Kinder Krazy

Starting kindergarten is no joke, you guys.

Because the start time for our school is so ungodly early, we’ve had to shove our whole schedule about an hour earlier in every respect: bedtime, waking up, getting to school, pick up, snack, dinner, rinse, repeat. In theory, this shouldn’t be so hard, one might think. Surely everything would fall into place after a few days, one might think.

One might think wrong.

Because then there’s all them special activities that go along with the start of another school year, like the PTA welcome schmoozy guilt trip, orientation nightmare, back to school gang bang, etc.

And THEN there’s all the early release days that I have to remember and holidays and teacher work days that I can’t for the life of me remember what day it is or what calendar it’s on (school calendar? district? PTA?) or which way is up or which part of my life is on fire.

Also, take all of this junk and double it, because my little one just started preschool (#hallelujah), so now I’ve got twice the pick up times, teacher work days, and gang bangs…at two different schools…in two different cities…in two different districts.

The kids haven’t even really gotten started in extracurricular activities, and already I don’t know how to fit everything in (that’s what she said). The biggest issue is dinner. See, my husband is the chef in this house (thankyouthankyou), because if it were up to me we’d have an alternating menu of gourmet PB&Js with a side of shutthehellup or five star ramen topped with idon’tcarewhatyouthink-eatit. Before the start of kinder, my husband would usually breeze home from work around 4:45pm and have about an hour to cook a pretty kickass meal that I’d love and my kids would tolerate. My kids are the slowest and whiniest eaters on this green earth, so sometimes they’d take an hour to put a minimally accepted amount of frickin nutrition in their bodies, but that was mostly ok. If dinner was on time, even if they took an hour to eat, they’d still have 15 minutes to play before it was upstairs for bed and lights out at 8pm.

But now…Now, there’s almost no time for my husband to scrape something edible together so we can start the screaming eating process by 5:30pm, so we can start the bedtime nightmare at 6:15, for zero extra playtime and lights out at 7pm.

It’s weird, but I find myself looking forward to a time when my kids don’t need 12 hours of downtime in a day in order to not be complete miscreants.

And that’s just the evening junk. On the days my little one goes to school, I have an hour wait time between one drop off and the next. What the heck am I supposed to do with that, besides get a refill on my vehicle’s built-in vodka cooler?

I’m also looking forward to the time when I’m more aware of what day it is.

Perhaps ignorance is bliss in this case, as one might think.

 

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Preschool Must Think I’m a Hobo

My family, we’re not morning people.

Mornings are filled with grumbling and swearing and yelling and coffee and more yelling and sometimes tears. Eventually, we get pants on our asses and food in our tummies and we get strapped into the car to get to preschool about 5-10 minutes late every goddamn day.

I’ve tried different shortcuts, different mom hacks along the way to try and make it to preschool on time. I’ve tried setting my alarm earlier – didn’t work out really well because I’m in an abusive relationship with my snooze button. Long ago I stopped trying to put on makeup or do anything beyond getting dressed, washing face, and brushing hair. I get breakfast ready with machine-like efficiency. Cereal, milk, pouches, DONE. For a while I tried running out the door without brushing my teeth or doing mouthwash, convincing myself that I’d just do it when I got back home…and that rarely happened. I realized I was getting to the end of the day and there was fuzz growing in my mouth. Yuck. Plus, we were still arriving late.

The solution? I started bringing my mouth hygiene items along with me in the car! We’d rush out the door, drop off my son, and then I’d spend the 3.5 minutes in the parking lot brushing my teeth and mouth-washing. This, ladies and maybe two gentlemen who read this, was brilliant. Finally, I could do it all! I became evermore the Supermom, and my car the invisible jet.

…Except, we weren’t invisible. While I felt like a strapping, young backpacker going on an adventure through the wilderness of motherhood, I realized what I must have looked like to the other moms rolling up late with their kids, and to the preschool teachers who could clearly see me spitting into the parking lot bushes.

That’s right. I was barely dressed, still showing up late, standing in a parking lot and hunched over the shrubbery with white foam coming out of my mouth. I looked like a hobo. A hobo with great dental hygiene (or maybe a mild case of rabies), but still.

Over time, as my kids became more and more able to put their pants on by themselves, I was able to carve out time to brush my teeth at home again, and I figured this was it. Life was on the upswing, you guys. Everything’s coming up Milhouse!

