I don’t know what exactly snapped on Saturday night, but it was at that point that I decided I’d had it with the kids.
Too many mornings staggering around the kitchen half-asleep listening to Lena recite what she would like for breakfast (“I want Grape Nuts with some of your milk in a bowl and then some of Daddy’s milk in a cup! OK, Mama? OK? I want Grape Nuts with some of your milk…”) and putting food on Gil’s tray as fast as he can eat it while just longing to sit quietly, read my book, and sip my cup of coffee. Too many hours on the floor with my children, building the same towers or scooping the same markers and crayons back into the same Tupperware container after we all “color” together. Too many hours in the kitchen throwing together meal after snack after meal after snack for my family. Too much time in the house, not enough time outside, not enough time with other people.
Marriage is like dancing, and at that moment on Saturday night, I just couldn’t dance anymore. One thing I’m learning, though, is that even when your partner stumbles, the music — that is, life — keeps right on going. The kids still need your help, the stomachs still need to be filled, the routine still must go on. Sometimes both partners stop dancing at the same time, and it’s messy and sad. But in that moment, Elliott kept dancing even though I couldn’t. He played with the kids, put them in the bath, and then, after they were in bed, he found me and encouraged me.
In those moments, I felt like a failure. I said I wanted to do this stay-at-home mom thing while the kids were tiny, and Elliott has not only been fine with this but has also praised me, supported me, and been grateful for me. But on Saturday night I just wanted a break from my life. Unfortunately, there was really no feasible way to do that. Like most situations, the easiest answer was just to get a good night’s sleep, pray for strength and perspective, and start again the next day.
Honestly, I think part of the issue was that I just didn’t get out of the house enough over the holidays. Christmas through New Year’s keep people at home with their families, which is wonderful in some ways, but my home includes two kids two and under… ack! They need more to wear them out than just block towers, and I need more to give me a break than just their two-hour nap every afternoon.
It’s Monday morning now, and it’s a new day. There is coffee in my cup, laundry in the machine, and sunshine streaming through the windows. It’s highlighting all the dirt on the floor, but… I’ll tackle that eventually. Gil is napping, Lena is at a friend’s house, and Siena is rubbing affectionately against my legs, then dashing ahead of me with a little Maine Coon-chortle wherever I go. I pray at the end of Gil’s nap I can pick him up with genuine joy and go to meet Lena with anticipation and thankfulness.
What do you do to help you recharge your batteries when you’re tired of your work, whatever it might be? No matter what our profession, we all have to show up the next day (or right after nap time) with a smile on our faces and a can-do attitude. How do you get there? What recharges you?