A case of the . . .

You’ve heard the phrase, “…a case of the Mondays”, right? That sense of dread that the weekend is over, that grumpy feeling you get on Monday morning when the work week begins.

I’ve had a chronic case of the Mondays for years. Sunday night would roll around, and I’d find myself dreading the end of the weekend, but even more so, I’d dread the beginning of another week. There were times that I would lie awake in bed, mentally flipping through the days ahead, compiling my worries. Usually – in hindsight – my worries were trifles, but of course at the time, they kept me awake.

I wish I could tell you that I wasn’t always like that, but I was. Even in elementary school, I can remember being anxious. I have a distinct memory of spending the night at my Grandma’s – I couldn’t have been more than six – and being unable to sleep. Grandma sat on the side of the bed and asked me what was wrong. The only way I could describe what I was feeling was a “tummy ache”. The next morning I had a swimming lesson. My class was learning something called “the dead man’s float”; you float facedown in the water for several seconds. I know now that my little six-year-old self was consumed with dread about that poorly named “dead man’s float” – and that the dread reared its ugly head as a tummy ache. (In my defense, who puts the words “dead man” in a child’s swimming class? C’mon now.)

It’s funny to remember that night now and to realize that I’ve always been an anxious sort. You mix together a couple factors – “first child syndrome”, type A personality, perfectionist – and you get the always-striving-to-be-better worrywart that is me. Not surprisingly, I still get that anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach more than 20 years later. Luckily, as I’ve grown, I have learned to recognize it and deal with it. I’ve become better and better at seeing my worries for what they are – largely useless. Now when I find myself feeling anxious, I take a minute to think through what’s bothering me, and then I either let it go, or I figure out a way to make it better. My “case of the Mondays” is still around; it’s just not as persistent as it used to be.

I was getting ready for bed tonight… you know, the usual routine. I tucked Vivian into her crib, tidied up the house, took a shower, and kissed Brad goodnight. Then it hit me. Something was missing . . . no case of the Mondays! In fact, ever since I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, my anxiety levels have really dropped. Sure, I do worry about Vivi on occasion – what parent doesn’t worry about their child? What’s missing is the worry over silly little things… worrying about whether an email I sent offended a co-worker, if I was ready for a presentation, if I’d pass a test, if I’d sink or swim.

I don’t dread anymore. I go to bed happy, and I wake up happy. That might not be remarkable for everyone, but for someone who has always considered worry to be a regular bedmate, it’s a whole new world.

I thought to myself tonight, what’s different? I think for me, I’m finally doing what I love. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed other things – being a student, working in the marketing industry – but I never felt satisfied. I always felt like I was reaching for the proverbial carrot. I don’t feel that way anymore. I feel peaceful; I feel joyful.

More than ever before, I’m thankful for every moment.

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As they say, patience is a virtue.

Almost as much as I want to be a loving parent, I want to be a patient parent.

In a way, I think they are often one and the same. It takes a lot of love to hold in a groan when your exhausted child won’t fall asleep or spits up again or bites you because they are teething.

I’m not saying that you love them any less if you do lose your cool, but for me, patience is a virtue that is hard won.

Ever since Vivi was born, I’ve found that I have so much more patience than I ever knew I had before. Sure, some of this newfound patience is because Vivian is just so darn easy to love, but mostly it’s because I work at it. I work hard at it. I actively remind myself that losing my cool won’t help, that she doesn’t understand frustration, that I can easily laugh off just about anything.

There’s another big keeping-my-cool factor for me: being a stay-at-home mom. Before Vivi, I was pretty much a workaholic, and my days were long. By the end of most work days I was completely wiped out. I used to marvel at people who went out for drinks or dinner on a “school night”. I didn’t have the energy to do much of anything when my work day ended. I just wanted to zone out on the couch.

I would joke and tell Brad, “I used up all of my good will at work today”, but most days it was less a joke and more a fact. My patience was stretched thin, and I was irritable and sullen. I didn’t like that me, but I had a really hard time balancing. People would tell me to “just do what you need to get by at work… don’t take it so seriously”. That’s just not me. You can’t put the proverbial carrot in front of me and expect me not to chase it. Let’s be frank: I want to do the job right, and if possible, do it better than everyone else, all the while trying to be likeable. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

It’s not possible to be perfect. Not everyone will like you. I know these things to be true, but I push, push, push myself to be more, to be better.

The decision to leave my outside-of-the-home job was a tough one. Despite my work/life balance struggles, I really did love most facets of my job. In my heart, however, I knew I wouldn’t be the parent I wanted to be if I kept working. I couldn’t be half of one and half of another; something was going to get less of the better version of me, and I sincerely worried it would be the family half of the equation.

So many people work and are wonderful parents. They do their job well, go home with a smile, get dinner on the table, and even squeeze in quality time before the kids go to bed. I have the highest praise for those people – especially the ones who do it because they have no other choice. The ones who want to cry but keep right on smiling… the ones who are exhausted but let their little one read one more story. Those are parents that I strive to be like.

Every day I count my blessings that I am able to stay at home with Vivian. Every little sacrifice along the way is worth being here with her – not just being here but the best version of me being here.

A few days ago Brad wrote a guest post on the blog, and he said something to the effect of “I’m made of patience”. Little did he know, I’d started this post a few days before but hadn’t yet finished it. That simple statement… “made of patience”… made me cry. It was the best compliment he could have given me.