Hitting the wall

How we're all feeling these days

Last week, it seems like my whole family hit the wall. The school-is-no-longer-fun, extra-curriculars-are-too-much, work-house-food-evenings-are-overwhelming Wall. We also had a cold snap and everything felt very hard.

So my blog post didn’t get written. Almost everything else that seemed urgent got done – certain work deadlines made, everyone reasonably fed and to bed somewhat on time, homework turned in. But as the piles piled up, dust bunnies grew, the potted geraniums braved freezing nights, it all felt awful and draggy. We all felt angry at life and wanted to blame each other.

I started this blog for both personal and professional reasons, but it’s the personal that’s yelling at me. Making each post is an important time to reflect, to think, to deepen, so that my life is not lost in silly, soul-draining details. Example of latter: Mother to pouting, snarly, child:  “This is the cracker you will get for your lunch snack because this is the cracker we have in the house because I did not go to the store yesterday to get your favorites because I refuse to go to the store every day, and this cracker had better not come home at the end of the day!” (Note: This cracker is probably crushed out on the playground somewhere.).

So, something that feeds me got put by the wayside for other things, and I’m wondering why it is continuously so hard to keep “me” things near the top of the to-do list. Planning gets thrown out the window in favor of day-to-day maintenance details that drain me pretty quickly. Parking lots, stores with aisles of crap, finding my sieve outside used on driveway dirt, fifty phone calls to arrange one outing, long weekends that are fun but throw the work schedule off, battles over music practice, battles over homework, battles of teethbrushing, battles over getting out of the house on time.

When you pack in the fun – autumn hikes, family overnights to friends, special events —  then somehow the base of a life can disappear, as it did this last week. Meditations poorly done if at all, only a little exercise that was tiring anyway, bad food in a hurry.

The other day, I was heating hot cereal and milk and saw something I’d never seen before – a thin, film of milk stretched over the top of the bubbling food right at the edge of the pan. Not spilling, not losing it, just pulled very, very tight, very thin. A message straight from the universe’s kitchen to me.

So, time to zero down to the very basics. Again.  I’m pulling it together slowly, getting up earlier, meditating despite how fruitless it feels, more yoga, very simple dinners, nonexistent social life, blog posts instead of yard clean-up, and…looking again, more deeply at my girls.

Both of them still love to hover around digital clocks to watch am turn to pm, or the :59 turn to the new hour.

One has decided hair brushing is out – she’s been good and attentive most of her life, so I’ll let it go.  I think she’s going to get over it.

They sing, both of them, all day long.

All B wants to do is draw.

L cried the other morning when she didn’t get up in time to watch the full moon set behind the hills. She needed a quick round yellow circle drawn on a piece of paper held up to the window to soothe her.

Today, the house is quiet. I feel myself spreading out in calm.

I don’t quite yet know how to not get all wound up inside at the piles of stuff all over the kitchen (you’d think after 10 years I’d have figured this out), but I dusted my bedside table yesterday. It’s an oasis, a start. All over again.

How do you keep it together as a parent? How do you rejuvenate yourself when you are drained and discouraged? Post a comment and let me know!

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14 Responses to Hitting the wall

  1. christine says:

    i just reread the blog,
    I do wish I could say something positive. I often say “this too shall pass”, but truthfully I know I will revisit the same feelings at a later date. It is hard.
    I commend you for taking the time to write it all down. I got the feeling you were able to leave it there, in the blog, for us to see, and that you got on with your life. I so related to your words. Thanks for putting my life in focus. It liked the way you were able to find things that made you appreicate your kids, the clock and the moon.
    They won’t be at this age forever and so I find if I can spot the things that I like about them it is helpful.
    Happy Sunday

  2. growingmygirls says:

    Thank you Christine. What I’m finding is that taking the time to write it down is something that is almost vital if I can get it in — it slows life down enough so I can remember that I have a full and good one, rather than just the strain of being irritated by parking lots and going to the store endlessly. Anais Nin writes “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection” — did you ever read her diaries? I ate them up in my 20s…
    And I know they’re getting older — I’m scared of missing too much! And I know that hitting the wall is a regular occurrence, sigh.

  3. Oh golly! Walls. We jammed into our wall during the third week of September. Same time, every darn year. All three of ’em home from school with their first head cold, grey circles under the eyes from meeting the 7:10 a.m. bus, and smack in the middle of soccer, ballet, piano yadda yadda. For us the transition from *carefree* to *deep in the middle* seemed to coincide with that first chilly morning when the furnace turned on. Ugh. You’re a writer and an observant one at that. I hope you find time to re-energize that inner Mom battery while you’re taking an hour for yourself with book, pen, and a cup of tea. Am so impressed with your blogging. Way better than reading the Family Circus comics. Just think what the girls will have to read when they’re our age. How they will appreciate the time you took to put it all down in print. Such an act of love. (-:

    • growingmygirls says:

      Thank you Talie — I intend it as an act of love for them and me. And yes, I think the heat being turned on has something to do with all this — just more brittle. I spend October or so deeply chilled until I adjust somehow. And I hope I’m doing better than Family Circus!

