Friday, October 28, 2011

Real Life Desperate Housewives

Chaz 3, Ryan 2
I used to belong to this Christian homemakers group.  For the sake of what I'm gonna talk about, I won't say the name of it.  I found the group back when I only had one child and pregnant with my second.  This must've been in 2000.  It was kind of far from my house but I truly needed the support about being a stay at home mom and advice.  I truly strived to be a Godly wife and wanted badly to be a great homekeeper.  Meetings were once a week and a breakfast was always served.  When I first walked in I was in awe.  I'm the kind of gal that always wakes up too late to make myself something to eat.  The kids usually eat but I don't.  Without seeming like I was too hungry, I sauntered over to the breakfast table to grab a plate.  Announcements had already begun and I found a spot next to my friend to sit down while I munched on food.  The usual topic, mainly about organization, I desperately needed to hear.  

When I was single I lived in my own one bedroom apartment. I owned a single bed, one dresser, a table for two, couch for two, two forks, two spoons, two cups, two plates, etc.  Of course also my clothes which were organized.  It was soooo easy to care for.  Now that I had to care for more, I needed the advice.  It wasn't so easy because when you marry, you mesh habits together.

I ended up attending this group up till 2007 and finally decided it was a good time to stop.  It's not that they were boring or a bad group of people. It was fun!  Every week after the initial morning talk we would split up into small groups.  You got to pick the theme of your group.  Teens, toddlers, craft, homeschool, etc.  I picked the toddlers one of course.  Anytime you put a group of very opinionated women together, it can cause sparks.  For the most part I sensed a lot of women really held back things about their personal life for good reason including myself.  Sometimes we shouldn't be so open about personal things.  One woman in particular would talk the ENTIRE time and no one could get a word in edgewise. It was really, really frustrating.  I remember wishing she would either switch groups or quit altogether.  I felt bad thinking this but it would get pretty bad.  Well, one day she did quit but not because it was her choice. She died of cancer.  My heart broke.  I felt so bad for having these feelings towards her.  She left behind a husband and two little kids they adopted together.  :(

As far as money goes, I'm not the jealous type when I see others have a lot of things that I can't have.  I've always thought of expensive things as debt.  Often, two people have to work to afford to have new cars or a big house.  Either that, or hours and hours of overtime.  Just not worth it to me.  Often I would be pulling up in my debt free little two door Toyota with 3 carseats crammed together in the back.  I would park my car in between 2 big Cadillac Escalades and watch as a mom would pull 2 kids out of it.  I used to think, "Whoa.  Two kids in that big hunk of a thing?"  No matter, I was happy and content as I strolled in to enjoy another meeting.  Of course within that same year I bought a gorgeous minivan to fit four kids and fit us better.

One particular day I was happy to announce that I was pregnant with my 4th child.  Usually, how many kids you have was never an issue.  I saw families with up to 8 or 9 kids there but not many.  Many of these moms had maybe 2-3 kids.  As I gave my announcement in small group, a lady says, "That's not right. That is just not fair to your other ones."   I was shocked as I thought this was a group that supported not only staying at home but having children also.  I sat their dumbfounded as no one spoke up and rebuked her.  It completely broke my heart and left me in silence.  That was my first step to pulling away from the group in my heart.  Children are a gift from the Lord and there is just no scripture in the bible you can pull out to defend beating down growing families.  

Because the location of the group, it was held in an upperclass area.  Many of the women were wives of successful business men and CEO's.  I was a happily married woman and loved to share about my family and what a joy it was being married to my best friend.  I didn't really notice the silence in the room till some time later when I would share stories or what went on in my home.  Finally one day a woman piped up, "Okay, okay.  We all know what a fantastic marriage you have."  Huh?  I never bragged about anything.  Often we would all share stories and that's all I did was talk about events and funny things that happened.  I realized later that not many other women shared positive stories about their marriage.  Usually it was just about things they did by themselves or with other women.  Later, as women would share I realized there was something HUGE going on that seemed to be a common but silent complaint.  These women that seemed like they had it all together on the outside, were in fact pretty lonely.  Yes, they could buy what they wanted, eat out when they wanted, swipe their credit cards as they wished. But these were some pretty lonely women.  The reason they didn't like my stories about fun with my husband was because they greatly longed to have that time with theirs.  Successful business men are often on the road a lot or working long hours.  They had a lot of money but at the price of being apart.  Not really enjoying the fruit of their labors in the relationship sense.  My heart broke for these women.  Some of these men traveled weeks as a time away from their family. For the sake of a very nasty commenter I will mention that this of course did not apply to everyone there I'm sure.

