I am an all-out autumn lover. It is by far my favorite season of all. Not that I have anything against the others, they each have their own qualities to appreciate. But fall is my jam. I’m not sure that I can put a finger on exactly what it is that I love most. Paul sometimes teases me for loving a season where “everything dies.” But there is something naturally restorative about the fall for me. Every year I feel the positive energy brewing inside me as the autumn equinox approaches.
Boy oh boy do I need some of that natural restorative fall energy right about now! This year it has been difficult to wrangle that fall vibe. I feel incredibly burnt out these past few weeks. Bombarded by the pace and pressures of this amazing life. Emotionally, mentally, and physically spent. And in all the roles I cherish the most: mama, wife, friend. So many little things threaten to zap my energy, my patience.
My head space, and heart space, feels completely depleted.
Our home seems overwhelmingly cluttered and disorganized. Paul has been working and gone a lot. Toddlerhood has been difficult lately. Navigating parenting in this season has proved extremely demanding and challenging. I’ve learned that WHINING is 100% my kryptonite. My priorities are all jumbled and my to-do lists are never-ending. The end of each day finds me completely exhausted.
This past Wednesday the witching hour was in full throttle. Paul has worked the past six evenings in a row which means I’m solo-parenting through the most demanding parts of the day. My patience has been extremely thin. Usually I pride myself in my parenting, but this week I have not. The moment they woke from naps it was non-stop stressful interactions between the three of us. They were taking toys from each other, smacking one another, whining and crying, not listening to mama, refusing to follow requests, you name it… it was an all out toddler tyranny. At one point in the middle of preparing dinner, as my youngest fussed and climbed my leg and my oldest was breaking the sound barrier with his whining about who-knows-what, I completely lost it.
“NO MORE CRYING OR WHINING IN THIS KITCHEN!!! IF YOU ARE CRYING OR WHINING YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED IN THE KITCHEN – GET OUT!!”
I picked up the youngest and physically placed him just outside the doorway. Then directed my oldest to the same place. I grabbed for my phone and put on LIZZO at full blast to drown out the toddler cacophony. It didn’t take long for the sobbing to subside. Maybe it was entertaining enough for them to watch me dancing around the kitchen desperately trying to lighten my own mood and hoping to vicariously offer the same for theirs. Or perhaps they were simply in shock. Either way, we made it through dinner in peace.
After we ate I decided we needed to mix things up a bit. A witching hour like that would typically have inspired me to initiate an early bedtime and I didn’t want to end our day with that kind of negative energy.
I hoped that a change of scenery would benefit us all. So I decided to load them into the double stroller and head out for a walk.
Pulling a large cup from the shelf, I poured in a generous helping of wine, grabbed the dog’s leash as an afterthought, and paraded my tiny tyrants outside. The first few blocks did not serve to relieve any stress. The dog yanked against the leash, my wine sloshed all over the damn stroller, and the boys continued to bicker.
In a slight tantrum of my own, I yanked back against the dog and angrily dumped what remained of my wine out into the street. And then a moment later, we turned the corner onto the greenway trail, leaving the city sounds of traffic, sirens, and construction behind us. Trading them for a quiet surrounding trail of trees and nature. I unclipped the leash and the stroller seat buckles and turned everyone loose. The mood instantly shifted. Amazing how simply being outside in nature can do that for us.
I don’t consider myself a negative-minded person. It doesn’t suit my personality to dwell in negativity. So voicing these things in this space definitely carries some guilt and shame for me. But these feelings are real life right now and I vowed to show up here and be authentic. They exist and I am human.
I’ve had trouble finding my usual level of Fall enthusiasm. The things that normally excite me about this time of year feel daunting. Decorating my house is laden with the stress of how disorganized everything seems to be. Baking or doing art projects with my kids is not sparking joy – all I can focus on is how much work it will be, how much mess I will have to clean up afterwards. Every time I think I have a moment to catch my breath, I feel a new wave of tasks washing over me. I feel stuck in this negative mindset and I don’t like it one bit. It’s as though my head is just below the surface and I’m bobbing for air and endlessly treading water.
I am determined to pull myself out. To rise again.
What I’ve discovered through some of the darkest times in my life is that these experiences are what provide me with the balance. Allowing me to appreciate and seek out the positives even more wholeheartedly and endure as an optimist.
“Perhaps the real thing to know about light & dark is it’s always both & sometimes one is more clear than the other.”
Yesterday I caught myself mindlessly scrolling on IG stories (again). I notice more and more that I do this when my headspace feels limited. Which sounds counterintuitive, right? Anyway, I came across a fellow physician’s spouse saying she has also been feeling imbalance with the priorities of her life (motherhood, home, and self-care) these days. Back to school transitions have been rough this past week for her family. The amount of “screaming” (she’s got 3 girls) at her house has led to an increased need for more “self-care” on her part. At first I didn’t quite follow. She explained that the screaming is so draining for her that she doesn’t have the capacity for much else (blogging, housework, connecting with spouse, etc) other than taking naps and baths.
Here here sister. Let me tell you about the solidarity I felt hearing that. Substitute screaming for whining and I’m right there. Naps and baths. Hell yeah.
What it helped me realize is that I need to bring my self-care back to basics. Get outdoors. Take a nap. Meditate. Get my body moving. Listen to music. BREATHE. Let that laundry pile on up. Put down the phone, sit down on the floor, and bask in the moment. Stop adding to the endless to-do list and just start doing.
Prioritizing the time to refill my own cup is a constant struggle for me. It always seems like the easiest (and most obvious) thing to sacrifice when life starts to drag me under. Which is CRAZY y’all! I have to remember that I am the one who sets the tone for my family. My ability to pour my heart and soul into how we do our days is directly related to the overall energy of our household.
And none of us can pour from an empty cup!
I am determined to get back to the basics of my own self-care. Because I truly believe this is the first step. Finding Fall is not one more thing for my to-do list. It’s already here – that energy is buzzing all around me. I just have to reach out and grasp it. And harness the positive momentum from there.
Action is everything.
Even if that action comes in the form of a nap.