being there

Today I felt crumpled. I know that’s not an adjective people use to refer to themselves, but it fits in my case. I came home from working at the coffee shop and the kids were whiny and tired (because these kids sleep much less than normal kids do, I swear to you). I also was whiny and tired and that just doesn’t work. Someone needs to be the strong one, the voice of reason; a person that isn’t too involved in themselves to be aware of the needs of others. But none of us were feeling up to it.

I tried loading the kids into the car to go to the bookstore, because retail therapy is a real thing and there is nothing I could purchase that would soothe me more than some good books. But Holden was screaming and throwing his head around like he was having a seizure again (he gave himself a black eye doing this last Sunday), so I gave up. I released him from his car seat restraints and herded him and Brandon into the backyard. Then I collapsed onto the grass in a crumpled heap.

I haven’t written a word on my novel in the two months I’ve been working again. I haven’t gone for an outdoor run. I haven’t read books or taken a bath. I have had only very little time to myself that I haven’t been asleep in these past two months. And it all caught up to me today. I just wanted a half hour in a book store. Or even a half hour with a book when the kids weren’t whining would be fine. Well, it wouldn’t be fine, I would want more, but now that I didn’t get that, it’s easy to say it would have made me happy.

I thought of all the things I would be doing if I had endless free time. I would love to join a writer’s workshop and start taking yoga classes. I would love to finish some writing projects and a list of books I have scrawled down next to my uncompleted checklists. I’d like to paint the upstairs bathroom and take baths and do puzzles. Maybe focus some energy into giving up coffee and taking up matcha tea instead (probably not though).

I stayed crumpled on the ground until I heard Holden telling me he lost his shoe and then I fetched his shoe and put it back on. I resumed mom duties. And I tried again, to strap the kids into the car seats. This time, I won. I wasn’t much stronger than the first time, but just that little extra oomph was all I needed. They fell asleep within a mile, so I turned the car around and transferred Holden into his crib and went and laid down myself.

Then, once they were asleep for the night, I ran a little on the treadmill and did some yoga. During my break, I read in Women’s Health something Michelle Obama’s mom told her, when Michelle was a busy working mom with a baby, barely able to take a shower each day. She said, “Michelle, you cannot be there for everyone else if you’re not there for yourself.” And I thought, that’s it. That is why I crumpled. 

So this week I resolve to carve out a little time for myself each day. Even if it’s ten minutes (but God, I hope it’s longer than that), I will do something I want to do. And it’s not because I don’t want to be everything for everyone who needs me; but rather, it’s because I do. 

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