Tag Archives: fatigue

Throw Back Thursday. . . Remembering the “IT” Moments

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There’s this app called Timehop.  Have you used it?  You install it on your device, then authorize it to cull through your photos, Tweets, status updates, Instagrams, etc.

While staying mindfully present in the present usually helps me stay sane, sometimes it is a fun diversion to take a trip back in time.  We live in an era where we capture every good meal, each wacky moment, and any new make up trick or hair-do on digital devices, so there is no shortage of memories at our finger tips.  My Timehops take me back over the past six or so years I’ve been on social media, and treat me to photos and status updates regarding my children and family–  usually the highs and lows of parenting, but sometimes the perfectly mundane.

This morning, Emily and I are hanging out at home, waiting to leave for her well-child physical which for reasons I can’t recall, I scheduled in the middle of the morning on a work/school day.  Whatever.  It is nice to be able to take a few moments off from “life” to cuddle and play with my bubbly three year old doll.

My phone prompted me to check out my Timehop, and so I did, while Em watched Curious George operate a subway train.

Modern technology treated me to two of my all time favorite family photos and memories this morning, and they were of a couple of those perfectly mundane moments that are the exact stuff a good life is made of.

They were both “selfies”.  The first was one of my children, my husband, and me from a snow day last year.  We were all rolling around and playing on the floor, and I happened to hold up my phone at just the right moment.  I captured us all looking a bit wild and messy, smiling so hard we were all almost squinting at the camera.  It was just a perfect moment.  We were all so happy, cooped up in the house on a stormy day, but at that exact moment, getting along with one another.

For what it’s worth, life as a working mom in our society is far from perfect or ideal.  We do our best, but there are still so many moments of struggle, confusion, and a deep sense of inadequacy.  I never feel like I am doing anything right or “good enough,” or like my kids are growing up happy or well-adjusted.  I’m not around enough for them, and when I am, I am usually exhausted, overwhelmed, and frazzled.  But this. . .  this was such a sweet moment I caught with my stupid, distracting phone.

It only lasted a couple moments, and was most likely chased by moments of frustration with the children fighting, and me losing my cool.  Yeah, that happens often enough that I could break the internet if I posted about every single one of those moments.  I’m so glad I captured this moment because it was just pure love.  And in the end, that is the important stuff.

The other Timehop offering that delighted me this morning, was a picture from three years ago today that I snapped of me and Emily.  We had found a cozy moment after nursing and were taking a nap together.  I happened to hold up my phone and got a photo of our profiles, nuzzled together in repose.  It is actually a photo I keep on my desk at work, so I see it every day, but it never fails to make me smile and sigh.  It was one of the most peaceful and lovely moments of my life with my darling little daughter, snuggled safely in my arms, her tiny tummy warm and full with mama milk.

In the end, Timehop is really “the highlight reel.”  You know, the photos that reflect all of the great stuff and make our Facebook timelines look like we all have our shit together?  I have a weird resentment for highlight reels that tend to taunt us into thinking everyone else’s life is going so much better than ours, like everyone else is eating better sushi, enjoying bigger cocktails, getting better presents, and riding in nicer cars.  It is interesting to me how we chose to present ourselves on social media, and how we measure ourselves by the presentations of others. . .  but according to Timehop, I do it too.

And my highlights are pretty freaking sweet.

So, it kind of makes me feel like, hmmm, I guess I have it pretty good and should be happy with what I have, rather than envying the good stuff of others.  In a weird way, it brings me back to the present, and helps me to feel grounded and thankful with where I am.

It also makes me realize, shit, this time goes FAST!

I’m sure our obsession with our phones and snapping photos every two seconds will come back to bite us all on the ass.  I have a lot of photos that I wish I hadn’t taken because I wish I had just been more present in that moment, and actually LIVED it as opposed to merely RECORDING it.  You know what I mean?

But these two moments are ones I am glad I got physical proof of.

Do you use Timehop?  How do you feel it affects your sense of your life, and being mindful in the present?  

End Of The World– Getting Cozy With Dukkha

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The world is ending right now because there are dirty dishes in the sink and a bunch of moldering, half-eaten yogurt cups and tubes strewn throughout the house.

I just got home from the Urgent Care Center.  It is 8 p.m., and any mom who got up as early as I did this morning knows that 8 p.m. is the middle of the fucking night.

My husband is engaged in a power struggle with our seven year old son, Jack, over universe knows what.  My three year old, Emily, is wandering around like a lost lamb because she wants mama milk and cuddles before bed.

But first things first.

Since a huge vat of Purell or rubbing alcohol isn’t available, I hop in the shower.  It serves the dual purpose of warming my chilled, aching body, and cleansing off the filth of the walk in treatment place.  I had anxiety upon anxiety the entire time I was there as people coughed, hacked, wheezed, and made all sorts of moaning cacophony.  In the curtained area next to me, there was a woman chanting, “Germs, germs, germs, germs, germs,” over and over in a haunted whisper.  True story.  I can’t make this shit up.