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And then my youngest started potty training. If you remember from previous episodes, she rocked it, but having her diaper-free meant that I had to cart around her little potty to avoid accidents. We brought the potty to the park. The potty comes with us on beach trips. And oh yes, you bet your mama wine sippy cup that it comes with us to preschool drop off and pick up.

So now I’m also the mom in the school parking lot whose kid is dropping trou and I’m discreetly pouring out the liquid waste if we don’t have time to make it to a real potty. (I also added another hairbrush to the center console because I can never manage to brush my daughter’s rat nest hair before we get out the door. Sigh.)

With all the teeth/hair brushes, potty, and wipes, my car is basically a rolling bathroom, you guys. It already smells like shit, might as well lean in to the stink (can I trademark that phrase?). I don’t know how other moms do it, but, all outside judgement aside, this seems to be working for us moderately well. Basically, I’ve lost all sense of shame. At this point, I might as well set up my own tent.

Who wants s’mores, y’all?

Feelings are having me

We’ve slowly been removing baby things from our living room area.

Before my second kid was born, we had a play kitchen and 273545585 pieces of play food just off the dining area, in an effort to get my kid out of the real kitchen but still feel like a part of the action. I got freaking sick of picking up said pieces of play food, and when I was pregnant with my second, “picking up” meant kicking them across the room into one big pile so I could yell at my husband to PICK THOSE UP the second he got home from work.

That was moved to the playroom many moons ago.

We used to have this colorful foam mat that fit together like puzzle pieces. We got it to save our kids’ noggins from smashing open on our laminate flooring while they were learning to be upright. While it did that, it also served as a thing for my kids to rip apart, chew, throw, and hide. My cat threw up on it. My oldest kid peed all over it during potty training. At that point I rinsed off the pee pieces and threw everything in the closet in a tearful hormonal rage (read: pregnancy).

We actually sold that (I cleaned it. A lot.) for real money. It’s gone.

We had this huge bouncy seat thing in the living room, too. When it was in use, it was SO LOUD, but it did its job of keeping each of my pre-mobile babies content for exactly 20 minutes (no more, no less) while I prepared and scarfed down my own lunch before I had to feed them.

Sold that too. Boom.

Since before our kids were born, we’ve always had a Pack N Play set up in our living room. It served as a diaper changing station, and it held loads of crap. Cloth diapers, disposable diapers, wipes, butt paste…and in the bottom: baby carriers, swim stuff, shoes, etc. etc. etc. In between kids’ diaper needs, my oldest napped in it, we took it camping, it even made a trip to the beach.

Since we don’t need a diaper station anymore because my daughter is a potty training ROCKSTAR, we took it down this weekend. I emptied it, found homes for all the random stuff, threw some stuff away, cleaned some stuff, and we….packed up the Pack N Play. It’s been a fixture in our home ever since we moved in. You can actually see our fireplace now; I think I forgot we had one. My son immediately wanted it back. He’s never known this house without it.

My husband looked over and saw me standing over the Pack N Play pieces and the still-full diaper caddy.

H: Hey Lady (He calls me Lady.)

Me, blinking away the tears: …y-yeah?

H: You gonna put this stuff away?

Me: Well, I don’t know what to do with it! Do we keep it? Throw it away? Sell it? Give it away? Do we need wipes anymore? Will our kids have any accidents? I haven’t changed a poopy diaper in weeks! WHAT IF I’VE CHANGED MY LAST POOPY DIAPER AND I DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS MY LAST?!?!?!

H: …we’ll keep some wipes for now. Let’s throw away the expired butt cre-

Me: NO!! BUT WHAT IF WE NEED IT?!

H: Just put it all upstairs.

Clearly, I’m just having all the feels about it. I wiped down the changing pad where my boy peed all over himself countless times. One time he pooped mid-change on himself. And me. And the floor. And I miss it. You know.

I remember putting my son in that thing right after lunches so that I could clean the frickin floor before he crawled through all the food he had just thrown down from his high chair.

After a while, we stored the kids’ shoes in there and they ran to grab them when it was time to leave the house.

Now it’s all in the closet.

My kids are growing up. They are taking huge steps out of the baby phase and it’s becoming real.

I’m sure you all know what I’m going to say next. On one hand, I am crazy excited. I can SMELL the increasing freedom and I wants more of it. The baby phase was HARD and I didn’t feel like myself and it was hard. And yet.