One Valentines day, it was a special day for this mom's group.  We were to all bring our husband's in for a Valentines message. I was excited to have my best friend with me to see my mom's group.  Before it started, everyone mingled about and talked.  My husband said all the men talked about was money, more money, and how to make even more.  It was just a one-up kind of talk of who had it the best.  He pretty much felt like a loner while trying to find a normal dude that could just talk about real life.  Well, that didn't happen so we were happy when we could just sit down and hear the message.  Over time, after I had my 5th child, I decided it was about time to leave.  The messages were great, in fact, our speaker is now pretty popular and talks on Family Life Radio with James Dobson.  It took several years for me to see that this was just not a place I could fit in and it wasn't about the money, but the general discontent.  I guess maybe the silent desperation that was there broke my heart.  My life and goals were incredibly different than these women.  Some could even afford to have their own maids but I know all they just longed for a relationship with their spouses more than anything else.  More than money.   

Some husbands would leave their wives for their secretary, one woman was surprised by her husband and taken on an anniversary cruise.  What was meant to be a romantic time together became a nightmare when she found out he did all that to tell her he was leaving her and the kids for another man.  Some that had affairs overseas while on business trips.  Story after story.  I felt like I was living a real life Desperate Housewives show and it became more of a burden to come than a blessing since a lot of time was spent comparing rather than just dealing with real life issues.  With money or without money these situations can happen, I realize that.  I desperately needed a group of women where we could encourage and just enjoy fellowship with each other.

I have not attended a mom's group since then because, frankly, I'm scared. I am a little frightened looking for groups anymore in a more upscale area.   I'm afraid I'll find a group I love, invest time into it, then find out a year later that there are just things behind the scene that really mess with my head.  I afraid of the clicks.  My husband pushes me to try one out but I think my experience really kept me away.  

Probably the closest comparison I could give is either The Stepford Wives (who seemed to have it all together but on puppet strings), or The Desperate Housewives (who completely frighten me with all the drama and deception).  I am not in anyway putting down these women.  Every woman has the dream to marry their prince charming, to still get flowers a decade later, still have that love and commitment.  It's not always like that but if anything we like to have a real relationship with our spouse.  If anything my heart completely broke for them.  Seeing the bags under their eyes, the loneliness, the discontentment.  Of course these stories don't apply to every person that attended there.  It was just hard to see it every week.  I would love to find another group that is healthy and can just give genuine support for one another.  Is it possible to find one?

Have you found a good mom's groups that you feel are healthy for you?


Anonymous said...

Wow, you're a huge hypocrite.

It's one thing to get upset when you group suggests that you're having more children than you're capable of handling, but then to judge them all behind their backs as liars and braggarts?

Maybe they looked at your tiny car with three baby-seats crammed in the back and worried about how one more would fit in. Maybe they looked at your eldest son and worried that, with even more children eating up your time and energy, he wouldn't get the attention he needs. I don't know what they thought, but if you have the right to judge their lives and their choices, then they certainly had the right to judge yours.

Iccle One said...


Is there any kind of group through your church? I can't say I know of any similar group in my town, to the one you went to, but I'm aiming to try to get (and share) as much support as needed through other families in my church, when we have children. Our church is growing from the bottom up - the largest childrens group is creche. When we have a child, there will be lots of children of similar age!

Remember some things (like friends) are only for a TIME. Groups can change, that might move to something that no longer matches you need. It sounds like this is what happened with this group.

Zion said...

That cat picture cracks me up, but on a different note the first commenter is pretty upsetting. I guess they didn't read the part about "NICE" people commenting here. You didn't name any names, you were honest about how you felt on your own blog and you have a right to your feelings. Some people will always "worry" about your choices and everyone has a different opinion on how it should be done, but for someone to accuse you openly of neglecting your other children by having another one is just unfair. Especially since it's not like you could have said "oh, well in that case I will 'unpregnate' myself!" You are not a hypocrite, you are a loved child of God. I am not a part of a mom's group, but I have plenty of other mom's that I connect with and have as support and I think that is what is important.

