I have written this post before.
I’m too tired to go on. Work is too stressful. I’m not sleeping. By the time I get to my Friday run I can barely move, let alone jog. I have no time for anything. And it’s all making me be a bad mother.
We’ve all written this post before. And yet, last week, I was just about to write this post again.
But then I didn’t. Instead of focusing on the bad, I focused on the good. Instead of feeling guilty, I did my best. Instead of diving deeper in my well of self-pity, I dove deeper into motherhood, and found there is more room to breathe the further down you go.
Now, still, I want to tell you about what a tough few weeks it’s been. I want to tell you that I went through some really hard shit at work, that I doubted my abilities and my intelligence, that I brought all of that fear and that depression home and I turned it into sleeplessness and a short temper and a general inability to function or to focus. I want to tell you that I’ve been working so hard I barely see my daughter anymore, that I’m like a celebrity to her now, that she’s like an agitated paparazza – she gets so excited to see me she can barely contain herself and usually ends up injuring me or herself in one way or another, and last week the vigor reached a new peak and with a big black eye and slightly broken nose. I want to tell you about how my head aches from constant stress and how my hands are going numb from too much typing, want to tell you that I had to bail on my last refuge writing workshop on a night when we were finally getting round to talking about my work, but it’s probably for the best because all I end up doing is talking about work anyway.
Or I thought that’s what I wanted to tell you about, but it turns out, that’s actually not what I want to think about at all.
This week, things should have gotten harder. My husband was out of town for a shoot. My calendar at work was booked ten to four every day. The time changed and threw everyone off kilter. People have generally not been in the nicest of moods. But it turns out, this week was actually not that bad. I still have a headache. My hands are still kind of numb. My nose is still more than a little bruised. I still am not sleeping. And work is still just as stressful as ever.
But somehow, it’s all okay, and here’s why: I am buoyed by love.
Which is one hundred percent the cheesiest most embarrassing single sentence I have ever written, but it is also one of the truest.
Like most parents, I spend a lot of time talking about how hard it is to be a parent, or how hard being a parent makes it to live just my regular daily life. But the fact of the matter is, my life isn’t hard because I’m a parent. My life is hard because I’m me. I am by nature a high anxiety, relatively antisocial, borderline manic-depressive, totally stereotypical writer. I am also by nature, in my better moments, a surprisingly optimistic, surprisingly happy person. Throughout my life I have struggled to allow more latitude to that latter description of who I am; having a child has upped the ante, and when I rise to the challenge, my life is immeasurably better because of it.
This week, bruised and battered as I was, I can’t say I technically rose to the challenge. I was home alone with a toddler whose love and joy is so infectious and yet still so impressionable. My only options were to impress upon her that life isn’t nearly as nice as she makes it out to be, or to just sit back and let myself be infected.
So I let myself be infected. And while I may not have surprised anyone with my optimism at the office, I did certainly surprise myself with the little happy feeling I carried around all week long, aches, breaks, bruises and all.