Sep 10, 2014
My numerous aspirations and expectations and absolutes are a few of my favorite weapons of self-destruction adding to the slow but certain loss of my mind. What’s left is now being eaten away slowly by my toddler and 9-year-old. I am left to spin in circles with the one foot nailed down, drooling like some captured Mommy Zombie groaning, “Brains, brains”. Because these brains are what I seem to be lacking and in need of replacement these days.
My arsenal of self defeat is well stocked with a life time of my weapons of self-destruction. The over used expectometer seems to have me thinking that many things are doable when in fact they really aren’t. Like my recent vacation that wasn’t relaxing because kids + vacation time may not equal that relaxation you equate with a vacation. The booby trap I fall for every time is the concept that I’m super Mom and I’ll be able to accomplish all my household and blog tasks, or those thrown at me by my husband (“Can you go get, go mail, or call blank?”), fulfill the instantaneous needs of my children (she’s fallen and is crying again for the tenth time TODAY), aaannndd take on a DIY project that involves a sewing machine. The expectometer will self destruct in five…four…three…two… Kablewie.
The regular imbibing of tonic water and my Absolutes gets me thinking that before I get to do/enjoy A, I must first be done with B. I can’t… read a book…redecorate that room…or go out with a friend…until I’ve…cleaned the house…balanced the checkbook… or decided what my purpose in life is. There’s contingencies I’m tripping over everywhere. If you did this to a kid, you’d be the meanest parent ever. For real, you would be. You can’t have this until you do that. Eventually the kid concedes he’ll just never get anything because the bar keeps getting moved. And he gives up on him/herself, figuring he/she is no longer worth the struggle.
And then there’s my many many many numerous aspirations. Nothing is wrong with wanting more in one’s life. But when everything you want to do is constantly piled high as the sky on this platter, you end up feeling overwhelmed and under-capable. I’ve got people, projects, and changes that need to happen in my To-Do line up. And my system for scheduling and delegation to even handle the daily tasks sucks. So imagine when you throw all the other ‘change the world’ stuff on top. Then it becomes me who sucks. Dispersed and frustrated, I can never feel like I am getting anywhere.
Lastly, there’s my lack of boundaries. This inability to decide when to say no, who to say no to, and what to toss out of my antiquated lifestyle and system management, leaves me raw. Because there’s just not enough time or energy in the day for all of it. And I fear Mommy’s zombie brain will begin taking others out with her.
I am going to focus on systems now, writing it all down, practice saying no to everyone including myself, and figure out a way to be OK with not being on top of it all always. And if things are unfinished or screwed up, I’m going to practice letting go. Practice makes perfect. And dismantling a well established arsenal takes time.
Oct 12, 2013
I felt frustrated at the way things weren’t going. Why was I not out lunching with my multitude of friends? Why wasn’t I progressing on that project? Why did I have nothing to show for all the work and hours I felt I’d invested in that… writing piece…garden…friendship? It all made me feel bad.
And then I started to think, what was that all about? Why was I expecting people to communicate with me in ways they couldn’t? Or expecting a garden or blog following to grow that I had not cultivated? Why was I so intent on having things a certain way or no way at all? The dead ends were of my construction and my head was beginning to hurt from banging into them.
There’s something I like to refer to as the “point of diminishing returns”. When your total investment plus expectations are not paid back or the effort has outweighed the payback, you need to be done. I am aware that letting go of hope for a change can be extremely hard. Especially in instances like marriage when you value the concept and paper that the union stands on. Having already invested so much, you are unwilling to admit it was never worth it. That was how I felt in my first marriage. But finally, I admitted defeat and left.
Being done can seem like admitting to failure and to being human. Yet cutting your losses can also be the most compassionate thing you can do for yourself, your friend, your career, your siblings, and your marriage partner. A chance to stop expecting stuff they and you can’t deliver. To set all free from unreasonable expectations without blame. To simply say, this isn’t working for me if that is what you have discovered. No blame or shame in that game. It’s life. Perhaps the beginning to the life you’ve not allowed yourself to have thus far.
Sep 4, 2013
What you do for your bosses, husband, and children they’ll come to expect.
I coined this expression when I used to clean houses for a living. I was kind enough to wash and redistribute towels in a client’s bathroom. And the next time I cleaned for her, she was indignant that I’d not done this again. I had never agreed to it as part of my cleaning services to begin with. But somehow, my kindness had turned on me and become an expectation.
Now I am married with children and, at this very moment, I am listening to my little 6 month old red-headed daughter scream and shudder because she thinks I should be retrieving her from her nap. Except, if you’ve napped enough, do you scream? I think not. Death Nap Match of the Fall of 2013 has begun. Rule of thumb is that a well napped child is not screaming and is pleasant to be around. I’m in for the penny and pound as I see this tactic through.