The chest X-ray confirmed bronchitis and the doctor wrote me a script for antibiotic and a cough medicine, but then changed his mind when I told him I still breast feed twice a day.  He forgot to call the pharmacy and change the prescription, which resulted in an hour-long wait in the parking lot of the pharmacy, where I sat in my car, heat on full blast, shivering and crying.

Wait!  Before you stop reading because you hate me for bitching about First World Problems, please know it was pretty much the worst week of my life, followed by an exhausting weekend of poorly behaved children, and ending in body aches that rate waaaaayyyy at the grumpy and sad end of that smiley to grimace chart.

A client killed himself last week, and it left me reeling in confusion, guilt, panic, and fear.  While I have forced myself to accept there was nothing I could have done to prevent this tragedy, my heart has not caught up with my head on the matter, and being sick wears down the professional buffer I might have for such matters.

After spending the entire week in the aftermath of suicide, another employee of my program gave me her notice along with a few dozen clients to reassign.  Since my other clinician quit my program before the holidays, I have no one to reassign these clients to.  When I went, shaking and sobbing, to my supervisor for support, I was basically told to figure it out.

I came home looking for some solace, only to find my husband intended to work all weekend.  This is good news, in one way, because we need the money and he is freelance.  But it is bad news in terms of having the children, house duties, etc. ,and so on all to myself for the entire weekend.

So, contracting bronchitis was just the frosting on the crap cake I felt had been baked for me this week.  I feel like a jerk even writing that, while knowing I have access to better medical care and pharmaceuticals than 87% of the world.  (Note:  that is not a real statistic.  I’m making shit up because like I said, the world is fucking ending and who cares anyway.)

Sometimes I just need to vent.  Then I get sick of myself and get on with my life.

Some people have real problems.  I know this.  People like the family who lost their child in the most confounding, shocking, and traumatizing way last week.

After my shower, I hustle to put on PJ’s.  I ignore Jack’s tantrum and go straight to Emily, who is sleepy and sweet. She puts her hand on my heart as she snuggles into my breast, and touches my chin as light as a butterfly.

I’ve been contemplating the Buddhist concept of dukkha lately.  Dukkha roughly translates as “suffering,” and it is an important concept in Buddhism.  There has been ample dukkha in my life over the past few months. . .  the dukkha of motherhood; the dukkha of clinging to things during the process of our move last November; the dukkha of family issues at the holidays; the dukkha of yearning for things to be a certain way at work; the dukkha of physical illness; the dukkha of my anxiety and depression which has been rearing its ugly head over the past few weeks like a powerful and frightening dragon.

The dukkha of wanting to change the unchangeable, and to understand the incomprehensible.

And tonight, the dukkha of dishes left undone at the end of the night when I am sick and tired, and have already done dishes 17 times over the course of the weekend.

Basically, Buddha teaches that life is dukkha—  not that everything sucks, but that by its nature, our existence is flawed, impermanent, and difficult.  We can struggle against it and fight with it as something bad, or we can accept it for what it is and go from there.

What does that mean?

I don’t know.  And at the moment, I don’t really care.

I started writing a post last weekend about trying to sit with the grief and anxiety I felt in the light of my client’s death.  It was hard–  both to sit with and to write about–  because it made me fiercely restless.  I didn’t end up posting it.

Kuan Yin sat with the dragons and made friends with them.  What would it be like to do that?

I guess I could do the dishes.

Or I could not.

Maybe dukkha and I will cuddle up in bed with some Ceftin and Mucinex and try to get to know each other.  And maybe the world will keep ending, and I will lie in bed and hear things screeching and banging and popping outside my window.

Let Us Eat Cake, and Other Thoughts That Keep Me Going

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IMG_6067There is a hunk of birthday cake in the freezer.

This thought keeps me going.

I have four loads of laundry to do, healthy meals to make for the week, moldy shower curtains to take down, wash and re-hang, a birthday party for which to prepare and attend, sibling disputes to referee, beds to make, and floors to de-crumb.  You know how it goes.

My hands hurt.  My back hurts.  There is a nagging pain in my neck.

Whaaamp whaaahh.

But if I make it to the end of the day, after the kids are in bed, I can sit on the couch and eat frozen cake.

I haven’t exercised in way too long, and my kids are watching way too much TV.  We’ve eaten fast food more than I’d like to admit.  Sometimes I go days without offering them a vegetable.

I don’t get around to changing the sheets on our beds very often, and tend to forgo activities I consider “adult” like buying wrapping paper or drying my hair.  I’ve gotten lazy about sending Thank You cards, and forget to return phone calls.  Many days, I look at my clients with an engaged face, but a disengaged mind as I contemplate the list of how I am failing as a mother, wife, and social worker.

