Let me tell you something that no one told me about summertime. For working moms (and maybe stay at home moms too – I am the former, so that is all I know).
I used to love summers. The slower pace, unstructured days/weeks, vacation travel…
These things that I used to love are now my enemies. I have a shit-ton to do. Who has time to relax and go with the flow??? NOT ME! Well – that’s what I thought until I HIT THE WALL on Monday.
On Monday, I was guilty of doing what I do best:
- Having unrealistic expectations
- Taking on too much
- Trying to control uncontrollable situations
Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Well – no one got hurt, my partner Jerry dealt with my drama, and I practiced some self-care and realized I needed some alone time to do some “work” on myself. I went for a long walk on the beach, and played my favorite play list REAL LOUD. I finally allowed myself to FEEL some things that I have been avoiding. If anyone out there saw a fast-walking woman crying and then laughing on the Isle of Palms on Monday night – well, you maybe you thought you saw a crazy lady, but really you just witnessed me having the “feels”.
Have you ever fought a nagging feeling? Trying to just “power through” without really getting to the root of the issue? I do this all the time! Then I realize how exhausting it is to play “Whack a Mole” with my emotions – because just like that dang game, that mole pops up somewhere else no matter how hard I hit it. It’s like playing through the pain – I think I can overcome it by just buckling down, by trying harder…working harder. Oh, doesn’t it just sound exhausting??
I have learned some good lessons over the years – and I recognize when my wiring gets me into trouble. I literally can feel it in my body. I am a giver and a doer, and am self-reliant – these are qualities I really like about myself, but too much of a good thing is…not a good thing.
My walk helped me to release that nagging feeling – to finally FEEL it, own it, and start to move through it. At first it felt a little ugly to admit to myself what I was feeling… which is this: I finally realized that on days like Monday, I miss my more simple, carefree life that I had before becoming a full-time mom. In doing so, I brought that darkness out into the light and saw it for what it was – fear. Once I did that, I felt a release – which was followed up with a renewed sense of myself, and something I can only describe as forgiveness – a feeling that helped me to be kinder to myself, and that resulted in some self-confidence and hope that all was going to be ok.
I am pretty sure that every parent feels this way at times. I think is natural and healthy for parents to feel this way – and it felt liberating to realize I can feel this fear while at the same time loving my stepson Eric unconditionally.
My lessons learned:
- Expectations: Expecting myself to be a super hero is setting myself up for failure. I felt like a failure on Monday. As much as I admire Wonder Woman – I am not her. I am human, and I need to cut myself some freaking slack. And if you are reading this and nodding your head – you probably could benefit from doing the same thing! Failure is not a kind word. I value kindness, and I value myself – so I am purging the word failure from my vocabulary. I value my ability to do a lot – but I also value myself and my sanity! I can fail (the word fail is totally fine) – I can fail – I have and I will again – and that helps me to learn – but I am not a FAILURE. Nope. Let’s just not use that word to describe ourselves anymore – got it?
- Taking on too much. I have a few remedies for taking on too much:
- Say “NO.” Without explanation. “NO” is a one-word sentence. When I feel the need to explain myself, I see the people-pleaser coming out – that person who doesn’t want to disappoint someone, that co-dependent Laurie that takes care of other people at the expense of my own feelings. “No” helps me practice self-care and to continue to break those old habits that did not serve me well.
- Delegating to someone else. The trick is to allow that person to do it differently and maybe not as well as what you would have done. Because let’s be honest – I know there are a lot of us out there that can get a LOT of shit done, and done pretty well I might add! LOL – see how we can ourselves into trouble?? My friend once said, “I know if I got hit by a bus, my husband would probably feed my kids popcorn for dinner every night, but you know what – he would keep them happy and alive, and that is what matters.” That sentence has stayed with me for years – and helps me keep things in perspective. I know some incredible women who raise the bar HIGH. Expecting their partners, or really anyone else, to be as amazing as they are is… well…see #1!
- PAUSE. Take a minute to pause and get present. A quick exercise to get present is to go through your 5 senses – what do you see, smell, taste, feel, and hear in this moment? Pausing helps to get perspective – and often when I do, I can catch myself and realize that just because I am busy and “doing” does not mean I am accomplishing something that is meaningful. Pausing helps me connect to the bigger picture – my purpose. If the list of tasks I am trying to work through doesn’t serve that, I can let some things go.
- Ask for help. Self-explanatory, but usually not top of mind for me. That’s what I did on Monday, and guess what – Tuesday and Wednesday have been a whole lot better!
3. For trying to control uncontrollable situations – this one is tough. For me, recognizing what I am doing is a huge help. If I catch myself, I can sometimes redirect my energy. It sounds corny – but I use music a lot to help me relax and let go of control. Let it Be, Let it Go – whatever it takes!! I literally wear a ring that says, “Let it Be.” I need the constant reminder! Laughter, fun – anything I can do to help me lighten up also helps me to let go of control. Thankfully I have a partner that really helps me with this. Somehow Jerry can make me laugh during these episodes – there’s probably a survival instinct on his part, but hey – if it works, it works. Pausing to help someone else also helps me to gain perspective – and serves as a reminder that the world does not revolve around me. Taking some time to myself to do the “work” – to get to the root of my feelings, and to move through them rather than avoid them – that helps a lot.
Not quite sure how to sum up – besides to say that I am going to “slow jam” the rest of my week. And I hope you do too!
6 thoughts on “Nobody Told Me (There’d Be Days Like These)”
Thanks Laurie for this. I really needed it and appreciated the reminder to delegate!
Great post Laurie. I could relate to this in so many ways. I agree with you about summer, seems that everyone is going on summer vacation and we haven’t had one in 5 years, so I can’t relate with the frustration. And then there are all those breaks Spring Break, Summer Break, Fall Break, Winter Break — give me a break – LOL. Sometimes I feel that if I don’t do it, it won’t get done. Maybe it’s not supposed to get done, is it ever done? For me, it’s letting go of the perfection and saying good enough.
You are such a remarkable woman and I hope to see you soon.
Another great post, Laurie! I think it is so true that summers are really pretty crappy for working moms. And the memory of how good summers used to be makes it even more bittersweet. I’m going through something similar right now. My family is ALWAYS HERE! I have trouble focusing on my work, I feel fragmented and I feel forgotten.
So I’ll take your advice and PAUSE. I’m going on vacation at the end of next week. I could run around and try to get everything organized and taken care of before we go. But why? We’re just going to the beach. We don’t have to pack half the house. Just clothes and beach towels, right? We’re going to Cape Cod, not the moon. They have grocery stores in Massachusetts. It’ll be fine.
Thanks for sharing your emotions. It helps the rest of us make sense of ours. Big hug!
Kelly I totally get it! Feeling fragmented and forgotten is not fun. Talk about not getting your needs met…I hope Cade Cop is delightful! ENJOY it. And enjoy the anticipation of it rather than the pressure to be ready for EVERY little thing you may need.
This is lovely, Laurie. And so helpful. I love the part about saying no without explanation. Man, I need to do that more. And take long walks by myself. I need to do that more too.
I am glad you liked it Adrienne! I said no a few times more this week after Monday and felt some immediate relief. It’s a good practice!! I need to stay motivated to do that AND walk…