Maybe I just need a zen garden.  (Photo credit: Raul654 [CC-BY-SA-3.0], Wikimedia Commons
Maybe I just need a zen garden. (Photo credit: Raul654 [CC-BY-SA-3.0], Wikimedia Commons)
Tense. Impatient. Seething with barely-concealed, simmering frustration. Permanently pyjama-clad.

That was me, last week. By Friday, I just didn’t feel like  myself anymore. I had completely lost the joy of being a stay-at-home parent. Instead of feeling fortunate to be home with my boys all day, I felt angry and put-upon. I didn’t want to step on dropped Cheerios, fold laundry, do the endless cook-clean up-repeat, and entertain two little people who can’t keep up their end of a conversation.

I was losing patience, too – I had no tolerance for the boys’ antics, which are usually endearing, and I was feeling outright hostile when they did typical toddler things – pitching tantrums, resisting diaper changes, throwing their sippy cups on the floor. I was teetering on a precipice. I felt like I was losing all perspective and the ability to just be the grown-up in these situations.

And then I looked at the calendar. I realized I had been with the boys for every waking minute for 22 days straight, with the exception of a short doctor’s appointment one afternoon. And the vast majority of that time had been me, alone, as J has had a number of work commitments on evenings and weekends lately. That’s every meal, every diaper change, every bedtime. No wonder my world had started to feel very small.

Then, finally, last weekend: relief. I went to a 90 minute hot yoga class and ran some errands on Saturday morning. I was out of the house, alone, with only myself to worry about, for almost 4 hours. And for the first time since the boys were born, I didn’t feel guilty about it. I didn’t feel I had to rush to come home.  “You’ve earned this,” I thought to myself.  And I enjoyed every second of it.

And then on Sunday: family time. No housework.  J and I took the boys for a walk in the park, and when they napped in the afternoon we sipped gin and tonics on the deck.  Sometimes in the rush of daily life I forget how much I enjoy my husband’s company – and how great it is to co-parent, together.  It’s nice when the responsibility for making sure the boys don’t eat rocks doesn’t fall solely on my shoulders.

By Sunday night, I felt like myself again.  I was able to look at my family with fresh, appreciative eyes.  And on Monday morning, when R and D threw their usual pre-breakfast tantrum, I was able to say to myself “this will pass,” and we got through it.  Later, when they got into the diaper wipes and scattered them all over the floor, instead of inhaling sharply through gritted teeth and seething with impatience, I actually laughed.  It was, after all, very small potatoes.

So, it’s true what they say, all those parenting magazines.  You really do need to make time for yourself.  I don’t know why I thought I was the exception; why I thought I was some different breed of “better,” stronger parent that could just be 100% mom, 100% of the time.  I can’t.  And admitting you have a problem is the first step to conquering it, right?

Taking time for myself makes me a better mom and wife.  I’m putting it in writing so I don’t forget.

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16 thoughts on “Serenity now!

    1. For the longest time, grocery shopping was my reprieve! My husband would offer to do it and I would get all possessive of it – “no! You stay here! I’m going!” Haha.

      As for more “advanced” – I doubt it! My metaphorical hat goes off to anyone who can wrangle three kids. Three seems impossible! But you’re doing it 🙂

  1. It does get tough sometimes and you lose sight of all that you have. Sometimes I get upset about life (my job or our finances etc.) but they when they look at me and smile it all melts away, like nothing else matters.
    With my son, walking the dogs once hubs was home was my daily escape. Now with three, its not that easy but I have found blogging to be a lot of fun. Plus, things are different this time. I don’t want to escape! When they are not with me I feel like I am missing something. I am sure that will change once they are older and the novelty wears off! LOL
    You are a great mother so take some me time, you deserve it!

  2. It creeps up on you. All of a sudden you are angry and you do not stop to think why. I try to schedule time for myself whenever I can. Not always easy.

    1. It’s sneaky, how it slips away from you. Sometimes I find it takes a conscious effort to find it again! My yoga teacher would call it “practicing gratitude” – which is a little much for me, but a very good idea nonetheless.

  3. Wow! Thanks for this post. Glad to know I’m not alone. I’ve been feeling a little bit of Cabin Fever this week as I’ve dropped all else to stay home ALL day and potty train 🙂 There have defintiely been frustrating moments…..this is a good reminder! We’re only human! (Even if we want to think of ourselves as “Super Moms”)

  4. I have to remind myself to take time for me, too. Just today, I told my hubby that I would be happy to go pick up lunch for the family… Alone. Unfortunately, my 4 month old has recently started a bottle strike, so my alone time may be some what limited until we can convince her otherwise, or she starts depending more on solid food. Sigh. This, too, shall pass. LOVE your blog!

  5. Stay at homes Moms do deserve time alone, time away from kids. My wife also says she feels guilty because she loves her alone time or girls time out. As a dad, I also love my child time, time to catch up and be playful. Its the only time I can act immature and get back to being a kid. I tell my wife to leave and go have some time to herself, but she never gave in, so now I just call her friends, they invite her out, then its daddy time.

    1. Good on you! It’s true though, I think my husband really does enjoy some time alone with the boys, and he does have to push me out the door on occasion. Its pretty easy for stay-at-home parents to get caught in the trap of feeling the home will stop functioning without them. Good on you for being such a great dad and husband 🙂

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