Mother’s have a horribly hard time allowing their children to do things for themselves. And by rushing in, we rob them of many opportunities of creating competency. In this instance, comforting and putting themselves back to sleep. But I could include in this generality, and you’d agree, wiping their butts, cutting up their meat, tying their shoes, and speaking for themselves. Not only will they expect you to continue to do so, they secretly believe you are telling them they’re incapable of doing it themselves. That’s no good.
As for the husband? Save maybe 6 hours, I’ve spent these past 180 days straight with the daughter. He’s panicked at the thought of spending any alone time with the “baby” for fear he’ll do something wrong. She seems to cry when he’s alone with her. If we don’t create the opportunity for them to bond, how will they? It may be a rough ride but they’ll live through it. He’ll create competency and I’ll get some alone time.
Oh, you want to know what happened with the screaming baby? Of course I went and got her. After her hollering for 40 minutes straight, she was getting hoarse with no signs of letting up. I picked her up and held her silently rocking her. And after a few minutes I laid her down to change her and there were no apparent hard feelings from either of us. Her eyes are bleary and it’s as if nothing ever happened. Until next nap time.
Be careful what you choose to do because you and the world, and your child, may expect it of you ever after. We are all entitled to our boundaries, to our needs, and to being proud of them when they learn they can do without us.
Mar 28, 2013
This is a journal entry from the darkness of night, 3/16. Not watching any TV means I am writing more. And doing so very honestly.
“I told myself I was much less anxious than before. But I had to admit today, I am still a little more than a little anxious. Chewing my lip until it’s raw. My nervous tell. The pediatrician reassuring me even though I didn’t ask her to. Irksome. No schedule so no expectations allowed. Except expectations want to sneak in and crash the party. Revelations try to overcome the sneak attacks. Rolling around in my head. Trying to do it right. Fearful that the next thing I eat or do or don’t do will cause me to get less sleep.
And then worrying about what to write. Don’t want to go on and on about baby stuff. More pictures and decorating and random thoughts and recipes. Something other. Not wanting the baby to take over when she already has.”
The next week, I pondered this anxiety and decided, all there was left to do is admit that I’m not in control. At all. And try to do my best and let go of the rest is the only plan that works. And to remember that this is a wonderful life I’m living and this sleep deprivation will pass. Fill that in with whatever misery is currently befalling you. And there will be a next. Day, month year, and this will all be a distant memory you will wish you were still living.
Aug 31, 2012
Today marks five lovely days of back to school bliss for all of us. My husband remarked how he’d not yelled at the child in a couple of days. I’ve yelled but more because the kid’s so distracted with school thoughts or exhaustion at the end of the night, he gets a little talk back-a-tive while not brushing his teeth. This week has been the smoothest calmest uneventful transition into the school year to date. Last year, he came home starving every day, exhausted and fried. He’s a bigger kid now and I am thankful.
I have enjoyed my re-entry into the life I laid down to be the summer cruise director. I never thought about resenting my reassignment, I just did what I needed the best that I could. Because all the while there was a promise of what I was going to get back to accomplishing when summer ended. And I have kept good on my promise to myself.
The boy’s mini version of Daddy’s workbench.
We started to renovate the boy’s room this summer, transforming his former baby room into his big boy room. My husband relented to my pressure to build the desk when he had a spare weekend so I could take over and paint and redecorate. This week I made huge strides with painting the copious amount of woodwork. Seems I left a bit undone the last renovation. Is it ironic I was pregnant then too? And that I plan a tricky paint technique on the wall just like last time as well? You’ll see.
On top of the painting and the general care of the house (laundry, shopping, cleaning), and myself (feed the hungriness, fight the morning sickness, have a seat), I was able to also tackle two other areas that have bugged me beyond my patience for the entire summer.
Summer on the outside of the house means not only dying plants, but spider webs galore and a thick film of filth from pollen and traffic dirt. Not sure what the black brown tarlike spots on the siding near the porch light are but I guess its what’s left of bug dinners. Unable to pull out the power washer myself, I did the best I could to scrub, sweep, and rearrange myself back into a semblance of control.
And upstairs in the guest bedroom, I had just moved the table/desk to stake out a new space to write when the next morning, I found out I was pregnant. That was in early June. Almost two months later, I marched myself back in here today. I began to organize and decorate making a welcoming place to come blog or write. I can either escape from bothersome situations here or walk away and leave my work here, somewhere else besides my living space.
Of course, this room will also serve as the nursery so, at some point, I’ll be rethinking stuff. But for now, I feel like I’ve made more progress in the past five days than I have in three months. And then again, I reset the expect-o-meter for progress in the summer because that’s not what the season is about. Most of us wouldn’t have enough sense to stop. Summer’s supposed to be about relaxing. Which I did a lot. Could even do more. That’s what the holidays are for. Gears are re-shifted because that is natural. I finally get it.
I’ll keep everyone apprised of the projects. Thanks for checking this out as I know you too are busy bees.