Hitting the Reset Button
My kids are with me a lot, which isn’t really a new thing since I was married to someone who traveled frequently for work, but it’s much more pronounced since the divorce.
Even though I work full-time (sometimes more), it’s every breakfast, every dinner, and every bedtime, save two weekends a month where I get a little chance to reboot and reset. But sometimes that’s not even enough.
For a restless person, the routine of parenting can be exhausting. And not just physically.
Maybe my childhood, which was spent traveling the globe, is to blame. Or perhaps it’s my post-college years that are guilty, my roaming of the midwest and then the deep south, until finally establishing some roots (albeit shallow ones) contributing to my need for a change in scenery, even if it’s just no waffles again for breakfast. Please.
With children, there’s really no escaping monotony because they thrive on the expected and the planned, and so as a force of nature and really, due to a desire to survive with the smallest amount of outbursts, tantrums, and thrown objects, I’ve buckled myself down, happily I should add, because my need to flit in and out of cities and places and situations is diminished by my desire to raise happy, healthy kids.
Oh my god I’m a grown-up!
And as much as I love every single bit of them, even the part of them that throws a mango across the room because it’s not ripe yet, I need to breathe. And not just for my sake. It’s for my kids, too.
The “I HATE YOU, MOM [mean angry face]” drawing on my bedroom wall sort of tipped me off.
Thanks for using pencil at least, kid.
Then my 3-year old reminded me that she loves me “vewy much” even though sometimes I yell and am a little mean.
Maybe you shouldn’t dump the maple syrup all over the floor, sweet child.
And between work and relationships (or lack thereof) and hormones, well I don’t really want to be around me either.
I liken the constant state of being “on” as a parent to a stage performance where all your energy is pushed into being a certain way so much so that when you walk into the wings and into your dressing room you collapse into a ball wondering why you’re so freaking tired when all you did was smile, point, and deliver a few lines. You power through no matter your mood, your level of exhaustion, your overall state of being because these little people depend on you.
I’m folding clothes and making dinner and doing dishes, which doesn’t seem like it should be tiring at all until you realize that you are always on: the pillar of normalcy, the container of all the feelings — so many feelings — and the one who needs to keep her crap together.
I am the starting pitcher and the closer, without a relief for most games. At some point, my arm needs to rest. I’m not helping the team being left in the game, balls flying out of the park with no chance of being caught.
I’ve decided I can either beat myself up for being human, or put systems in place to give myself breaks, which yes, for me come in my ex’s visitation weekends but also, and probably more importantly, during my time with the kids, a lesson every parent needs to learn.
So without guilt or self-deprecation (because that’s the hard part, right?), it’s turning off the phone and computer and letting the work emails wait until morning. It’s hitting the gym even if it’s only for 30 minutes.
It’s getting that manicure that you could do for yourself but why not have some nice person massaging your hand force you to sit still?
We’re parents not droids, after all. And we all need our buckets full so that we can continue to fill all the little buckets in our care.