One of my favorite family pics of almost all of us a few years ago!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

When I'm Exhausted... My Frustration Level is a 30 on a Scale of 1-10

Note:  I wondered how long it had been since I was so frustrated I simply couldn’t cope in any rational way.  It turns out that I wrote about it on May 29, 2012 – almost 2 months ago.  Apparently, I write to calm myself!  What struck me was that I wrote then that I was exhausted and missing sleep.  Will I ever learn that without enough sleep I don’t cope well?  This week, I’m committed to being in bed by 10:30 p.m. no matter what….

When I’m Exhausted… 
My Frustration Level is a 30 on a Scale of 1-10

My current frustration level is a 30 on a scale of 1-10.  If I hear another child whine or scream or bitch (I use that word in context) or moan or complain, I don’t know what I will do.  On the way to church this morning, I literally couldn’t stand it another second.  Particularly the shrill screams of a 4-year-old who couldn’t get exactly what he wanted when he wanted it – in this case a sippy cup.  And the 6-year-old who was still crying because she couldn’t find her favorite shoes –  once again - because she didn’t put them where they belong.  Big surprise.  So I asked my husband to pull over and I grabbed my bag and started toward home. 

We were rushing to get ready because my husband was too busy cleaning to remember to wake up the kids.  And the middle kids were too busy sleeping to hear the knock on their door at 9:05 am.  And the little kids were too busy watching television and playing to get dressed.  And I was too busy trying to keep the 1-year-old from tearing apart the house while hunting down cloths and shoes to get everyone else – and myself - ready. 

So, for all those who wonder – it is insanity when we try to gather up everyone at the same time to go anywhere – especially if we have to wear things like cloths and shoes. And getting ready for church is the worst – especially on the day we have to be there early because we have to volunteer in the nursery!  I think I say more curse words before church on these Sundays than most any other time.  And yes, I get the irony.

Maybe it’s an attempt to make getting ready so miserable that we decide not to go. Perhaps it is a conspiracy.  Or maybe just the devil having a good laugh.  I don’t know, but today – it worked.  I’m not at church and I wanted to be.  Crap.

For the record, we have tried the buddy system.  It only works until the big buddy gets frustrated because the little buddy won’t cooperate or the big buddy forgets his or her chore until its too late and mom has to help or we will be late again.  Besides, the big to little ratio is out of whack right now. 

We have also tried having everything laid out in advance.  While that is certainly helpful, that simply shifts my frustration from morning to evening.  

I spent 9 hours in the kitchen yesterday processing all the fresh fruits and veggies I got at the farmer’s market.  As a result, I didn’t put away the 4 triple size loads of laundry that I washed while I was cooking and watching the kids.  So all the decent clean clothes are in baskets in a pile getting permanently wrinkled. 

And because I have been standing all day, I’m exhausted and I don’t want to sort and fold and hang laundry at 10 p.m.  I want to read and write.  I manage a little, but mostly I spend time talking to one of my older kids who needs advice. And then I must put away all the food that I processed that has now cooled and must be frozen before I go to bed -- lest all my work be for naught.

In addition to cooking all day, I had picked up the toys in the living room multiple times -- including the darn legos that we all love to play with and all hate to clean up.  And cleaned the kitchen multiple times.  And cooked dinner.  And wiped loads of melted chocolate off of two young boys, the couch, and the floor after discovering them eating the melted kisses – wrappers and all – that my teen bought with his own money and promptly left in the car to melt.  

So I’m tired and ornery and my shoulders hurt and I just want to sleep.  I go to bed two-hours earlier than usual – hoping that I will actually sleep this time.  

Because stupid me - who knows better -  thought that caffeine wouldn’t really bother me.  

On two nights this week -- after long hard days, I had an ice-cold Diet Dr. Pepper about 8 p.m. because I wanted to relax and I’m not a drinking woman.

Mistake.  Big mistake.  Because I can go to sleep anywhere at any time.  But staying asleep is another matter. One night, the cat was using my daughter’s chair as a scratching post at 2:30 a.m.  That would be the chair that I’m holding onto for safekeeping until she moves into her first house.  Adrenalin pumping, sleep was nowhere in sight for the next two hours.
Of course, it wouldn’t have mattered about the cat, because within 15 minutes of the cat episode, my 4-year-old made his way from his room to my bed in pitch black darkness without trouble, but when I suggested that he change his sagging wet pull-up before crawling into my bed because he was “scaaareeed,” he screamed and claimed he needed me to go with him to get the pull-up.
Trying not to wake my husband and the rest of the household, I relent and go with him. An hour later, still hoping sleep would return, I get up and do another load of laundry and write.  It was very quiet and pleasant, but for the fact it was 3:30 a.m.!

The second night was also unsuccessful. This time I had to go to the bathroom - the other obvious downside of drinking before bed – duh!  I returned to a semi-state of sleep.  The kind when you are just awake enough to realize you are having weird dreams and you actively try to make sense of them – while the dream is occurring.  Definitely not conducive to good sleep.

Those two nights were totally my fault.  The other nights of not enough sleep – I can blame on my life and an 8-week old baby.  Without enough sleep –defined as at least 6 hours to function, 8 to function without being in a bad mood - it was simply too much to handle the chaos of getting ready for anything. So, for the first time in a long-time, I simply walked away from the chaos with hopes that writing could reclaim my sanity.

Thirty minutes later, I can say that it works.  I’m much calmer.  I’m much happier.

And I’m grateful that I could walk away.  I think most of my family was in shock – including my husband.  Wondering if I would turn around and get back in the car.  I’m sure he was immediately calculating how he was going to handle everyone alone.  

But I didn’t look back.  I went straight to a park bench, promptly spilled my ice-cold Diet Dr. Pepper all over the rocks, cursed some more and then sat down to flesh out my anger.

So folks.  There it is.  You ask me all the time, “How do you do it all?”  My stock answer is, “Not Very Well!”  Mostly this just makes people laugh.  I think they imagine that somehow I must be more patient or tolerant or have more energy or something.  But now you have the moment-by-moment truth. I don’t. 

Of course, I’m not always frustrated.  I can handle a lot -- as evidenced by the fact that most of my kids are in pretty good shape -- but when I am mad, you better run the other way…. far far away. 

Sometimes, I’m a whining, screaming, bitching, moaning, complaining mamma who just wants someone to take me away. 

Today, it was a park bench and a computer.

I have such First World Problems.  So I am getting a grip and am ready to pick up and start again, this time without being so frustrated.

Thanks God.

1 comment:

  1. I am the mom of 4, (5,4,3, and 5 months old) and boy did I need to read this today. This is exactly how i have been feeling lately! I have been an exhausted, angry MESS! I don't know any other mothers, aside from ones who never had children as close together and no longer have kids at home, so I often feel like I am a failure just because I feel that way at times. Knowing that I am not the only one who hates going anywhere as a family because of the struggle to find clothes, shoes, etc.. .makes me feel so happy! LOL thank you for this!

    (using husbands account :) )