(Audio version included!)
Y’all. Yesterday…yesterday was a crap day. Within ten minutes of waking up, I felt a storm coming. I am not talking about a weather storm (although I do always feel those comin’ in my knees….) Nope, I am talking about a cranky mood storm where I just feel off and can’t precisely figure out why so I end up snapping more and sometimes even yelling more than I like. I felt agitated. I couldn’t focus and when I could I wasn’t productive. I felt exhausted but knew I wasn’t tired. I didn’t have a pep in my step even though I had done the things that normally give me energy.
Although I didn’t know what the heck was going on with me, I knew for certain that if I didn’t get ahead of this storm and prevent it from happening (or at least tame it a bit), that it would end up hitting right around 5:00 when all four kids come home hungry, and overwhelmed with exhaustion and school work. And I knew for certain that my personal cranky mood would most likely spread to the boys (moods, good and bad, are contagious!) and that we would then go from a personal storm to a total, utter sh*t storm. This doesn’t even consider what moods they would be bringing home!
Obviously, a total utter sh*t storm was not desired. I can tolerate an average one, that is just expected around here 😉 but a total utter sh*t storm? No thanks. They suck.
I tried everything I could to ease my crankiness.
I went for a walk (nature is very soothing for me.)
I drank cold water (helps the nervous system amongst other things.)
I listened to happy music (seriously, listen to happy songs and try not to sing along.
I talked to my therapist (perfect day to have that scheduled!)
I sat outside in the sun and imagined a favorite vacation this summer (distraction.)
I made another cup of coffee because I love the smell of it and I hadn’t fully enjoyed my morning cup (find joy wherever)…and I used my favorite minions mug because it brings back happy memories with my boys.
BUT NOTHING WORKED.
Not only did I not want a sh*t storm later, but I didn’t like how I felt and I had so much to do and not being productive was just making me feel worse.
So I went to my back-up bag of tricks to ease my crankiness. I sat down and tried to write. Often when I write, my thoughts kind of sort themselves out. Folks, even this didn’t work! So now I was two levels into my “how-to-uncranky-myself” handbook. Onto the back-up, back-up. I went for another walk to “clear my mind.” No podcasts. No music. No dog to slow me down. Just the sounds around me.
My mind kept telling me, “Sheila, your mood is driven by that damn scale you stepped on this morning! You are working so hard to get healthy (another post) and you aren’t getting any positive feedback from the scale or anywhere. Progress pictures? Not helping. Measurements? Nope. Better mood? Okay mostly but not today. Looser clothes? As freakin’ if.
I wanted to hang my hat on this explanation for my cranky mood so that I could move forward, but I still felt unsettled. And then it hit.
The lack of perceived progress with my weight wasn’t the real issue (although it sure as hell wasn’t helping). The weight of parenting was – I just hadn’t fully allowed myself to process all that was going on with back to school.
The first two weeks of school have been a doozy, as they always are. This year though, there is an added layer (or a thousand) of worry. So, while I wasn’t tired yesterday per say, my mind and body were exhausted. My pep was gone because it has been in over drive supporting my kids. I was agitated because well, I love my kids and there is so much I want to do for them/with them to support them and to help them grow into wonderful adults and yet given the strain of the first two weeks, I was starting to wonder if I was getting any of the parenting thing right! AND if I would ever get it right or even close? (Because folks, there is NO complete right way to parent.)
The scale yesterday frustrated me because it didn’t give me positive feedback despite my hard work. This led to self-doubt and the desire to say f*ck it I won’t try so hard. Funny, parenting can be the same. Kids don’t necessarily give you feedback that your hard work is working. There is no guarantee that if you do everything “right,” they will be okay. There are moments, for sure, but they are fleeting. But that doesn’t mean we stop trying. It just means that we have to keep the faith.
And that we have to keep watching our own storms brewin’ so that we can be at our best for them when their storms brew…and hit!
Despite me having this huge moment of clarity on my walk – I still felt cranky. (Normally I feel lighter after such moments; knowing what’s up brings me peace because then I know I can at least make a plan to work through it.)
So, I went to my back-up, back-up, back-up bag of trips and reminded myself,
“It’s all good. Somedays are just hard. Just do your best to get through the day. Go to bed early. Tomorrow brings a new day.”
And I forewarned my kiddos, “Guys – mom is wicked cranky. It has nothing to do with you. It’s just me. So, I am going to try really hard to not snap but if I do, please just remember it isn’t you.”
It took A LOT to get through the evening because my boys brought home a lot with them! I relied on my original bag of tricks quite frequently – I would pop outside and take breaks, I drank cold water and instead of envisioning a warm, relaxing vacation…I envisioned bedtime 😉
And I listened to my current, favorite uplifting song “Keep the Beat.” The lyrics couldn’t be more perfect…
“All I can do when the road bends…is lean into the curve…and
All I can do…when the tanks run dry…is see what’s in the reserve.”
Orange Rhinos, somedays your reserve will be more full than others. But you always have a reserve – you just need to know when it is going to be needed and how to get there.
RELEVANT TAKE-AWAYS for your Orange Rhino journey to YELL LESS and LOVE MORE:
- Do you know the physical signs in your body that a storm is brewin’?
- Do you have a go-to set of things to try to head off the storm so it doesn’t grow?
- Do you have a game plan for when all else fails?
- And do you have a back-up for when the back-up doesn’t work?
Don’t fret if you don’t have the answers to any or all of the above, just pick one and ponder it…and remember, tomorrow brings a new day.