It goes on and on.

Being a working mom is hard.  Like way harder than I could have ever imagined.  I’m sick of talking about it, and bored to tears of writing about it.  It’s not a unique a story, and I actually have it a lot better than most.

And that cake is there.  It is a little slice of nice, the thought of which momentarily stops the monotonous broken record of maternal depression and exhaustion.

Maybe I’ll eat it.  Or maybe I won’t, because just knowing it’s there, just in case, satisfies.

I feel guilty I’m not on Pinterest in my spare time, looking up crafty shit to do with my kids.

I.  Just.  Can’t.

I feel really, freaking guilty I don’t spend every second admiring my children’s ethereal beauty, and that I count the hours until bedtime.  I feel even more guilty after they are in bed and I realize another day is past us and I squandered it being frustrated and mindless.

Maternal depression is tricky.  It is misunderstood by society, and seems taboo to address head on.  I don’t think of myself as “a depressed person,” but every once in a while I become so overwhelmed by the mundane, it suddenly occurs to me, “I’m depressed and that is why every minute activity or request is being interpreted as a complex demand which threatens to push me over the edge of despair.”  (I.e., spending 20 minutes unraveling the vacuum cord after Jack “helped” me clean.)

I don’t even like using the words “I’m” and “depressed” in the same sentence.  For the record, I’m also not a person who eats her feelings, but imagining that cake. . . it just helps.

Before motherhood, depression sucks, but is tolerable because there’s more access to self care.  This is not to say depression can’t be totally debilitating to non-parents, and it is certainly not a competition about who is more depressed than who.  But I’ve found self care becomes a lot more elusive for moms who work and use money formerly set aside for organic diet and massage on daycare, or who are shuttling kids around to dance and soccer and don’t have the time to work out unless they get up before the sun.

There is also a weird dichotomy that if we don’t take time for ourselves we are martyrs, but if we do we feel oddly and uncomfortably entitled.  It doesn’t help with the whole guilty/worthless/trapped/hopeless sense one has when depressed.  Stupid jerk, I find myself telling myself.  What did you think motherhood would be?

Then comes the unbalanced, lack of perspective and sense of failure.  You don’t even deserve all you have.  It takes some strength to keep the train from careening off track.  So, let us eat cake.

Other thoughts that keep me going?

My daughter wakes me up every morning, pokes my nose gently with her pudgy finger, and says, “Hug mama?”  I love her chirpy voice and cookie dough smell even more than freezer cake.

20140118-083136.jpgThe kids may not eat veggies, but they eat fruit all day long.  Their preferred beverage is water, and so is mine.  We are all getting our fiber, and are wonderfully hydrated.  So there is hope for our health.

The kids played nicely for ten whole minutes the other day, so there is hope we might make it another year without them mauling one another.

We read to the kids every day.  They love books.  So there is hope that extra half hour of TV won’t demolish their brains.

Jack goes to karate and does everything he is told, the first time, every time for a whole hour.  So there is hope maybe he won’t always be a stressy ball of tantrum.

Emily pooped on the potty twice in the past month!  Sure she also peed on the carpet and dumped out a pantload of crap on the bathroom floor, but she also pooped on the potty twice!  So there is hope I will usher yet another child into big-kid-pants.

Jack’s sunflowers offer their bright faces to the sun.20130827-093636.jpg

It’ll be okay.

It’ll be okay.

These are the hard years.  These are the years when there is never enough money, time, patience, energy, room in our bed, or sanity.  These are the years on which we will look back with longing for arms stretched up to us.  These are the years when we are growing plastic, little brains and are under the gun to do it right, do it good, do it quick.

These are the years when tending to our own mental health so often takes a back seat to the needs of our families, work, home.

But we need our oxygen so we can keep breathing for those slimy little critters, who we can’t remember when last we bathed.

Sometimes a little cake on the couch does just the trick.  Sometimes simply thinking about cake helps.

These are the years when our kids need our hugs, smiles, and random potty jokes in the middle of the day so much more than something crafty from Pinterest.

It’ll be okay.  We will get there.

What do you do to take care of yourself when you are overwhelmed or down?  Share a thought that keeps you going.  

 

Thursday Truth– Sleep

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The Dalai Lama has been quoted as saying:  “Sleep is the best meditation.”

I could not agree more.

This week has been insane in the membrane, insane in the brain!  Poor, dear Jack has had a stomach bug that turned into a intestinal issue and has plagued our home with late nights, loads of laundry, and random runs to the pharmacy to purchase anti-emetics, anti-diarreahals, and gatorade.  Pleading contests to get him to drink sips of ANYTHING have ensued as he was dehydrating and, truth be told, I really did not want to have to pay the hefty co-pay to bring him to the ER and have him hydrated.

