I've felt burnt-out. And I've not dealt well with it. Rather than slowing down, I've pushed through. It's not been pretty.
You know how your children look so precious when they sleep? How sweet it is to "gaze lovingly" at your child, as Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project), puts it, when she's sleeping?
When I do that at night, I regain perspective. The countless times I've felt my body vibrating with irritation, as my friend describes it, melt away and I can be in the moment with her. While, ironically, she's asleep.(Photo: Matthew Spevack)
After I found myself on the verge of dumping a pot of dirt on my daughter's head last week, I've made an effort to claim a moment each day where I'm truly present with her; where I embrace the "everyday beauty," to quote my friend again. Whether it's kneading the pizza dough together, she gleefully boxing at it with her fists; making lunch into an outdoor picnic in the backyard; or taking a break with her at the porch in the afternoon sunshine to give her all my attention, perchance as we savor cocktail hour together.
Sometimes I feel like I'd be a much better mom if I did not have this constant urge to write. It's so much easier to, say, cook with Lilly, or clean, dance, read, sing, talk, play--I'll even say to garden--than it is to try to think and write with her around. If I can let go of work, I'm not as prone to snap; I'm more present, I have better perspective.
A group of my friends and Lilly's friends gathered for a play date inside yesterday, seeking refuge from the dull weather in each other's company. I remember the hostess of this play date once saying that when you're a stay-at-home parent, you can't have any expectations as to what you can get done; everything other than parenting is a bonus. As I studied her yesterday, I found myself envying her attitude. Letting go of expectations, she embraces practical projects with her daughter, from baking to crafting. She seems balanced.
She also enjoys baking and crafting, of which I unfortunately am not as fond. Letting Lilly mix the batter with me yesterday, I could not find the beauty in the moment the way I did earlier this week; instead I felt bored. Impatient to get done with the day, so I could put her to bed, and then gaze lovingly at her.
My craftsy baker friend is also the friend who told me that she thinks my asset as a parent is my thoughtfulness; how I read about stuff that informs my parenting and that she finds really interesting.
I suppose it comes back to being okay with who you are. I am the quizzical mama who likes to read and write; I'm not the happy baker and gardener. I may find myself struggling to push through to get my thing done, but if I give up I find myself bored trying to do, to be, something else. And boredom makes me prone to unfine moments too.
Balance is tough. I know that as I strive to pursue what I want to do, while I also attempt to set it aside and gaze lovingly, I'll keep struggling, juggling, endeavoring.
Originally published at quizzical mama.
Quizzical mama, aka Anne G. Sabo, Ph.D., is a renegade academic, writer, speaker, public educator and founder of the new online resource center LOVE, SEX, AND FAMILY devoted to holistic human sexuality information for the whole family. Her blog quizzical mama is an educated and personal approach to the politics and philosophies of parenting, often addressing controversial issues, and often reflecting on different cultural values and practices in the US and her native Norway. She also writes about sexual politics and new porn by women (and some men) at new porn by women.
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