Motherhood and stress go hand in hand as far as I’m concerned. I’m sure most of us would agree that living our lives as parents among our other identities tends to stretch us a bit thin.
I’ve not posted a new Twinning Attitude! topic lately because I’ve been experiencing an abundance of stress-triggering situations and ongoing demands that have been overwhelming me. But knowing I’ve got to persevere for the benefit of myself and my family, I need to find that “winning attitude” myself and hold on to it … and live it!
I’ve decided (as I often do when I’m feeling overwhelmed and need some sort of stress-releasing solution) to sort things out by writing it all down. So, here I will share:
1) those “stressors” in my life;
2) my reactions and means of coping (some of which that are not so good);
3) and finally, make and enact a plan to cope in more healthy, positive ways.
1) Finances have always been and will always be high on the list of stressors. Regardless if we’re in a prosperous or time of financial struggle, the focus and importance placed on family budgeting, planning, finding creative solutions, etc., is an enormous source of stress, worry and energy-depletion;
2) Children and their well-being is an all-encompassing, 24-7 stressor on me. As a mom, I hit the floor running each day jumping right into the role of caregiver, meal-preparer, grocery-shopper, laundry-doer, home-cleaner, van-driver, problem-solver, toddler-rocker, story-reader, bath-giver, nose and bottom-wiper, and the list goes on as so many of us know. I fortunately have a very hands-on, willing husband who is the perfect Daddy to our children. He parents his children as all Dads should, and his assistance is very needed and appreciated by me! But, he is also a very busy architect and project manager at the office where he works. He is under a lot of pressure and puts in very long hours, and business often takes him out of town for days or weeks at a time. Often, he comes home exhausted, and my reaction is to try to make our home the inviting, warm, loving retreat it should be for a husband and father who works so hard for his family. Is it that wonderful place of peace and solace each evening when he arrives home? Nope, try as I may. An argument between our teens or tweens will invariably pierce what was until only a second ago, a gentle bubble of quiet and peace, while the pasta begins to over-boil on the stove top, and the phone rings while one of the toddlers takes a toy out of the other toddler’s hand who then begins to SCREAM. (–sigh–)
3) When the kids get sick or hurt, I become terribly stressed-out and emotionally drained. Thank God we’ve not any injuries so far beyond a broken finger, sprained ankles, assorted head bumps, cuts or bruises. And as far as illness are concerned, I’m not talking about coughs or colds, but the big stuff, like those violent stomach flu bugs, or those high fevers associated with flu or strep. When one or more come down with these illnesses, which may happen when my husband is in or out of town, I go into a survival operational mode, determined to do anything and everything needed to get him, her or them well. By the grace of God, we get through these episodes, and when all finally settles down, I usually end up with whatever illness I was nursing my kids with, or I collapse out of exhaustion from lack of sleep for several nights in a row.
4) Meeting my family’s needs while trying to please everyone (which I understand is often impossible) is very stressful, and is an unending, daily challenge. Twin 3-year-old boys are a complete handful. They are potty trained, and know when and what to do … when they WANT to. Dealing with this type of stubborn behavior is enough some days. Then when I factor in my 11-yr-old daughter’s very busy soccer schedule, my 11-yr-old son’s baseball schedule, my teenage daughter’s dance classes, and her twin’s assorted club and school activities, I become stretched in many different directions. Helping to assist with school projects, homework, test prep, problems and such can also take up so much time and energy. Two student drivers to ride with for practice while they have their learner’s permits is the definition of stress alone!
5) Having 2 teenage girls.
6) Did I mention the need for me to work and bring in a supplemental income? I am presently actively promoting my book, “TWINS x 3”, provide creative design services for a local real estate business and my daughters’ high school development office, and own/operate my home show direct sales jewelry business.
It all sounds like too much. Some days it works well, and some days I want to pull out my hair.