I find myself trying to drink my kids in a little more lately. They aren’t going to be so little and cute for very much longer, and I wish I could bottle it up. I sneak up and stare at them when they’re playing quietly. I smell their clothes right after they take them off, especially after yummy, sweaty, toddler sleep. I hug them whenever they let me, holding on just a little longer than is comfortable (for them, certainly not me). I need to make sure my kids never find out how to file for a restraining order.

Crap, I’d better stop now. You get the idea. Yay for having an actual living room! Yay for my kids growing up and becoming amazing human beings.

SOB.

 

Adventures in Potty Training

I’ve been changing and spraying and washing and folding cloth diapers for over FOUR YEARS now.

Dear lord.

I just started potty training my youngest, and truth be told, I was still shell-shocked from the experience of potty training my first. I can remember it like it was yesterday… long story, but in my infinite wisdom, I decided to start potty training my first on November 9, 2016. Anyone remember that day? That’s right, it was the day after #45 became our Toddler-in-Chief. Unfortunately, it had to be around that day. We had gone on a road trip in October, we had a goodbye party to go to on November 8, aaaaaand I wanted him mostly potty trained before his baby sister came right around Christmas. I was running out of time to get the job done and the clock was ticking. Besides, I honestly thought we’d be celebrating the fact that my daughter would be born into a world where she’d be able to take for granted that a woman could lead the free world and do it like a badass.

Instead, I was elbow deep in piss and shit. Literally and metaphorically. That first day, my kid peed all over the house and pooped on the floor once. I could barely keep up trying to clean up all the mess, and I was a crying pregnant mess myself. We didn’t leave the house for 4 days. We didn’t go somewhere that wasn’t a park for a few weeks. Looking back, it took him over a year before he was completely, truly accident free.

So, you can see why I didn’t particularly feel like going through all that again.

And yet.

Being a mom has taught me, among other things, that my kids will continually surprise me and to always have low expectations.

This time, I was ready. I scheduled the potty training to commence on a Saturday, when my babydaddy would be home to help (why I didn’t do this the first time around, I have no freaking clue). We rolled up the area rug. I borrowed a box of those puppy pee pads to line the carpeted areas of my house. We had our hazmat suits on and wine chilling in the fridge. My baby girl protested having her diapers taken away at first. She had a few tiny accidents, but then held it and ran for the potty. We celebrated so exuberantly that she even ran back to the potty after going and tried to squeeze out a few drops so that we could celebrate again.

It’s been over a week now and I’ve been blown away by how freaking amazing my daughter is. We’ve gone out, we went to the library, we took a long car ride. Life has largely gone back to normal and I am SO THANKFUL. I never knew potty training could be this way, you guys. Everyone who said, “I dunno…my kid just got it,” I quietly hated you and disbelieved you. And now I’m reminded that each kid is just different. Also, no need to remind me not to count my chickens. Toddlers are wily, and I realize that she can always turn the tables and decide she’d like to make my life a living hell.

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We potty at the park, yo.

But for now…I do not miss washing those damn diapers, and I am super thankful that, at least so far, this whole ordeal is turning out to be way easier than I thought!

Motherhood has ruined me; I’m now comparing myself to butter.

I’m going to take this time and do some complaining.

I’ve been in a funk the past two days and maybe this will help. Maybe it won’t. But let’s try anyway, shall we?

Before I get started, I’d like to remind the internet that it’s possible, even normal, to possess two or more emotions at once. Yes, I’m complaining. I’m frustrated, I’m sad, I’m mad, I’m exhausted. That doesn’t also mean that I’m not (hashtag) grateful, full of joy, happy, fulfilled, etc. Moms get to complain sometimes and that doesn’t mean that I hate my kids. Not all the time, anyway.

I feel like motherhood hath turned me into a monster. I’m constantly cranky. I’m irritable. I’m so tired. Even when I get enough sleep, I’m tired. I’m drained. I’m so burned out. (burnt?) If this were a normal paying job, I’d be preparing my resume, putting in my two weeks.

I feel so used up.

You know how I (along with every other good therapist you’ll meet) preach about filling one’s bucket? It’s really hard when your bucket has a hole in it. Dear Liza.

I yell at everyone. All the time. I yell at my kids. I yell at my cat. When he gets home, I yell at my husband. I yell at myself. In my head. All day long.