“Well,” my husband said, “If it is a matter of life and death. . .  we shouldn’t think about our deductible.”

“It’s not a matter of life and death!”  I snapped.  “It’s a matter of he needs to drink some goddamn juice!”

Sigh.  I’m tired.

As you can imagine, it has left very little room for time to myself, other than when I am asleep.

OMG, I just want to sleep and sleep and sleep and sleep and sleep right now.  Unfortunately, for me these days, anything past 6:00 a.m. is basically considered “sleeping in”.  Emily is quite the early bird.

And I hope that my desire for sleep is not an indication that I am getting sick.

I think it is really just my need to get some rest and be with my own subconscious and no one else.  Although some of my dreams have been pretty funky lately.  The other night I had a dream that a client came in to see me in my office after drinking bleach.  She then proceeded to whip out a bottle of whiskey and swig from it while trying to light my office on fire.

It is not often that I dream about work.  And I don’t really interpret my dreams.  The Dalai Lama was also quoted as saying something to the effect of “If we spend so much time interpreting our dreams, there would be no time left for dreaming.”  I read something like that in a Dalai Lama calendar once, and I can’t remember the exact quote, but I took it to mean, be here now, don’t worry so much about figuring out every detail about your dreams.  It’s all good.

Meh.  I’ve never really been a fan of dream interpretation anyway.  What I do know is that when I start dreaming about work it means that I am tired and overwhelmed and working too hard, even in my sleep.

So, this rambling stream-of-conscienceness post is basically saying, good-night and sweet dreams.  I’m going to go to bed a little early tonight and, er, meditate.

Momaste and big love, ya’all!!

Exhaustion

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My fatigue is bordering on depression.

Emily has been sleeping through the night, and I am getting 7-8 hours of mostly uninterrupted sleep, but I am deeply exhausted.

If I lived in Victorian times, I probably would have taken to my bed for a few weeks, propped up on pillows and served by my house staff hand and foot.  A dose of morphine might have been given to me to take the edge off.  The neighborhood would have buzzed with concerns for my health and even the possibility that- gasp!- I might not make it.  Eventually I would have recovered enough to be taken out to sit in the sun for a few hours a day, and after another few weeks of that, maybe my children could come and visit me for a few minutes.  But only for a few minutes!  And only very quiet, mild behavior, because no one would want to upset my fragile recovery from that awful, consumptive, exhaustion.

Of course I do not live in Victorian times.  I live in this time of full-time working woman with the second and third jobs of being wife and mother.  I live in a time of impossibly messy apartment and difficult child.  I live in a time of “why do my carpets smell like urine, did Emily pee out here?”

I don’t want to wash my hair.  I don’t want to pick up toys.  I don’t want to go grocery shopping.  I don’t want to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or slice strawberries.  I just don’t wanna.

All these “don’t wannas” pose the question, “what would I like to be doing?”  Honestly, I don’t know.  Maybe just sit still next to the ocean by myself.

I look at the piles of laundry and the filth on my kitchen floor and am plagued by the thought that I just can’t keep up.  I’m a failure.  A fraud.  A crappy mom.  A snarky wife.  A neglectful friend.  An ill-tempered co-worker.

In short, I suck.

Jack has been in a very tricky and angry mood over the last week, after about three weeks of perfect behavior.  I think he is anxious about the end of the school year and the transition to summer-mode, which means a new daycare scenario, etc.  His behavior is usually his way of communicating stress.  But oh, man, I just don’t have the energy to deal with it.

And it doesn’t help that my husband has a case of “Man Flu” that just seems to be lingering on and on.

I am so tired I don’t even have the energy for a good, frustrated cry.  But in my dreams at night, that is all I do.  I walk around crying, weeping, sobbing into my subconscious.

It isn’t that I lack supports.  We are so fortunate to live close to both sets of grandparents who drop everything at a moment’s notice to help out.  I have good friends who are always willing to listen.  I have a husband who is generally supportive and helpful.  It is just this sense of not being able to balance it all that pushes me near the edge.

Sometimes I dread the weekends.  I dread being home with my family because I have to worry about what to feed them, how to entertain them, when to clean up after them.  I stress over chasing around after Emily who is more mobile and fast every day. I am fraught with Jack’s behavior.

How is it easier to be at work, dealing with the woes of humanity, than to be home enjoying my sweet family?

Does this make me a jerk?  I have so much more than so many, yet fight to appreciate it on some days.

I haven’t written a real whiney bummer of a post in a few months.  I apologize for not having something more delightful to say, but I’ve got to be honest–  I am just worn down to nothing today.  Maybe tomorrow I will feel better, but today I am telling you the truth that I just can’t say anything else besides how bone-weary I am.

At least I’m not a liar.

Now to get up and transfer laundry from washer to dryer.