Thursday, July 18, 2013

How's it going?

Here are some things that tend to contribute to my overall happiness that I haven't been doing a very good job taking care of lately:
  • exercise
  • eating better/not eating like total crap
  • keeping up with writing this blog
  • having a home that is reasonably organized enough (I'm not striving for anything approximating perfection, but I do believe that a peaceful environment can help lead to inner peace, plus our family needs a place that is at least organized enough for the kids to know where things belong if we have any prayer of expecting them to put their things away.  The idea of "giving myself a break" and "letting it all go for a while", which many people often suggest, doesn't really work for very long I've found.)
  • leaving the premises
  • making time for reading that is not on the Internet, no matter how little
  • self care, like showering and spending more than 30 seconds on my appearance
  • having some kind of outside interest or activity that is not related to domesticity (whether that be paid work, taking photography classes, going to Crossfit, or meeting a friend for dinner or whatever)
  • having some structure to my day
  • seeing other adults during the day
I've never had all of those ducks in a row on the same day, but usually I've got at least a few of them under control.  Right now I've been neglecting so many that I hardly know where to begin.  Plus, unless someone's about to add hours to the day, tackling some of them feels contradictory to handling others. 

I haven't been doing so well lately.  A lot of it is obviously from the move and the associated upheaval of my life.  Plus, I really underestimated how hard it would be to get our house more than just up and running, but truly unpacked and organized with three kids underfoot.  I think I was just so desperate to be done with the moving process which had been going on for 6+ months, that I wanted to think of our moving day as much more of an exclamation point than it was.  Turns out it was just a semicolon.  (Deep down I knew that would be the case - I'm not an idiot.  Denial can be a wonderful coping mechanism, at least temporarily!)  Some of my malaise would've existed even without the move, because I know it stems from summertime, that time when I envision my three beautiful children happily lazing away their days doing Pinterest inspired crafts and science projects and engaging in imaginative play, but which in reality doesn't go quite that smoothly.  Yes, we do all of those things, but there sure are a lot of hours in the day to fill, and I can't help occasionally wishing that Georgia were more willing and able to sign up for a few more activities.  And honestly, sometimes it just feels like I must be doing it all wrong.  I suggest an idea to the girls (like making a water table out of buckets and containers and such), it gets pooh-poohed.  I walk back into the kitchen after discussing said idea for two minutes, and Waylon has smeared cottage cheese all over himself and dumped the rest on the floor.  We later head to Target having agreed on water balloons and bubbles as our lofty goal, only to find that they have no such supplies for sale.  I try not to compare myself to others, especially the Internet/Facebook/blog world version of others, but I am only human, and I can't help noticing that a lot of other stay at home moms at least appear to be enjoying the experience more.  Everything just feels so damn hard to me lately.  I know that part of that feeling is based in reality - moving isn't easy, and I think Waylon's at a particularly difficult age to deal with it.  (I honestly believe that if or when we ever move again, it will never be as hard as it was with a 5, 3, and 1 year old.)  But I also know that part of it is just perception, and getting stuck in a rut of negative thinking.  Does anyone have any specific tips for breaking a cycle of negativity?  As much as this whole post may seem like a whiny rant that's all about me, it's also motivated by my wanting to be a better mom and a better role model for my kids.  They deserve to just have fun and be little kids, and not soak in the effects of being around an irritable, frustrated lady all day.  Lastly, I want to add that part of it simply feels like a streak of bad luck.  Within the last week alone, I have gotten pulled over, dealt with fevers of everyone in my household except myself, had the muffler fall off the car, cared for a puking child, and had my credit card denied (while at the checkout with three kids and $100 of stuff), just to name a few.  None of those bad luck moments are so tragic, but I have no resiliency to take them in stride like I used to.  

In the grand scheme of things, I'm a very lucky girl with a great house, a great yard, and most importantly, a great family, and I know that.  I just want things to feel normal again.   

I hope I don't regret posting this.  I'm not really looking for an outpouring of sympathy or something.  This is just the over-sharer in me trying to remain semi-authentic.  (Maybe I need to just buy a diary instead of always blogging!)   


Emily said...

I was trying to come up with a clever response that involved "quitting an argument" but I've failed. Instead, I would like to suggest a babysitter. Because NOT being a mom 24/7 makes me a better mom and I am convinced this is universally true. It would give you a chance to get some of the stuff done that's stressing you out. Playdate? Visit from grandma? Also, keep in mind that Pinterest/Facebook is all BS where people post the BEST parts of their day or, at worse, the FUNNY bad parts; they usually keep the really rough moments to themselves.

Kate said...

I should've added at the end:

"This post brought to you courtesy of THE BABYSITTER!"

Great minds think alike, Em. I'm sitting in a Whole Foods eating area by myself right now, surfing the net and catching up on blog stuff, all thanks to Sittercity. Money extremely well spent. I have been scheduling playdates as much as possible, which thanks to our pool, hasn't been too hard to twist people's arms into. Many thanks to the grandparents are also due. I think everyone around me, Joe especially, can see me waving the white flag of defeat and has sent in the cavalry to assist. I do feel loved. Kinda depressed, to be sure, but loved. : )

Thanks for your kind words. I hope you're doing okay with your new addition!

Ann said...

Okay, that does seem like a bit much to be dealing with all at once. An unlucky streak can really pile up and I think you're bound to get your break soon. I hope! I have no idea what it was like moving with 3 kids, but that last time I did it with 1, it was miserable. I think for you to have come through it and be making anything at all out of this summer, is simply amazing.

