It is 6:15 a.m. and the alarm sounds. Ughhhh, NO! I immediately turn it off - and to be clear, NOT snooze, because I HATE the incessant, every five minutes, buzzing sound.
By this time, I have been in and out of sleep, waking and snoozing the night away, since about four something in the morning. This typically occurs when I know I have a full plate for the day ahead.
Intermittent sleep, that feeling of anxiousness and restless nights, which none of this is new to the mothers, caretakers, and working adults of the world. It’s what we do, and is how our minds are wired.
I decide to seize the day, or at least attempt to get started. I run through my to-do list, which includes, but of course is not limited to - waking up the kids, taking a shower, fighting through the carpool line, umm - MY JOB, which is hybrid (thank God), making calls and sending emails for household items, running errands, which includes a trip to the grocery store for the THIRD TIME THIS WEEK, and all the way down to the 10 minutes I have for my husband, so that he does not feel neglected, and to cover some important family stuff with him. Whew, I’m tired before I get going.
With all this ‘juggling’ that we find ourselves doing, I wonder if pre-pandemic life was better when we had a more delineated structure between work and home. Is life better now that we can always be everywhere, all the time, or before everything was blurred? It seems that we are rushing from one thing to the next, unable to catch our breath. All I can say is that we have to thank God for the major things in our life - email and Microsoft Teams being on my phone, Trader Joes’ Orange Chicken and Vegetable Fried Rice (YUM) from the frozen section, and let us not forget, the rotisserie chicken from Kroger’s deli section (DELISH).
To stay afloat and keep myself in check, amidst all this chaos, I have gone back to seeing a therapist. In my last session, she said something very surprising, “It seems that you have abandoned yourself…. in being a good wife and mother…. you have left yourself behind.”
EYES WIDE OPEN! I am a non-confrontational, people pleaser who has a very hard time saying no, especially to my family, and here is my therapist expressing that I have somehow left myself behind. That was excruciatingly hurtful, but eye-opening all at the same time. It had taken a lot of time and energy to become the person who I thought I was - an intelligent, well-rounded wife and mother who worked in and out of the house, and who contributed to the well-being of the community. I am pretty socially outgoing - keeping up with my husband on date nights, girlfriends on GNOs, out with the kids on their game days. And in all of this, I forgot myself!?!? I was somewhere left by the wayside, all alone on the sidelines. The constant analysis of this thought soon pushed me to start resenting the people who I loved around me, not knowing where these feelings were coming from or why.
To overcome these thoughts and feeling overwhelmed, I have set goals for myself. In all honesty, the word ‘boundaries’ seems to be too closed off and militant for me, so I prefer to set goals that I can work towards to find myself again, and not feel lost and alone.
I now make time for yoga and Pilates. I also stopped pressuring myself to have it all together, all the time. A freshly cooked meal every evening or having a perfectly clean home every day sounds fantastic, but simply not realistic. I have started going out for lunch with friends, or even all alone. If you haven’t done this yet, make it a priority this month! These interruptions in the day are great for breaking up the monotony, which used to lead me to a funk by the end of the evening.
I have also become the affirmation lady, where I talk to myself aloud after dropping the kids off in the morning. Yes, you read that correctly, I do talk to myself by affirming things like, “I will communicate well, speak my mind, think and be positive, and be true to myself.” Saying these words out loud is like making a promise to myself, which I feel I must uphold.
With Brene' Brown on constant replay, and taking in her every word as a lifeline, I must keep in mind that sometimes we can’t do anything and that is ok. Every day is a new day, with another chance. Seize it!
When I am late to my yoga class, my instructor reminds me that it’s okay, because it is great that I made it, no matter how late I sneak in. It’s important that we show up and once we have arrived, give it everything you have. This same thought process relates to our parenting. I had a friend who shared, “Some days we can only keep them alive by feeding and clothing them (referring to our two-year-old boys at the time).”
I realize this rushed life stage will come to an end, and what goes up must come down. Life is a marathon, not a sprint. I could go on forever with phrases like this, but I must remind myself of these sayings to avoid taking myself too seriously and missing out on enjoying the moment. Some days it is easier said than done. I keep reminding myself to go easy on myself and not get upset if all my to-do’s have not been checked off on my list by the time I go to bed. It’s okay and we have to let life be what it is.
So, I leave you with this quote from James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, and remember we are all learning and growing, the important thing is to keep moving forward.
“Life is a series of seasons, and what works in one season may not work in the next. What season are you in right now? What habits does that season require?" - James Clear