Ladies, we were flat out lied to. Period. All those teachers, parents, adult role models, and TV characters who constantly reiterated to us girls that we can do anything we put our minds to were effing liars. They didn’t find it necessary to share the fine print with us. They didn’t consider disclosing the gravity of the situation to us. Just like nobody told us that giving birth hurts like hell, nobody told us that choosing to be a working mom is a one-way ticket to our very own three-ring circus. Except the clowns are our children. And sometimes our husbands. And we are the tightrope walkers, fire-eaters, hoop-jumpers, trapeze artists, and lion tamers. And, on occasion, the lions. I am woman. Hear me roar, damn it.
After my second kid was born and operating under the mistaken assumption that I could give both my family and my job 110% of my energy (I was never very good at math), I spent the better part of the past year experiencing my own very special brand of culture shock. The kind where you just have to go to bed by 8. The kind where getting dressed to impress is simply not an option (you know, the whole drool, snot, poop, spit-up factor). The kind where a date with your husband involves a drug-addict like dependency on Netflix. The kind where your personal identity decides to go on hiatus, leaving a confused, spent, and in my case, fat, out of shape and depressed, shell of a person behind.
One day, out of the blue, Motivation kicked me in the shins. I was like, “Oww! This sucks. What gives?” My marriage was tense, my kids were making me nuts, work was stressing me out and I was annoying myself. Yes. I WAS ANNOYING MYSELF. So, I made some changes. And I’m feeling much better now. Even somewhat balanced. Shall I share?
Well, the first thing I did was recognize that my mood affects the entire family. If I’m pissed, chances are, so is everyone else. And if they aren’t, they will be soon. So, I willed myself to be in a good mood. That didn’t work. But you know what did?
1. Carving out time in my life for myself. A drink with a friend. A coffee shop alone with a book. A walk around the block. A nap. Lame and hippy-dippy? Perhaps. Effective? You know it. At least it was as soon as I got over the guilt of it.
2. Working out. Regularly. “Impossible,” you scoff. I’ve managed it for four months now and I’m just as busy as you. So there. Figure it out. Utilize your husband, babysitter, in-gym daycare, swap with a friend, sneak into work late, drag your tired ass out of the house after you put the kids to bed, wake up at 5, do whatever it takes and once you do, protect the routine. Endorphins rock. From the mouth of a couch potato.
3. Finding a “thing.” Instead of rotting your brain watching stupid reality TV from 7:30-10:30 (or if you’re a multi-tasker, in addition to watching stupid reality TV from 7:30-10:30) get your read on. I’m talking like cover to cover for the sake of accomplishment. Knit. Paint by number. Scrapbook. Teach yourself the art of decoupage. Blog. Have sex. Find something to do that makes you feel good. Like a real person. Something completely separate from your work and your kids. Something that’s yours, that you can focus on. That you can get good at.
4. Dating . My husband. Once a week. Get dressed up. Go out. See a movie. Have dinner. Dance the night away. Get tickets for Alvin Ailey. Go to a game. Find your relationship. I forgot all about that shit. Now we are tight.
So that’s my story, folks. Four steps. Four simple and exceptionally complex steps that have evened out the teeter-totter that is my life. And man, is my family stoked.
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