Beep, beep, beep goes the morning alarm. I am not a morning person. In an effort to pretend that the day has not begun, I actually try to scroll through my facebook feed while I brush my teeth – wrong, I know.
You’ve seen me – I’m the pajama-wearing mom in the drop off line. And sometimes the pick-up line, too.
Bless his heart (in “southern,” “bless his heart” frequently precedes an insult), my youngest is a morning person. He’s a chase the dog; toot the horn; “I’m hungry right now!” kinda’ morning person. One day he’s going to figure out that sometimes all I can muster is a smile and nod at him in the mornings without having any idea what he said. All of these morning activities can add up to a serious source of stress and anxiety for me.
The intense flurry of requests, demands, crashes or touches coming my way in the morning is more than I can handle some days. And while I romanticize the mornings when my boys are rejuvenated and happy, the truth is it can suck the life out of me. Before 8:30 in the morning.
And each one of these sources of stress requires that I recharge.
This particular morning was, “Mommy! Can you help me open this?”
I’m groggy. I have no idea what “it” is, but ok.
“Mommy! Do you have some tape we can use?”
I know I should care, but it’s too early to ask the obvious, “What for?” This will surely lead to trouble later…
I immediately flashed back to the year my son wrapped the dining room chairs and table together using an entire roll of blue painters tape. He proudly proclaimed it his “toy making machine” that could not be taken apart. Thankfully, it was close to Christmas and I convinced him that if Santa were behind schedule, the elves could really use such an imaginative machine to help them catch up. I convinced him to donate it and he saved Christmas. Score!
Some Most Mornings Are Their Own Source of Stress
As I’m headed downstairs to make breakfast, I ask, “Is everyone dressed?” “YES!” booms the response.
But it’s not too early for me to know that it may not be a completely accurate response. “What about socks?” “Oh….no. Not yet! We’ll do it!”
I make breakfast for us all – oatmeal, turkey bacon, fruit, and sometimes a scrambled egg. Then I make lunch for the boys. Today, it’s left-over flank steak, baby carrots, sliced apples and peanut butter. And a love note. 🙂 Because at least by lunchtime they should know that I’m awake and love them.
All the while, “Mommy, would you like to buy a painting? I’m trying to earn money.”
“Can’t right now, dude. Can you ask me after school?” I’ve stopped carrying cash.
“What about a tattoo? They are only fifty-five cents! The first one is free!”
“I can’t play with you while I’m cooking, baby.”
And from my other son: “Mom! Do I have to go to school today?”
You know the days when you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck? And it’s not even 8:00 a.m. yet? This is exactly like that.
Nevertheless, I think of them often during the day and can’t wait to spend some time with them after school. Then reality smacks me in the head.
When I pick them up from school they are tired, hungry, and grouchy – which can zap my new-found energy in a matter of minutes. In other words, I haven’t had any fun with my kids nor am I feeling the joy of motherhood today. It’s just one of those days when I get all of the challenges of motherhood, and none of the rewards.
So how can I regain my passion for this motherhood job, with its endless sources of stress?
But there’s more to feeling successful as a mom. There’s passion. So when I feel like I’ve lost my spark, my passion, I have three go to’s that really help me regain my passion for motherhood!
The Sources of Stress I Can Control
Get rid of them. There it is. My big “secret.” We all know you can’t stick your head in the sand forever, so just get rid of them for today. Ignore them.
Your sanity is far more important. Simplify EVERYthing for the day. If you give up all the stressful things for one day, I promise you they will not disappear. And your children will still grow up to be healthy and productive members of society if they eat a slice of pizza for breakfast on rare occasions.
There’s power in remembering that!
Don’t want to take the trash out? Don’t. Seriously. It will still be there tomorrow. I promise. Don’t have enough energy to debate the children who are suspiciously talented debaters? Don’t. Have a “yes” day. Say yes to everything that will not cause permanent bodily injury. And, no. A bag of skittles won’t cause permanent bodily injury.
Feeling claustrophobic? Take everyone (or maybe just you) outside!
These changes in routine bring delight from the boys, relief from the sources of stress that I put on myself, and always end in wonderful and unexpected moments connecting with my boys.
Just do it. You know you want to.
The Sources of Stress I Can’t Control
So, sometimes, I want to hide in my room to recharge. Just picking up an inspirational book helps me retain the illusion that I’m actively “parenting.” I’m conducting research. I can research while the boys watch tv eating leftover pizza and skittles breakfast. We’ve all lived through this at least once.
A book about how somebody is doing parenting and/or life better than me. I pick up a book filled with deep thoughts and sage wisdom to remind me that there are always new ways of doing things, sometimes counterintuitive ways of doing things.
These are five of my favorite resources:
The Five Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively was a book that I first picked up when I knew, just knew that each of my children received love differently. The book was highly recommended and it’s amazing in deciphering how each person demonstrates, feels, and receives love. I now know how my boys best receive my love and I use this information every day!
Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges taught me to practice just sitting with my boys through frustrating or scary times. When they are out of control because emotions are frightening, they will pass. And I will be with them while they move through it. It takes courage on my part, because it’s so uncomfortable, but the process has been amazing. There are many stories in here from actual families. And Patty Wipfler so beautifully teaches about five key techniques that are useful every day in the moment.
I have to admit, The Conscious Parent is on my nightstand, half finished. But it’s definitely not for lack of interest. Frankly, it’s because the information that Dr. Tsabary presents is some real stuff! I know that I have baggage and I want desperately not to pass that on to my boys. But…I also know the old saying that we all turn out just like our parents anyway. So, the amazing thing about this book is that it forces you to take care of your own stuff. And in that way, you can model what you want your children to become. Life. Changing. But tough work.
So, The Whole Brain Child is for the nerd in me. Learning about the development of the human brain and how to help that process along is fabulous nerdy reading. But the book is also filled with techniques that can turn developmentally appropriate behaviors into real learning opportunities!
I think Brene Brown is one of the most valuable thought leaders of our time. Her audio CD, The Gifts of Imperfect Parenting, puts all of her knowledge about shame into bite sized morsels about parenting. If you want to get your kids heading in the right direction with a firm family foundation underneath them – there’s nothing better than the advice of Brene Brown!
The Sources of Stress I Need Help With
And, the truth is, sometimes we need more than to just get through the moment. Sometimes, the moments come at us too fast. Sometimes we feel like we’re drowning in these tough moments and we aren’t responding in ways that we know are productive.
If you’re having difficulty redirecting your stress and it’s bubbling into anger that you’re not sure how to handle, my friend Amanda – a mental health counselor – has a series of four FREE videos to help you:
- Know that It’s Possible to Go From Hulk Mama to Peaceful Mama;
- Learn the Real Reason You Blow Up at Your Kids;
- Why Taking a Deep Breath Doesn’t Always Help; and
- How to Stop Feeling Guilty & Worry About Your Anger
Getting My Passion Back
As we get in the car and ride to school, things settle down and typically I get my equilibrium back again. I’m able to take a deep breath and realize that the transitions of the morning are really tough for kids (and, apparently moms) and we all happily come together in our ritual of listening to audio books! My quiet morning son has a chance to wake up with stories and my passionate outspoken son has something to listen to. Other than himself 🙂
I’d love for you to let me know your favorite ways to get your motherhood passion back! Connect with me on FaceBook, join our inspirational midlife mamas group, or just send me a message and share your thoughts!