I’ll never understand why humans have to sleep. It’s the biggest waste of time. I could accomplish so. much. during those inconsistent 5-8 hours a night where I’m slowly beaten to death by tiny feet and elbows that always seem to find their way from their bed into mine. 7ish hours a night times 365 days a year… that’s like, a crap ton of hours. Did you know that people spend, on average, 1/3 of their life sleeping? That means that by the time I’m 75, I will have slept for 25 years! I could be so ridiculously productive during those hours instead of just laying there completely useless. Waste. of. time.
Also, turns out, sleep is really anxiety provoking for me. See, when the sun goes down and I have to lay down to go to sleep, I have to stop balancing everything. I have to carefully set down all the plates I’m spinning and hope that they don’t shatter into a million pieces while I’m not attending to them. I have to stop cleaning, and studying, and nursing owies, and throwing baseballs, and fulfilling church callings, and paying bills, and cooking… I have to stop, carefully place each fragile piece of china in its proper place, and leave it be until the next day. And that is almost more difficult than trying to keep all the plates spinning.
As parent in general, but especially as a lone parent, there’s never enough hours in the day. There’s never enough time spent reading their favorite books. Never enough games of catch. Never enough consistency. And I’m only speaking for me- I’m sure there are lone parents out there who are kiiiillling it. I see you and I am cheering you on, friends. But right now, I’m not killin’ it. I’m just sort of half-heartedly hitting it over the head with a hammer, the rubber kind my two-year-old kid likes to hit people with. Not super effective, just annoying. And even mustering the effort to do that is wearing me thin.
Sometimes that sense of wearing thin is a sign that I need to do small things like stop and take 5 minutes for self-care, or say “no” to the thing that would put me over the edge, or revaluate my priorities for the week. Simple, easy things I can do to help keep me going. But sometimes that feeling is an indication that I’m neglecting some aspect of my health- physical, emotional, spiritual- and need to focus on nurturing it.
If my body can’t keep up physically, this is where I start. Running low on energy probably means I need to get better sleep *insert eye roll*, eat healthier, drink more water, change my workout routine- easy, textbook stuff. I know how to do this, and have gotten preeettty good at doing the physical self-care thing (except the sleep part, obviously, which turns out is really important). But I can always improve, so I look for ways I can be better and more consistent. Not like a crazy person, but like a regular person who wants to live just until I’m at least like 100 so my kids can have a parent here on Earth for as long as possible. But like a spry 100, because I need to still be able to serve some purpose… It’s 2019, don’t tell me that this isn’t a completely attainable goal.
If it’s my emotional health that’s making me a crazy person, I usually need to address whatever’s in “the box.” I call it the grief box, designed mostly for stuff about Gregg, but I can fit all kinds of shit in there. Feelings of anger, shame, regret, fear, betrayal… put all that in a box and then slam the lid shut. Done and done. Except no, it’s not done at all, I eventually have to go back to the box when I’m ready to deal with the stuff. I’ve been more intentional about working on this one lately. It’s not easy to look in that box, but I refuse to let it sit there and take up space, silently mocking me as it wins the battle and takes control, slowly wearing me down.
It’s harder to explain what it feels like when my spiritual health is suffering, but I’ll usually know because I will feel empty. I’ll feel like I’m failing everything and everyone and like I can never be good enough. I may already be doing the basics, like going to church and praying and reading my scriptures, but in the same way that a robot would do those things. This is when I have to stop and be more intentional about turning to Christ, because he makes up the difference and fills the holes that I can’t. When what I can give today is only 5% of what I think I should be capable of, he holds me and then makes up the other 95% through the people around me who love me and my children. When my kids want a mommy who’s there all the time, but all I can give them is bowl of cold cereal and a kiss before I head out the door, he comforts me and gives me the energy to be more present with them when I get home after a long day. When I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders and like I am the only one there to bear the burden, he lifts me. When I want to do the right thing, but choose to do the other, he weeps with me. When I have nothing left to give, he gives for me.
In a perfect world, I’d have time for all the things. Every morning, I’d make my children a nutritious, organic breakfast before kissing the tops of their heads and sending them to fetch the box of play-dough, slime, and glitter so that they could make a giant mess with it. I’d smile and clean up while they proudly held out their creations, then ran off to play in our perfectly landscaped backyard. We’d run errands, and their clothes would be free of dirt or snot, their hair combed into place. I’d spend the rest of the day reading to them and taking them on hikes and teaching them how to be decent human beings, all while simultaneously running a fortune-500 company that would allow us to go on trips around the world, as well as a non-profit that would end world hunger and all childhood diseases. Perfect.