The first week of summer has concluded, and I am fucking exhausted. It’s not that I did a lot – I didn’t. I can’t. Normally, the kids are in summer camp, but I am on disability, and $2,000/month (Yes, really, and that’s cheap) is just not feasible. I cannot go back to work yet, because the meds are giving me such bizarre side effects, and they are constantly switching, which constantly has me dealing with new side effects. (ugh.) This all makes everything harder, too, because I’m coping with panic attacks, depression, and continuous mood instability. I am afraid the kids will see me struggle as much as I am. As such, I must muster all of my Libra-y goodness and strike a balance (possibly a pose) between self-care and daycare.
The most difficult part for me, if I am honest (which I don’t see why I’d lie, that seems relatively pointless, but random superlatives are fun) is being around my children so often. Don’t get me wrong, I adore them. I also adore not being around them, and silence. My ears have been assaulted to the point I don’t even want to listen to anything when I have free time (unless it’s Alan Watts chillstep mixes, because damn…). The sound of silence is the most heavenly sound I can hear. I have also been told I am a highly sensitive person, which is an amazing combo with three children who hop out of bed with the energy of crackheads on 8 day benders. It leaves me feeling like the remnant of the crack pipe, frankly.
Aside from whining, what do I do? Well, for one, I ignore my children. I tend to their basic human needs, of course, but then I leave them to their own devices until about noon. At noon, they are ceremoniously kicked outside, and later on, I take them swimming. I got hooked on gardening. I mean, seriously, seriously hooked. As a matter of fact, I’m typing this with dirty fingers because I just made a little veggie garden bed, and a lettuce planter, and an herb planter.
This goes with my rose planter, my mandevilla planter, hanging planters, and about 53497 indoor plants. As Jack says, “Damn, with you anything worth doing is worth overdoing.” In the words of Walter White, “You’re goddamn right.” Anyway, so the kids have been getting in on the gardening game. I put hanging planters in their rooms and I took them to this awesome nursery where we picked out a bunch of succulents. So, tomorrow, our little project will be making succulent planters for our rooms. My idea was to get bigger sized containers, so they can each pick a toy or two to set the scene with – I suggested My Little Ponies to Shock, dinosaurs to Barrel, and Lego figures to Lock. I already made myself one succulent garden and it’s got a little fairy in it, because I’m an overgrown 15 year old girl. Thank god I am creative.
Becoming a garden gnome aside, (seriously, it is one of the BEST ways of coping with anxiety!!!) my rule with them has been singular and simple: “You may not have a single minute of screen time until your rooms are clean.” It’s working great, really. Super, super great. Oh, excuse me, I need to go remove small legos from my feet, and I think I saw hidden food wrappers in a corner… Sigh. I am proud of myself in a really weird way. I am not freaking out about the state of the house, nor am I letting myself clean constantly. I tend to think of things like obstacles or challenges, because I’m stubborn. I feel like everything is happening the way it is to challenge me to take care of myself no matter what.
That probably sounds trite and about as obvious as eating daily, but for me self care is not natural. I hear this issue repeated among 90% of the women I know. I realize I am not running a census and this is purely anecdotal, but I’ve heard this theme repeated in group therapies, support groups, spiritual wu wu gatherings, etc. It got me thinking: why the hell does no one seem to know how to take care of themselves?
Then, I kind of looked at my crackheads, and I realized I’m scared to put me first. If I put myself first, two really warm and fuzzy words pop to mind: Selfish and Narcissist. Hmm. You know why I have yet to have a successful relationship/marriage/etc? Because I’m batshit crazy! No, no, not really. Well, maybe. Additionally, I forget how to be me in a relationship. Suddenly, I’m the keeper of someone else’s happiness, and that supersedes my own. Such bullshit. As a Mom? Good god. I am the Alpha and Omega of Love, Lucky Charms, and Laundry.
So, whaddya do? Maybe it’s the Libra in me, but it all comes back to balance. As important as it is for me to be left alone, it is important for my kids to learn how to entertain themselves. Done. As important as it is for me to love myself, it is important for me to be an example to my children. All the platitudes in the world are worthless if I’m showing them I don’t give a flying fuck about myself. I realize that my children will be what they will be, but fuck me if my daughter goes through the hell I choose for myself.
Is it narcissistic to put your own needs before someone else? Narcissist comes from Narcissius, who fell in love with his reflection. His. Reflection. A narcissist is superficial and their wants supplant your needs. My need for solitude is not on the same level of my want for an XL chocolate milkshake with a whipped cream and cherry. The same holds true of selfishness. I think we all know this, but use both of these words to dissuade ourselves from saying, “Me first” or “This is not my problem” and so on.
I think the easiest way to tend to your own needs is to bring the kids along. Kids are voracious in their desire to learn new things, and “to be like grown ups”. If you think about it, no one is a reflection of you more than your children. (Kind of makes you ponder the Narcissius thing a bit more, right? Do you love your kids, or your kids potential for correcting your mistakes? etc.)
I believe that souls attract one another. My children chose me as their mother as much as I chose them as my children. I’ve said it before, and I will say it a million times, my kids are far more wise than I am. I’m just more intelligent than they are, presently. It is my job to attempt to deflect the bullshit from making them dumb, as well as create the soil, seeds, and nurturing that will help them grow into a fucking gardening analogy because I’m a dork.
Point is, we as a unit are crucial to one another. I teach them, they teach me. Yet, in truth, I must be the most important, because I am the example setter (and the one who knows how to drive). So, I bring them in my world and let them see what kicks what for them. Shock is hooked on meditation! Every night, I have to give her a guided meditation. She only wants me to do it, and she is asleep in 8 minutes or less. All three love collecting crystals, which is AMAZING bribery. All three love incense, and I use that every night to signify bedtime, help them relax, and seriously – it helps the boys. Barrel is a nightmare at bedtime, but the incense has, I think, given a Pavlovian effect on him, that he smells it and gets drowsy. If you’re interested, I’ll write one of my meditations I do for Shock in the comments. The boys don’t really like it – they prefer music, which is the first part of my world I brought them in. When all else fails, YouTube dance parties serve everyone’s soul.
So, we shall see how much my small (but mighty) ass gets kicked over the next week. I am thankful to have time with them, and I’m thankful for the challenge to keep saying “me first”. I am hopeful that I do set the example they need, and they look up to me as much as I look up to them.