And yet, there's still that feeling of what is everyone else doing/enjoying/making that must be better. I totally get that, but I think you do the best you can. And we all know the blogging/FB stuff is a facade anyway, even when we try to make it less so. Behind every smile, there are a million screaming moments and lots of times I also feel like this is Kind of makes me want to get a job ASAP. Oops! Did I just write that. Yeah, I need a diary too. Hang in there. And keep blogging!

Kate said...

Thanks, Ann. I think you're right about that feeling of "what is everyone else doing?" because part of me feels guilty like, "WAIT! SLOW DOWN! PAUSE THE CHILDHOOD!" because they only get to be little once, and it's all so fleeting, and I've spent over 6 months now living in a way that I don't consider compatible with the childhood I want to give them. Storing away the bulk of their toys for months on end, telling them I'm too busy to play because I'm trying to work on house packing/unpacking, etc. I need to end that cycle of pushing them away so that I can "get things done", because it never works anyway. I only end up more frustrated because I *still* can never get things done while watching them. And they're more poorly behaved when they're not having enough attention paid to them. So a lose-lose. I think I should draw them in closer, try to put my work aside more, and then they'll probably respond by actually doing better at venturing off on their own to entertain themselves for chunks of time. Seems backwards, which I guess is why I tend to forget that concept from time to time.

Sarah said...

You're so right, this is a stressful time for you guys. Moving is SO stressful, and as I told you before (reference blog post 2/13/13), unpacking is THE WORST. It never ends. And you want to do it right, yet you just want it done, and don't get me started on my husband who seems to think that simply taking things out of boxes is the extent of unpacking. I had been saying that we're good as long as our marriage can survive moving and taxes, then we hired a tax service and now it's just moving. It's STRESSFUL. (Oh and the "I'm freakin' pregnant and my husband's ghetto style unpacking is going to be the demise of our relationship" post didn't make the cut on my blog a few years ago).

I too am all about hiring help also these days. We finally hired a cleaning service a few months ago and I'm now convinced this needs to go near the top of our budget list, not the bottom. Holy cow.

But mainly I would just say don't beat yourself up. Your children are not suffering simply because you're feeling tired and irritable and annoyed. They're learning important things even in your lowest moments:
1. Mom's not always superwoman.
2. It's not really Mom's job to entertain.
3. Some days are just dull and boring.
4. Sometimes you have to make your own fun.
5. It's better to just do it right the first time so you don't have to hear about it later.
6. Your behavior influences how other people treat you.
7. Sometimes it takes patience and a lot of hard work to get things the way you want them.
8. Not everyone can or wants to do what you want to do.
9. There are some things you have to do whether you like it or not.
10. You can choose to be a part of the problem or a part of the solution.

As hard as it is, this is probably a really good time in their development to have you all to themselves, but also a very challenging time for you in terms of their ages (and of course, the move). Still, imagine if you whisked little Georgia off to a new house, neighborhood, school, and then left for work in the morning - that would be tough too. It's hard for them too and they're lucky to have you around right now, even if you're not always at your best. (I assure you your house can't be any worse than any other with 3 young children).

So give yourself a break. No one's all Pinterest and Pinafores. Unless they have a full time Nanny and someone else is helping raise their children. There's no need to feel bad just because you can't make everything nice for your kids all the time. It just means they'll grow up healthier and well-rounded :)

Can you add neighborhood walks to the list? Are you doing that already? Exercise is key when you're feeling low.
Oh and take your vitamins and add Omega-3 and probiotic nutritional supplements if you haven't already.

Oh, and don't get a dog. Yet.

You'll miss this someday :) And you and your children will overlook all the times that you were bored and annoyed and basically pulling your hair out. Right now they're all I want I need I want, but they'll appreciate this someday, and so will you!


Maggie said...

Damn. I know (and you know) a lot of smart people. I can't add anything to these words of wisdom other than this. I'll be over with pizza tonight.

jessica said...

Sigh. Sorry Kate. This all sucks and the people before me have all said brilliant things and I don't have anything genius to add except I had the exact thought about a diary this week. My blog has turned into total let me tell you about how stressed I am and I thought, well maybe I should use a diary instead. Although I don't like that you are feeling depressed and stressed, as your friend, I do like to know when you feel depressed and stressed so I appreciate you writing about it. xoxo

Beth said...

Hello.... this is the sister coming in from left field 5 days later. Just one suggestion if you need to get through the day - try turning off the technology. Again, like many other things (put them to bed early to help them sleep later) it sounds counter-intuitive. But some of my roughest days, if I shut down the laptop and mute/hide my phone, I can actually survive BETTER because I am not trying to juggle the outside world and the kids. It somehow actually feels easier to just tune in to the moment. So it might not work everyday, but it's something to try.

Kate said...

I haven't been back here to respond lately, but thank you Sarah, Jessica, Maggie, and Beth! Everyone's words of wisdom (and pizza) have helped so much!
Ghetto style unpacking = ha!
Jessica = PLEASE do not convert to diary. We need each other.
Maggie = I never would've made it without you here.
Beth = you are totally right. First off, it's funny how good I am at restricting the kids' technology use, but not my own. Second, I kind of have a love-hate relationship with it all. On the one hand, checking email or FB or Instagram can make me feel more connected to the world and my friends when I'm feeling lonely and isolated in a new town/neighborhood. But I think realistically I would be better off without it. I think I need a break from the influence of images of others' lives, and I also think you're right that the kids would appreciate it. I'm going to have to lock up the computer and phone for a while I think. XO

Crystal said...

Have you seen this:

It made me feel a lot better.