I no longer have patience, or strength, to argue with a 4 year old about why he needs to PUT ON HIS FUCKING SHOES or EAT HIS GODDAMN DINNER. Instead of doing what I ask, he slumps to the floor in a pile of snot, tears, and belligerent evil. And then I have a hard time comforting him because IT’S TIME TO GO AND HE NEEDS HIS SHOES ON YESTERDAY.

I’m not myself. Anyone who has met me after having kids doesn’t really know me. I’m fun. I’m funny. I used to be a heck of a lot more carefree. Sure, I’m Type A, but now my borderline OCD has jumped the shark and I’m batshit cray. Case in point, I’ve Marie Kondoed my entire house and now I don’t know what to do with myself. Is she hiring? Moving to Japan sounds great right now.

I’m done being tied down by my kids. By this, I mean I want to schedule a yoga class whenever the fuck I want, without having to check with my husband to make sure someone is home keeping the kids alive. Oh yeah, I’m also done being a mom with no family around for hundreds of miles, who could theoretically swoop in and help me when I had a yoga-conflicting schedule. I’m thirdly done with not having piles of money to hire babysitters any time I’d like a break, which is all the time.

None of my clothes fit. Sure, my body isn’t quite where I want it to be, but that’s not the point. I don’t have clothes that fit the body I have at this moment. I pull and tug and complain and feel self-conscious. Like I have the money or the time to shop and own the clothes that would make me feel good about myself.

My body is falling apart. Pregnancy has mashed my internal organs around so much that I’m left with these odd GI symptoms that my doctor and I are trying to figure out what species of demon is lodged in there. My abdominal muscles have separated. I may or may not have some kind of food intolerance that never existed before. My eyesight is swirling down the toilet. I’m still having skin breakouts like I’m either pregnant or 13 years old (or both) and I’m so over this shit.

On one hand, I’m super motivated to get all this junk in check. Notice my anxiety wasn’t on the list of gripes above? Holy crap, for the time being it hasn’t been bothering me. Let’s all knock on some motherfucking wood together please. I went to therapy, I see my doctor, I make time for yoga, I try to run sometimes, I get out and see my friends. I shower, I read. I nap. Heck, I nap almost half the days just to get myself through them. I don’t have a choice, really. I’ve been Marie Kondoing because the act of organizing and the state of my house once it’s in order make me feel at peace. I get so much satisfaction from being able to control my surroundings and make them pretty. Ordered. Predictable. Accessible. Mine. In my world where so much is out of my control (especially two out-of-control toddlers), highlighting what I can control is super important to me.

But I digress. The point is that I’ve been working very hard on self care, especially these last two years.

I see progress in bits and pieces. I see how my job description is changing, little by little. Often, I don’t have to wipe the floor after breakfast anymore. My 4 year old goes to the bathroom completely on his own at the library. Like, I don’t even go in there with him anymore. Weeeird. My 2 year old puts on her own clothes. Really?! All these tiny reminders that as they claim more independence for themselves, I get more of my life back.

But man, it’s not enough. It’s never enough.

Irritability is always there for me when I get back from whatever little break I just had. Also, whatever motivation I get in little spurts gets quickly doused by the antics of my adorable children. I’d love to run and do yoga every day and get super fit (I just read that back and laughed. never would I “love to run,” like ever. but you know what I mean), but I can’t because my kids make getting out of the house feel like climbing a mountain. I’d love to open an Etsy store and paint one canvas every day, build some inventory. But there’s no way, at least not right now. I don’t have the energy, or I don’t have it consistently. I survive on a day-to-day and sometimes hour-to-hour basis. I do what I can, when I can. (like right now, writing this blog post. zing.)

I’m not sure how to end this. Should I try to end this on a positive note? I don’t really feel like it. This is where I’m at.

A quote from Lord of the Rings comes to mind:

“I feel thin. Stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”

 

Learning How to Sail My Ship

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One of my good friends sent me this card a while ago. It was shortly after my second kid was born and I had posted something about how hard the adjustment was. The card was unexpected, and I remember sitting in my car after opening the envelope and having a little cathartic cry.

As you can see, the card lives right behind my bathroom sink. I’ve been staring at it at least twice a day for about a year and a half. It’s probably pretty gross by now, with toothpaste and makeup and germs.

The quote on the card says, “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” I didn’t believe it for a very long time. I couldn’t say it in the first person, where “I” was in my voice. There are some days when I don’t feel the fear, when I feel rested and calm and confident. But heck, there are plllllenty of days when the fear is there and I’m worried that I won’t ever be able to shake it.

