I’ve been dealing with some heavy stuff these last few weeks. All the stressful thoughts and grieving sadness spiraled into a near panic attack and I felt like I was going to burst open. I was forced to just stop and take a step back.
I thought how much easier life felt when I only focused on being a mom or when I wasn’t actively trying to better myself. As great as self improvement and enlightenment are, they bring up a lot of baggage. Of course an easier life doesn’t mean better, but it made me really see that I am making things so much harder on myself with everything I think I need to do. I spend so much time in my head that I am missing out on the joys of today.
I decided I need to cut out unnecessary stressors, put down my phone, go with the flow of the day more and focus on what’s in front of me (something I always forget somehow). This meant saying yes to my son more, something I’ve wanted to do. So after a morning of watching the garbage trucks on our street and playing in the wet sandbox, he asked me to move a big pile of rocks with him to the porch. These are rocks my husband moved behind our shed so he wouldn’t run over them with the lawnmower. Now, I didn’t really feel like moving the rocks, I didn’t want to but I said yes because I couldn’t think of a real reason why not. It brought him so much joy! He would smile so big and started saying “this is very amazing,” and “this is great idea.” His joy brought me joy, and guess what? All it really took was me saying yes and giving him my attention. It was so easy.
In going with the flow (and since I was solo-parenting), I decided we’d take an unexpected shopping trip for Halloween costume goodies and would probably end up eating dinner out. A shopping trip and public dinner alone with an almost three year old is not my idea of fun or calm. But it needed to happen, otherwise we would’ve just sat at home all evening and with my tired mind, probably would’ve butted heads.
He was pretty patient for our short trip into the craft store but at the end he threw a fit because the cashier handed him the receipt (like why, lady?) and I took it from him. He was screaming and crying but I stayed calm! I instantly got sweaty but I spoke to him quietly and went about our way. This is a big deal for me. Of course by now I can handle tantrums but there were so many extra factors in this public setting that would normally stress me out. What did I do differently? I didn’t focus on what the people around us must be thinking or how I felt. Honestly when you’re living in the moment, there’s no time for that. Deep down I also knew the moment would pass and dwelling on it or adding stress to the situation wouldn’t help. I stayed calm and it felt so good.
After that, we headed to one of our favorite restaurants. The hostess sat us at one of those tiny tables for two, where one side was a chair and the other side, a wall-length booth shared with other patrons. Um, no. I instantly thought this won’t work and asked for an enclosed booth. All the moms of toddlers understand this right? I remedied the problem before it was a problem (another mom thing) and after a little wait, we got our booth. Instead of panicking or making myself deal with what we were given so I wouldn’t inconvenience others, I asked for what I wanted.
As I said, taking my son out to dinner by myself isn’t something I look forward to but this night, I was delighted. I was too tired to really care what anyone around us thought. I kept him happy with cars, coloring and my attention. (I also kept my phone in my purse so no pictures of our dinner either.) He proudly asked the waitress for a blueberry pancake, which is on the menu. Later he told her, “Thank you for making dinner,” and she kinda giggled with pleasure. After demanding in his two-year-old way that he needed my food he said, “Thank you for sharing with me.” My heart melted. There was a woman working on a laptop at the table behind us, who I heard commenting about the table of kids there before us, so I was hoping he wouldn’t bother her. At one point he stood up and told her, “Hi, I’m just eating dinner with my mom.” She asked him if he was using his good manners and told him he sure seemed sweet, to which he replied, “thank you.”
I don’t really dote on his manners much because I think there are more important things than being obedient, etc but these interactions really filled me with pride. Pride in him and myself. Even when I feel like an awful mom or think he doesn’t get enough social interaction, I am clearly modeling something good for him.
As much as I love my role as a stay at home mom, I often get weighed down with the stress and energy of it. Yesterday I cleared out my head and approached life with a truly different perspective and calmness. I saw my son as a delight. I reminded myself that I am capable of living the life I want, when I get out of my own way.