Is it just me, or when things are going smoothly, do you take on a lot more and say yes a lot more?
And then, when it stops going so smoothly, you ask, “What the $@%& have I done?!”
That was me this morning. Really, the spiral started yesterday. A week prior, I had planned a playdate for yesterday morning. Then I had to cancel it because a staff meeting was called. We haven’t had one in months, and we have two new people on the team, so I didn’t think it was right to say I was busy. Then I had to email them all to say I might be MIA anyway because someone was coming to look at our furnace because, oh by the way, we’ve had no furnace (heat!) all weekend. Turns out he was gone before the meeting started, so I logged in, but no one was there. After waiting a few minutes, I said forget it, and went back to looking for a photo I’d taken years ago of a moose (context: I’m a web/social media editor in my paid job, and needed to photo for a story about outfitting).
Cue this morning. My Facebook post sums it up best, really. Mind the swearing:
For those not familiar, CJ’s is an indoor playground that serves crinkly fries and the coffee is always hot and kids can run around gleefully and play. In other words, heaven.
The microwaved coffee with the uneaten oatmeal I never did finish.
It’s times like these where I begin to doubt myself: when am I really going to have the time and energy to support other moms? What have I done? What am I doing?!
And then I listen to my husband’s voice in my head. When I start to spiral and get stressed, he asks me, “If a mom came to you with your concerns, what would you say to her?”
So, imaginary mom who is actually me and some days likely also you, here’s what I’d say to you:
- Narrow your focus (I’m quoting my husband again here). Don’t worry about things that are far off in the future. Focus on right now. What needs to be done right in this moment Which leads me to my next point…
- What really needs to be done right now? Can any of it wait? In addition to sometimes taking on too much stuff, we place unrealistic expectations on ourselves. Let go of those. Let go of the laundry and the dishes in the sink and the floors that need sweeping (seriously, who sweeps floors? Not me…and we have a dog and two cats…). All of that stuff can wait. (I know it can be hard because mess can also stress me out, but in the words of Frozen, Let it goooooooooo.) Speaking of which…
- Order takeout. If you’re overwhelmed, forget trying to be Betty Crocker. Order takeout that your spouse can pick up on the way home or you can have delivered. If ever there was a day you deserve takeout, it’s when you’re stressed. Also…
- Ask for help. Now, I have to admit, outside of my mom, I can be bad for this, too. I have a neighbour who keeps hoping for grandchildren. I have no doubt if I texted her and asked her to come over and play with my boy while I hammered out some work, she’d be over if she was free. I’m vowing to step outside of my comfort zone and text her next time I feel alone and overwhelmed. I hope you will do the same. A great idea is to invite a mommy friend over. She and the babies/toddlers can hang out while you do what you gotta do. Or maybe you just want the company. It helps to know you’re not alone.
- Know that you’re a great mom. Tell yourself this. If you don’t believe it, text a friend about your day, knowing she will tell you you’re an awesome mom. We are the queens of multi-tasking. We are warriors. Sometimes warriors cry and fall down, but we never break. We keep on keepin’ on because we are moms. You got this.
I never did change my shirt. It still has oatmeal on it that I never finished eating. I may have cried when my husband brought me supper. I am still not done the freelance article, there are more stories I could post to the web and social media in my paid job, and I don’t remember what day I washed my hair.
But I got this, just like you got this, and maybe “What have I done?” is actually “I’m doing it!”
That’s what I would tell you, imaginary mom coming to me feeling overwhelmed. And I’d make you a fresh, non-microwaved cup of coffee or tea and give you a hug to go with it. You got this. And so do I.
How we ended the day: checking out the fire trucks at the fire hall open house!
I actually really like Christmas. I strangely look forward to the snow, partly because this year it meant I could let the dogs run freely in the backyard (welcome to dog shit hill!), thus making my life easier. But I also find the snow pretty. And I like Christmas music and spending time with friends and family. It’s always been a happy season for me.
I know for some it’s not. I also know it comes with a lot of stress and expectations because this year I’m feeling those.
Now, it might also be sleep deprivation, but I lost my shit in a bawling, hot mess on the weekend. I was feeling overwhelmed by the pressures of a part-time work-from-home job combined with being a full-time mama. It’s probably a post for another time. Regardless, APB reminded me that while I kept repeating, “I can’t do it,” that I’m in fact doing it every day, and that the pressure is from me and what I put on myself as a perfectionist (also probably another blog post).
Cub seems to like Christmas. He's already started opening gifts.
I recently read a good post from another mama’s blog about reframing stress, so instead of allowing work to overwhelm me, being grateful I’m at the point in my career where I can have a job I enjoy and from home, allowing me to spend as much time as possible with my boy. It’s a goal I’ve achieved and should be proud and happy.
However, in addition to reframing, sometimes you need to let shit go. I’ve been trying to practice this since last week’s yoga practice, where we thought the words “let” and “go” in time to our breath. I try this when I find myself getting frustrated as a parent.
So, in the spirit of the season, here is how I’m going to let go this Christmas:
Gifts. APB told me I don’t have to buy him a gift. I feel like a shitty wife, but I’m going to listen. When I find something, whether in January or June, I’ll buy it. Normally I also make sure there are gifts from APB’s kids to their grandparents, even if it’s just new pictures. Not this year. Again, it might make me a shitty stepmom or daughter or daughter-in-law, but I’ve got to let go somewhere. Each grandparent has a gift from us, as do APB’s kids. Good enough.
I’m worried friends are getting us gifts. I haven’t decided if that means I will get them something as well. I have time to decide and shop if need be.
Cards and letters. I love receiving these, so thank you for sending them. Last year, since we moved a month before Christmas, I sent valentines. This year, it will likely be New Year’s. I threw together a quick letter when I met some friends for lunch. It might just be our Christmas letter because it’s not worth stressing over.
Work. Now obviously I have to keep working because colleagues rely on me to get the job done and my family relies on me for the income. But I’m going to really try to stop freaking about it. It gets done. My boss is happy. I’ve been trying to work extra and bank time so as to be off more at Christmas. I’m going to let that go, too. If it works, great. If not, not the end of the world.
Get-togethers. This one is admittedly meant more for next year. But we do a Christian with APB’s daughter and the grandparents before Christmas and then we also celebrate Christmas. It’s a lot and it’s tiring. I think next year we’ll just say, come here, everyone, during such and such time on this day. There’s such a thing as too much Christmas. We’ve always tried to make it work for everyone but moving forward we need to think more about making it work for us.
Further to get-togethers. When people come, they are getting something I threw, albeit lovingly, into a crockpot or pizza. Our meals will taste good but won’t be Pinterest or Instagram worthy. That’s not really what it’s about anyway.
This blog. Did I mention I am my own worst enemy and put pressure on myself? I think of stuff I could write all the time but I ask myself, do people really want to read that?! Do you care that my son is slowly trying to kill me with night wakings? I figure no. I also don’t want to open myself up to advice, well-meaning or otherwise. I started this blog in part to document my parenting journey, so I may just share less posts if they are about my sleep deprivation. But I hope you’ll keep reading if you enjoy them. I’ll be sure to share what I think are the best ones.
Now. I say all this but I have to actually do it. As I said, it’s hard when you’re about perfectionist but I’m going to do my best to let it go. Perhaps I’ll do a follow-up post in January to let you know…or not! Promising that sounds like more pressure, no?!
By the way….The only reason I have Christmas decorations or beautifully-wrapped gifts under our tree is my mom. She has done 99% of our decorating. Bless her.
Merry Christmas to you, and thanks for reading. It means a lot.