A good friend sent me a text last night, randomly asking me how I was. I didn’t feel up to the task of answering then because I didn’t think it’d be an accurate portrayal. I have this nasty habit of letting my circumstances or things happening around me determine my attitude (last night was bad). It’s a legitimate and real issue.
After writing my last post, I choose joy, I felt convicted about my attitude. I’ve been yelling a lot lately, and I don’t mean typical stress parenting. I mean an inexcusable unfair amount. It is because of stress, but it doesn’t have to be my response. After last night (which, seriously, was so bad), I was filled with guilt and sadness.
On one hand, we started 8 AM swim lessons and haven’t been more than ten minutes late once. All without coffee, poor sleep and a jealous toddler. This is a win. A big one. I’m Super Mom. It’s a win we get there at all. It’s a win I don’t knock everyone out before we arrive because Mommy hasn’t had her happy juice. It’s a win little one (LO) is only jealous for a few minutes. It’s a win we get to go straight to the park (or errands) after.
Wins don’t make it easy, though. You ever hear, “Never wake a sleeping baby?” That extends, I assume, all the way to age infinity. I don’t like being woken just before my alarm goes off by a frantic child telling me we’re late (never mind that we have been every day), just as LO isn’t fond of being woken before she’s hit 12 hours just to be frantically changed and rushed.
You see, there are a few things to know about me:
- I really like coffee. No, that’s not right; I adore, greatly esteem and obsess over coffee. Coffee gives me the happy. It makes my brain function in just the right way: not crazy. My 5 YO refers to coffee as Mommy’s happy juice; she’s not kidding.
- I’m not a morning person. I never have been. Some part of me used to think when I had kids that would change. Instead, it’s increased my dependency on the above point and made Mommy monster a regularity.
- Exercise is something thought of in distant terms. I have a pin board dedicated to all the workouts I’d someday like to try. I’m constantly saying things like, “Tomorrow I’ll start,” or “When [whatever food product I have most of] is gone I’ll start.”
To that first point: I’ve managed to get through lessons, a daily minimum of 1 hour park time and 30 minute errands without coffee. To the second point: see previous sentence. I’m not saying leaving the park is pleasant; there’s usually yelling from everyone, but we get through it. To the final point: this is the week the girls and I started a workout routine. My calves and abs (those things under the jiggle) hurt and it’s only been two days.
Here’s the thing, I don’t want my kids to only remember me battling them. Yes, we’re going to fight; they’re kids and I’m a parent. It doesn’t need to be rainbows all the time. I’d be an idiot to think that. I don’t want them to fear setting me off, either. I don’t want them to be afraid to make a mistake or afraid to ask me for things because I’ll get mad. It breaks my heart that they feel this way. It breaks my heart that I’m completely ignoring the Helper when I feel like I have nothing more to give. When I feel like all I have left in my bag is a hearty and lengthy scream.
It breaks my heart, and it’s breaking theirs.
When I finally responded, my instinct was to complain about my hardships and struggles as a SAHP; about how bad it’s been these few days. I realized, that’s my problem. I live in the negative too often – I need to retrain my thinking.
The bad stands out because it takes more out of you, not because it happens more than good. If you think, really think, the good is usually more frequent. I only need to think about the times my kids or husband made me laugh, or the several times a day I get to celebrate with them over something they did, or that I get to be completely silly with them. Then the loneliness, tiredness and feelings of failure aren’t so frequent.
If I think before I act on the goodness, I realize the bad is but a blip. I have it pretty darn good. I have amazing kids who’d be happier if I let them be kids. I have a husband who works hard for his family and would be way less stressed if I didn’t always complain about his lack of work in the home.
Retraining sucks. It’s hard and it’s difficult, and I can’t even think of another synonym, but it’s worth it. Thank you, friend, for asking me the right question at the right time. You don’t know the impact you’ve made.
If you’re struggling with parent or spouse guilt, or you’re having a hard time seeing around one rock blocking your view of the unending meadow, you’re not alone.
Now, I ask: how are you, friend?
I’m with you, and I’m struggling alongside you.