Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Stay at home mom. Just breathe.

"What do you do for fun?"
"Haha... ha."
"What do you do that's fun for you?"
"I don't have fun."
"Let me rephrase that:  What do you do to recharge?"
"Are you kidding me?"

This was a particularly unproductive conversation with the good old psychiatrist the other day.  I have to admit I was in a crappy mood to begin with, so I wasn't being cooperative.  The point he was making:  You need to recharge.  The point I was making:  That's impossible!

Okay, honestly, teaching was exhausting, but in a way it recharged my brain, gave me a reason to dress up, look good, feel good and have conversations with people.  Being a stay at home mom does not give me any reason to look good and therefor I don't feel good about myself.  It's perpetuity.  I don't go anywhere, so I don't get dressed.  I don't get dressed so I feel like crap and I don't want to go anywhere.

My goal is to get dressed everyday. I told my doctor that.  But I also reminded him that I just told him we:
1.  Don't have any money because I'm not working
2.  Have twins and no childcare options... Because we don't have any money.

So, we always have two five year-old children with us, and we don't have money to go anywhere (and that includes just the cost of gas, not like we don't understand there are wonderful, free things to do with kids).  To recharge I need to have time away from the kids, not because I don't love them and miss them, but because I am constantly tense; from hearing them call for me, and because need me all the time, even when they don't need me I am anticipating it, so I can't relax.

To recharge I need to be alone, or alone with my husband.  Even for a few hours.  My doctor didn't have any solutions when I gave him the old no money, no childcare scenario.  I almost asked him if he wanted to babysit for me.

He did remind me of an analogy that I had heard before, (one we have probably all heard), that tells you, in an airplane emergency parents are instructed to put on their oxygen mask before they put on their children's masks.  Parents constantly put their children first, and sometimes that "kills us."  If we stop breathing we can't take care of our children.  Get it?

In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will drop from a compartment above your seat.  To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you.  Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally.  Although the bag does not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask.  If you are traveling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.

"You’ve heard the flight attendants say it, “Put on your oxygen mask before helping your children.” But when was the last time you took that advice in the rest of your life?
Which of the many excuses do you tell yourself? “I don’t have time, there’s too much to do, I’m supposed to be the strong one, I feel selfish…”

There’s a reason the airlines have to make that specific statement to parents.  For most of us, it goes against our nature to put ourselves first. We make sure our kids eat their veggies, while we snack on their leftover grilled cheese.

On an airplane, it seems to make sense, if you lose consciousness, you would not be able to help your children. In you daily life, it’s easy to push it aside because it’s not a life or death concern.
Raising children is hard work. It is constant, 24/7. It can be draining. And for many parents, instead of re-fueling by taking care of themselves, they feel more and more drained.

Instead than being fully present and active with their children, they struggle, frustrated that they are not the parent that they want to be.

You may see it in your kids’ behavior too.  Kids often have a sense when things are not quite right with their parents. They may act out in response to your  distance, experience their own troubles with anxiety, or work extra-hard to be perfect so they do not add additional stress."


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