It's been a while since we've chatted. I've been busy. It's not you, it's me.
Coming off a down day yesterday. I'm realizing more and more that my daily mental well-being is very wrapped up in what amounts to about 15 minutes worth of negative interaction with my kids. Like basically my whole day is blown to shit if Lily is melting down or defiant (screaming/spitting/throwing glasses and clip) or Emma got bad grades at school or doesn't do her chores.
To understand yesterday's particular antecedent, let's hop in the wayback machine to a time just prior to the holidays when Lily's school picture came home and... though yes, every picture of Lily is a unique and beautiful snowflake...was garbage. So I sent them back in and set a reminder for makeup pictures.
|No amount of retakes was fixing this.|
They were taken yesterday.
The night before I scrubbed her and washed and conditioned her hair until my brush flowed through it like an oar gently gliding through placid water.
The next morning I had Lily in my lap, brushing her ...not quite so smooth...hair back into a tidy pony tail, which is currently the only hair styling technique that I've mastered, and Lily was squirming and uncomfortable, and by the time I was finished, she was pissed, and there were some loose strands of hair that I tried to clip back into the mix...but it ended up looking sloppy. So I started to redo it and Lily just kept getting madder and madder until I finally gave up, slid a clip in her hair and said fuck it.
But now Lily was mad. And so she was spitting and screaming (god that kid has lungs) "no" at everything I would say (example: Lily: I want wiggles. Jim: You want Wiggles? Lily: NOOOOOOO!), and refusing to go on the potty before getting on the bus (which adds more stress) and pulling her clip out and throwing it on the floor (more stress) until I finally got her on the bus. Her hair more or less completely undone. Picture day! Yay!
So I was feeling a little sorry for myself. Irritated at my inability to make Lily's hair look good for picture day. Frustrated with Lily's current mode of communicating her mood...namely spitting and throwing her glasses. This all happened over about a ten minute duration just prior to the arrival of the bus.
There were more things...general stuff...like requiring help for every little thing...rides to and from dance for Emma, not being able to get the kids to the eyeglass store to order glasses, that kind of stuff. And it all piled up all day and I was just...blue.
I'm not really sure how to combat that in the moment, but I do recognize a few things that have been lacking in my day to day life that generally help my overall mental...wellness:
This morning I decided to wear black shoes and black pants. I haven't worn those black pants for at least a month. I...had difficulty buttoning them. I'm wearing them right now. I'm so uncomfortable. I have picked up at least 6 pounds from the last time I looked at the scale and thought..."I need to lose a little weight." So...it's 6 plus whatever that last number was. It's a big number. Math is hard.
I had an ankle...injury (for lack of a better word) crop up that I had been using as sort of a convenient excuse for not getting back on the treadmill. I've addressed the injury to an extent. There's nothing more I can really do. It's time to get back on it and walk at the very least. Getting exercise DOES make me feel better. More awake. more aware. Better over all.
With that exercise will come a diet change. I've been eating really really badly of late. LOTS of snacking. I need to start counting calories and limiting portion sizes again. Back on myfitnesspal I go.
I need to get back into regular blogging at the very least as a creative outlet. This...vent session doesn't really count I don't think, but even this will probably be a bit cathartic. I have a little project I want to start working on, and haven't been able to carve out the time, but I think that's related to another issue.
I don't get a lot of sleep. When I do, I automagically feel better. My issue has always been that the time spent after the kids are asleep is my only real adult time. My bigger issue is that I've been using that time to do stupid shit like sit on my ass and play on my phone or watch tv instead of finishing lunches or cleaning dishes or making coffee for the next day, and I end up doing them until 12:00 or 12:30...with a 5:30 wakeup time looming. And...relaxing and just doing nothing is important too, but I think that if I can do a better job of motivating myself to finish chore type stuff early, I can get to bed earlier more consistently. When I get more sleep I am always MUCH more flexible and patient with the girls.
Connect with my kids
This is the hardest one to address. When I get home from work, I'm still on the clock. Making lunches or dinners and cleaning stuff. Emma is usually doing homework or at dance, and I can't play with Lily because I need to get dinner done...then I need to get dishes done...then I need to get bathtime done...and the next thing I know Lily is asleep. Emma and I both have withdrawn into our phones. She's chatting with friends or on instagram or snapchat. I'm playing clash royale or texting a friend.
Even when I notice what I'm doing and try to stop and engage her, I feel guilty that I'm taking her away from something she's enjoying just because *I* am feeling guilty about the screens between us. I need to reconnect with her and her sister both. Working on that. But when I am with my kids...laughing, making memories, listening, sharing...I am as happy as I have ever been.
Finish a Project
Maybe it should be a subcategory under "Creativity", but the project thing is a problem that compounds itself (maybe they all do...hmmm). I have a LOT of ideas for things I'd like to do around the house. I have started none of them. That makes me feel worse. I need to start a project...redecorate my bedroom leaps to mind. Firepit out back leaps to mind. Paint the risers on the steps leaps to mind. Put away all the christmas boxes leaps to mind (okay...not really a project, but something I'd feel better about once it's put away).
I sometimes think how neat it would be to by a fixer-upper to flip, or even to keep. Pour time into it and paint it and decorate it. Spend a little to buy it. Spend more to make it look amazing. And realize...I'm not even putting that time into the house I already own and live in. And that bums me out.
I always feel better when I can complete a project, even if it's as simple as slapping a coat of paint on something, and I can see a positive difference. And say..."I did that".
I'm generally pretty happy. But I've been struggling a bit lately. I honestly think if I can focus on those five things (with a couple more thrown in case by case) I'll feel a lot better. Then you won't be able to shut me up.