When you’ve got nothing left to give

You’ve probably felt that way at some point in your life, whether it was in your role as mom, dad, wife, husband, boss, employee, student…you name it.

Well, I hit that point about a week or so ago. I’ve dragged my husband down with me, too. He’s our rock and puts so much energy into encouraging me to focus on all that is good and into making things easier for me. He’s now exhausted. I don’t blame him.

image

What self-care looks like. Just add wine.

He came home from work early one day last week after a flurry of frustrated texts from me. I was trying to get our son to nap. I know in my head not to push things, so I have to ask myself why I get so frustrated when it doesn’t work? Just let it go. I KNOW THIS. And yet, you get in your head that he will nap, therefore I will nap, and when it doesn’t happen, well, shit.

Upon his arrival and his stern direction that I go take a nap, I melted into an ugly, bawling mess on the floor. I sobbed that I was tired, I was overwhelmed, I was sad. That it was hard to keep up with being the mom I wanted to be. That I couldn’t dream of keeping up with housework. That I felt like I was falling behind in my other job. (Which is a total phallacy. I work with the best team in the world. I can do my work whenever I want, within reason, unless it’s time sensitive. If I need help, they help me. When I emailed saying I was basically having a breakdown and going to a counsellor, one of them did some of my work for me.)

So yeah, I went to counselling that night. I got in fast after a recommendation from one of my dear friends in my mama tribe. She, too, kind of admonished me: why hadn’t I messaged her before and that I could call her any time. I knew that but yet maybe I didn’t or forgot, because I didn’t think to admit to her that I was falling apart until I pretty much hit rock bottom.

I’ve written before about admitting when you’re down to help other moms. I wouldn’t say I have post partum depression, but I wouldn’t say it’s smooth sailing either. What the counsellor thinks is that my cup is empty. That I’m not getting enough Darla time. When she asked me about this, I burst into tears. To be fair, I spent a good chunk of that day crying. While she didn’t say I was ridiculous, she looked at me like I was when I said I enjoyed a nightly bubble bath and yoga once a week.

When I reflected on the session later, I wondered if I cried because I actually need more Darla time, or if it was the perfectionist in me, feeling like I was failing or someone was giving me heck for not being good enough. APB (hubby) says I’m way too hard on myself, that I’m always trying to be the “perfect” mom. I’m smart enough to know there is no such thing as a perfect mom, and I always argue that I’m not trying to be perfect, that I’m just trying to be the mom I want to be. But yeah…If you’re a perfectionist, you’re often striving for the unattainable.

image

We like our jetted baths in this household.

My counselling homework was to come up with things I can do on my own, and honestly, I lost sleep that first night trying to think of things. Which was totally counterproductive to the fact that I’ve been exhausted lately. I have since come up with a couple things (gardening season is right around the corner – hopefully – and maybe punching the ol’ punching bag or adding another yoga class), but I didn’t want to just sign up for something for the sake of signing up for something. Plus, with not knowing a ton of people since moving here a year and a half ago, caregivers out here are somewhat limited.

The other part of my homework was to spend more time with APB. I’ve always thought I checked in with him to make sure we were cool, and he’s never said otherwise, so it was just her suggesting we weren’t. Or that we could end up on a path where we weren’t. When I checked in with some other moms, our lives didn’t seem that different than theirs. It’s for now, it’s not forever. That said, we had a great supper out Friday night while the toddler hung out with Auntie Cathy. Everyone had fun, so we’ll make sure to do this more often.

I’m back to the counsellor on Tuesday, and I’m hoping I’m less of a mess this time so I can be straight with her: your homework stressed me out, and while it doesn’t hurt to add something if I’ll enjoy it or get something out of it, adding something for the sake of it won’t help me. It felt like another task, and lord knows I don’t need another task right now. I agree self-care is important, and I want to set a good example of that to my child, but I’m not going to start taking a dance class if I don’t want to dance.

I’m hoping I’m on the upward of the swing. I’m surrounded by a lot of love: a very supportive husband who is weary but hopefully in a few days will be better; very supportive and helpful parents; lovely friends who care about me; and a beautiful little boy whose smile lights up my heart.

If you feel like garbage, tell someone. Tell a friend, your spouse, a counsellor if need be. No shame in going to see a counsellor: as she told me, everyone should see one at some point in their lives (I’ve gone twice before for work-related stuff!). Heck, tell me. I’ll always listen. Being a mom is hard.

As a wise friend told me, being a mom is tough: the best and worst of times. Those little moments and special people help us through the hard parts. Now time for my nightly bubble bath.

 

 

You are safe, you are loved

I had an epiphany the other night. Two, actually.

First, I was able to take a teaching from yoga class and apply it to my life. It felt somewhat groundbreaking.

I go to yoga weekly and love it. I’ve never been into group fitness classes, but the instructor and energy in the room make me feel so good. It might sound hokey, but I leave feeling like a better person. I’ve even been moved to tears. I like it that much.

Last class our instructor invited us to think about ways in which we are greedy, and proposed that if we always focus on what we don’t have, we’ll miss what’s right in front of us. Something like that: pretty sure she was more eloquent than what I write here.

Fast forward to an evening where I’m nursing my son to sleep on our bed. Usually when I nurse him, I have my phone with me so that once he drifts off, I can go on facebook or Twitter or whatever. For some reason, I didn’t have it with me. I silently cursed myself, trying to figure out how I could get it without waking the baby. Can’t yell to APB! Do I want it badly enough to walk down the stairs while nursing a sleeping baby? No.

Then I get thinking how wouldn’t it be handy and nice if we had a TV in our bedroom so in cases like this, I could sit and watch TV. Not the first time I’ve wished for a second television.

We don’t have a TV and I don’t have my phone, but instead of focusing on that, I tried to be present. And in that moment, wasn’t my life sweet. I was nursing and cuddling my baby in the darkness with the only light coming from the fireplace. My two cats were at my feet. The only sound was my singing.

image It’s dark but there’s a toddler by the fireplace and a dog and cat at the foot of the bed.

For the past few months, I’ve sung a simple, made-up song before naps and bedtime. I usually whisper it because I could never find a tune I liked.

My second epiphany: I finally found the tune. And I sang it over and over and over to my baby boy. It was beautiful. It made me want to stand time still. He’s already technically a toddler. Then he’ll be a little boy. Then a teenager. And then I will positively yearn for those quiet moments in bed by the fireplace, singing a made-up lullaby.

By the way, because I am crazy , I recorded myself singing that song in the hopes I might be able to find the tune on the piano. When I told my husband this, he looked at me and said, I love you. I wasn’t sure how to take that. When I asked if that was because he thought I was crazy or a good mom, he replied, Both.

So it’s true. We can focus on what we don’t have or we can focus on what we DO have, and then we’ll realize what we have is beautiful and more good things will follow.

I can’t wait for next week’s yoga teaching. And I can’t wait to find my song on the piano.

You are safe, you are loved.
Mommy will be with you when you wake up.
Mommy and Daddy both love you very much.

 

 

Contact Me