WAYS OF COPING IN THE “NOT-SO-BEST WAYS”
After I delivered my 3rd set of twins at the age of 44, after 3 months on pregnancy bed rest, I think my body decided to go on strike. I just didn’t bounce back into shape as I had (with some help of diet and exercise) with my earlier two twin pregnancies and deliveries. I retained so much pregnancy weight and pain in my hips and neck from the months on bed rest that I seemed to struggle more to complete my important daily tasks. Although I was determined to shed the unwanted weight, I worked out, dieted, and tried different ideas for almost 2 years with only little success. I found some success with a metabolic-approach, but because the program itself was so expensive, I couldn’t sustain it. I kept off the weight I’d lost (over 20 lbs.) for several months, but when additional financial challenges hit, as well as the holidays (eek), I (unbeknownst to myself), began to slowly put much of the weight I’d so hard-fought lost, back on. (–second sigh–)
I admit it. When I’m stressed, unhappy, (or even happy), worried, in the middle of conflict with my husband or my kids (usually the teenagers), or overwhelmed by anything in anyway, I tend to retreat (when my husband is home to care for our lil guys) to my home office or my bedroom and shut the door where I can find quiet, peace, have a complete uninterrupted thought, and find some distraction in a book or from a television program. Sleep offers a wonderful escape, too. But another form of self-soothing is finding that bowl of left-over pasta to heat up, or a bowl of cereal, or toasted bagel at 4 in the afternoon when I’m not even hungry. I’ll prepare dinners for my family which will include the comforts of carbs such as rice, pasta or potatoes. I’ve been known to go back for seconds. Oh, and lets not forget that candy bar grabbed at the check-out counter and added to my groceries because “I deserve it”, because it’s been “a tough day”! I eat these sometimes on the way home from the store or once I’m in my room or office and can enjoy them by myself.
I also believe that I’ve been in a bit of a depression initiated by the overwhelming business of life. Some days I stay on top of every task and duty, and enjoy walking the boys up to our neighborhood park to play while exploring the world of tall trees, pine cones and doodle bugs. Then there are other days I feel like I don’t care if the dishes pile up, or the laundry isn’t folded and put away, or the toilets aren’t scrubbed, … as long as everyone is clean, fed and gets to and from school/practices. Just do the basics. I know I should exercise because I’d feel so much better both physically and emotionally, but I don’t feel like exerting the energy. I just don’t want to get out of bed some days at all. I don’t want to, but I do.
I don’t want to feel this way. I don’t want to eat my feelings. I don’t want to fill in the cracks of my heart with a spread of peanut butter on my cherry pie, like Paul Blart. I don’t want to continue wearing the same clothes day after day while looking at 3/4 of my unfitable wardrobe. I don’t want to look at joggers, walkers and bikers and just wish I’d feel like doing that. I want to look forward to this summer being able to wear my favorite shorts, tops, skirts and swimsuits.
Okay, I’m done.
I’m done with loving my scale one day and hating it the next. I’m done making excuses and wanting to curl up under a blanket to feel better. I’m done wishing things were different sometimes, and am now determined to count my blessings, shake my own shoulders and see this through.
Two and 1/2 weeks ago, I started a new weight loss plan and I’ve lost 10 pounds! Another 3, and I’ll be back to where I was before I started to regain. But I’m not stopping there. I’m going to continue until I am really happy with myself. Will I get there by eating differently alone? No. Yoga and power-walking will not only help this program along, but as we all know, will release stress and increase healthy blood flow and brain function. My brain could really use some healthy functioning. I’m making efforts to have girl friend get-togethers … so dinner or a movie out every couple of weeks or so. And having a date with my husband 2-4 times a month is a top priority.
Will changing from a negative, self-soothing attitude to a healthy, positive attitude with an active plan underway take out all the stressors in my life? Of course not, but I hope that as I continue to make better choices in the way I handle what life hands me each day, I’ll find more peace and ability to cope which can teach my kids how to cope with life’s challenges in healthy, positive, productive ways.
For some advice that I found helpful, please visit: http://stress.about.com/od/stressmanagementtools/a/joy_motherhood.htm
How do you cope with the stress in your life? Give me your feedback and some suggestions for other Twinning Attitude! visitors … your comments may be just what someone out there needs to hear! 🙂