As I’ve previously mentioned, I am in therapy. I love it. I need it. Making sure that I am tending to my own junk means that I can mindfully participate in my relationships, and life.
Through my work in therapy, I have learned that my most closely held value is that of balance. When I am “too much” of any one thing, I go bananas. So, it’s important for me to build in the time I need for all of the things I love, and while it might be insane to some people to have to schedule in reading, jogging, or even wine drinking with friends, it works for me. It works for me, unless I get off track and don’t do any of it, at which point I start running around like a chicken with my head cut off, yelling at everyone, and generally being annoying to even myself.
So now that we’re clear on why I haven’t written in awhile, I thought I’d share how I claw my way back to balance. I’m trying a new technique. Usually, I focus on all of the things that are important to me that need to be built into the ol’ schedje…shedge…schedjdge…schedule. The schedule. But, sometimes I need to burn it down, and start from scratch. My recent efforts to bounce back have resulted in me looking like my 2 year old when she spills water on herself; she freaks out, and ends up spilling more and more in her attempts to remedy the situation, leading to her being soaked in both her drink, and her tears. So this time, I’m starting with the list of things I have given myself permission not to care about, despite them being things I “should.”
1. Kids Birthday Parties
I feel this is a safe space to finally admit that I just DO NOT care about throwing my children elaborate, theme based, children- centered birthdays. I love attending them. I love shopping for gifts for other people’s kids. I love when throwing a birthday party of this sort brings a mother joy, but I am not one of them. I don’t care about homemade cupcakes. I don’t care about homemade decorations. I actually don’t care about any decorations.
My son just turned five, and we had a bunch of family over for food, and beer. It was a very nice afternoon. We sang. We blew out candles. The kids ran around like little lunatics. It was fun. An outside observer might not have been able to tell it was a birthday for a five year old. I give myself permission to not be good at kids birthday parties, and I give my children permission to kvetch about it with their therapists, should this become an issue for them.
2. Structured Play
I worry as much as anyone that my children’s brains will be mush from all of the screens, and, you know, whatever else I will learn about today that certainly make them Franken-babes (stein, not Al). But, when it comes to their play, I’m out. I am exhausted with trying to get the boy to stop pretending his lovely unpainted, non-toxic, blessed-with-angel-tears wooden blocks are guns. He loves superheros. They use guns. My efforts to explain guns have done nothing but impose an adult understanding of justice, fear and death, onto a child who simply does not have the capacity for nuance. He doesn’t understand, and thank heavens for that. It is the privilege of living in a safe and happy home that allows him to remain unaware of the dangers I initially felt obligated to explain.
The same goes for the girl. She loves pink. She loves dresses. She loves to pretend she’s scared, and run into daddy’s arms for rescue. I think there is probably ample time to explain fighting against patriarchy, rape culture, and the complicated relationship she’ll develop with Spanx. For now, her life centers around trying to look like Anna.
I don’t care. I just don’t. I do not worry that my children will miss the window for developing a relationship with restrooms because I did not get them acquainted by age 2. Everyone, barring some complication that I assume will become self-evident should it arise, uses the potty eventually. I do not have the patience or desire to “train” them. Benjamin totally understood the concept, and just respectfully declined to use the toilet until he turned 3. Then one day he took off his diaper, said he wanted to use the potty, and never wore a diaper again. He needed it to be his idea. Este gets it too. She’s just not into it yet. I assume she will be soon, but then again, she’s kind of a wildling, so I may end up eating my words on this one. I actually think she would spite pee to prove a point.
4. Preferred Playmates
This window for this one is short, because once Benjamin is in school, I know he’ll develop relationships all on his own, so for now, we play with kids whose moms are my friends. I tried it the other way around, but it didn’t work that well for me, which meant it didn’t work that well for them. Plus, I’ve convinced myself there is an important opportunity for their personal growth to learn to get along with the playmates they are given. I mean, we’ve all had that one co-worker we had to find a way with, right?
This one is hard for me. I love classes. My sister own the best childhood music development class that exists. Check it out here. It’s not that I don’t care about, or want my children to be involved in classes. It’s that I’ve had to forgive myself that it doesn’t work for us right now. Pretty much everything in our lives revolves around sleep, as tends to be the case in a home where sleep is disordered. Our schedule is wildly unpredictable based on the quality of sleep we get. I soldiered on in my first couple of years as a mom but ended up being kind of flaky because it is not entirely unheard of for us to really get going around 11am because everyone needed to sleep until 10. So, I’ve had to just accept that for now, it is too hard for us to be involved in many regularly scheduled activities. I do look forward to this one changing, and hopefully soon.
It’s taken me years to admit that I have a list of things I just don’t care about, but it is very liberating to remove them from my obligations. What’s on your “Don’t give a poop about” list?
Love. Balance. Heath. Happiness.