The Storm Hit and stuck around for a bit
To sum things up, my family has been hit hard. The storm came and just stayed. It kept turning and moving and spinning. On numerous occasions I found myself dizzy from the whirlwind. Physically exhausted, mentally burnt, and wondering when it would stop hitting us with new blows. Just let up already! Hadn’t we survived enough storms?
Learning to find the Light
I’m learning to find peace and light in whatever little things I can. It’s to hard when I focus on the negative things. It’s scary and quite frankly there’s too damn many of them to think about. So I’m trying to focus on the things I’m thankful for. This doesn’t come naturally for me, I have to work at it. But I am starting to see the gifts and stay focused on them because it makes me feel better.
For some reason things are okay. I say this shocked because I had “checked out” for a while. I didn’t focus on the parenting plans or behavior strategy’s. I didn’t even think about all the appointments I needed to make and all the things I needed to get done, doctors to follow-up with for my son. I just didn’t care, it was not in me. While my body got some much-needed rest, I cut myself off from the world. My kids saw that even Supermom runs out of juice. I didn’t harp on them about vacuuming, or doing their dishes. I didn’t notice if the litter box was getting scooped. I didn’t say a word when my son repeatedly left his dirty clothes on the bathroom floor, right next to the clothes bin. I stopped pointing out that someone left the shower curtain open instead of pulling it straight to make the bathroom look tidy. I didn’t get up before the sun to feed the pets and start laundry and frantically run around the house before I had to leave for work. I didn’t have my usual “to do” list to remind me “don’t forget to do this today!”. I stopped shaving my legs, I didn’t bother with painting my toes, I can’t believe how many gray hairs I really have when I don’t color my hair. I just pretty much stopped everything. My body caved under all the pressure and I physically had nothing left to give.
I felt guilty about it. I know my kids hated watching me fall down and unable to get back up. I was SUPERMOM with super powers controlling our world, not anymore. I hated knowing they had to see it, day in and day out watching me in my self-pity. We all only told a select few at first, I was embarrassed that I was now “unemployed” and without a plan. But once I got past worrying about all of it, I realized something. Something I needed to know all this time. The world didn’t fall apart. Everything was still okay!
My kids picked up the slack. Sure they all took advantage of not having to follow the rigid schedule of chores. They enjoyed mom not complaining about who did or didn’t do whatever. Who can blame them! But you know what? They knew what things were most important and what things could sit and wait. The pets got fed, but I didn’t do it! Every now and then a load of laundry was done, magically. The house was picked up, we all got fed, and somehow it didn’t matter that I wasn’t controlling it anymore. That’s when I started to breathe.
I still constantly apply for jobs, but I can even do it from my phone now. These smart-phones are amazing, just miniature computers in the palm of my hand! Instead of sitting at the computer, I played fetch with the dog. I watched a lot of junk TV with the kids. I even read a little bit. I looked at every option and decided I’m going back to college. I’m already registered. And guess what, I’m not even sure exactly what degree I want and it’s still okay! See, I’m a planner. I have to know everything in advance, schedule for it, arrange all the details. I’m learning I don’t need to do that anymore because things still work out. Even when the plan changes, it all works out.
Now when I decided to bring some structure back it wasn’t an easy task. My son is a very stubborn boy. We played “bull” for quite a few days trying to see which one of us was going to outlast the other. It was not fun and I wasn’t sure I had it in me anymore. At one point I was ready to throw in the towel and I got a call from a great lady who sat on the phone with me, reminding me how I did it before and telling me it was okay I got off track. That’s life! It was the perfect motivator and rejuvenated me, and then I realized he was throwing in the towel instead. I didn’t go back to all of the lessons and strategy’s we recently learned. I did take pieces of them though and found a way to make it work. Eventually he stopped fighting me. The power of a cable TV is pretty darn strong. I learned that’s the key, at least for my son. I don’t sit next to him constantly redirecting him to clean his room. He just didn’t get the TV until he did what I asked him to do. Slowly I realized his fights weren’t such terrible battles anymore. He was learning it was better to just get it over with and do what mom asked. I wince at typing this for fear that I may ruin the progress. (Knock on wood Heather, quickly before it’s too late!)
Today I made my dear son pick up the mess in the living room. It was his after all. I keep the remote until he finishes the job. He needed to clear his dirty dishes, pick up the wrappers and re-organize the stack of DVD’s he took out. When he asked me nicely for the remote I just calmly reminded him “Sure, once you finish picking up the living room”. There is no caving in from me, at least not today. I checked the room before I gave him the remote. Something I always needed to do before, but was too exhausted from work to follow through with. Now he doesn’t waste my time with 10 trips of me checking to see he had not done anything yet. I just calmly ask “Did you get the dishes yet? And the trash? And those DVD’s got put back in the proper cases right?” That last one took him a little while. He just kept whining and pouting how hard it is and why should it matter if they are in the right cases if they’re just his movies anyway? I just simply answered the question, calmly stating “because I said so” at the end. Eventually, after about an hour, maybe two, he finally did all the steps, properly. And he was proud of himself. (and I am proud of us both!)
I write this detailed reminder not for other parents who may read this and need the tips. I write it to remind ME why it’s working now. I’m not frantically pacing the house to get all the chores done and stressing about all those papers I still need to get done at the office. I’m not stressed out because I still haven’t had the time or energy to organize the closet. My mind isn’t racing with 30 things I need to make sure gets done at work because I’m doing 3 people’s work while they get to relax watching YouTube, frustrated at the lack of concern the owner has about his own company. I’m not angry anymore about the lack of involvement and interest he had. I’m not stewing over the fact that the owner is an unreasonable and unappreciative jerk blowing me off every time I discuss logical and necessary changes to be addressed. Sigh…I was overworked, unappreciated and undervalued which contributed to a toxic work environment, I’m not dealing with that anymore. I’m not thinking which step of the new behavior strategy I forgot to follow through with either. I’m not stressing. I’m breathing. I’m calm.
I’m still in a storm, but I’m okay, me and the kids. I understand the term “calm after the storm” and I have faith that it’s all going to work out. I just hope I’m right.