For as long as I can remember I would get a daily creeping sensation late in the afternoon. It was almost like I wanted to crawl out of my own skin. More often than not by four o’clock it seemed the entire world was talking like Peppermint Patty’s teacher.
And I really hated it. I would try my best to relax and be good-natured. But it was hard.
It only got harder when I became a mother. When the kids were little babies, it wasn’t too bad. The rocking and nursing sort melted them into me and it didn’t drain me the way it would later on. As toddlers, the never ending stream of questions and demands stretched me and the late afternoon skin crawl returned. Except the only name I had for that feeling was “sub par mother”. If I was a good mother I would be able to sustain my happy-automatic-snack-dispensing-camp-counselor disposition all day long. I wouldn’t grit my teeth when he asked for just one more story at 7:30 at night or when she needed to wander the house and brush her teeth for a full 15 minutes before bed. But I did grit my teeth and snap at the kids, or more likely, Paul. The evenings were like sipping a bottomless cup of exasperation. The guilt came knocking after everyone fell asleep. After a half hour of uninterrupted quiet I would feel the peace return.
But I’m a slow learner and I didn’t put it all together until this weekend.
When I returned from my two day staycation I felt relaxed and patient. The mess and chaos didn’t bother me the way it usually does. The late afternoon creepy crawl didn’t emerge. I felt like the best version of myself. In short, my batteries were at 100%.
Yesterday, after a full day of mothering (with a few extra kids at the pool thrown in for good measure) I was running on empty by 4:00. Emp-ty. Paul’s having a full out relationship with his computer these days as he’s wrapping up his Masters program and his constantly managing a flood of deadlines and projects, but I needed him. Through gritted teeth needed him. I needed him to take Stella out to the playground and give me 30 minutes of silence. It sounded indulgent and selfish to ask him to do that when he’d be working all day, but I knew that I wouldn’t peacefully manage until bedtime without it. Thankfully, he understood and took the kids outside for a little bit.
I inhaled the silence and exhaled the demands of the day. For 30 glorious minutes. And then they returned. The noisy, laughing, mess called my family returned. But I was ready for them. I got through dinner, baths, stories, and games without gritting my teeth once.
I told Paul that I felt selfish asking for a bit of time on a daily basis to recharge, but he kindly reminded me that it isn’t selfish and even if it was, it is better than the alternative (that would be the crazed short and snapping Mama alternative). And he’s right. I’m only human (that was such a good song) and if I need a bit of silence on a daily basis to remain a patient and peaceful mom then I need to ask for it.
I often get up early to write and bank some “me” time before the kids are up. Often it backfires.bIronically enough, as I’ve tried to write this post, Stella’s been up painting, sticking, cutting, asking for cereal, and whining already. There’ve 42 questions about the colors of the rainbow, how to spell Mumbai, how people share germs and disputes about water colors with Sophie. It’s 6:42 am.
My gym bag is packed and I’ve got 5 miles on the training schedule. I’m hoping that will carry me through the rest of the day.