We've now made it through a couple of weeks of child care and mommy care.
When your dad left for about a week on business travel, it forced the issue of me returning to my role as your daily care provider. With some mental and medicinal preparation, some scaffolding (e.g. Lolo and Lola hanging out while I put you to bed on my own) and planning, I've been able to spend a lot of time alone with both of you.
And I'm also enjoying (instead of feeling guilty about) my time without you.
My current life task involves a lot of re-framing. Teaching my mind to look at things differently. Less negatively, harshly, judgmentally.
To see your days at childcare as an exciting developmental stage in your life instead of a place I was forced to send you because I went bat-shit crazy.
To see my hours alone as my new "job" of sorts; a time for me to work on finding out about myself and being me. To spend it doing many of the things that bring me joy: baking, cooking, knitting, reading, catching up on Whale Wars. And to come to believe that I am enough. That the life I lead is enough. Instead of seeing my days as insurmountable to-do lists that never get done. Or as a series of meaningless tasks to fill a void. Or as a life as "just" a stay-at-home-mom.
I've realized that I've been carrying around a lot of insecurity about being a SAHM. Because I'm young. Because I went to Wellesley College. Because I'm driven. I never felt that I was doing enough. So I did too much. Instead of either 1) accepting and embracing the life I live or 2) accepting and embracing that I need to do something else with the life I live.
The jury's still out on that one, but as I feel unable at this time to secure and keep a job outside of the home, for now I'm working on the former.
Some days while you're away, I get "a lot" done--not in a to-do list sort of way, but in a way where I feel fulfilled by the rhythms of my day. Not fulfilled by my list of accomplishments at the end of the day, but fulfilled by the actual almost meditative, mindful motions of my day--while I'm doing them--the folding of laundry, the chopping of vegetables, the kneading of pizza dough, the click-clacking of knitting needles.
And while I may "do" as much or even more than I was doing before, it doesn't feel that way. My days feel as they should, easy. At ease. In ease. Because I don't feel exhausted at the end of the day. I don't feel like I didn't get "enough" done. I don't feel like anything or anyone was neglected, including myself and you. Because I'm doing more to nourish myself than I ever even allowed myself to consider doing before this breakdown.
So, when you get home from a fun and love-filled day at childcare, I have the energy and focus to spend on you. Because I've already put on my own oxygen mask.
The mood stabilizers work, so does the Xanax, the meditation and affirmations that are becoming ingrained in my mind.
The affirmation that comes to my mind most often is this one: "The blueprint of myself that I hold in my mind's eye is one of me vital, healthy and doing what I want to do without a thought."
Seems simple enough, right?
Not for me, at least. Most of my thoughts are followed by second thoughts. I can't even watch the Travel Channel or think about public transit without my stomach turning. Transitions and sudden changes are hard. And can send me spiraling into panic.
But, day by day my confidence to face the world is growing. I still have panic attacks. But, I'm learning how to get through them to the other side. Accepting that the paralyzing and debilitating feeling of my imminent death will, indeed, pass. If I can just breath, get to the Xanax in time, tell my body that I'm safe, tell my adrenaline and my heart rate to subside, that I'm not being chased by lions. That I and my Dearest Daughters are safe and sound.
I've been having these flickers of glimpses of moments where I think to myself "I'd like to do that!" To drive again. To pick you girls up from childcare, to see your smiling faces and embrace the blow of you bodies as you barrel into my arms. To go to Target. To go to a movie, even.
But, then I think. And worry. And the anxiety returns.
But, not all the time.
Not when I re-frame and prepare myself. Not when I actually find myself wanting to leave my house.
Look what I did this morning, with Lola by my side, of course:
And you can bet I stocked up. We won't need toilet paper or laundry detergent or Goldfish crackers for at least two months. But, then I thought, as I rolled my cart to our car (which I also successfully drove home!): Hey, Lauren! You just did that! BOOYAH! Take that, anxiety! Take that, panic attacks! You could probably do it again, right Lauren? So, maybe that fourth box of fruit snacks was a bit excessive?
Then again, you never know when the zombie apocalypse will hit. And you'll need those stockpiled granola bars!
I got you covered, baby girls!
Do you Facebook? Don't lie. I saw you posting those puppy photos! Since I'm not posting here so much, make sure to like us on Facebook to see what we're up to in the in between.