Wednesday, January 26, 2011

figuring it out

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The energy in our sick house earlier this week was so....nice. It's as if in "survival" mode (really, it wasn't that bad), you do the bare minimum, try to make sure everyone including yourself is comfortable, and the rest that you manage is gravy. Our day of health today threw us into chaos; our bodies are unexercised, our moods are itchy, tempers easily ignited, and our energy ricocheted around, slamming into others' space, getting us all into trouble. It's hard for all of us to reset the day and forgive all of the unnecessary comments or other slights; Eliza and I both have a tendency to want the last word, and Ani, well, she just doesn't stop talking.  We started over many times today; we separated, we got outside, we ran errands, we read books, we ate food, we read more books, we talked and talked and talked...we just couldn't shake it. And then it was gone. Maybe we just wore it out. Maybe we were just worn out. But supper was peaceful. Late, but peaceful. So was bedtime reading, and sleep was quick in coming. I find myself wondering how I can set us on the right path tomorrow; those first minutes in the morning seem to set the tone for the whole day. I can get so discouraged with what I view as trying to manage the emotional state of three people (Dan is on his own on this one!!), and really, it's no wonder I find it such an overwhelming task.  I can only change my own outlook, attitude, tone. Right? And if I set the right one, the one that is positive and accepting and calm and loving and patient, then even if my children awake with irritation and negativity, I can weather it and not spiral down with them.

I was recently talking with my sister and a friend of mine, about the idea of healthy narcissism (my friend's term), or attending to your needs.  What a concept. I grew up with the women in my life - my mom, my grandmothers, my aunts - supporting their husbands and their children in every endeavor and never speaking out loud about their needs that I can remember. In fact, I have a deep connection to the feeling that selflessness is among the most noble and virtuous attitudes to have.  My mother learned, through a divorce and several years of single parenting, how first to take care of her basic needs - shelter, food, a safe and healthy home for my sister - and then, so gradually, and well into her 50's, she started learning about meeting her needs. For herself. Needs that had nothing to do with me, or my sister, or any man in her life. She is a different person.  She is happy more content, grounded, confident.   She is very involved with her family, including my sister's family, my grandfather (who is almost 93!) and my great-aunt.  She is also able to recognize and meet her own needs for quiet time alone.  I have recently realized that I am close to the age she was when she began that transformation, through my parents' divorce, and I am really not that much closer to knowing how to attend to my needs.  She inspires me to figure it out.

I am writing this partly as a pep talk for myself; I don't have any resolutions or solutions, just an ongoing conversation with myself and others about how we as mamas, as parents, can do this. I have some incredible role models in my life right now, including my sister - women who really spend time and energy working on their mental and physical health, who attend to their emotional life, who pay attention to what they need - and you know what? It all really really makes a difference in their lives and to their families.

All right. I'm going to go sleep on that now. Tomorrow is a new day.

2 comments:

debbiedas said...

I so get this. We've been working so hard at starting our days off right, and when they do go a little wonky we work on bringing them back. Isaac will even say now, "Mummy...I think we need to start over." It's amazing having your kids on the same page.

For me, I need to get to bed early...and to address my other needs of space, creativity, connection to like-minded mamas. These things help to to remember why I parent/educate my child like I do and to be at my best while I do it.

I hope today was a better day. xoxo

alissa said...

one thing, is that it is a lot easier to find the time to take care of myself when my child is in school all day! i have made different choices than you have (different, not better or worse) and they happen (surprise!) to give me more time to myself, something I have always needed a lot of! but as your girls get older, your options are starting to open up and if you make yourself a priority, which I think you should, you'll find the time and space for self care. your kids need so much from you ( as they should!) and I love to see you seeking ways to fill yourself up for them. it doesn't just come from anywhere. you've got to find it and replenish yourself.
ok. done ranting. I love you!!!!