May 27, 2011

I want to kick something. I want to punch it real hard.

I have gone to the store every day this week and still forgot to buy dryer sheets each time.

This is what wakes me up at three in the morning.

I lie in bed, in the middle of the night, depressed.

Dryer sheets.

I can't do laundry without dryer sheets and it's starting to pile up. I dread the thought of going to Target again, in the morning, as all week has been a constant repeat of this time. Why do we even need dryer sheets? Is there a way to make my own? Should I be doing something more eco-friendly? I need to look this up.

At three in the morning.

Yesterday I felt pretty, in a blue dress and leggings. But in my car's side view mirror I caught a glimpse of myself and literally didn't even recognize her. And normally the car mirror is like, the most flattering of all. I note, in my head, thirty-four is the age I officially look and feel old. I look like that woman on Oprah, who drank Big Gulps of Diet Coke every day and Dr. Oz fixed her up and she looked young again. But I only drink water and unsweetened tea.

I get over it and am convinced that I still feel pretty. But then I start to be all sorry for myself, and wish I was beautiful for my kids, for on the arm of my husband in front of his coworkers and friends, and for my own parents. And for the guy that brings in the carts at Target. And for the girl at the checkout who could have been me fifteen years ago.

This is not really about my appearance. This is not about how badly I need to do something with my hair already. Or how I've let myself go- where? I don't know but Lord knows I'm not here. It's something I can not put my finger on, so I lie awake worrying about dryer sheets and the bitterness that is sneaking in about unfair things I can't talk about, stuff I thought I had forgiven and buried but it keeps un-earthing itself in my present.

I want to go to sleep. I want to wake up the old me with my new wisdom. I want to only be thankful, as I rightly should be. I want to run to something. I want to remember the fricking dryer sheets.


  1. I get this, I truly do.

    Sweetness you are one of the most beautiful people I know (and I know you didn't write this post to get the compliments) Your beauty shines from the inside (and outside too)

    Much love my friend.

    P.S.. my friend uses vinegar in her wash and says that she doesn't have to fabric softener or dryer sheets-I have yet to try it, but she swears by it!

  2. OMG. I went to bed in SUCH A FRIGGIN FUNK last night. Thank you for posting this. I just deleted 3 of my posts that weren't going anywhere good and went to bed. ARGH. Is there a full moon or what?


    Oh, try the vinegar. :)

  3. Ugh, I've been up since 5 am thinking about dumb stuff. Not that dryer sheets are dumb. (PS. We stopped using them six years ago and, maybe some stuff is a little staticky (word?), but we don't notice much anymore.)

    The other day I mentioned to Nolan that in high school and college I was my "real" self -- I guess I associate my real self with freedom, no responsibility, good music, parties, no job. Then it occurred to me that, No, that old me helped shape the now me. And the now me is exactly where I'm supposed to be. I promise you, Steph, the Steph right now is EXACTLY where she is supposed to be too. xoxo

  4. (so, I know this isn't really about the dryer sheets, but I wanted to say I stopped using them five years ago when we started cloth diapering and haven't missed them a bit. i use a scoop of Borax in each load and find everything turns out just fine.)

    Sister, I can SO relate to all of this. It's exactly what I was feeling when I wrote earlier this month about needing space. I've diagnosed it as late-quarter-life crisis (because I can't bear the thought of early-onset-mid-life-crisis).

    Thank you for sharing with such courage and such transparency here. You aren't alone in it. I don't have advice and I don't think that's what you're needing here anyway. Just know that I - that we - are sitting here with you in this.

  5. I totally get this and can relate. I'll be 34 this year, but I have old days.

  6. This is why so many people love you - you're real!

    (and you are also very beautiful. You just need a Flexi-Clip for your hair, right? : ) I use vinegar in my washer instead of liquid fabric softener and dryer balls. Haven't bought dryer sheets in 2 years and haven't missed them. My sister made mine out of scrap wool yarn - you could totally do that! Here's her info on making them: )

  7. I am 34 and had that exact same thought the other day about looking old! Hugs.

    White vinegar in an old downy ball is what I use. It works great. I haven't purchased dryer sheets in years.