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

It would be nice if we could find a small group of ladies that is truly supportive. Gently, I've got to tell you that happy marriages like yours are extremely rare. It does feel hurtful or bragging to hear about them. Most ladies actually live through some of the other sort of emotional yuck you were describing and not only that, many if not most of them are not rich. You seem to have mixed up wealth and lack of marital joy; it isn't necessarily so. I have no doubt that if you guys suddenly got money that you would still have a great marriage. I'm just saying not everyone does... and actually... most people don't. I'm not going to get into other people's secrets but you would probably be shocked at how few marriages ARE at least GENERALLY happy.

The comments about your fourth child sound like jealousy, tho'. It's probably best not to join groups like this because that's just the sort of thing that happens, yk? I used to as well when my older kids were younger and then I figured out no one really understands what it is like to raise children with disabilities and MORE hurtful than that, they didn't care to understand. It's all waah waah I'm tired and how can I get my Bible study in and cultivate a quiet spirit when baby Josie messed up the kitchen? dopey stuff, and those were the people who would really get prayed for. Meh.

Virginia Revoir said...

To the lady from Texas that commented anonymously:

No, I'm not a hypocrite. No, I do not confuse wealth with sadness. Yes, I believe people can have their opinions. Yes, this is my blog, not yours. Yes, I do have the right to tell a real situation that happened honestly.

It worries me that you are referencing to my oldest son. Why are you worried about my oldest and not my other kids? Yes, I did buy a minivan when before I gave birth to my 4th child to fit all of us. I'm not incapable of having a large family.

I'm sorry that anyone took my blog as bragging of my marriage since I never said I had a great marriage. I only shared with the group events we did during the week. I never said, "I, Virginia, have a great marriage." No marriage is perfect. Mine certainly isn't.

Sorry, but having more children doesn't "eat up time from my other kids". I have more time with my kids since I homeschool and work with each of them individually every day. Not really worried about that issue right there.

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

Hello, I'm back. I do have to wonder if "lady from Texas" has been hanging out on your autism blogs or other postings. I am not even going to say that she means well, but what I WILL say is that this is an attitude parents of disabled kids encounter way too frequently.

It's true, there is only so much of Happy Elf Mom or Virginia or anyone else to go around. So if you look at it that way, maybe it's not "fair" for us to have large kids. BUT IT IS NOT YOUR FLIPPING DECISION.

Further, has it occurred to anyone that pressuring someone to limit their family size in order to conform to someone's ideals of attention, money to go around for college, therapies or whatever is really a subtle form of attempted EUGENICS? It really is. I mean ohhh, lookit this lady, she has an autistic child *cluck cluck* and she really shouldn't be having any more.

It's Virginia's blog or I would get pretty dang graphic where such thoughts can get rammed.

PS. Love you Virginia and have outlined my difference of opinion in an earlier posting, hopefully in a reasonably friendly fashion. :)

Mom said...

I find groups like that hard too, but maybe for different reasons. I love my husband and he's my best friend--but everyone assumes we have a perfect marriage and sometimes we don't. I never feel free to talk about it an group like that. My children are adopted and let's face some women think that makes me less of a mother or they assume there is something wrong with my kids. My son has some developmental issues and most people don't take the time to understand him or me and just assume he's an out-of-control kid or that I'm a lazy Mom. I think a lot of people would like to think that money fixes everything and quite a few live like it does--but we know that it doesn't. We have far less than my siblings, but we are much happier overall. It's just a faith and contentment thing. I think you did well to stick with it for as long as you did. I wouldn't have. :-)

Karen said...

I attend our local MOPS and enjoy it mostly. We are assigned table groups...while I've enjoyed each year to a certain extent, each year I've contemplated going to more of a Bible Study or trying something else. But I came back this year...and I "happened" to get a great group...and I really appreciate that our discussion group leader helps us actually focus on what we're to be talking about.

Sometimes I think I'm to "old" for my MOPS group...not because of my actual age, but because of the number of kids I have...I have to remind myself to be quiet and not act like I have all the answers...and I can tell you, after 6 kids I can usually find 1 that any given theory did not work for. :-)

I'm also blessed to live in an area with lots of churches and lots of women's there are lots of options to choose from.

I also get together twice a month with other moms who have adopted's nice to be with other moms who deal with the same issues we do.

Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

PPS I never thought you personally (Virginia) bragged about your marriage FYI. Nope. Never met you in real life and on the blogs and whatnot I have never never gotten that "vibe" from you before. You have always loved and accepted everyone, even when you have confronted them. I am pleased to see that side of your personality and know you better every year, and to call you my friend.

I *DO* feel that way when people express happiness in support groups though- especially if they are leaders- and give stupid advice like "leave love letters in your husband's lunchbox" (that are soo far beyond doing anything but making some of these ladies going through the stuff you mentioned anything but ENABLERS of this bad behaviour.) I think when you are at a certain point in the road, doing anything remotely loving is just encouraging more ill-treatment. These people need counselling... from a lawyer. I cannot IMAGINE going off on a cruise to hear that garbage... I'm just so sorry for that woman I can't even speak to it. But I would be furious if I were her and came back to the *20 ideas for date nights* sort of claptrap they usually offer at these things. Know what I mean?

The worst, is when they do hokey things like try to have the husbands show up for them? Way to rub our noses in it if we have a crappy marriage or no marriage at all, yk? I would be tempted to go with a single mom as my "date" just to get all controversial... it's unkind to make people feel left out like that... in the past I just have stayed home from
a lot of that stuff. My marriage is not horrid and unhappy, but I'm also not trotting out the "my best friend and we do everything together" thing, either. Maybe a lot of that has to do with having four or five disabled kids and a community that doesn't give a dump. Over time you just tread water, you get nowhere, and it wears you down. Meh, who cares, really cares, about families like mine??

Then again I do "get" that a lot of these groups want to "build strong marriages." I'm thinking, offer some counselling then. (Or in my case, some childcare. Seriously.) Because strong marriages don't get that way with an occasional date night. Some of these issues you're talking about are SO deep-seated and painful, and will take so much work, that I don't think the church really wants to invest in it. Far easier to just not get involved. Getting involved can be verrry messy. :)

In short, that's what I have against groups like this. They say they do a lot more than they do and people with real problems walk away feeling worse than they started out. JMO.

frogmama said...

Just wanted to add- when I just had a couple kids I attended a similar group and there were a couple moms with large families that attented peropdically. I t was always great to hear their imput on things we would discuss. It was also encouraging to see them all still happy and doing well with 5,6 or 7 kids:) Also about teh happy marriage omments, I am torn about that too many times. Sometimes I feel like I shouldn;t share about my happy marriage or my great husband as to not hurt others feelings or discourage them at all, but then on the other hand, I feel like if no one out there is raising the standard on what marriage should be then why shouldn't I speak out? I think many women just kind of settle for what is comfortable, or tolerable and feel this is as good as it gets, when it can be so much more.... anyways I know what you mean. I just do a womens bible study at church now, but would also like to do some other moms groups, but life is just busy right now with 5 kiddos:)

Chris H said...

Short answer. no
I do not like women's groups in general.
Too often the conversations are women comparing what their child can do to yours', or that one, or that one.... so don't need to listen to that.
AND so over hearing freaking birth stories too.
I have enough of my own!

Money and a very happy marriage can go hand in hand. As long as you love one another it should not matter how much or how little you have in money/assets/size of home etc.

Well, that was not short afterall!
Happy Elf Mom said heaps! *waves* to you Mrs C. lol

Virginia Revoir said...

You are awesome, Happy Elf Mom. You do encourage but you are not afraid to gently put me in my place. Although, I know you can harshly too but thank goodness you have mercy. lol.

Its not wrong at all to share real things from the heart. I just think I have to be careful where its shared when in these kinds of moms groups. I think it just depends on the spiritual maturity of the group. I want women to open up to me and share their strengths, triumph, heartbreaks, joy. But, if it's shared in a group where joy can be looked at with envy and happy moments constantly insulted, it can be a burden after awhile.

I'm generally a very upbeat person who is positive about things, so just because I didn't come to the groups depressed and just wanted to share a fun moment doesn't mean I was bragging. Ive learned that in life if I don't focus on the positives, the negatives can start getting pretty heavy to carry. I think if I'm not careful I can compare and say, "how come you did something fun this week when all I did was stay home and change poopy diapers?". Or I can just be happy and share in the joy of others rather than insult them when they had a better week than I did.

Virginia Revoir said...

Um, it's nice to actually have some comments. Should I be more controversial from now on? Just kidding! :D. Love you guys.

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