Tangent: I took this picture last July, when I was experiencing a great break from anxiety. And that’s what it was, looking back – a break – and not some triumphant ending to a horrible story. I keep expecting to reach some kind of finish line with this junk. I really want future me to pop in and let me know just how long this phase of semi-anxiety-ridden life is going to last…or will it never leave?! The not knowing sucks, and I’m still trying to make peace with that and take things day by day. Ugh.

Back to the card. I never had any issue identifying with the second part. Absolutely, I am learning. I’m always learning. I like learning. Yup. But that first part…somehow I felt like my goal should be about abolishing my fear, getting rid of my anxiety, and so every time it’s come back over the last year and a half, I’ve felt…disappointed, sad, scared, and full of shame.

I am reminded about a conversation I had with a friend about that one TV show Running Wild with Bear Grylls. She commented about how scared one of the female guests had been on the show, with the implication that her fear was something undesirable or weak. My response to her was that yeah, she had been scared out of her mind, but she still did it, and she was badass. And that’s the definition of courage, anyway right? It’s not about the absence of fear, it’s about feeling fear and doing it anyway. Honestly, a large portion of my life has been that way.

And so. I feel like I need to change the card a little bit. Maybe something like, “I am afraid of storms sometimes [or most of the time. lots. like, maybe almost all the time], but I’m learning how to sail my ship…right through them.”

PS – I’ve used the terms fear and anxiety interchangeably in the post because of the wording of the card, but in my reality they mean very different things.

PPS – Please excuse the product placement. Or maybe don’t. Perhaps Aveeno would be willing to sponsor this post. Call me! Pay for my anxiety meds!

Wake me up when September ends

Fall has hit me like a pile of bricks.

I was worried that it would feel like this, and I found myself bracing for it as our Hawaiian vacation came to an end last week.

In more ways than one (and especially in hindsight), our vacation became this paradise compared to the slog of everyday life here in Oregon.

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We had been in gorgeous weather. Delicious warmth, invigorating ocean breeze, and humidity that I actually welcomed. We stepped off the plane in Portland and it was frigid and drizzly. Ugh, welcome home.

On vacation, my husband was right there with me, making decisions and plans, helping to clean up messes and deal with meltdowns. We went to bed at the same time and we got up at the same time and we had quality family time and we had fun. When we got home, we went straight into the Fall routine. By the time I got up in the morning, my husband had already left for work. I was alone to draaaaag the kids out of bed, convince my older one to get dressed, and beg them both to PLEASE EAT BREAKFAST. I was yelling and pleading before we even left the house for school. On top of it all, I was exhausted and frankly mourning the loss of summer and dreading the coming winter months.

Another piece to this is that I terminated therapy this past week. (That’s the clinical term – termination. I don’t like it; it feels extremely violent for just describing a goodbye and an end to treatment.) This was a planned termination, and it was good, albeit bittersweet. I could sense that we were at a stopping point for some time now, as I had started to come to session and just tell stories about my week. Holy cow, somehow over a year in therapy had passed and I had actually accomplished what I had set out to do. My anxiety has been reduced, not eliminated but reduced. The unexpected work became more about accepting that anxiety is normal and not to let its presence completely derail my daily life. I’m proud of the work that I did, and I am happy to have met and worked with my awesome therapist. The bitter part is twofold: now I find myself mourning the relationship and the placeholder that sessions had been for me. They were an oasis of calm in my week, and they provided a guaranteed break from my kids and partner. Second, now that therapy is done, my safety net is gone. My anxiety might (no, will) come flaring back at some point and then what am I supposed to do?! It’s scary and sad.

So. Let’s just say that coming home from a magical vacation and thrust back into a chilly reality has not been fun. I’m trying to keep perspective. I’m trying to look forward to Halloween. (Anyone have any costume ideas for a family of four?!?!)

Please send me comforting Fall vibes. Maybe I just need an effing PSL already.

We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

I originally wrote this piece for my local MOMS Club newsletter, of which I am the editor. Since I rarely write things these days, I want this one to count for double, so I’m posting it here. Enjoy!

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Hey, y’alls.

 

It’s Melissa, the Newsletter person. Don’t worry, [the president of the club] gave me permission to write here, because it’s summer and we’re all sweaty and tired. Hopefully she doesn’t regret that decision in about a minute and a half. In my defense, I restrained myself from simply posting a giant poop emoji to fill this space.

