Isn’t it incredible how much our own feelings and attitudes rub off on our children? They are like sponges with it all.
I have been feeling very high strung, very focused on one thing (getting as many things checked off of my to-do list as possible), and very scared about the future. Well, what a surprise that my son is not the normal laid-back kiddo that he normally is. The slightest little thing will scare him, the tiniest little bump will have him bursting into tears, and the craziest things have him in a full-blown meltdown, screaming at the top of his lungs. Huh, wonder why?
I have been really pondering how I have changed since becoming a mother a little over 2 years ago. I have a much harder time relaxing and not letting stress get to me, and have become super controlling of time and getting things done. It didn’t all happen over night, but a slow change in me over the last 2 years. And, I think I have an idea about WHY.
My sole identity for the last 2 years was as R’s mom. Which I am glad to be, don’t get me wrong. But, I have a feeling that the stress of myself disappearing has actually been hurting R lately. I will do my best to explain myself here, so bare with me. In those first few months, it felt normal and natural to completely give of myself to my little son. It was a joy. Somewhere around the end of his first year, I started getting very antsy. So, my solution was to start getting myself busy, either with housework or volunteer work (with R in tow). I started getting myself REALLY busy. At first, this helped (it seemed). I was more present with R and had more patience. But it didn’t last long. I was never “filling my own cup” as they say…thus, my cup started running dry. It has been as such for the past few months. I have very little patience to actually sit down and play with my son. I find it boring to go on walks with just him (I normally love going on walks, and if W comes with R. and I, I don’t find it boring anymore). I get annoyed with him much easier. I count the minutes until he falls asleep for his nap or nighttime. I have a very hard time just “being” with him I feel like I have 20 other things that need to be done first (usually housework). In general, I am feeling like I have been acting like a rotten mom.
However, when I have been able to get away for an hour or more to relax, I come home feeling ready to be with my son, wanting to play with him, wanting to read him book after book, wanting to take him on a long walk by the river. I feel like a good mom again.
I think that there does come a point where you can give to much….or, at least, you can give too much while not taking care of yourself first. I think this all has been a very intense lesson for me that you can only give to others if you take care of yourself first. Which I need to do.
And this brings me back to my opening paragraph. It is partly BECAUSE I have not been taking care of myself that my stress levels are though the roof and I am walking on pins and needles all of the time. To be the best parent that I can, I need to take better care of myself. I have heard this many, many times, and I always shook my head in agreement, but now I know it.
I know that I am not perfect, and I don’t strive to be. But, from now on, I am going to stop watching the clock and enjoy my life. I am going to stop writing to-do lists and start doing what I see needs to be done (without going overboard). I am going to start making “me time” a priority instead of a luxury, for myself and my whole family’s sake. I am going to intentionally have a relaxed and joyful attitude about my life and the changes going on in it. I am going to start living each day as if it is my last (and would I want my last day on Earth filled with an unending list of chores or sweet time with my son?).
In short, I am going to relax my shoulders and exhale. I can release.