  8. Wow, Steph. You sound like every other mother who attends my class or sees me privately.

    Feeling not incredibly rooted in an identity can take its toll, but it is a common byproduct of motherhood. You feel like the right thing to do is sacrifice every last part of you to be a good mother; you become confused about boundaries...and after a while, you forget about yourself.

    You can read that and your mind probably jumps back to that time you left your kids for X amount of days, or the time you did this for yourself or that for yourself, but the reality is that you need more. You are a nurturer who is forgetting to nurture yourself. It's not about going and doing something costly or extravagant. It's about taking time for yourself.

    If for nothing else, your stress and loss of sense of self has a huge effect on your children - they see the example you're making - to sacrifice yourself and your peace for others! May sound a little harsh, but it's so very common.

    As for the dryer sheets,

  9. Thanks for sharing this.
    Your not alone! I have been there so many times. Like every morning when I wake up and put on sweats and my husband's t-shirts not because they are comfy (although they are) but because all my effort to get things done for me end with me putting myself on the back burner for my husband or kids. I am ok with that truthfully, but I feel like I need a shirt explaining why I am always in sweats and my husbands t-shirts.
    Oh and I got some wool dryer balls at Christmas and I LOVE them....I am in LOVE with them. They last forever and do a great job softening your laundry. I have two and they recommend at least 4, but they not only soften your laundry they cut back the drying time. Check them out at

  10. You are beautiful in my eyes. I know how you feel though cause I'm feeling the same way. I could bring you some dryer sheets, just let me know what kind.

  11. Oh, mama. My 34 hears your 34. Pray without ceasing.

  12. I think this one warrants an email instead of cramming a conversation into this little box. I know these feelings, big time, and was just trying to explain them to someone who didn't get what I meant the other day. Thank God for people who get it.

    (And by the way, I stopped using dryer sheets years and years ago, I don't do anything else special to the washer or dryer and everything turns out just fine.)

  13. this is an argument i have with myself almost daily. i'm only a year behind you, yet ... same thoughts.

    and we never use dryer sheets. i started using vinegar with my cloth diapers and it works pretty well.

  14. I know there's a lot of deeper meaning hidden within this post that deserves to be dealt with, but I'm gonna keep this comment at the surface level and just say (1) you really do look beautiful! And not just inner beauty crap - you're pretty, my friend! and (2) I gave up dryer sheets long ago and just haven't missed them. Okay, so things are a little static-y in the winter, but who cares? Less chemicals on your clothes/skin/etc. Try it - you may realize that it's not such a loss. (My mom's allergic to the stuff in dryer sheets, so she stopped using them. We stopped b/c of cloth diapering and not wanting to have our diapers "coated" in whatever the dryer sheet stuff is.)

    Hope you're feeling better soon - and by the way, I haven't seen that Oprah, but that line about Dr. Oz and the woman with the diet cokes just cracked me up for some reason! : )

  15. I absolutely feel this way, too. This morning was especially hard, maybe it was the rainy drive to work, or that I failed so miserably on my diet yet again, or that I'm having a really bad hair day, or that I'm so in debt it's scary, or maybe it's just all of that. I have worries, guilt, and unhappiness, too. I so get this. Being an adult is sucky sometimes.

  16. oh steph, somehow you always seem to find the words that are hiding in my heart and don't know it until i read them through you. but just so you know, when i met you, i was thinking "steph, is so pretty! and friendly, and i wish i lived closer."

    while you are at target today pick yourself up some fun nail polish, that usually helps me. haha. ;)

  17. I feel this way a lot.

    You are beautiful. You are a daughter of God, and that alone makes you beautiful.

    I know it is hard though because we DO get lost in the everyday Mommy-ing. We don't look like we did 15 years ago, heck even 5 years ago! But, we are beautiful anyway.

    Love you sweet friend.

  18. We don't use dryer sheets anymore. At the beginning I would use them every other wash, then just with the whites, then whenever I remembered now I don't really miss them.

    I feel the same way sometimes, the other day I fixed my hair before I went to work, everyone there kept asking what I had done... I had brushed it and not just put it up in a ponytail.

    and seriously though I always love your hair...those bangs. (:

  19. Well, I saw you last month, and you looked gorgeous.

    I think we all have those little things we obsess over, which are so visible to us but hardly noticed by others. I feel peaceful now, but ask me again next year when I turn 40.

