledge their events but your presence isn't required - unless you really really REALLY want to escape for awhile.
Arrange your life to suit yourself.
Others have no rights to make demands on you unless they are willing to juggle a few of your balls for awhile.

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M.S.

answers from Washington DC on

Learn from the people that are saying no to taking on the benefit work. You will be of no good to anyone if all this stress makes you sick.

Some heart to heart talks with the wedding person, baby shower person, your neighbor and your selfish oldest daughter about how overwhelming your life is and you should be good. If they don't understand, then their events are not worth attending because they are jerks.

Give your husband more credit and have him step up and help you. He's a grown man and it would be good for all involved. If kids call, hand him the phone. Have him or someone else check on mom every other day. She can eat take out like the rest of us do.

Time to be blunt because this is just too much for anyone! Not sure if you are being a martyr, a doormat or a control freak, but none of these are good. Fit some therapy into your life and take it back.

Added: Talking to a therapist is nothing like talking to your husband. Trust me on this one....

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C.T.

answers from Santa Fe on

Oh my gosh...that is enough stress for three people not just one. I don't know how you are doing it honestly. It sounds to me like you are trying to be the perfect mother and daughter and are not taking care of yourself. You do do do for other people. You are giving yourself SO much stress trying to do it all. Honestly, this is what I would do if I were you. I would skip the wedding and baby shower and send really nice gifts and a sweet, personal letter. Tell the child that is pissed you love her and you are sorry she feels that way but you cannot do everything. (Send her this post to clue her in on all you do if you want). The military kids...that is stressful but out of your hands. Your mother - get premade meals for all except one night a week. Your husband - you need to allow him to take on more responsibilities and stop caring if he does it the way you would He can go once a week to visit your father. He can go once a week to visit or make a meal for your mother. Even if he isn't a cook he can do sandwiches or boxed soup and a premade salad. Let go a little....schedule him to do this. Even people who cannot cook can figure things out...it's not rocket science. Your adult children - surely one of them can go once a week to eat dinner with your mother and once a week to eat dinner with your father. Also - you need to get your husband to take kids to appointments more often. At least half the time if not more. The benefit you are helping with - give the others who organize it this post and talk to them about how you are totally over stretched and cannot help as much anymore. Do one or two small things for the benefit and call it good. You need to take a bunch of things off your plate and delegate to others. You need to clear your schedule to have more time if you need it to spend with your father at the end of his life. Stop saying they cannot do it. Stop saying only you can do it the right way. Stop trying to please everyone. Start working harder to please yourself. The biggest issues in your life right now are 1. your dying father and 2. your child who has attacked others. You should focus on this and delegate out the rest to others as much as you can. Don't worry so much if they "have the skill set" to do it. By actually doing it is how one develops the skill set.

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S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

no clue how to cope with that mountain of responsibilities, but that's pretty dang dire. i'd be curled up in a fetal position.
i suggest you divest yourself of what you can, which isn't much. but the benefit for the neighbor's kid really has to be somebody else's. it's terrible, but you have to be able to say no when you must. and this is a 'must' time.
i'd also send a nice gift and pass on the baby shower.
but you are the only one who can choose, for sure.
i'm sorry your older is being a pill.
FWIW you're a machine for doing all this!
khairete
S.

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M.D.

answers from Washington DC on

You need help. Talk to a therapist and get ideas on how to lessen the stress. It seems like a lot of this seems "mandatory" to you but isn't actually. If your mom needs that much help, she needs to be in a home. If your dad needs a visitor all the time, your husband needs to do more at home. If he doesn't do things to your liking, learn to let those go. The adult kids need to get a grip...you will miss some things, you have 6 kids!!!

I am the 2nd of 5 in my family. My baby sister (5 of 5) and I are the only ones who live locally...I say that because 4 of 5 lives with my parents still (at 30) and is 100% PTSD disabled. 1 of 5 lives far away, but that's a good thing and 3 of 5 lives three hours away, he visits. So it's on me and my baby sister to do the helping. We have families of our own and it's overwhelming to still help sometimes.

You need help. Find someone who can come in the house and help with the special needs kids. Find someone who can help clean. Find someone who can deliver meals to your mom, or have her eat WITH your family so you're note doing more than needed.

And go on a solo vacation.

You're doing amazing to do it all, but please find ways to NOT do it all and still stay sane. You need it.

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M.D.

answers from Pittsburgh on

I'm so sorry that you are feeling overwhelmed. It happens to everyone sometimes - although this doesn't make it any easier, perhaps you'll take some comfort in knowing that you are not alone.

All I can say in terms of advice is this: once you get through all of this, take a good hard look how you spend your time. Think this way: if I could take 1 thing off my plate and it would make my life easier, what is that thing? Then make it happen. I've done it a few times in the last few years. Once it was a simple as assigning some household chores to my kids and totally relieving myself of those responsibilities. Once I left a neighborhood bunco group filled with women I love, simply because I realized that the stress of getting there was more than the fun I had (and I saw those women in other circumstances anyway). Just this past summer, I stepped down from a volunteer group for a great organization that I had been involved with for more than 15 years. Each time I gave myself permission to let go of a responsibility, I felt relief. I know you can't do this kind of thinking right now, when you are overwhelmed. But please don't forget what this feels like too quickly - once you get through the next few weeks, hold on to these feelings just enough to use it as motivation to change something about your life. Make the change and then let go of some of the stress.

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J.B.

answers from Boston on

I tend to take on more than I should as well. As a long-term thing, when you are past this crisis, you should look into that with a therapist, assuming it's a long-term behavior pattern. You need to accept that it's unhealthy and make changes that will be uncomfortable at first but better in the long term.

For now? Other than the out of town event for your child, you don't really have to go to the other things. Those being honored will surely understand that one of your children is in crisis. Stop telling yourself that they are must-do events and accept that they are things that you want to do, but may not be able to unless you get things more under control at home.

Your mom? Sweet that you help her, but you can hire people for that. Surely she wouldn't want you adding to your stress by providing care that can easily be done by someone else.

Your dad? Further down on the list than your son who is in crisis. Your heart is in the right place but you can't be everywhere at the same time so yes, your husband can fill in every now and again to make sure that he's safe, fed and cared for and your dad will be upset but that'll have to be OK.

Ignore your whining adult child, period, end of story.

For your child turning 18, if you can afford it, hire someone to do the paperwork. Someone in the SPED office at school should have a list of resources. I know that there is some work there that you can't completely offload, but there are people who help with this because it is overwhelming. If you can't afford a specialist, hire someone through Task Rabbit or a similar errand service who can at least fill out and compile forms and perhaps submit some for you.

When I get in a situation like you're in, I tend to think that I'm the only one who can do X, Y and Z and really, I'm not. Farm some stuff out.

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