Serenity Now

TNT

When I was a teen, and even into my 20s, going through heartbreak or disappointment, having dumb arguments, hearing about social injustices, witnessing tragedies, or any other sort of negative emotional expenditure, while not fun, made me feel strangely alive. Part of me equated the rawness of the pain, the flush of anger, or the self-indulgent wallowing with being real, deep, and, I suppose, artistic. As a closet wannabe goth, being profound was a life goal, and Robert Smith was my idea of emotional perfection.

Unfortunately, when I got mad, I’d lose my ability to speak in full sentences. I was reduced to saying things like, “Oh, yeah? Well, you suck, you…you sucky suck.” I know some people whose eloquence increases tenfold when they are cussing someone out, and while you don’t want to be on the receiving end, their blistering diatribes are nothing short of genius to behold.

I’ve gotten better at arguing since then, but I do it much less than I used to (though some of you may think otherwise!), even though there is no shortage of upsetting information out there. It’s pretty much impossible, unless you’ve reached a state of zen incomprehensible to me, to read the news, Facebook, anything, without regretting not having clicked on the cat videos instead.

We get angry at the news. We get angry at people responding to the news. We get angry at the way others cope with responses to the news. Then maybe we get angry with ourselves for the rabbit hole of anger and fear we allowed ourselves to go down. It’s exhausting, so an eloquent argument, while now is something of which I’m more than capable, is the last thing I feel like having.

Today has been a hell of a day, news-wise. I’ve been angered and saddened by what I’ve read and seen, and frustrated by things that make no sense and I feel powerless to change. I’ve thought about tuning everything out and living in blissful ignorance for the rest of my days until the world blows up. Would it be such a terrible thing to be out of touch with current events? I’d have fewer distractions and would be able to devote my finite emotional energy to my family, my friends, and the little world I live in. After all, my kids are already a lot to deal with, and I have a back porch that needs defending from a billion spiders.

Alas, my need for mental peace is at war with what I feel like is my responsibility to know what’s going on.  I’ve taken mini-breaks from news and social media (which I highly recommend), but ultimately my desire to not be a total self-centered ignoramus brings me back.

So how do I successfully keep from going crazy?

I’m not entirely sure that I do.

Maybe I’ll spend quality time with my loved ones or take a walk. My general go-tos are prayer, exercise, distraction, denial, volunteering, and escape. All of these have worked some of the time, but none have worked for me all the time. (Or maybe a better way of saying it is:

60%

I had to throw this in there- it’s been in my head for weeks. Totally inappropriate, I know.)

But I persevere, because, for example, if I pray long enough, I find peace of mind, until the next time I lose it. Then I’ll pray again. Or I’ll binge-watch Netflix until I run out of episodes, then I’ll find a new show. Repeat.

I don’t think there’s a permanent fix for it, just a whole lot of trial and error.

I’m not the greatest at seeing hope through the fog of despair, but I’m working on it. Maybe it’s normal to have to balance our tenuous happiness with joy-stealing realities. If there is a remedy for “the world is a cluster-eff” depression, it probably involves helping other people and keeping on keeping on. In the meantime, tonight I’m going to play with the kids, watch TV, eat some chocolate, have a glass of wine, and then pray like the dickens that tomorrow is a better day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confession Time

Parenting can be rewarding, sure, but it’s also really hard. Today I wanted to encourage those of us who are parents, want to be parents, or don’t want to be parents, with some words of wisdom to get us through the tough times.

Unfortunately, none came to me, so all I have is this list of confessions for your consideration. After all, confessing is good for the soul.

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  • I have used the fridge door to hide behind while flipping my kids the bird. (Hopefully they don’t look at my feet when I do this- otherwise they’d see the silent but aggressive stomping that goes along with it.)
  • I have lied to their faces about toy stores being closed at 2:00 p.m. on a Saturday.
  • I’ve hidden their gadgets and pretended not to know where things went.
  • I’ve spent their birthday money from Grandma and Grandpa on wine and ice cream.
  • I’ve locked myself in the bathroom and let them fight while I played Candy Crush on my phone.
  • I’ve stolen their chocolate and blamed it on their dad.
  • I’ve talked about them behind their backs, sworn at them under my breath, and secretly laughed at their screaming when a spider fell on them.

There are many more confessions that I dare not put in writing, lest child protection services finds out, but needless to say, there’s some room for improvement.

I know that each day I manage to keep the kids alive and somewhat hygienic is technically a win, but as they get older and more complicated as individuals, I want to get better at not just coping as a parent, but thriving as one, and helping them thrive as well. Sometimes it’s easy, like when they play peacefully together and tell me they love me. Other times I want to run far, far away where no one under 18 can ever follow.

But I do love them, ultimately, and I want to do right by them. They are amazing and have enriched my life immeasurably. I just need to remember this during the next tantrum. Or even right now, as Thing 1 came up to me and farted on my leg as I wrote this. No joke.

One last confession- I just sat on him and returned the favour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New 30

bdayy

I just turned 40.

Maybe it’s a big deal, maybe it’s just a number. I’m feeling pretty good about it, except for one thing-

I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

I ask my kids this question sometimes, hoping the answer is “a doctor” or “accountant” or anything that leads to financial security and them moving out of the house one day. The last time I asked, Thing 1 said “Michael Jackson”, and Thing 2 ignored the question completely, opting instead to painfully squirm his way out of my straight-jacket embrace. (I let him go, mostly because he accidentally elbowed me in the bladder, but I’m pretty sure he was going to say “brain surgeon.”)

I’ve taken personality tests, hoping that I fit into a category that was easy to define and easier to employ. Apparently I am everything and nothing, introverted and extroverted, right in the gray area of the Meyers-Briggs test. I have a friend who’s a psychologist, and even she said she couldn’t figure me out. Psychologically, I am plasma.

Many of my fellow parents have gone back to school for event planning, interior design, nursing, or even med school (!!), which is incredibly admirable. The problem is there’s nothing I’m interested in enough, that I’m aware of, for which I’d be willing to suffer through another degree.

I’ve made lists of my interests and strengths, and have sought advice from people much wiser and more experienced than me, all of which led to the following conclusions:

  • As a freelance English editor, I already get paid to watch TV shows and movies, and I don’t find it particularly gratifying.
  • Sudoku solving isn’t a career.
  • Neither is annoying my husband. Or my kids.
  • Crochet can only be lucrative if I actually finish something.
  • I can’t charge people for praying for them.
  • I’d have to master more than just the corpse pose to teach yoga.
  • Snark is hard to monetize.

So I guess I’m writing this until I figure out what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. If it helps you in any way at all, this will have been more than worth it. At the very least, I hope that reading about my awkward blundering through adulthood makes you feel better about your own journey.

🙂