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Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Thoughts on happiness

I've been struggling lately to find balance in my life. Balance between being me and being mom. This is always really hard for me. Periodically I go through phases in which I feel all I do, day in and day out, is take care of little people. I don't explore my interests, I don't go out with friends, I don't even have he energy to stay up past the kids' bedtime and be with Kev. I just go to sleep as soon as Linc is down and pray he'll give me a couple of hours of uninterrupted rest.

It becomes very monotonous, lonely and depressing. 

But I've been trying to keep things in perspective. Y'know, the whole "The days are long but the years are short" spiel. I know I will only have these kids in my care for a short while. But that doesn't always make it easier to get through the day. Especailly when the days start after a night of only five cumulative hours of sleep, most of which are spent sitting up in Lincoln's rocking chair while he sleeps in my lap.

I notice, in the middle of the night when I cry because I'm so worn out and Linc just won't stay asleep, that I start to pity myself. Excessively. I wonder why all these horrible things are happening to me. Why did Aspen have to throw so many stinkin tantrums all day long? Why does Linc only sleep for such short periods of time? Why did the dog run away three times? Why can't I meal-plan better? Why me? Boo hoo. Night time is really hard for me. I simultaneously look forward to and dread the end of the day.

We recently had a great Relief Society lesson on facing hardship with gratitude, though. That isn't always easy. For me, I know it's all about keeping a handle on perspective. Usually things aren't as bad as I've blown them up in my mind. But because I've internalized it all and haven't talked to another grown up for days, it seems unbelievable that XYZ is happening. While we discussed gratitude in all things, I immediately turned to this quote from Eckhart Tolle that I'd jotted down weeks ago:

"The ego says, 'I shouldn’t have to suffer,' and that thought makes you suffer so much more. It is a distortion of the truth, which is always paradoxical. The truth is that you need to say yes to suffering before you can transcend it."

Who am I to be free from trials? Why do I think parenting should be easy? It's not, and no one ever said it was. 

Something else I recently read on FamilyShare's website has been bouncing around in my head a lot lately, too. At first I thought it was really lame and such a stupid approach, but then I started trying to implement these two suggestions in my life. The article was offering up tips for stay-at-home-parents and the first one listed is LOWER AND MORE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS.

This is huge for me. I think I still have trouble letting go of the person I used to be before kids. I used to be at work at 745 in the morning, all done up and ready to do "important" things. Like answer phones and fill out spreadsheets. I forget that even then I didn't have time for bathroom breaks or a hot lunch or an afternoon nap. I was at the mercy of my employer and all sorts of customers, and that's just about as bad as a screaming toddler and fussy baby.

Yet, I still expect that my life as a stay-at-home-mom should be different. I expect to be able to shower whenever I want. I expect that Aspen will actually listen to the words I say and complete the tasks I ask of her. I expect that Linc will nap for a couple of hours at a time and I will get my work done or my cleaning done or help Aspen do an art project. I expect I'll have time to myself to exercise or read or watch a TV show. I expect a lot of things that don't have a chance of happening. So why not try expecting something else? To go along with this tidbit, the author also suggested letting go of those unspoken, secret desires we hold- usually involving someone else magically doing something differently without being asked. I have a hard time with this, too. How would Kev know I'm sitting in the baby's room crying my eyes out if I'm doing it quietly with the door closed and the noise machine on? JUST GET UP AND GO TELL HIM I FEEL SAD SO HE'LL HUG ME. This sounds like it should be so easy to accomplish, but I still suck at it.

The second piece of advice is to do things cheerfully, even when it's not easy. My mom always used to tell me "fake it till you make it" when I complained that my life in high school was oh-so-hard-I-hate-everyone. I hated that advice, too. I didn't try it then, and I'm still hesitant to try it in earnest now. What if I pretend I love doing all the things I do and then no one ever thinks to help me?! But that goes back to not secretly wishing for things and instead making those requests known.

Doing these things, making these shifts in my thinking, will make me a happier person, though. I know it depends on my perspective and attitude. I just need to find the stamina to keep it up! Maybe my new 830 bedtime will help.

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    1. Love this. It is so hard to keep perspective and easy to lock yourself in a room to cry. Thanks for this reminder

    2. I can so relate Liv & have felt all these things pretty much after having Bentley. My trials are so minuet but they feel hard when really others have much bigger ones. And as far as lowering expectations I totally agree I guess thanks to social media we see what this & that mom are doing compare ourselves to what we aren't doing. We need to be our own selves and happy with that.

    3. So true! Loved reading this, thanks for sharing. That quote about suffering is fabulous. It really is about accepting things for what they are and then moving on. Lowering expectations is HUGE for me, thanks for the reminder!


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