When the stressed mom needs to escape…
Lately I’ve been going through a weird phase. A phase where most days I wake up and think “Oh no, it’s not another day already…..!!” and just spend most of the day wanting to escape. Wanting to escape from the constant diaper changes and corralling and correcting and praising and disciplining. Basically, I’m a tired mom. And sometimes escape from all the responsibilities that are weighing me down in life.
Cue the world’s smallest violin playing just for me.
But that’s not how life works. Life keeps going and we must go with it. There are people to feed, bills to pay, crumbs to sweep, and jumbo size Reese’s cups to eat. Unless of course you don’t have any. And then there’s an even smaller violin playing just for you.
It’s a stressful time for me, but not because I’m “busy” or can’t say “no.” It just is what it is and I can’t change it. And because of that, I’ve been trying hard to find ways to escape, and then not escape, when that feeling takes me over.
1. Is it selfishness or sanity?
Sometimes I’m selfish. I’ll admit it and don’t think anyone can say they aren’t selfish from time to time. But sometimes, dadgummit, I’m not being selfish when I say I want to escape. I need to get away and have a break for my own sanity. If you can distinguish the difference, and know that you aren’t doing it from a selfish place, then the false guilt will just go away.
And this can happen even if we’re doing everything “right.” Waking up earlier than the kids to pray or prepare for the day and being diligent about finding time alone. Having set independent play times for the kids or putting the all down for a nap so you can rest yourself. So many aspects of life are out of our control so being in a stressed state does not always mean you’ve done something wrong.
2. What’s on your plate?
I used to feel guilty that I had to work sometimes during the day. Until I got a grip and realized that all my children require food, shelter, clothing, and the occasional toy so guess what? Those things cost money. And you know who does not earn any money nor create a product that I can barter for food or car insurance? My kids. So there. Bye bye false guilt. And don’t slip on all the unraked leaves on your way out.
I can’t feel guilty if my kids see me on a computer or checking an important email on my phone. They won’t need weekly counseling because they saw their mommy act like an adult with responsibilities.
When you want to escape so you can get some things done that need doing, this is a big sign that you actually do need some time alone to get things done. You need to take a day or two and finish the to do list. You need to ask someone to watch your kids so you can work, clean, or go to an appointment. The desire to flee in this case is just a need to get things finished.
3. Are you creating a cycle?
Some days I just want everyone to leave me alone for goodness sake so I can pretend I’m sleeping and eating a Slim Jim (don’t tell me they’re gross because I can’t receive it). I put on Frozen to get a few minutes peace which doesn’t happen because my 18 month old doesn’t give a rip about cold princesses or even the mountain man. So then I’m worse than before and maybe even ticked that the ploy to escape didn’t happen.
I realized the kids weren’t the root cause of my stress, so escaping them wouldn’t help. And actually, by escaping them, I was creating a cycle. A cycle that is the opposite of a happy cycle. I wanted them to leave me alone because I felt stressed (even though the stress had nothing to do with them). They picked up on my stress and my desire to avoid them and they became clingy and needy and whiny and that made me want to go to Louisiana to the Tabasco factory with a block of cheddar cheese and a box of Saltines and eat until I burned my tongue off.
Can you sense the melodrama?
4. Escape to the right place
So I sat back, prayed and prayed and prayed though I don’t even know what I asked for because I just felt so overwhelmed. And then I decided to escape to the right place at the right time. If I needed to get work done then I’m going to stop feeling guilty about that. I’m going to put on a movie for the kids so I can work. If I am stressed because I have practical things that need to get done, then I’m going to ask for help and get them done.
And then sometimes… I’m going to escape to the kids. Who says Facebook is more interesting than listening to my 3 year old talk about how girls can go into space? Why on earth is TV more interesting than running around in circles with the kids and pulling a hip flexer (is that a thing?) trying to impress them by kicking a ball really far?
So instead of fostering that feeling of “get me out of here” I’m going to be real. I’m going to do what I need to do, what I really need to do.
But then, I’m going to keep escaping to the kids.
Escaping from the pressures that don’t always need to fill my thoughts.
Escaping from my to do list and grown-up worries.
This week I played ring around the rosie and hide and go seek. I had freeze dance parties, played tag, and kicked the ball until they got tired of it. I snuggled, cuddled, and pretended I didn’t have any worries when I looked my kids in the eyes.
Instead of trying to escape from them, I escaped to them.
And you know what? It worked.
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