Today and for the past several days family life has made me feel like a bug in a spider web, kicking my impotent feet and just making matters worse in the process.

As soon as I write that, I am bombarded by shoulds. I should be completely delirious about the fact that I have a loving husband, healthy and adorable children, and a host of material comforts. I should. But the truth is that I dove deep into free and independent life before I stumbled into this quagmire and I know, I know, I know what I'm missing.

For instance, today I was reading about Mount Shasta, which is tantalizingly close in northern California, a day's road trip away, if it were only me and my sister and the Nissan. But I can't leave my family, nor take them. The same thing applies whenever I find myself daydreaming about a few days in a shanty on the beach, or a career change, or some new friends, or a jaunt back home to Massachusetts. I can't leave my family; I can't take them; so here I am, snarled and choked back and stuck, stuck, stuck.

It's my dream to live in a cabin in the woods. Instead I'm living in an overcrowded and creaky house from which you can always hear the hum of the interstate and see the neon from the Main Street stores.

It's my dream to wander the planet, scooping up experiences. Instead I'm hemmed in to a little desert bowl that seems to hold me like a tether.

It's my dream to create, read books, listen to music, have peace. Instead my life is a continuous bombardment of noise, needs, and television. It's deafening, overwhelming, and exhausting.

My God, I want to leave all this sometimes. But I should be giddy with bliss.

I'm not. I should be but I'm not. All I can hope is that someday my kids will understand that I actually love them more than anyone else on the planet, even if I'm skipping off all the time. I'm just trying to survive, here. I'm just trying to make it. I can't be home making cookies with JoJo's Circus blaring in the background. Thank God for Grandma, because Mommy just can not do it.

I'm staring down a life sentence here. The future looks monotonous and bleak. I never, ever wanted to live like this, scrabbling from day to day, just trying not to lose my mind. But I can't help it. It's the way I feel.

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