  20. I haven't read the other comments, but instead of dryer sheets, you can use wool dryer balls. They work great. I use them with my daughter's cloth diapers. Just google them, lots of women make/sell them!

  21. Made me want to cry. Why is it we women/wives/mothers doubt ourselves? FOR OUR ENTIRE LIVES. We work so hard at our roles. We, the true us, seems to get lost in the shuffle - stuck in a role or multiple roles. Play-acting through life in a role WE CREATED. And, as we get older (like I am - lots!) we get to add the role of caretaker to our repetoire. It can be daunting, this woman thing, but let's not let it be sole/self robbing. Take a breath, run away for a while. I always try to have a "carrot" dangling somewhere in my future that helps me get through the tough spots. As a matter of fact tomorrow is today's carrot for me.
    And screw the dryer sheets!

  22. I have often been kept awake by trivia which seems so important at 3:00 am and unimportant at 8:00 am. Do you ever hang your clothes outside on a line, especially diapers? Then you wouldn't use dryer sheets but your laundry would smell so nice. I used to hang cloth diapers out to let the sun sanitize them. Plus do not ever tell me that you think you are old at 34!!! You are just a young thing yet, less than half my age. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and believe me there are many of us who think you are beautiful - like your kids, your hubby, your mom and dad, your grandmother, I could go on and on. These are the important people whose opinions are worth valuing.

  23. i feel this way, too.

    and i don't use dyer sheets at all anymore and don't miss them...just so you know, it's possible not to use them at all.

  24. I always forget something at Target. I was joking with my mom the other day about my "daily trip" to Target. I've come to embrace it -- I get Starbucks, the kids get an icee, it's a field trip. Haha! Wanna know something weird (and semi-stalkery), I woke up at 3 AM this morning thinking that it had been a while since I read your blog. Super strange! Maybe I should have prayed for you. I will now. :) (and I promise I'm not a stalker)

  25. I get it, I really do. I wonder what happened to me, why I can't get out of the funk and why I'm taking it out on my husband. As a matter of fact, I made a dr's appt to get all my levels checked in the event that it's not "me" but the biology of me that's leaving me so blah.

  26. Ah, it's the little things that get us sometimes...although usually they represent something that is not at all little.

    Hugs, girl. Today will be better. It always is. And if it isn't, tomorrow will be. For now, get yourself a Starbucks and know that I'm saying a prayer for you right now.

    Grace, my friend, grace...

  27. Sending hugs and a sigh of recognition. I try not to think about the stuff that brings me down and to stay positive instead. But, yeah, it's those middle-of-the-night things that are so bothersome! I tell myself to try not to think too hard in the dark.

  28. I think it is time for you to get some wool dryer balls. You will never have to worry about dryer sheets again.

    What about an auto delivery of dryer sheets and other household products from

  29. Oh, Steph. Sending hugs. So many, many of us are there or have been there....or will be there, the lucky naive just don't know it yet.

    I don't know a mom who doesn't wake at 3am, even occasionally, to think about the minutia of life. My husband doesn't understand how one thought leads to another and another and another and before you know it, the damn birds are chirping outside because it's first light.

    How can bitterness not creep in? It's not supposed to, but it's liquid and seeps through all the cracks it can find.

    Brown sugar is my dryer sheets this week. I get this, Steph.

    Plus, I'm turning 40 in like 9 days and that will do a number on your head. All my FB friends from high school are beginning to look like their parents (perfectly lovely people). Me too. Aging is beautiful and crappy.

  30. just so you know ... i clicked over from facebook and was thinking "she is so beautiful ... why do i look like such a fuddy duddy?"
    see. we are all there. at some point or another.
    and me?
    i keep forgetting coffee filters.
    that is just not ok.

  31. I so understand this right now. Im coming from it at a different angle but I get it.
    And I also know I can say it until I'm blue in the face but it won't matter until you really believe it, but you are such a beautiful person both inside and outside.

  32. dyer sheets? what are those?!

    No, seriously - I've never ever one time used them. You'll be okay :)

    And all the rest? It's being the mom of a crowd - I GET IT.

  33. You were in my dreams last night--probably bc I read your blog before going to bed. But, maybe there's a deeper meaning--you are in my prayers! Not bc I'm better than, but bc I'm right there with you--in all of it!


