Friday, May 4, 2012

Taking Care of the Self

So I'm sitting here getting ready to write something, feeling good, and then HD wakes up (he fell asleep with W) and all of a sudden I'm NOT feeling good, feeling like I have to stop what I'm doing because now I'm no longer in charge of me or my time.  And all of a sudden I feel angry and bitter and resentful and constricted.  And he says "Are you grumpy?" and I say "No" in a tone that really says yes, and he asks why and I say, well, what I just wrote above.  And he agrees that he is not in charge of his time and I totally flip out and close the laptop a bit to hard and say "Fine!  I'll just go to bed right now.  You're not in charge of your time so I don't deserve to be in charge of mine either.  You're ready to go to bed now so I have to be a good wife and go to bed with you." and I flop down on the bed and cover myself with sheets not very gently.  And he pauses with this look of incredulation and mouth kind of agape and says "WHAT is WRONG with you?  I just meant that I'm not in charge of my time right now because you're in here with the light on, but if you go somewhere else then I can do what I want, which is go to bed.  Get up and do what you want.  Geez."

So, um, yeah.  I have since moved to another room and will attempt to spill out/work through a theme that has become apparent to me over the past week, which apparently just erupted all over my bedroom.  :P  I'm setting the intention that what you just read was the breakTHROUGH and not just a breakDOWN.  That it has all been expelled from my consciousness, or maybe it will hang around just long enough to get on the screen and then will be released for eternity.  Yeah.  That's a good intention.  :)  And I'm choosing not to pick apart the above conversation (even though I totally could!) and just trust that what was said was what I needed to hear to get me to where I needed to be, and leave it at that.  ;)

L is 4.  She has, in recent weeks, refused to pretty much do anything that resembles taking care of her basic needs for herself.  She needs help getting dressed, serving herself food, finding her toys, and the most annoying of all, going to the bathroom and washing her hands.  Her pleas for me to "Help me wash my hands, mama!" led to the rather deep question (although it came out deeply annoyed): "Do you want me to help you or do it for you?  Because those are two different things."  (Ahh, big important insight there for me. . .)  Her answer: "Do it FOR me!" 

I absolutely believe that behind every behavior is a need, and I have had kids long enough to know that a lot of stuff is a phase and will disappear without any sort of "training", and that four is a year of discovering how big the world is and how small the child feels in it which often leads to increased requests for help and hopefully leads to the security that help will be there when it is needed, and brings the child back to a place where s/he would like to do it all alone again.  And then five tends to be about how the child knows EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING, thank you very much, and doesn't really need the parent in much of a capacity at all.  Unless everything DOESN'T go the way s/he expected. . . 

Anyway, so I'm not really concerned that I'll end up doing everything for her forever and she'll never try to do anything on her own again, mostly I'm just trying to make it through with what patience I have.  Which, at the moment, has been on the small side of nil.  The bathroom, especially, since it often results in her ignoring her need to go until the last moment and then I have to find her new pants and undies (oh, laundry), and when it comes time to wash her hands she gets interested in something else and wants me to keep waiting until she's done.  Um, no, I'm not cool with that. 

So we have this new behavior (needing me to help with, or do LOTS of stuff that she could do herself, for her) and this incredible, knee jerk anger, frustration, and desire to tear out my own hair that comes from me.  It finally occurred to me to stop and see what she could be mirroring for me, what it is that she is triggering in me that is causing this incredible, out-of-proportion with the actual issue, reaction from me.  I can't help her when I'm flipping out myself, so taking care of MY side of the issue is really the most effective place to start.  When I remember.  And I'm not sticking my fingers in my ears because I don't want to hear it. . .

The answer came last week, when I was working to get the outside animals taken care of so I could get dinner ready so I could sit down with my kids and watch the show "Touch" (LOVE that show!)  And I was outside scooping wet bedding out of the brooding room where the ducklings had once again splashed the majority of their water onto the wood chips and it reeked and I was taking care of it right then instead of waiting until tomorrow morning and it was 8:46 (Touch comes on at 9) and dinner would absolutely not be done, and I had spent a good couple hours just prior wasting time on facebook or something and I asked  out loud "WHY do I do this?  Why do I sabotage myself so that I can't do the things I want?  Why do I wait until the last minute and then I miss what I was looking forward to???"  And I groaned and sighed and finished up and made it in JUST as the show was starting.  And as soon as the first commercial came on and I headed upstairs to work on dinner, L sayid "I need to go potty!" so I grumbled and took her up and she keept saying "I don't want to miss Touch!" and I said, annoyed "Then hurry up!" and as soon as I wiped her, she layed down on the floor and started playing with her James train, continuing to say "I don't want to miss Touch!"  And as I washed my own hands I said "Well, you would be able to do the things you want if you would just DO what you need to do yourself instead of waiting for me to do it and getting distracted by the trai. . . ."  Oh, crap.  Um, yeah, that message was for me. 

Yep, truth be told, I'm not all that great at taking care of my own needs, either.  (I had to tell myself to just get up and go to the bathroom already instead of trying to hold it until I was done writing this. . .)  And gosh darn it, do I really need to wait for other people to give me permission, or help me, or do it for me?  Do I need to wait for someone else to say "Good job, I see you've been working very hard, go take a break!" or "You did all of your work!  Good girl!  Now you can go outside and play!" or  "Well, you've completed your obligatory assignments for today, now you can work on something just for the fun of it."  or "You look tired, why don't you rest for a bit?" or "I can see how your soul is suffering under the weight of these "shoulds" that have been piled on you.  I'll take them off and throw them away for you." ????  I don't NEED to wait for others or to get permission to do any of those things.  But I feel like I DO.  Deep down I really do.  And it keeps me frozen.  And you know what?  I'm sick of it.  And I'm ready to be done with it.   

My pattern is normally to ignore my needs, push them aside, until I hit crisis point and freak out.  And then I have to do all of this intense work that takes up a lot of time to get myself semi back on track.  And I look at that time and part of me feels like it was a waste and I feel guilty about it, so I keep on ignoring my needs because I JUST took care of them (sort of) so I shouldn't need to spend more time on me, until I hit crisis point again, and the cycle continues.  Today, while I was watering my seedlings that had been neglected for a few days while I was away, it occurred to me that they would die if I took care of them the way I take care of me.  They would have no chance.  They need regular, tender, nurturing care.  And so do I. 

So, some things I can do.  Journal, paint, or sketch daily.  Wait until the day has started and everyone is fed and I have worked towards something I TRULY want to do before getting on the computer.  Look myself in the eye in the mirror and tell me I love me.  Drink enough water and eat what my body is directing me to eat.  Get outside and not just when I'm feeding the animals.  Ooh, you know, when L asks me to take her to the bathroom, I could use that as a reminder to get present and focus on my breathing, even if it's only for a few seconds.  A few seconds of gathering myself up and being mindful is better than none!  Maybe that's what she's been trying to tell me all along.  <3  My four year-old zen master.  :)

How about you?  What can you do to take care of you better?  Little ways that you can water yourself instead of trying to recover after a drought?  I'd love to hear them if you're willing to share.  We can all use more possibilities in our lives.  <3

1 comment:

  1. This is so true! What a great reminder for us mommies!