It’s that time of year. The weather hasn’t gotten the “fall” memo, but the sun has, and it’s almost dark when I leave yoga class now.
School is in full swing. I’ve waded through curriculum choices and internet ordering, identified needs, and sketched out vision and goals for each child. The daily routine has already undergone three big tweaks. (Can a tweak be big?)
But really, I only have one big focus for this year. All the rest are small details. My big goal?
I don’t want to feel crazy this year.
I’m so over crazy.
I’ve taken a big look at what factors into the recurring feeling that things are spinning out of control. What things contribute to thin (cough) patience. What is happening when I feel that things are running smoothly. What is going on when I feel rooted in the moment and available to whoever or whatever is in front of me.
And I made a list.
- Get enough sleep. Amen.
- Take time for myself first thing in the morning to find some space and a sense of equilibrium. I had thought that rolling out of bed to do some yoga would be a good thing to do, but it turns out that I prefer to wake up my mind before I wake up my body. I was so glad to find the idea of Morning Pages. It’s a practice that fits me just right, clears the cobwebs, orders the day, and sometimes turns into an early morning free counseling session.
- Take care of My Things first. I make my bed, shower, and clean my room before facing the world.
- Keep the kitchen clean. This includes a number of tasks. Wash the dishes, dry and put them away, clean and clear all the counters. If my kitchen is clean, I am 89% more likely to cook. (Hey, hey, another week has passed and I’ve cooked at least four meals that we would have eaten out for in the past. My shoulder is getting sore from patting myself on the back.)
- Keep the Holy Triangle clean. All the living spaces in our house are open to one another. The Holy Triangle includes the kitchen, the dining room, and the breakfast nook turned desk/sewing. If this space is free of clutter with surfaces cleared and chairs pushed in, I feel like I can conquer whatever the day throws at me. It doesn’t matter if a typhoon has gone through the living room, as long as it all stays outside my Holy Triangle, I’m fine.
- Take a break in the middle of the day. I usually take some time for myself during rest time (the kids rest every day for one hour right after lunch). I use that time for getting things done, computer work, do errands, or to spend as I choose. I’ve learned in the last week that working feverishly through this hour does not provide the mental break I need to enter into our afternoon activities fresh and patient.
- Grocery shop and meal plan. Meal planning is, as you know, new to me (still a fan! revamped plan going well!). But dang if life isn’t always easier when there is ample food in the pantry.
- Do things that feed me. Practice and take lessons. Write. Study. Sew. Do something creative.
- Clean up everything, every morning and every afternoon. Eliminates (or, greatly reduces) meltdowns. Parent or child.
- Be faithful to routines. It’s my current mantra, befaithfulbefaithfulbefaithfull. If I shift or neglect one thing, it creates a snowball effect and I get effectively crazy. And we don’t want crazy.
It seems like a lot of things to do, sometimes it seems like I’m asking for the moon, being wildly irresponsible with my demands on myself, my family, and my husband. But at this point in my life with four small children, free flowing creates unhappy people. Every time. It particularly creates Crazy Mama. And I’m tired of being crazy. Did I say that already?
School morning have been going remarkably well, everyone settling into their routines. The first truly smooth day came and I realized that everyone was calm except me. I’ve felt the crazies for so long that I didn’t know how to NOT be crazy.
I’m retraining my automatic reactions, and I’ve been proactive in asking for help for things I need help with. Sometimes I tell myself that this is a good thing to do because how I feel affects so many people. If I feel calm and centered, I am so much better at parenting.
And that’s true.
But the truth also is that even if I didn’t have other people depending on me so heavily for so many things, I would still go to such lengths to create a healthy, happy me. I’m worth it.
I’ve sat here for awhile, wondering about keeping or deleting that last sentence. “I’m worth it.” Would that seem self-flaunting, self-ish to my readers? Would it make me seem like a head-in-the-clouds tra-la-la-ing airhead? Or worse, a full of myself braggart?
I’ve decided to not ignore that voice, but to address it full on.
How is it that to take care of our basic needs for peace and sanity is considered selfish? Where did we, as women, inherit these ideas that we are not worthy of feeling good?
Ah, there’s the answer right inside my question. We inherit them. We inherit them from the women around us, from the words that are spoken and the examples that are lived.
And as with all things passed down to us, we need to decide — is this something I want to keep, or is it flawed and I choose to uproot it?
I say that this particular idea – the idea that we, as women, are not worthy of peace and happiness – is bogus. Time to give it the boot.
A woman who has learned to care for herself with gentleness, strength, and faithfulness has a beauty that is irresistible. I don’t want my children to receive an anemic inheritance. I desire wholeness for them. And I desire no less for myself. Wholeness for all of us.
We’re all worth it.