 

Ah, summer. Since becoming an adult, summers have gotten hard. I’ve had to work in an office indoors, suffering through Women’s Winter (youtube it, seriously), when all I wanted to do was sit around the pool and read traumatic memoirs. Since becoming a mom, summers have gotten even harder. Suddenly, I’ve been demoted to Activities Director, and if I don’t have a plan for the day, ready to report to my son immediately upon waking, my kids flip the switch from silly-cute to screaming cray-cray.

 

All plans have to be strategic. Based on the weather, where can we go that is kid-friendly? Will it have ample shade? Is there an attractive cabana boy ready to bring me free drinks?

 

Of course, none of this will matter, because my kids will whine and complain and be hungry or not hungry. And I will yell at them to GO PLAY and feel bad and count the minutes til nap time.

 

Then there’s the Seasonal Mom Worries (you know, the worries apart from the everyday ones) – sunburns and skin cancer and water safety. Forgetting to pack something for vacation (because it’s up to me to remember basically everything), screaming kids on planes, shark attacks.

 

I also never know what day it is during the summer because our schedule is all over the place. Basically, I feel disoriented, tired, and sweaty without the hassle of actual exercise.

 

Somehow, at the same time summer is frickin’ fun. Splashing and sand castles and ice cream for dinner. I try my hardest to drink it all in, preferably with a tiny umbrella.

 

I’ve long since realized that the great comes with the horrible, otherwise the great wouldn’t feel as such. I’m just trying to be present for it all.

 

Here’s to surviving the rest of the summer, fellow Activities Directors. Watch out for sharks.

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

Quick anxiety update: it’s flare-up time. (Relapse time? Outbreak time? Really unsure what terms to use here, and I’m the mental health expert. Better get on that.)

I’m on my second week of dealing with early morning anxiety…..again. It goes like this: something will wake me up early in the morning. Take your pick – husband, cat, bladder. Neighbors. Traffic. Kids, but very rarely. Go figure. And then something sparks this burning fire in my chest that I can’t extinguish in order to get back to sleep. So I toss and turn in anguish and waste 1-2 hours when I desperately need sleep, but can’t get it. Lastly, my kids wake up, and then it’s all over. The anxiety slowly fades and is replaced by exhaustion as the day goes on. Makes me fantasize about going full Walden.

I’m hopeful to report that I think I’m getting better at squashing this more quickly. The past few mornings I’ve actually been able to get back to sleep and wake up for the day not feeling like such a zombie. It’s this magical combination of self-talk, physical relaxation techniques, and distracting myself by thinking about something – anything – not about me, my body, sleep, or the present moment.

(Update: I started this post yesterday, and this morning I actually slept all the way through the morning and woke up naturally and feeling rested. So there’s hope!)

Now I’m going to outline things that help me – specifically, things whose helpfulness I tend to forget – to fight this anxiety monster that creeps into my bed (or tries to) each morning. This is not meant to be preachy or self-helpy, but it’s rather to help…me. Because, just like depression, anxiety lies. It lies to me and it makes me forget what normal and healthy feels like. It makes me forget what coping skills actually work and it lies to me about there being joy in the world, and that it’s within my reach.

  1. Sleep

The biggest one by far. If I don’t get enough sleep I have very little motivation to face the day. The sleep that anxiety steals from me in the mornings sets up my entire day to be complete rubbish and it’s really hard to get back on track. That makes naps vital on some days (when I can get them), and I’ve been working very hard to get to bed at a time that ensures I’ve allowed for at least 8 hours of sleep. Even though I don’t always get it, I have to carve out room for it. Have to.

2. Exercise

I’m not a person who really enjoys exercising, per se, but this week I’ve been feeling the urge to move my body. I tend to get that feeling when I’m super angry, or when I’m jumping-out-of-my-skin-anxious. I’ve realized that when I exercise, I don’t have room for the jitters. I actually get real-time relief. That’s why I made sure I got out there and ran from zombies, even in this smokey heat wave we’re having. It felt so. good.

3. Music

I’ve written about this before, but the act of singing, like really singing, is so stress relieving and this is one that I forget about all the time. So if you see me running (from zombies) and I suddenly stop to belt out a well-timed lyric and bust a move, then you know what’s going on.

