Today I received a number of emails and FB posts from friends regarding my “Math” post from last night. I even received a phone call. I don’t know how to say thank you to all of the people who supported what I wrote through email, FB, voicemail. It makes being vulnerable easier, that is for sure.
Tonight, while I feel like I should respond to a number of those messages, I’m choosing to tell you about my day instead – to talk about what I did or tried today that filled me. Hopefully in some way, this post will be a little bit of a start of a response to all of those wonderful messages.
Before I talk about today, though, I wanted to share some key things today from different messages I received because they further explain that which I was trying to express yesterday.
“now I know it's not just me... “ – So true. It’s hard not to feel alone sometimes when dealing with these feelings, because having a baby is a “normal” part of life and what we feel after we have a baby should be normal too, right? But for how long? And what really is normal? And it’s hard to accept that maybe what we’re feeling isn’t normal. And that we need help. I read a statistic in the doctor’s office on Monday about the number of mothers that are suspected to have post partum depression or anxiety versus the actual number that seeks help. I don’t remember the number, but it wasn’t good.
Another thought… I won’t copy the exact sentence, but it was akin to the fact that the more other people tell me how together I am or whatever, the harder I am on myself and the harder it is to keep it all together.
“And so what if one of them [all of the balls you’re juggling] falls once in a while ~ life won't stop as you know it.” – This is almost exactly what my therapist said yesterday. What absolutely needs to happen today and what doesn’t. How can you focus on taking care of yourself instead of constantly working to make everyone happy and everything perfect. What can you let drop off your plate… maybe just for today or maybe indefinitely. The world isn’t suddenly going to implode because you chose not to do the laundry tonight. (Did you know that? Because I sure didn’t.
“My answer was, 'I beat myself up for not doing something right.'” – This is me. “Not doing something right” can be as simple as wondering whether I did enough for today and then beating myself up if I don’t think that I did.
“I need to cut myself some slack...I just don't know how” – this is exactly how I feel – I don’t know how to cut myself some slack. Not in the least. Today I realized just how profound yesterday’s assignment was – do something that fills you. Focus on being nicer / less negative to myself. Cutting myself slack. Not focusing on being superwoman but instead focusing on finding that little bit of joy.
Which leads a bit into today. A few weeks ago I signed up to be a chaperone for Raven’s class at daycare to go to the zoo today. I am still on maternity leave and won’t have these sorts of opportunities going forward without using PTO, so it seemed liked a win for Raven and I to spend some quality time together. Yes, I was going to have to bring Anna with, but at least the focus would be on Raven.
As we were rushing around this morning to not be late to daycare and Anna screamed her bum head off because one of her big sisters woke her up before she was ready to be awake, I kept saying to myself over and over again, “Let this be what fills you today, let this be what fills you today.”
Arriving at daycare and helping prep for the trip suddenly led to Anna being left at daycare (on purpose) – the infant room ladies offered to watch her so that I could go and enjoy the day with Raven by myself. I only had about 5 minutes to decide and had everything I needed with me for Anna as she was supposed to be along for the ride anyway, and I took the opportunity. She’ll be going there to daycare anyway. (She did great, by the way, and I was too busy being a chaperone with other women to a bunch of 2 year olds to worry about her!) And suddenly I was free to enjoy a solid four hours with only my middle child – something I don’t think we’ve done for… a very long time.
And this is where my “issues” take over. I had to choose repeatedly to enjoy today. I constantly found myself comparing myself to the other mothers in the group – was I a good mom? Maybe not. Does my daughter have a mean streak right now because I’m not a good enough mom? Maybe. I started to berate myself… and then would catch myself. Refocus on the day. Refocus on the opportunity I had. I wish I could say this only happened once but it didn’t. It happened repeatedly. I constantly had to bring myself back to center and remember to enjoy the time and not nit pick it.
My favorite memory of today… the lions. Raven saw the large male lion and screamed, “Simba!” My heart caught in my throat. I don’t know if you read my post about the Lion King and the stuffed animals we have, but she instantly saw the lions and recalled the movie. It filled my heart with joy. Suddenly the other children started screaming, “The simbas! Simbas!” Some of the other adults looked puzzled – I explained why Raven said that. It was a connection… a bright spot… my vessel filling… to experience that with her today.
And despite the fact that Raven weighs close to 30 pounds, I also really enjoyed that last 20 minutes of the zoo trip where I carried her. We don’t get to cuddle/snuggle as much anymore as we used to, and it was a blessing to hold her close to me, breathe in her sunscreen-skin smell, feel her sweaty hair on my face. I felt close to her. So very close to her. And my vessel filled a bit more.
So, what is something today that I did for me that filled me up? I chose to enjoy the zoo with Raven. I chose. I chose. I chose.
Why is that choosing so hard? Why is it hard to choose joy at times?
Looking forward to working through that and figuring that out.
I am thankful for all of my friends who are lifting me up in prayer right now as well – as another friend put it today, “my family and friends picked up "the 4 corners of my mat" and carried me until I could stand up again”. Thanks to all of you who are carrying the corners of my mat. You mean the world to me.
I’m looking forward to tomorrow. I’m looking forward to whatever it is I decide tomorrow is that thing that fills me. It’s interesting – approaching each day with that attitude. To choose to have something fill you instead of letting the negativity and anxiety and outside world take over. This will be an interesting journey. I can’t say that I didn’t experience my fair share of complete anxiety and negativity today because I sure did – but for those few hours today I understood what it really meant to enjoy life.