Happy Monday everyone!
So I’ve mentioned before that on Monday mornings, I dependably and wonderfully end up with a couple of kid-free hours to myself. Ryland has preschool and my sweet best friend watches Bobby. And mama gets to go CRAZY.
Or you know, clean the house, run errands, write, etc.
I’ve spent the last few Monday morning me time sessions writing, because I’ve been working on a lot of freelance projects. In a word, I’ve been hustling, working really hard to get pieces submitted to either publications/sites that have contracted those pieces or to submit to places that I hope will want them.
But as much as I love to write, as much joy as that usually brings me, at the end of the day, it’s still work. It still expends energy instead of filling me up with it. I’ve been squeezing in writing time whenever I can, during naps, after bedtime, while Ryland watches Despicable Me 3 for the 107th time on Netflix. And I’ve gotten a ton done and been super productive.
But the last couple of weeks I’ve started to notice a decided drag in my step. I’ve been more restless, moodier, quicker to anger (although really that pretty much is par for the course with breastfeeding, thanks raging HORMONES that make a roided up teenage boy look like the most balanced human alive).
Unfortunately, this moody period of mine has also coincided with a moody period of Ryland. I don’t know if she’s going through a wonder week (do 2-year-olds still go through those?), a growth spurt, a regression, cutting molars, allergies, demon possession? But something has been brewing, and at certain times of the day, she’s been a real ball of joy (insert heavy sarcasm). Last night, she started the whining game early, and just fell apart at dinner time, refused to even try the egg casserole thingy I baked just for her.
And I just snapped. The whining/crying had been going on for probably 20 minutes but it felt like HOURS. I couldn’t hear myself think. It was this constant background noise, and between her and Bobby’s evening crankiness and George’s food crazed neediness, I just could feel my temper rise. And as I watched her throw George her dinner and flail dramatically in her high chair, I felt myself go into that white-hot parent rage mode, where you almost float outside of your body. And I yelled. I never want to yell. I don’t want to be that parent. None of us do. But I think we all, from time to time, do yell and lose our cool, because we’re human, and humans can only take so much toddler whining. And of course, the only thing worse than toddler whining is the MASSIVE mom guilt you feel when you do yell at your kid, which sets in pretty much instantaneously and lingers for well, life.
Unfortunately, the night just got worse from there, and I found myself getting angry again and again, when she wouldn’t get in the bath or when she kept climbing into Bobby’s crib when I was trying to put him to bed, when she screamed for treats right before bed. It was not either of our finest hours.
And after I finally put her to bed and had a moment of downtime, I just had one of those “aha” moments, the realization that my tank was empty. I was in a zone I didn’t like being in, not being the mom or wife or friend or person I want to be, and that I needed some therapeutic solo time, time to not be a mom or write about being a mom, but just to be Liz.
So this morning, instead of writing or cleaning or running errands, I drove into the Fan, my old hood, and I took one of those meandering, endless city walks that I miss so much. It was the kind of walk without a specific route or time frame, where you turn onto a street on a whim, because an explosion of white dogwood blossoms or purple azaleas catches your eye, a walk where you decide at the spur of the moment to pop into a corner restaurant for your favorite to-go coffee (Kuba Kuba cafe con leche!) and sit on a park bench for a few minutes just because. I strolled and wandered around the Fan for an hour and a half. I had a really awesome Amazon radio music station on. I wandered up and down Monument Ave, down West Avenue, up to the art museum, past the Chihuly glass and enormous head statue. I took deep breaths for the first time in weeks. The sun was warm and the sidewalks were covered in thick, pink cherry blossoms. It was heaven.
And my goodness, do we have a beautiful city. I forget, so often, just how beautiful this city of mine is.
It just felt like a reset button, which I really needed, more than I think I even realized till I felt that warm sunshine as it filtered through the tree branches, felt the city sidewalks under my feet, till I smelled that wisteria, which will always remind me of growing up (I know other places than the Fan have wisteria, but we had a giant wisteria tree right outside our back door, and God that smell just feels like spring and home wrapped up together in this beautiful, sweet scent).
I know people talk a lot about self-care, but sometimes it can be really hard to actually practice it. There’s a lot of guilt involved, and there always seems like a better use of that time. But it’s so important as a mother, to at least every so often, not do what’s important or necessary or productive, to instead do something that fills your soul up, that surrounds you with sunshine and pale pink flowers and really good coffee.
I hope all of you take some time this week to take care of yourselves a little too 🙂