4. Laughter

This usually means social contact, but sometimes a really, really good show or standup routine will fit the bill here. I recently watched Iliza Schlesinger: Elder Millennial on Netflix, and man it was exactly what I needed. I might just watch it again. Also, The Bloggess is the reason I started blogging in the first place, and I realized that I was no longer getting her updates for some reason. That has been remedied.

5. Taking time to get out of my head and space out

Having kids all day everyday, this often takes the form of me being on my phone. This usually comes with a lot of guilt, but I’m trying to tell it to fuck off. As long as the kids are safe and cared for, I am taking lots and lots of tiny micro breaks throughout the day just so I can slip the phone back into my pocket and be present for 20 more minutes when I previously thought I couldn’t. I kinda felt like I needed permission to do this, and only realized that after my therapist had given it to me unsolicited.

6. Having something to look forward to

It has been a godsend to join my local chapter of MOMS Club and automatically have events lined up for me on my calendar each month. It sounds so mundane, but it keeps me going. I’m constantly looking forward to the next thing, and being able to feel excited anticipation is a powerful enemy of anxiety, depression, and loneliness.

There you have it. These are the main coping skills that I often forget are available to me.

Side note: while writing this over the course of two days, I have been interrupted a total of eleventy billion times. Another antidote to anxiety is being able to get into a flow state, and in order to do that you need to cultivate calm and stillness. Yeeeeeah. This is one reason why it’s SO HARD for me to put myself to bed at a reasonable time, because stillness only happens WHEN PEOPLE ARE UNCONSCIOUS. My point: I reeeeeally miss flow states. Please tell them to come back and visit.

 

The Gremlins Are Not Pleased

I’ve always had a fairly decent sense of self-esteem.

In general, I like who I am. I’m capable, I’m dependable, I am worthy. I am enough.

But nothing – I mean NO-THING – has tested that like motherhood. Especially being a mom to demanding toddlers.

I am not a people-pleaser, generally. Yes, I like praise and I like to be liked, but I usually don’t bend over backwards juuust so that people will like me, or to try and make people happy. But gosh-freaking-dammit, some days there is no pleasing my kids.

They’re bored at home, or they tear the house apart, and so I plan to be out of the house for hours. That requires packing lunches and snacks the night before. And then I have to pack water, hats, swim suits, towels, change of clothes, sunscreen, flares, a hunting knife, the kitchen sink, etc, etc.

It’s a struggle to even get out of the house. My kids’ bowels let loose milliseconds before I try and get them in the car. And of course when I’m trying to get them to leave, they want to stay.

We get there, and they want to play but my daughter’s poopy AGAIN and I have to literally drag them both to the bathroom. I discover I only have one wipe. I finish the job with toilet paper, assuming I’ll be ok as long as I replenish before the next outing (**foreshadowing alert**). After that ordeal, they no longer want to play. So I grudgingly give a snack (string cheese, in an effort to scare their poop back up into their intestines for several hours), even though they practically just had breakfast.

I have to convince them to go play and leave me the frick alone. By convince, I mean I yell at them and get the side-eye from a neighboring mom. Then my son is too cold, or too hot, or too wet (too wet. at the splash. pad.) or bored, or wants to go home, or wants to eat more.

I finally give in and start breaking out the lunch and they WON’T SIT TO EAT IT. Suddenly they’d rather play. Mother of god.

Then, after smearing peanut butter all over my waterproof mat and daring the nearby honey bees to sting them, they gradually eat every morsel of food I brought, while I normally have to BEG them to eat a proper meal when I feed them at home. I actually stopped eating food meant for me and gave it to them instead. And by “gave it to them,” I mean they basically intercepted it on its journey between its container and my mouth.

Of course, they want to keep playing the second I declare we’re packing up to go.

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But guess what, my kid has a poopy diaper YET FUCKING AGAIN (I swear, I’m never letting my kids go berry picking unless they’re gonna be exclusively in someone else’s care 24-48 hours afterward), so eleventy minutes later, after scraping off a layer of buttskin trying to get my daughter clean with translucent, public bathroom tissue paper, we’re trudging to the car.

My kids scream for water and snacks the entire way home. I turned up the radio and swore silently in my head.

When I asked them, they both confirm they had a marvelous time. Hello, do I know you? Were we all at the same place, having the same experience? Because days like that make me feel like I can’t do anything right, like it doesn’t matter what I do – everything still blows up in my face, like I can’t win, like I’m not enough, like parenting is a buttload of work, and why do I even put forth all that effort to leave the house? Seriously, is it even worth it?

Depends on the day.