Yesterday I received a package from my dear friend and college roomie, Kristin. Accompanying a sweet birthday card was a journal - The Happiness Project: A One-Sentence Journal for Mothers. I have to say, it's one of the most thoughtful gifts I think I have ever received.
As a Mom, I try to grasp and savor sweet memories while trying to remember who's diaper I changed and which kid already got his milk. And I'm often so busy recording things about the boys that I don't often have the chance to record my own thoughts and feelings.
A big part of my struggle with postpartum depression and anxiety has been a loss of sense of self. Over the past year and a half, I feel like I've come so far in my ability to recognize the importance of taking time for myself before I get to a breaking point.
But the reality of motherhood is that sometimes there just isn't time. Going shopping alone takes time. Having a night out with the hubby or the girls or alone takes time. More sleep takes time! So we have to turn to quicker things -- things that give us small outlets until we can feasibly take that time for ourselves.
That's what I love about the concept of this journal -- it's just one sentence. To take the time to write just one sentence about the day is totally and completely doable. And there is something so therapeutic about reading my own journals. So I was quite excited to embark on this journey. One sentence a day. No problem.
Yesterday I was feeling really good. Actually, lately I've been feeling really good, but yesterday I actually noticed it.
I felt like I actually accomplished some things. Not just one thing, but several. For once I felt like I was thismuchcloser to getting caught up around the house.
The boys played together pretty well. There was minimal chaos, they played fairly independently, and I didn't have to break up too many death matches or stop more than a few death-defying acts.
Brian worked late and I handled bath and bed and cleaning up the house solo ... and smoothly. When he came home I was happily crafting a little wall art for the kitchen and I happily proclaimed my successes for the day.
Last night, in my journal I wrote these words -- " Today I finally felt successful - as a mother, a wife, a housekeeper, a teacher, a friend."
Today was so.incredibly.different.
The Brothers woke up early. And angry. I packed the diaper bag for a planned play date while we waited for Brennan to wake up. Of course, the ever-early-riser slept late, pushing us a bit behind schedule and making an already bumpy morning even bumpier. Every step to get them dressed and into the car was quadrupled in time and difficulty. Everything I did was met with resistance and anger.
Thankfully, my friend Lisa and I do "kiddo swaps" in which she watches the boys for a few hours for me and the next day I watch her kiddos for her. So I was able to enjoy some time to myself, exploring a new grocery store and regrouping for the day.
When I returned to Lisa's house, Beckett clung to me. Kiernan tried to push Beckett off of my lap while Lisa and I ate lunch. Loading them into the car was even more challenging than it had been on the way to Lisa's. They whined the whole way home, clung to my legs while I tried to unpack the groceries, threw tempter tantrums at nap time, and threw their sippy cups of milk at the wall/my face.
Brennan refused a nap and resisted quiet time. The Brothers woke after only 1.5 hours of sleep with even more anger/clinginess. By 4:30, my house was a disaster, the Brothers were only happy if I was holding them - both of them - while standing, Brennan had cut a hole in his shirt and "accidentally" colored his hands purple with a marker, and I had nothing planned for dinner.
I called Brian and requested that he make coming home a priority. I finally got Brennan and Kiernan to sit and watch some Team UmiZoomi, strapped Beckett on my back in the Boba, and started to put laundry away in my bedroom so that I could feel just a tiny bit productive.
When Brian came home, I left. I thank God every day for a sympathetic husband. He jumped in and took over, no questions asked.
I wandered around Joann Fabrics and Target and sat at Starbucks to clear my head. I started thinking about what I would write in my journal tonight, and the first thing that came to mind was -- "Today I just couldn't please anyone, including myself."
What struck me about this was the lack of hopelessness & the lack of feeling like a failure. When I had this kind of a day a year ago, it would've taken me days, if not weeks to rebound. But now, I know how to cope. I know how to ask for "me" time. I know that tomorrow is a new day and that it could be like yesterday, or it could be like today, but chances are, it will be somewhere in between. And I'm cool with the in between.
I think that's what is great about this journal. The ability to see that my emotions are constantly changing and that no matter how bad it gets, it always gets better, is nothing short of miraculously calming. And the opportunity to take a few moments in a day to reflect on the past, learn from the present, and focus on the future -- in one sentence -- is equally as calm