Bad As A Mother

Are you bad as a mother?

For those of you who know me, I often joke about my “Type-A” and “Control Freak” personality. I take everything to the extreme. My friends and family are often amused by my obsessive overachieving. Just over a week ago, that high performance personality landed me right into a hospital bed. Despite my ability to handle very high levels of stress, my body decided that it was time to send a message.

stress free?
Stress free?

The 18 Hour Workday

I often find it fun to dash from one thing to the next, never letting boredom (or any kind of rest) set in. I’ve perfected the term “multitasking” as I eat my dinner in the car (gotta eat healthy) on my way to my third job (gotta make money) while I listen to a podcast (gotta feed the mind). And then there’s my “downtime” which includes writing posts for the blog, catching up on multiple social media platforms and talking to friends via 27 separate text messages and messenger threads. This doesn’t include the family stuff like making meals, laundry, cleaning, spending QT with my family and providing an intellectually stimulating (and largely screen free) household. So no, I’m not too stressed. The sad part is that I’m not alone. So many women out there are consistently working days just like this, whether they do it in or outside the home. Because many of them don’t have jobs with “set” working hours, their work is CONSTANT. Most are only free from work when they are sleeping. And even then, many of us wake up in the middle of the night with a panic about something. As I sat in the quiet hospital room, I realized how many YEARS had passed since I had taken any real time for myself.

Look, I’m doing the “self-care” thing

When I hear “self-care” I want to scream. Isn’t that just another thing to put on my “to do” list. Even still, I attacked self-care in the same overachieving manner that I did everything else. There was no such thing as taking a random half hour to myself. Oh no, it HAD to be a full day, all out, unplugged 24 hour period. And that would be it. For the next six months. Let me give you a hint. It doesn’t work. Those random 24 hour periods where I would fully disconnect would be great, yet filled with the dread of taking it back to the extreme when I returned to be regular life. In addition, it felt like I didn’t fully enjoy it because most times I was still reeling from the days and weeks before. It was kind of like slamming on the brakes while going 90 mph and then slamming back on the gas after a small break. Vacillating from one extreme to the other extreme clearly wasn’t working. If you find yourself creating insane “self-care” appointments, you may be in the danger zone.

I didn’t even feel the stress

Possibly the scariest aspect of this whole ordeal was that I didn’t even feel stress. My life had become so filled with stress that virtually nothing came on my radar as being “stressful.” Yet, my husband went down the list of things for which I felt responsible, I hadn’t even thought of most of them. So many things that were sapping my time and energy didn’t even register as causing stress. We spend oodles of time and energy trying to be the best wife, mother, friend, daughter, chef, educator, career woman and that we forget that each of those roles has a ton of responsibility. When we have extra time in our schedules, we add to it. We feel guilty about working too much so we over commit. We feel as though we aren’t caring enough for our friends so we spend hours on on our phones trying to catch up. And for me, the realization was that there wasn’t a single trigger, but a succession of stressors just piled one on top of the other.

Something’s gotta give

Apparently, friends and family had been wondering when exactly I was going to ease off the accelerator. I have always been your typical over-achiever in virtually everything. I am not competitive with others, but I hold myself to exceptionally high standards in just about every aspect of my life. In my world, everything needs to be the best. All.the.time. And that takes a boatload of time, effort and energy. Most of the demands I have placed on myself have always been self-inflicted. I HAVE to {fill in the blank}. Even as I type this, I know that there is no real way to completely alter my personality. I won’t lie and say that I will suddenly let my beds go unmade before I go to work each day (that’s CRAZY talk). However, I have made some time to truly prioritize the things that take up the space in my life and in my headspace. And while I still have the compulsion to do ALL.THE.THINGS, I am learning to say no and to be okay with making my health a priority again. Well played, body. Message received.

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