Before I had my daughter I thought I could handle a lot going on at once. I managed a full-time job, often worked on various freelance side projects, volunteered for professional organizations and whatnot. I had a social life and my husband and I used to do fun things together on a regular basis. It wasn’t that I never felt stressed or rundown. I just seemed to be able to push through it better than I can now. Before my daughter was born, I figured, given my experience with juggling a bunch of things, that I would be able to handle the additional juggling that comes with motherhood. Give up a thing, add a thing. Ha, what a naïve fool I was on that score.
Too many times, between work, home, oh hell, everything, it all feels like so much. When did managing life become so overwhelming? I try really hard not to be frustrated at myself, but I can’t help it. The more I think about what I need to do and can’t seem to do (or do as well as I wish I could), the less I seem able to do and consequently, the worse I feel. It's a nasty, vicious cycle.
It is these times when I least want to, that I have to remember to go and play. Somehow, by thinking about anything other than what stresses you out, it makes the molehill feel less like a mountain. Whether it's drinks with a friend, a date night with my husband, or an impromptu tea party on the lawn with my daughter, I need more fun. Rather, I need to make more time for fun.
Last week, I had an “it’s all too much day”. I had gotten back from a work trip the night before. Three 12+ hour days plus travel had left me wiped. I woke up at 5 a.m. that morning to get some work done and had been going all day. I was hitting a wall.
I picked my daughter up from daycare and after dinner, she wanted to play. I had no energy and there was no option to rent a sibling for an hour to divert her attention. My stomach was in knots from stress. All I wanted to do was sit on the couch or go to bed. She was having none of it.
I agreed to go to a nearby playground with her to play soccer. Not sure where I was going to conjure up the ability to do this, I hoped for the best. Then, out there in the fresh air, away from my phone and laptop, and my thoughts, I started to feel better. We played for over an hour and my head felt clearer than it had in days. The heaviness of that stress and anxiety fell away. I had fun with her. I laughed with her. I didn’t think about any of the petty stuff that had made me feel so rundown. I was so glad she pulled me up off the couch.
Sometimes, I get so caught up in my “to do”, or better yet, “not done” list. The more I think about it, the more I feel tired, overwhelmed, and drained. Things that are small in the scheme of things, like working so hard to finish a mountain of laundry, or straightening up the house, only to see another pile of laundry and disarray a day later, just makes you feel defeated.
The thing is, that whether it’s a good day or bad day, I have to remember that these times, like everything in life, are ephemeral. Though it’s not always easy, I need to realize that the days of chasing a child around the house and begging her to put on clothes, or wondering how unacceptable it would be to bring her to daycare in a nightgown, will quickly dissolve into days when the house will be quiet. If I’m being honest, most of the things that cause me stress, are just fleeting problems, not worth the energy I put into them. Not that they feel that way in the moment, but with some perspective, it’s the truth.
Yes, it all get done, really. The dishes, the project at work, the doctor’s appointments, and so on. Trying to keep the molehill from becoming a mountain, and most of all, making more room for fun, is something I am still trying to be better about. I’ve never been patient with myself, or patient with anything, but I am trying.
I will still have days when it all feels like too much. I will be frustrated. I will be human. But, I will also try harder to remember that when you feel the worst, that’s when you need fun the most. Soccer, anyone?