Saturday, July 16, 2016

Oddly Specific Moms - AKA All of Us

I am up too late.

I'm often up too late. I don't fall asleep easily, but I love to sleep. Sleep. Coffee. Chocolate. Is that basic? Well, I do like Starbucks.


I'm up late because 1. I'm not sleepy enough to sleep, and 2. I just finished prepping for Sunday a little while ago. And I decided, I want to talk about this. I'm a mom, and there are basically forty bazillion articles floating about the wide web targeted at me. Probably a good chunk of them would remind me to go to bed early and wake up early so that I'm ahead of the game, and ready before my kids open their eyes. That is such a good idea. It is. I'm not mean-girling here, that is really just solid stuff.

Here's the thing. That's one piece of advice that doesn't actually work so well for me. I don't fall asleep easily, no matter how tired I am - it's something I have struggled with for my entire life. I've tried a variety of over the counter solutions to help, and I do have one that's fairly reliable, but I don't want to take it every night in order to do what the mom blogs say. So, I reserve it for when I feel I need it.

Is there a point to this oddly detailed dissertation on your sleeping habits, Candi? Why, yes there is. I am so glad you asked.

I guess I wish moms who are just a little newer at this whole thing than I could have someone tell them that sometimes really good advice is going to fail. It can be solid guidance that is absolutely essential for your BFF, and it might fail miserably for you.

It's acutely cliche to repeat this - but there is no one like you. You are also oddly specific. You have weirdities (it's a word because I say it is, stand down spellcheck) that I cannot know or "get" or account for. And while life cannot accommodate all of our odd specificity and personal nuance, you will be a better person if you take the time to know yourself well.

I'm up late because I soaked in a long bath - a favorite indulgence of mine. I put off the dishes to do it. But I knew that if I left the dishes in the sink, I would feel stress as soon as I saw them tomorrow. Tomorrow (now today) is Sunday, and church starts at 9am. I don't like 9am. I don't like dressed and present at 9am, I should say. But I love going to church, and I love Sunday, and I need to not wake up at ugly-o-clock and feel stress when I'm already probably angryish at my husband for waking me up to begin with. Yes, you can feel sorry for him. Yes, I can set my own alarm. No, I'm not going to do it.

I know that staying up to have a clean kitchen tomorrow is, for me, much more valuable than going to bed early. I know that I can probably take a nap tomorrow (thank God we've reached that phase of life). I tried the "embracing the mess" route, and it was a short route and I hated it. That's not for me, although I would gladly hire someone else to do the chores if life allowed for that at this juncture.

I know myself, now, well enough to know that I can palpably feel my stress level drop when certain areas of the house are tidy. I've also learned that sometimes I need to just close the kids' bedroom doors and not worry about that at the moment.

Having been a mom for almost nine years, I've learned some of my own stress triggers, and I'm still learning. It took me way too long to realize that life doesn't need to look like a commercial, but I do need to be healthy.

If I could give you an assignment right now - from a still-young mom who is easing up on 9 years at this, it would be to listen to your involuntary stress responses right now, and think about what you can do to address them. When you feel that little ping of stress or you feel that weight creep up in your chest, what caused it? These triggers are some of our personal, specific nuances, and knowing them is absolutely invaluable. Here are a few of mine:

I don't watch crime shows anymore if they are too detailed or involve children - they get in my head. It affects me. It's a trigger.

I don't leave my bed un-made. I make it quickly and imperfectly because I know that looking at a messy bed makes me feel messy. It's a trigger. I avoid it.

I have learned that if my home smells good, I am significantly more relaxed - so I own an essential oil diffuser and several wax warmers. They are worth it. 

I don't bathe my kids every single night, unless they really need it. I have a life.

I don't sort my laundry into colors anymore. So far, I haven't ruined anything. But...

I don't leave unfolded laundry lying anywhere except a small basket reserved for unfolded things or folded towels. Piles of laundry are, you guessed it, a trigger.

These are some of my specific nuances. These are, by no means, an attempt to tell anyone the right way to do things. These are a few ways that I get by as a mom and as a human being and manage life and stay sane. Some of them mean more work for me, and some mean letting things go.

And as I said before, you too are oddly specific. It is worth your time to learn what affects you the very most, and creatively address those things. It may mean giving up an area in which you feel you have to conform to an ideal Mom Persona you've manufactured in your mind.

There are competing voices all over the internet - some telling you how to accomplish life more effectively, and some pushing you to loosen up and let go. There is so much value in both of those things, but it's an impossible mission unless you start by knowing yourself and your family and what you actually, truly need.

Well, y'all, I am finally going to bed - signing off to the hum of the dishwasher, and I hope to wake up to the smell of roast slow-cooking to perfection in the crock pot. Happy, Happy Sunday.

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