Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Groundhog Day

Mom Said...

“Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today.”  Groundhog Day.

Some days, this is exactly how I feel.  Literally, I feel like I am living the same day over and over again, and it feels torturous.

My day in a nutshell (or at least how it feels in my head): 

Wake up.  Make breakfast for Malini.  Make a bottle for Naya.  Tell Malini to eat her breakfast.  Feed Malini bites of her breakfast while I am feeding Naya.  Make Malini’s lunch for school. Yell at Malini to eat her breakfast. Dress Malini for school.  Yell at Malini to eat her breakfast.  Pack Malini’s school bag. Yell at Malini to eat her breakfast.  Get Malini and my husband out the door for school.  Make a bottle. Put Naya down for a nap.  Sit down for what feels like 5 seconds. Get Naya from her ridiculously short nap. Make Naya a bottle. Play with Naya. Make Naya lunch. Put Naya down for a nap.  Sit down for what feels like 5 seconds. Get Naya from her ridiculously short nap while simultaneously welcoming Malini home from school. Play with the girls. Homework. Make dinner. Tell Malini to eat dinner.  Feed Naya dinner.  Yell at Malini to eat dinner.  Feed Malini dinner. Bathe the girls. Put Naya to bed. Put Malini to bed.  Die on the couch for 2 minutes before I am out like a light.

Wake up, Rinse and Repeat…

I feel this way, meanwhile, my husband shares a lot of these tasks with me because I am a working mom.  I recently started back in the office part-time, which has helped with the whole “groundhog day” syndrome, but I still contract it on occasion.  I have to say, I truly applaud full-time stay-at-home moms and dads because it is the most important and difficult job I have ever had. 

That said, most days, I love performing my duties as a mother.  I love being a mom and work really hard at trying to find new and creative ways to parent my girls (even though the tried and true approaches always come into play!).  But some days, I wake up and internally say to myself (as Malini is yelling in my ear “Mama, let’s get out of bed and play” over and over again):

“I. Simply. Can’t. Fathom. Living. My. Day. One. More. Time.  I don’t want to put the baby down for a nap, bed, or whatever.  I don’t want to tell Malini to eat whatever meal is in front of her one more time.  I don’t want to play with whichever child is in front of me, if not both of them.” 

On those days, I just want to veg on the couch, in my sweats, with snacks, a diet coke and Breyer’s chocolate ice cream. I’d prefer to not talk to a soul for hours and watch old episodes of Felicity.  This is a show that takes me back and provides the fantasy that I am back in college, with no kids, no real responsibilities, and hanging onto every word Scott Speedman has to say with my roomate Tracy.

When this happens, if I don’t take that bit of “me” time, I explode.  Just a few days ago, I had a thermal nuclear meltdown to my ridiculously supportive husband.   While sputtering incoherent phrases, not making any sense, with my hair standing in all different directions, in my pajamas, and not having brushed my teeth, I LOST IT. We’ve been through this before, and he knows what I mean when I finally utter the words, “It feels like Groundhog Day!” 

I know all parents go through this, and we all handle it differently.  My husband doesn’t appear to be affected by the “groundhog day” syndrome nearly as much as I am.  He gets it on occasion, goes for a walk, gets a cup of coffee and it is pretty much done.

Me, on the other hand, I go full crazy.  On those days, he sends me off to the gym to get a quick run in.  At the moment, as I am walking down to the gym, I am saying in my head “what, does he think I am fat?!?!”  Admittedly, a crazy thought.  Meanwhile, as he knows, this immediately calms me down and changes up the order of my “groundhog” day.  I come back with a super red face (because I don’t get to work out nearly as much as I should), a small spring in my step, and a tiny bit of sunshine in my smile. 

My amazing husband then tells me to pick a day to just do something for myself.  Manicure, sit in a coffee shop, he doesn’t care what, just do something so I can stop being a lunatic.  While it seems like he is doing something for me, it is more likely that he just doesn’t want to deal with me as a crazed lunatic any long!  More often than not, I do not take him up on this.  You ask why.  Guilt.  I feel guilty taking time for myself.  First, I wonder why my husband doesn’t feel like he needs “me” time as much as I do.  Second, I feel like I am missing out on some big monumental moment and will regret not being there. 