  34. As soon as I read this, I wanted to leave work, drop of damn dryer sheets and hug you.

    consider your beautiful self hugged.

    Love you Steph

  35. Oh sweetie, I've been feeling the EXACT.SAME.WAY. sweetheart. Hugs to you.

  36. What the first commenter said about vinegar is true. I use it in my washing machine in place of a dryer sheet. It's cheap and eco-friendly. It's also anti-fungal so it keeps the washer clean of mildew :)

  37. Oh I so get the old thing! Two summers ago (actually around the time I met you at BlissDom), I was thinking I was pretty cute. I was a single mom, attracting the attention of twentysomething guys. Now I'm happily remarried, and I aged a decade.

    I can't even find a decent pic of me to put on my profile pics anymore. WAH

    Hugs :)

  38. You are not alone, my friend. The sun will shine soon and you'll be able to see the beauty you have.

  39. this was me all winter and spring. but i am coming back. you will come back too. you are beautiful steph, in any mirror.

  40. I don't think it has anything to do with being 34. It happens to all of us sometimes no matter what age we are. I think it's the curse of our gender to never really be happy with who we are no matter what everyone else thinks about us. We can be perfect in so many peoples eyes and we just can't see it. We are just too hard on ourselves. I think you are beautiful Steph and you'll snap out of this soon. And you'll remember the dryer sheets one day too. And if you are like me, you'll end up with for boxes. I did that with Miracle Whip just a few weeks ago. I couldn't remember it and then I couldn't forget it and kept buying it every trip for a week. Hugs Steph!

  41. Oh girl!!! HUGS to you!!! I love how you wrote this post. I wish we didn't have to feel like this, but I love how well you captured it.

  42. I feel that way when I see photographs of myself. Woah.

    I'm praying some special things for you today and believing God to work mightily in your heart and mind. Even helping you with that whole dryer sheet business.

    That or just use the vinegar, that's what I do!

  43. Enjoy 34! Because 44 comes way too fast, and then you would kill to be 34 again :)
    And you forget more than one thing at the store...
    And you wake up lots of nights...

    Relax, enjoy, and have a wonderful weekend,

  44. I think I was 34 when I first stared and stared in the mirror and thought WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN? And then I realized that Asher had been crying for months, for 15 hours a day and I'd been sleeping in 2 hour increments and I was drinking too much. That'll age a lady. So I decided that my wrinkles are art...but only sort of.

    I'm right there with you, friend. Remembering things and fending off the BAD self talk at 3 a.m.

    Thank you for being you. I love who you are, Steph.

  45. I feel this, every word of it, like you're in my head.

    For some reason, I always thought I'd have things figured out by now. Like, I'm an adult. Adults are supposed to know things. Instead, I feel less...everything. Treading water. I think this is the first time in my life that I don't have a plan. And I want to kick a bunch of flowers.

    Anyway, I hear you and I love you. It can only get better from here, right? Right.

  46. I think you are gorgeous with a style all your own!

    And try carrying a tiny moleskin to write down anything and everything--that way, you can look at it on your next Target trip!

    I have never used dryer sheets or fabric softener and I make my own detergent so I don't add any extra borax (its already in there) but you can just add vinegar or not use it at all.

    I use the Amazon Prime feature a lot for stuff like this. Free shipping and it comes to my door!

    ~Beth T.

  47. I hear you!
    Wishing you well, A.

  48. I think a few people above me mentioned dryer balls, but I'll hop on that bandwagon <3 I stopped using dryer sheets a really long time ago. Too many icky things in them (although I know you can buy less icky ones too!)

  49. Your honesty is captivating and compelling and relevant. Thank you for sharing YOU (and not just the happy-perfect-pretty parts).

    I had a similar experience a few days ago. I put on my swimsuit to go to the lake and thought I looked super cute. Tim took some photos while we were there. I looked at them afterward and thought, "Is that really me?" Ugh.

  50. Woah. Way behind on this, clearly (way behind on everything!!) but for what it's worth, I think you always look stylishly adorable.

  51. I'm obviously way behind on my blog reading, but I just had to respond, because I can relate to the bitterness. I just realized a few months ago that what is bringing me down is bitterness. And I'm so tired of it. And every time I feel like I've let go of something, it comes sneaking back in. Anyway, all that to say that I get it. You are not alone. And you are beautiful.


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