This? Oh, it's just this most flattering picture of me, ever, thanks.
If you're a Facebook friend , you may have surmised that the last few months haven't been great for our family. There wasn't any one huge problem, but rather a series of medium-sized challenges, dropping slowly and constantly on us like Chinese water torture. With each month, it felt like we had a little hope of things looking up, but they'd soon be smashed on the ground by another crappy thing, another family member sick, another unforeseen circumstance. While I'm hesitant to jinx anything, I think that we're finally turning a corner. For future reference, I'm putting down some things that have helped me. Maybe they'll help you, too.
Indulge the grump:
Whether it's your own mood, or a family members, just let it be. Have that cry. Take a nap. Create a day-long marathon of your favorite guilty pleasure show. Have a good long sulk, and let it be okay to say "everything sucks," for a time. I think my breaking point (literally) was when I broke a tooth last month. Angry I decided to spend a Sunday on the couch, watching Alias and eating yogurt all day long, but when Monday came, I'd built up a reserve of energy to take on what needed to be done.
Do Something (Anything) Else:
Sometimes things are just out of our control. For my husband, that's when he gets to work. Yard work, house cleaning, organization projects all happen at those moments. I knit or bake in times of great stress. It's so good to have one thing where you can see progress or order- even when everything else is out of your control. Also, if you can step out of your situation to reach out to another person, you might be surprised at what it does for your mood. Dealing with hurt feelings and feeling all too likely to react with anger, I left my house to bring a loaf of bread to a friend. Not only did I avoid the internet rage (the kind only expressed with caps lock ON) that I wanted to spew, I found my mood was better, and it allowed room for some perspective when I literally walked away from that fight.
Embrace what's good (even if you have to look hard):
Out of nowhere, Colin started choking, having decided to try to take on a stack of cookies like a competitive eater. I swept out his mouth just in time to be thrown up on. Later, after clean up and settling a scared boy, I brought him in to snuggle with me. He whispered "Thanks for taking out my choking, and cleaning up my throw up, Mommy" and put his head back down. Obviously, the situation was not fun- but I'd probably do it again to have that sweet moment.
On the other hand... the fact is that my kids are hilarious. They're often crude, smart mouthed and exhausting, but they're hilarious. Given the choice between laughter and tears, I'm going to accept that I will hear the word "balls" a lot in my house, and choose to laugh. I post these things on Facebook, because looking back, I only want remember the funny and the sweet.
Embracing survival mode is one of the only ways we've made it through some of the days in the last while. I have no shame in admitting that I put my youngest in high chair in front of a morning of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse so that I could recover after ugly dental work. I would put on jeans to take Aidan to school and come back home to jammie it up until pick up time, and we all had PB&J or Top Ramen for dinner more than once. While my mommy-mind was freaking out about how I failed at life, I'm looking back thinking "I'm just glad we made it!"
The truth is, your A-game wouldn't be called your A-game if it was the only one you had. It's okay to use the 3rd-string playbook when times are hard. That's what worked for us. I hope somewhere amid my talking about vomit and balls, there's something here that will help you, too.