Monday, October 27, 2014

If Mama Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy...

As a mom, a partner who works outside the home, and a fixer, a regular frustration of my daily life is seeing something in myself that needs tweaking, but feeling absolutely unequal to the challenge of doing anything about it. There's always something else that needs to be done to distract me from the hard work of being human. It's one of the reasons this blog is such a gift to me. I can write down my impressions, chew on them for months, and they'll still be there to remind me of my journey when I have the [insert: time/energy/attention span/faith/balls] to deal with them.

Yes, I did say faith-slash-balls. You heard it here, folks. Ya'll come back now, ya hear?!

Anyway, I'm up in the middle of the night to write this because it finally feels important enough that I'm willing to drop a ball (the sleep ball, not one of the aforementioned balls), to get it down. Things to note: this is not Gospel, science, or a panacea for the world's ills. Nor am I the first person ever to have a personal revelation. I hope and pray that nothing I put out here ever comes off as if I think that way. My goal is simply to come to terms with said world and my place in it, in hopes of becoming who I believe God intends me to be on this side of Heaven--fits, starts, warts, forks in the road, and all.

Ok, I'm done laying the ground work. Thank you for waiting so patiently.

As I said, I work outside the home. I'm also a mom, a sister, a friend, a woman with interests and an identity, and a partner to another human being, with his own list of stuff to manage, too. And this shit is hard. Hard, like I didn't even know, hard. On a good day, I feel like I'm constantly playing catch up and serving up leftovers to my entire life. On a bad day? It's takeout all the way, baby.

It rarely feels like I'm giving my best anywhere, but some moments stand out more than others. At one point last week I looked around and discovered that it had been days since W and I had connected in a meaningful way. The Bud was particularly clingy and defiant. I realize at 3 that it's part of his job description to be that way in general, but this was to the level that showed me he wasn't getting enough attention. There were takeout cartons and frozen pizza boxes everywhere, dinosaurs and guitar picks on the floor, and a pair of poopy Justice League undies was soaking in the bathroom sink. For hours? For days? Had we been brushing our teeth with the sink like that??? I don't even care. I had worked late every night and it wasn't safe to walk to the bathroom to pee in the dark. I was pissed about it and looking for something, someone, to blame. And when I found them, heads would roll.

That's when I realized, I'd found my culprit. As per usual, it was me all along. I hadn't practiced any type of self-care so I got overwhelmed by the things that didn't matter. You see, I believe the only important detail in my tale of woe is that my crappy attitude about the hand I was dealt last week had affected the quality of my interaction with my loved ones. I forgot that taking a moment of silence--to regroup, to unwind, and to remember that my family and friends aren't items to check off on my To Do list--is so important. Not just for me, but for them, too. If I haven't decompressed from the rigors of the day, that's going to spill over negatively into my home life. Now, I had my reasons to be on edge all week and yes, they are all valid. Please, oh please, you gorgeous SAHMs, and WAHMs, and WOTHMs (Lord, save us from our acronyms!), and any other blessed female who has ever drunk the you-are-less-than-and-must-try-harder Koolaid, know that I do not judge you if you struggle in this way, too. I believe that you're doing your best, and I'm damned proud of you. You give it all out every day and you do it beautifully. You don't need to be anything more than you are to those who love and need you right now. You are enough. I'm saying, that on this day, on my journey, I need to be careful about what I bring home to my people.

So I did an experiment. I took deep, cleansing breaths on my drive home. I stopped slamming doors and sighing over messes. I led with hugs and kisses, and howwasyourdayImissedyous. I made eye contact and said with those same eyes, "You matter. I'm so lucky to love you, and all this hard work? It's for you." I read twenty thousand stories and tickled and cuddled. I watched Godzilla and A Million Ways to Die in the West (sort of). I went to laugh with friends and to dance at our church picnic. Nothing got done. The house is still a wreck. I have to get back on the hamster wheel tomorrow. But it mattered. We laughed and loved a lot this weekend amid the chaos, and it was so good. Because, like it says in the country song we all know and maybe wish we didn't, and as dirty as it makes me feel to quote it, when mama ain't happy? Ain't nobody happy.

Who I bring home matters. It matters a lot.

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