  4. Meg Ferguson says:

    our kids are older- mostly out of the house now, and we miss them! — but we too had many years of whirlwind days and nights, frantic hunting for a worksheet or piece of sports equipment or violin sheet music, 9 pm trip to the store for posterboard, tears over disappointments, fussing over disliked food, arguments over picking up rooms. Like everything else in life, when you are parenting you have to set priorities — and don’t sweat the small stuff! As kids head into teenage years it becomes even more important to pick your battles and find a Zen calmness as they attempt to provoke you (like by abandoning hair brushing!). Have to say, though, that if both of your girls are singing all the time, you are clearly doing a LOT right!!! Other trick is to figure out what is key restorative for you – perhaps a couple of friends/fellow mothers you need to be in frequent touch with, whether it’s when you walk together or have coffee or Bible study or whatever time you can all consistently carve out together, the friends and the activities may shift year to year but those were the lifelines that kept me sane.

    • growingmygirls says:

      Thanks so much Meg for your tips and observations. I think part of hitting the wall is that you are sweating the small stuff…because everything seems big!! And because maybe connections to women friends etc…, getting alone time, etc… all need to shifted, bumped up, etc… We haven’t yet had the 9pm trip to the store for posterboard (and part of me is saying “Absolutely not!!”), but I’m sure that time will come…

  5. Deborah Burns says:

    You are a superb mother! First, cataloging all of these rights of passage and ‘stages’ is so meaningful and moving despite your – and their – frustrations before, during, and after. We all identify with you and with them, and offer a warm hug to you during with these bittersweet and fleeting moments. Before you know it they will be off to college and we will be dumbfounded as to how that happened so quickly. Carpe Diem my dear friend. Bravo!

    • growingmygirls says:

      Thanks for the support Deb! I need as many hugs as I can get, especially from someone as busy as you! Because they’re going to be out of here before I know it is exactly why I’m doing this!

  6. Is it in the air? I’ve got more time than ever and yet my days seem to fly and I only get half of what I want to get completed done!
    I agree with Deborah- it goes fast!

    • growingmygirls says:

      Yep, it’s in the air. Beautiful red and yellow leaves, pumpkins, and…tension. The earth seems to be handling fall just fine (maybe the trees are crying about losing their leaves), but us humans, or at least this family of humans, are just flummoxed!

  7. I felt like this earlier this year. What helped me is getting a babysitter to come over once a week (or trade babysitting with someone else if you can’t or don’t want to spend the $8/hr). However, my babysitter went back to college and now it feels overwhelming again. I constantly feel like one of those plate spinning performers. You’re constantly spinning plates and there’s always one wobbling in the background that you have to rush and fix and by the time you’re done fixing it, there’s another one wobbling. You can either reduce the number of plates or be okay with wobbly ones.

    • growingmygirls says:

      The first reaction I have to your post is where did you find a $8-an-hour babysitter!!! 😉 It’s been a long time since I could find someone who charged that! However, it may be because I haven’t had mother’s helpers that I had to drive home, and we live fairly far out from town. But thank you for that suggestion — I am looking into ways to carve out more time. I love your metaphor — that’s exactly what this is, an endless plate-spinning act that spans years!

  8. ssheers says:

    I am a list/calendar/routine person, so I try to keep that kind of stuff up to date. Each one of us has a different bag for each activity, so on the way out the door to soccer, for example, all she has to do is grab the soccer bag.

    On the other hand, I am hopeless at organizing things like the pantry, the linen closet, the pots&pans. Any time anybody in our house needs a pot or a pan, there is a loud crash. One of my daughters invited a friend over and organized all our art supplies.

    For myself, I exercise every day at least 25 minutes a day, there are certain blogs I read, and I love reading novels. I also enjoy facebook and baby bird webcams. I try not to get into anything that’s too addicting, like farmville, because I know I have an addictive personality. And when the weather is nice, I try to get outside. I find I really need time alone to recharge my batteries.

  9. growingmygirls says:

    I too really need recharge time, and sometimes, the way life is working out, it’s almost impossible to get. And hence, the retooling of things — more yoga and meditation early in am etc… give me a much better start to the day. I live by lists, but I hate doing it, so after a while I find myself letting it all slide, with the predicted consequences, (none of them too terrible), and then I get back in the saddle. LOVE your baby bird web cams!

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