Monday, January 25, 2010

The Benefit of Setting Non-goals

So I kind of, sort of set a non-goal for my New Year's Resolution. It's a good thing it was a non-goal, because if it had been real, I would have failed.

Yes, that's a really confusing and absurd way of saying that I let myself get really stressed out last week.

Overall, things are actually going pretty well. On paper, it doesn't seem to me that I should be stressed out. But stress never seems to care about how I want to feel. It just barges right in and takes over.

On the good side, daycare is still going well. On Thursday, Michael even ate his lunch. Michael ate! That's so impressive, I think I need to use caps. MICHALE ATE! And, even better, it was actually food that he ate. Astounding.

The new schedule seems to be working out well for my mom too. She's much less stressed out than she had been. So it seems that placing Michael in daycare two days a week was a good idea and is having a positive impact.

So, what's my problem? I think it's a few things.

The first problem is the endless colds. I knew this would happen when I signed Michael up for daycare. It's just the way it is. I'm not upset about it, or disappointed. My problem is how it effects Michael's sleep. Each cold comes with at least one night of frequent wake-ups because his throat is sore. We get a few half decent nights, then we get a night or two of gagging and all the fun that goes along with that. He then improves for a few days before we start the process over again.

What this means for me is frequent wake-ups and rushing to his room to make sure I get the bucket in place in time. Granted, that's only been 3 or 4 nights this month, but any coughing wakes me up and get's my adrenaline running. So, even if he just coughs twice and falls back to sleep, I end up wide awake for half an hour.

The second problem last week was my exercise bike breaking. I don't mind using the elliptical. The problem is that Andy and I often end up exercising at the same time, and that wasn't possible last week. It completely threw off my schedule.

Have I mentioned that I really like routine? If not, I'm guessing that's pretty obvious anyway.

The third problem last week do I even describe this? Michael is a master staller, but last week he used my least favorite form of stalling. The raving lunatic approach. This involves making irrational and contradictory demands and then screaming and crying when I try to fulfill those demands. The tactics got crazier as the week went on.

By Thursday night I was so tired I took a nap after I put Michael to bed. He went down easily, but about 25 minutes into my nap he woke up and started with the demands. I did everything I could to calm him, but it finally came down to Michael just wanting me to fix his pillow. So, I went into his room about 15 times so that I could pick the pillow up off of his head and then put it back again. I tried to let him just cry it out, but he started gagging, which leads to buckets and sheet changes. It was pretty much lose/lose. When Andy finished up exercising, he took over for me. Michael was asleep in ten minutes.

Of course, I knew what I was in for Friday morning. Tired, cranky kid leads to horrible morning drop offs. That's just what I got. I pulled up in front of my mom's, and before I even had a chance to unhook my seat belt I got hit in the face by a Pez dispenser. (Orlando Bloom, woo hoo!) Let's just say that I didn't handle that as well as I would have liked. I hauled Michael up to my mom's apartment using the one arm under his arms the other between his legs approach, then I returned to my car for my drive into work.

That's when it hit me. All along I've been assuming that it's possible to handle everything in my life without getting overly stressed. I've been assuming that there is a way to do it, but that I just haven't figure it out. But, what if it's not possible?

This seems like a really bad realization. Almost like I'm giving up. But it was actually an epiphany. Maybe I'm not failing at managing my stress. Maybe I'm doing the best that I can do. Maybe it really is that stressful being a full time working mom with a high maintenance 3.5 year old. Maybe it's OK to feel this stressed out. Maybe this is just normal, not a failure.

When I got to work I took care of everything that I needed to get done. Then I called to see if I could schedule an eye exam for the afternoon. My plan was to use sick time to cover the appointment. I was going to leave early enough that I could head home and have a nice relaxing lunch before heading in. I realize this plan isn't exactly like scheduling a day at the spa, but it was meant to be a little break to help me chill out.

I think I need to do more small things to treat myself. I also need to stop beating myself up for not always being able to handle things. That simply adds more stress and makes things harder for me.

As for the afternoon off? Well, a dump truck managed to run off the road, knock it's bed off, and wedge the cab in the median of the highway I use to get home. I ended up sitting in traffic for 45 minutes, and then rushing to eat lunch so I could make my appointment on time.


I just laughed.


LauraC said...

You know, I think people need to come to these realizations on their own time for it to stick. I long ago realized that my life IS going to be stressful so it's up to me to manage that stress. And some days I FAIL at doing that. Some days I have yelled at my kids. And that is ok bc 95% of the time I do manage it well.

Plus change = stressful

Maria said...

I agree with Laura, change is stressful and 95% of the time, we do a good job. You handled pez to the head the same way I would have. You have not failed. You are doing well. Oh, and I giggled again about anus eye... I don't get out much...

Karen said...

I think that being a mom is stressful. And working full-time just adds to the stress. I agree that you are doing the best you can and sometimes that's all you can ask for.

I don't deal well with change at all!

Deanna said...

I'd love to write about my stress handling issues but I can't on my own blog because a few coworkers frequent my blog. I'm in current self-debate over whether to start a blog from scratch.

Anywhoooo, I went to the doctor this morning because of some twinges I've been having in my chest. They started back last July and everytime I get stressed (whether I realize or not) I get this pain. Well, thankfully it's nothing cardiac...but it is stress induced. And I feel like a failure for not handling it better. Until I thought today that maybe it's my stress button now. I know when I get that twinge that I've let myself go a little too far and it's time to back off, drink some wine, and take a really hot bath sans child and hubby.

I never realized just how much stress there is being a full time out of the house working mom with a child who is strong willed. It's just nice to know that I'm not the only one feeling that way. Thanks for the post!

Beth said...

I struggle with how I handle stress, too. And whether I like it or not, or want it to be this way or not, having kids STRESSES ME OUT. Being a mom stresses me out. I'm like you--I feel like I should be able to handle it better. I like your idea of giving yourself little rewards every now and then. But more importantly, I think you're right--it's supposed to be stressful, and handling it is a work in progress, not something we can just check off a list. Think about all the times you've handled it well, because I bet there are more of those times than the bad ones. And anyway, it's all relative, right? You could have handled things a lot worse.

DesiDVM said...

Right now I'm about as stressed as I've ever been...and I'm just going to accept it. I can't MAKE the baby sleep better, I can't MAKE J stop being a crazy mood swinging 3 year old, I can't MAKE my job stop being so ridiculously tiring right I'm just coping, and I know it will get better. Not sure when though.