In all honesty, I am not sure why my husband feels the need for less “me” time, maybe because he goes into the office every day?  I am not really sure.  As to the guilt for possibly missing out on something, I have had to remind myself repeatedly, most days are groundhog days because kids crave schedules.  So, in reality, I am not missing much of anything.  And even if I do, oh well!  They’ll do whatever it is they are doing again, and again, and again, even possibly to the point of annoyance.  I need not worry about missing anything!

What I need to do is care for me and get out of my groundhog day.  I find when I squeeze in some “me” time, even if it is 30 minutes, I am a better mother, a better wife, but most of all, a better me.  As parents, we know when the “groundhog day” syndrome is about to set it, rather than let it get you crazy, find a way to take some time to yourself and change up your day a bit.  It does wonders for you, your family and your home. 

I stand by the saying “A happy mom is a happy family.”      

Dad Said...

“Ned! Ned Ryerson.  ‘Needlenose Ned’, ‘Ned the Head’ …Watch out for that first step, it’s a doozy!”

Everyone recalls that annoying character that keeps popping up in the movie Groundhog Day.  Parenting can feel a bit like Groundhog Day.  We all have our “Ned Ryerson” moments that make us want to tear our hair out.  Most days we can power through the repetition and monotony, but some days…

Our girls are pretty awesome.  I know I’m their Dad, but trust me, they are pretty cool.  As with most kids, though, they find comfort in structure, repetition and familiarity.  For our daughters, things like watching Tangled over and over until Daddy wants to rip his arm off just to have something to bash in the TV with are a common occurrence.   The structure of a day is critical to their happiness, well being, and therefore critical to ours.  For that reason, we not only tolerate the schedule, but gleefully push and promote it.  We were overjoyed when we got our daughters on a reliable napping schedule.  We are still quite proud of the fact that, come 7:30 PM, they are both asleep for the night.  We read the same stories, over and over.  We cook the same foods, over and over.  We play the same activities, OVER and OVER. 

Then, you wake up one morning and realize…you too have a schedule.  Yes, dictated by your children’s schedule, but a schedule nonetheless.  We get up at 6:30 AM and start getting our older daughter ready for school.  Breakfast, a little coloring and getting her lunch made.  Off to school for the drop off, then right to work.  Pick up from school, go home and start dinner.  Feed, bathe, brush teeth and get into bed.  I then get 20 minutes on the couch with my wife before she falls asleep on the couch followed closely by me.  Our reward for such an action packed day? We get to do the exact same thing tomorrow.  And the next day.  And…well you get the idea. 

Parenthood, for all its joys, has its share of tedium.  It is so easy to allow one day to turn into the next, and into the next, until we find ourselves at our wits end.  Sometimes it’s easier to see the wall coming in on your spouse than yourself.  I am often encouraging my wife to take some time for herself.  An evening at the nail salon, a night out with the girls, a few hours to sleep in.  These seem like small things, but have been life savers.  The 30 minutes my wife spends on the treadmill can mean the difference between a good day and a bad day. 

It’s important to take that time for myself as well.  Somehow that’s harder.  I think we are programmed to feel guilty for wanting a little time away from the kids.  Should I feel bad that I often count the minutes until bedtime for an hour or so of quiet before bed?  My kids having a sleepover at the grandparents should make me feel liberated, instead I just spend the time worrying about the girls. I can’t help it.  Before I know it, I am back to running into Ned Ryerson, for the millionth time as our well-oiled repetition machine gears into full swing again. 

There is never a perfect answer for this, but making time, however small, for myself makes me a better father and a better husband.  I remind myself, and my wife, of that constantly to put to ease any guilt or worry.  While the guilt will never entirely go away, the little bit of alone time will give me the recharge I need because tomorrow is a new day.  And just maybe we’ll shake up our schedule and do bath-time before dinner.  We’re crazy like that.     

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