This past week was a more challenging one. Rob is still on a demanding rotation and he was super busy. Pookie went about four days without really seeing him. He did sneak in one night as she was falling asleep to give her a kiss.
Pookie took the “lack of daddy time” pretty hard. Lots of emotions. Lots of meltdowns and testing in new ways. As you can imagine, this was not pleasant for me. The days started to blend together, the frustration started to build, all while the mundanity of it all was starting to get to me.
I was entering into what I call a dip “down” in the ebb and flow of life. Instead of my usual energy and focus, I felt unmotivated, lazy, tired, and a bit of dread.
Every evening after I got Pookie to bed, I would think back on how I spent the day – the same routine, the same toddler resistance, the same activities and chores, the same, the same – and I just felt an “ugh.”
And then I felt a bit of dread. “Oh good, I get to wakeup tomorrow and do it again!”
When I recognize that I’m in a dip, my first impulse is to fix it. I don’t want to feel like this. How do I stop feeling like this?? Fear and mild panic set in.
Then I start the stories: Things have been going so well. What’s wrong? I need to shake myself of this. What if I never feel motivated again? If I can’t handle this now, what’s it going to be like when things get harder?
Blah, blah, blah.
Trying to “fix it” only makes it worse.
After a couple days, I started to worry. What do I do to get back to my “happy place?”
This time around, I turned to some of my go-to’s for help. I made some time to do some extra stretching and light yoga. I took a few minutes to mediate. I diffused essential oils all day.
I also happened to run across a post from Elizabeth Gilbert where she talks about “going to the water” to uplift yourself.
I remember people advising me to do that with Pookie when she was a baby. If babies are fussy and won’t calm down, give them a bath. I used this advice many times with Pookie.
So it made sense that this would work for adults too. And guess what? I live by the ocean! I planned to take Pookie to the beach the next day, but it rained. Big sad face.
Plus, even though the beach is really close (like REALLY close), it takes motivation to get myself and Pookie out there, and I had little motivation to run on.
So then I decided to take more showers.
All of this helped, but some weight lingered. The dip was not over.
About two days later, Rob got home around 8:30pm and I was able to chat with him for a few minutes while he ate dinner and got ready for bed. I filled him in on my current emotional state and struggles.
His response was spot on. He reminded me of a basic principle that we learned from our Buddhist teachers. One that is much easier to see when you’re on the outside looking in and not in the thick of it. He asked me:
“How about just acknowledging how you feel and leaving it at that? Don’t try to change it or fix it.”
It’s so simple, but so hard to remember in the moment. Once he said it, I recalled all the times I’ve heard teachers talk about this, and as strange as it sounds, it was very relieving. I started to feel a glimmer of hope.
I just said to myself, “This is what sadness feels like. I feel sad.” That’s it.
The next day, I was able to be more present and felt even more lightness returning. I even decided to chill out and let Pookie watch two hours worth of Daniel Tiger. And you know what? It was awesome! She snuggled up against me (which she rarely does) and we just sat together, feeling the love.
While she watched, I researched meal options for the week. Food was starting to become a real burden for me because I had grown tired of our usual recipes and wasn’t really interested in most things. Pregnancy brings out a lot of food aversions for me rather than cravings. Everything sounds gross most of the time, unless it’s cereal or a bread product covered in almond butter.
I spent part of the time on Pinterest and found a few fun recipes that actually sparked some joy within my tummy. I started to get pumped to try these recipes out. I spent the second half of the Daniel Tiger marathon organizing the recipes into a meal calendar and planner, and making my grocery list.
I felt so accomplished and “up.” Plus, Pookie was sitting there smiling, just soaking up spending the time together. I think we both were emotionally exhausted from the week and we needed to just veg for a bit.
After that, we made english muffin pizzas together (previously planned, not a spontaneous Pinterest inspiration) and that was a nice way to finish out our day together. There were no meltdowns for the rest of the evening and we laughed more than we growled. Instead of the struggles and tears we had been experiencing the last several afternoons, this one was calm and fun.
And to our surprise, Rob walked in the door at *gasp* 5:30pm. Angels were heard. *la!!!!!*
So. It’s now a new week and this is Rob’s last week on his current rotation. The next rotation will have fewer hours, thank goodness.
I’m slowly rising from the dip and feeling my motivation return again.
It’s odd to think that we adults need the same thing as children – just acknowledgment. Just like how I acknowledge Pookie’s wants and feelings – but don’t need to always give her what she wants or change/fix her feelings – I need to do the same with myself.
Just a “this is what ____ feels like” and leave it there. No bigger story. Breathe it out and let the weight start to lift. <3