Recharging Mama

Caryn: Okay. So I’m going to flake the blog up here a bit—after all these wonderful, deep and moving comments on grief and jealousy and contentment. But I need to vent, to lay something out, and frankly, it’s easier to just start typing than to pick up the phone to call someone (don’t even know who I’d call, really….)

But anyway, last night I took all three of my kids with to the grocery store. God only know what I was thinking—because I know better than to do this to myself and I try to avoid it at all costs. But my husband was harried and trying to work at home and the kids kept interrupting him, and I was trying to be loving. So instead of dashing out by myself at 6:30 pm so I could pick up a coffee cake to bring with to MOPS this morning, I got boots and coats and hats on the kids and took them all with. After all, I just needed some raspberry lattice coffee cake. How bad could it be?

To make a long-at-the-store-story short, my 2-year-old refuses to ride in the cart seat, my 4 and 2-year-old keep bending over to show their butts to customers (everyone else thought this was hilarious—as would have I were they not my kids), and my nearly 7-year-old is angry because I wouldn’t look at the markers longer. And because I ended up getting milk, frozen fruit, peanut butter, eggs, and English muffins when I said we were “ONLY GETTING COFFEE CAKE.”

Point being: This was one of those times when I turned into THAT MOM. And I hate when I turn into her. You know the one? Crazy-eyed, crazy-haired, worn-out, ragged, snapping at her kids while they run amuk. I hate the way it feels—and I hate what I think it does to my kids.

Both feelings stem from the same source, I think: That it’s the sort of out-of-body mom experiences. Where we go through a situation as someone who feels–and even looks—nothing like us. I come home from these situations (which, frankly, involve Wal-Mart more than the local grocery store, though they can arise anywhere really. For what it’s worth: I have YET to have a Target make me feel this way! So feel free to sponsor the Rev, Target!!!) beat down and burned out. My kids are annoyed (because their lovey mommy has morphed into a monster), and I’m annoyed (because ICK, who have I become?).

But then somewhere along the way, I usually remember to breathe and seek some sort—any sort—of recharge. Last night that meant grabbing my 3rd to last Diet Coke (see you on Easter Sunday!), ducking back into my office, and plunking away at the computer. Alone. Often just 10 minutes of quiet time to “process” can calm me down. Though 10 hours would be better. (I’m quite introverted.)

Other times (often times, actually), I recharge by grabbing a book and escaping that way—even as my kids play around me. Sometimes I need a walk or a drive or just to sing along with some loud music.

Okay. I’m rambling here—I just wonder what other people do when they’re SPENT, running on empty, how they get back to themselves after becoming THAT MOM (or THAT WOMAN or MAN, as the case may be). How does everybody else recharge?

Carla: I love that your kids were showing their butts to everyone. That’s the kind of stuff you need to store away to haul out again at their graduation party or groom’s dinner.

I have been spent of late, too. I have a ton of work that’s all due at once, for some reason we are having a three-week run of four-day school weeks which means I am losing three days of work just when I need it the most. And my husband spent the weekend laid up in bed with a bad back. So that meant I was single mom on a deadline, with a ton of laundry to do, people coming over on Sunday night, a child recovering from a sore throat/fever combo, and on a DEADLINE. As you can imagine, it wasn’t pretty. (Single moms, seriously you are strong, strong women.)

Anyway, my coping strategy is to move to the next thing. When I start to think about the long day ahead or how I’m going to get everything done or what we will eat for dinner, I get overwhelmed and then I get snappy. But one thing at a time I can do. It has taken me 12 years of parenting to figure this out, but it helps. A lot. If time opens up for a run to Target (why you go to the other place is beyond me) then we’ll go. But if I try to plan it, I know it’s going to ruin everyone’s day as I get all commanding and demanding trying to get us out the door. If we eat cereal for dinner, no one seems to care all that much.

Of course, I am also now planning to cash in on my “lost weekend.” I’m either kicking the fam to Grandma’s house for one of those long weekends so I can get in a couple of days of solid work, or sending myself to Grandma’s house for a little child-free W&W (work and wine).

Caryn: I may send my kids to your mom too (what IS with these 4-day weeks at school?!?!?)—or join you. Work and wine is a great combo. Especially for those of us who work in ministry. The Spirit really shows up, I think, with a nice red. (I KID. Though this would be a good test to see if any of my clients or my publisher read this thing!)

So Carla drinks and Caryn reads and writes to recharge. How about the rest of you?

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