495 days of loving more!
I had a really good dose of “self-loathing” going on Friday night. We had just returned from dinner out to celebrate #2 graduating from pre-school. Theoretically, I should have been in a really fantastic, upbeat, yeah life is great mood, right? I mean hearts and roses and rainbows should have been bursting in the sky, right? Oh how I wish I felt that at that moment. Instead, I felt exhausted and pissed.
Pissed that it was Friday night and I had yet to do anything for Father’s Day.
Pissed that it was Friday night and I had only written one blog post that week; that I hadn’t written about Kindergarten graduation, pre-school graduation, or even my son’s 5th birthday that happened weeks ago.
Pissed that it was Friday night and pre-school was done and I still hadn’t gotten around to end of the year thank you notes or gifts because the week overflowed with big doctor’s appointments and school events.
Pissed that it was Friday night and I had been completely unproductive the entire week.
What a terrific attitude, right?! Only adding to the frustration was that all I wanted to do when I got out of the car was to go inside, put the kids to bed, and then tend to my to-do list. I didn’t need to do the entire list, just one, maybe two items. But no, we had promised #1 and #2 that they could stay up late and watch “Star Wars” for the first time as a gift for their graduations. Great. Not only would my to-do list continue to wait, as it had all week, not only would my productivity continue to stall, but I would be stuck watching a movie I had zero desire to watch.
Again, terrific attitude right?
And then #2 slammed his car door shut and it was as if he slammed all my bad thoughts and “woes me I was so unproductive” thoughts right out of my head.
I hadn’t had an unproductive week; I had had an incredibly productive week!
I realized that #4 finally learned how to say pizza, please, and mine!
I learned that #2 didn’t need another brain MRI.
I learned that #3 might be struggling so much because of Celiac disease.
I watched #1 proudly sing at his Kindergarten graduation.
I watched #2 ecstatically receive his pre-school diploma.
AND the night was only going to get better. I quickly realized that I was going to watch a movie with “my boys” and learn all about a world I knew nothing about but that my boys cared about in the most ridiculously huge manner.
And I quickly realized that my definition of productive really needed to change.
I mean, I have known this since my oldest was born. It hit me immediately as the days passed and all I did was nurse, pump, change diapers, nurse, pump, change diapers. Maybe I got to shower, maybe I got to eat, but I definitely never got around to doing anything “productive” like write thank you notes, go grocery shopping or call a friend. And let me tell you, as a type A personality, like wicked type A, it drove me nuts. NUTS! I thrive on productivity and when I don’t have it, I get cranky. CRANK-Y!
Learning to let go of my productivity as my main measure of a successful day was hard! Or rather, learning to let go of my definition of productivity as how many concrete things I accomplished and crossed off MY to-do list that day was hard. I had to learn to accept that now that I was a mom, more intangible items could measure productivity, like: how much love I gave my son and how healthy and safe I made him.
Six and a half years ago I would tell my mom “oh, what a frustrating day, I got nothing done!” She would of course reply, “yes you did, you fed your son, bathed him and loved him. I would say you got an awful lot done!” Harumph. She might have been right but oh, oh that was so hard for me to accept, it just felt like an out-of-body experience for me to not be “doing” things for a job or a house!
And six and a half years later, at times it is still hard to accept! I still struggle to accept that a “productive” day can mean that I got nothing done but played Battleship with my oldest and lost, soothed my tantruming three year old, listened to a long winded story about how cicadas make babies by my five year old, or fell asleep with my sweet two year old in his rocking chair.
Yes, six and a half years later I still struggle to accept that “unproductive” intangible items like watching my kids reach important milestones, like looking out for my kid’s health, like teaching my kids to talk, to respect others, to be good people and like loving my kids unconditionally, the best that I can, when I can, are indeed, incredibly productive and not just incredibly productive, but also incredibly important.
The good news is that in learning to yell less, I quickly realized that not feeling “productive” is indeed a trigger, a big one. I have been working to lessen it for over a year now and haven’t really cracked it. More than one time a week I get all in a twit and prepped to yell because I feel “unproductive.” These last few weeks were no different: if anything they were worse because of numerous time commitments out of my control.
But today, today when my son slammed his car door it all finally clicked how I could better manage this trigger. I finally got and accepted that some things are indeed “unproductively productive” and that that is not only more than okay, but sometimes actually what is most needed. Friday night as I unproductively sat on the couch with my son, he started getting sleepy and snuggled right up against me, eventually falling asleep in my arms. It brought me right back to when he was a baby and used to fall asleep on me, a memory that filled me with immense happiness and joy.
I’d say being unproductive was definitely a win.
I’d also say that realizing it was a win will help me to stay calm when I get frustrated from my lack of “productivity.” Another win. Yep. I was “unproductively productive” and that is more than okay, it was most needed!