Being

A Mom’s Birthday Confessional

The past week or so has been rough. Not in the “oh no, another birthday is coming and what does it all mean?” kind of way, but in the “oh no, do I suck as A Person because I don’t know if I can handle more of this?” kind of way. The highlight of my week came in the form of a stranger in a parking lot, who asked me if I was the babysitter because I didn’t look like I just had a baby. As flattering as it was, at least Elizabeth Patch might applaud me for wishing she would have complimented my adept opposite-side driving skillz instead.

I’ve somehow (subconsciously?) stumbled across some articles [this one from Today and this one that was inspired by it] that have convinced me that it’s OK to feel like just maybe there will be something that I can’t handle, that maybe I’m two straws from breaking my camel’s back (or maybe even draining a bottle of vodka). [Note: I believe that any family that has endured a minimum of a half-dozen desert deployments deserves a hyperbolic camel, if not the promise of a pension.]

The never ending task list, the magical un-appearance of our stuff, the isolation of being so far away from everyone I love (but one, and I’m not even forgetting the dog), the exhaustion of a single (for now) mom… I feel none of it nor all of it is an excuse to be angry that it’s only 4:00 and still 2.5 hours until bedtime, that my sweet baby will NOT nap when I want him to, that I can’t finish typing an email without him banging on the keys, or that it takes 20 minutes to prepare to go anywhere. Certainly none of it justifies hanging up on my husband mid-Skype because he isn’t somehow capable of making the baby go to sleep from another time zone so that I can just make my f*ing dinner and relax.

I’ve done some reading to confirm my suspicion that it just might be possible that the stress in my life isn’t the end of the world. As in, something else could be. Or, as my latest in-progress read, The Happiness Project, has led me to believe, I am in full control of my decision to be happy or not, minutiae-be-damned.

Ultimately, as this birthday approached, it became clear that I needed to check my perspective. It’s time I wake up every day ready to kick ass at life (and as a 31-year-old).

My first instinct of how to be a Better Me was to convince myself that this birthday doesn’t matter. Really, I suppose it doesn’t. But expecting a Leo to not care about a birthday is like expecting my dog to refrain from humping pugs – it’s really hard to resist and we expect a reward for doing so. As such, it’s clear that there’s much work to be done here. In the mean time… pardon me while I go eat birthday cupcake for dinner.

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4 thoughts on “A Mom’s Birthday Confessional

  1. First, I love your writing style. Second, you’re not alone; I think we’re all on the verge of breaking our camels’ backs. But I’ve always admired you for (seemingly) having your sh*t together. You may feel like you want to drown your stress in a bottle of vodka, but just know that others look to you as a role model (myself included).

    I was gifted The Happiness Project when I turned 30 because my life felt particularly challenging at the time. Naturally, it’s still sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read. I’m not sure life will ever NOT feel challenging, but I still hope to read it someday!

  2. 6 days after my 32nd birthday…I completely broke down in tears over time sheets. The world seemed a little too big to tackle and Britney shaving her hair off didn’t seem too crazy!

    I’m very lucky and extremely grateful for your smile, your encouragement and for you standing by my side that day AND all the other days that seemed a little too much to handle.

    You are an amazing woman, loving wife, incredible mother and awe-inspiring friend….

  3. Thanks for the encouraging words, PJ! So as to be sure I’m not a negative influence, there is no vodka drinking going on :)

    It’s invaluable to me to have role models who demonstrate the resilience and grace that I think I’m striving for. I’m flattered that I might be that person for you and others! Perhaps it’s most important to know that our role models are still human?

    I think I’ve accepted that life will never be NOT challenging. The Happiness Project has been a fun read that so far is inspiring me to figure out how to manage that feeling. Whether doing that is something you want to try sooner or later, I hope you find the right resource to inspire you, too.

  4. Shannon, I’ve always appreciated your ability to bring me up when I need it most. Thank you for the kind words!

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