So, after a few very hard weeks with the kids, it was decided we’d go away for the weekend to reconnect. Far away from screens, far away from regular routines. A chance to bond, to reingage as a family.
Snapshot of Friday:
Snapshot of Sunday:
Don’t get me wrong, it was a great trip. It just wasn’t easy. By the end of it, we got home, threw our kids onto screens and hid under the bed. Then I made a big noise about having to do the grocery shop and fled to meander around Coles listening to soft music and reading the back of Vitamin jars to pass the time. Would I do it again?
You see, part of the problem was that I wasn’t doing so great myself. Sleep had been evasive for weeks, crying fits were often and my anxiety was climbing. Not keen on running to Valium or that third bottle of wine, I asked my natropath for something calm my nerves. The naturopath gave me a lovely smile (as I rocked back and forth on the floor), and promptly prescribes me a tonic of kava and a bunch of other stuff you find in a great product called NeuroCalm. Some of my anxiety was because our PDA boy was going through a low-tolerance phase. As my parenting style is to use humour, things were difficult due to my own short fuse. So time with him felt like a wobbly tight-rope walk between grudging compliance and complete insanity.
Come Monday, I woke up and knew that today, things would turn around for me. The Husband had to lurch off to work at an ungodly hour of 6am, but I would be cool and calm. I would do yoga stretches and listen to calming music. Hey, I had kava, man.
Of course, by 7.45am, I’d realised several things: it was The Husband’s birthday and I hadn’t prepared anything, the kids were only half-dressed for school and there was no bread for lunches. With the Mission Impossible theme playing in my ears, I swung into action. Throwing the boys into the car along with their clothes, I gave them the option of going to school naked or dressed. Then I bundled up the butter, vegemite and peanut butter, and roared off to the local bakery. One loaf of bread later, I arrived at the school, ten minutes to spare.
Pulling over, I then commenced MacGyver-style sandwich making in the boot. Naturally I was the only car on the street and a giant street sweeper truck was stalking me. I told myself I was calm, calm, calm, as I slapped peanut butter onto bread and tried to ignore the roar of the oncoming truck. I was not moving. Not for him. Not for anyone. I had sandwiches to make, buddy. Go clean somewhere else. Meanwhile, the kids are freaking out about the noise and I was three seconds away from being arrested for assulting a Council truck with a jar of peanut butter. But it’s okay. Everything was fine.
I arrived at school, victorious, and thrust my children upon the teachers. They, being the lovely people they are, ask how my weekend was.
But I digress. Monday night, the Husband, who already knew I wasn’t doing so great, left work early to pick up the kids. He did extra things around the house to help out. Offered to make dinner and clean up. He put the kids to bed and then checked what movie I wanted to watch (all on his birthday). And no, I will not hire him out. That kind of support and understanding is so essential to me crawling my way back to Coping Land.
After actually sleeping last night, I’m feeling a little more calm this morning. It may last, it may not. But being aware of my own spiral of crazy is helpful, because if I’m not functioning right, I find it difficult to parent properly. I know I need to cut out alcohol, because it swings my mood. I need sleep. I need rest. I need music. I need to talk to friends. I need cuddles GODAMMIT.
When I’m in my own low-tolerance phase, I need to lower my expectations of myself. That does not mean going to work with no pants, but rather, letting some things slide. Dishes not washed? Meh. Kids homework not done? Meh. Dinner tonight? Pizza, baby.
I think it’s hard to be nice to yourself, even if you’re not a parent. Social expectations tend to be everywhere and they can be exhausting. It’s hard to cut out the chatter in your head of what you should be doing and achieving. Slather that with a topping of anxiety and you’ve got a pretty crappy cake to eat there. To anyone else on the slide of UGH, I give you a mental high-five and cheerleader shout that you are AMAZING! Even when you think you aren’t.