Thursday, May 15, 2014

Why gratitude matters.

This week has been a hard one for me. For the third day in a row I've felt in over my head. Not like this is too much. More like this isn't much fun.

On Monday I thought I was just coming down from Mother's Day weekend. I mean, I really did shirk all responsibility for two days straight so I figured an uncomfortable readjustment was to be expected.

But then yesterday I felt the same.

Like no matter how many loads of laundry I did, there was still a pile. Only it wasn't just the laundry. It was all of it. The meals and conversations and daily to-dos. All of it felt so incredibly mundane yet insurmountable. Which I guess is motherhood in a nutshell. You're not exactly doing rocket science but the job never ends.

Is that a wash?

Anyway. I guess it's probably always like this I just don't usually notice. But this week has felt like such a failure. I've just been so angry at my kids. Disappointed, really. Which is an awful thing to say but that's how I've been feeling.

Like an angry, disappointed broken record.

Take a bite, have a bite, sit back down, wash your hands, eat your dinner, put your shoes away, put your stuff away, seriously, put your stuff away, where are your shoes, did you brush your teeth?, we have to go, it's time to go, no really, WE HAVE TO LEAVE!, no, I will never leave without you but FOR THE LOVE OF GOD WILL YOU PLEASE WALK OUT THE DOOR RIGHT EFFING NOW?!?!?!?

When my children don't listen to me I feel a whole range of emotions. Angry, disappointed, taken advantage of, like I am raising spoiled brats, like I must be a terrible mom, like my children are going to grow up to be idiot delinquents who don't know how to do one simple thing like pick up after themselves or finish a meal without eight thousand reminders.

I don't say all of this to them but I don't exactly hold my tongue either. Yesterday I yelled about the toys in the living room and the half-assed way they "put them away" and both boys burst into tears (they hate when I raise my voice). It didn't even phase me. If anything, it made my resolve stronger. Like I was about to lose to crying? No way.

How awful is that?

They're just wearing me out. Because, like Miley Cyrus always says, it don't stop. And it won't stop...for a while. It pauses, briefly, for bedtime but since Liam's a bit of a night owl, that isn't even a guarantee.

Tonight, when I was finally done, I came into the living room to sit down for a bit. This will sound really stupid, but some days I find I hardly sit at all unless I'm in the car. What is that?! I looooove to sit. Anyway, I was sitting there, in my robe, just taking a load off, when out came Liam.

At first I was surprised (even though he does this a lot, I never expect it). Then delighted (some of our best one-on-one is late at night when he's supposed to be asleep). Then, without warning, I became seriously annoyed. My shift was OVER. I had already done all the things, and I was about to go to sleep so I could wake up and do all the things again, but first I wanted just a little time to not do all the things.

But I guess that's where I'm wrong. Parenting isn't shift work, it's life work. There are no breaks or days off. (Even if sometimes it feels like there are.) So, really, complaining about my lot in life is just a bunch of hot air.

But still. Something had to give.

Before I went to bed I got out a notebook and tried to come up with a plan that might make our long days and short years go a little smoother. And then I wrote some of this because writing usually helps me feel better. But I had no idea how to end it so I switched to a paper journal. When I realized I had written a poem about the woes of motherhood, I knew it was time for bed.

As I was brushing my teeth I couldn't believe how sullen I looked. I mean, my life is not that bad. I decided to turn that frown upside down and, honestly, as soon as I smiled I felt ten times better.

I climbed in bed, still smiling, and got out my gratitude journal. It had been a few days since I had written anything so I gave myself permission to look back a few days. I even scrolled through my recent pictures for a reminder of all the stuff I had to be grateful for.

Epic bike ride.

Happy camper.

Helping each other cool off.

Friends at field day.

This little guy.

Finn went to childcare at the Y so I could booty dance with my friends!

Late night learning with my big kid.

Awesome science experiments.

Good buddies and playdates.

Last day of 2nd grade.

The most amazing thing happened. I realized I have NOT had a crappy couple of days. The days have been great. Fantastic even! It's my attitude that's been the problem. Looking back through my photos and memories, searching for all the little things I have to be grateful for completely turned me around. I went to bed with a smile on my face, thankful for this beautiful, messy life I get to call my own.

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