A slightly edited version of this blog was published today on Huffington Post Parents.
My face felt tight from a mixture of sticky old sunscreen and dried sweat. Admittedly there was an unpleasant scent that surrounded me of which I was embarrassed. Or at least I would have been embarrassed if I weren’t so damn tired. I had spent most of my day outside at a school track meet which took many more hours than I had planned in my schedule. And because of this poor planning on my part, I was also completely inappropriately dressed in a long skirt and a jeans jacket. Sure, I could have removed the jeans jacket, but because of the Spanx tank top I was wearing under it, it would have been frowned upon by the other parents for sure. Pasty white, untoned arms with a crazy tight tank (showing all kinds of curves and edges I don’t want anyone in public to see)? No thank you.
So I did as we parents do every year at this time and I suffered through it (and, uh, sweat through my clothes in the process). We spend hours out at the ball fields, in hot gyms, at field days, or at end of the year parties. Those of us who work outside of the home leave the comforts of our air conditioned offices to stand out in the sun for hours before returning to work for a few more hours. All the time feeling guilty because, after forgetting to bring a folding chair for the hundreth time, we realize just how much we would rather be anywhere but there.
It’s the time of year where parents are just exhausted. And this week has been, well, even more exhausting-er than normal.
My normal annoyingly positive attitude is not sure how to handle the never-before-thought negative thoughts brewing inside my head this week. My mind went into defense mechanism mode yesterday afternoon. Seriously. It just SHUT DOWN and I actually said to myself, “Thank God tomorrow is Friday.” And it was only TUESDAY. Nice coping mechanism, self, but just saying it doesn’t make it a reality.
My reality this week was spending most of the day on Monday with my kids and my ex-husband’s family at the visitation/funeral/burial of my children’s great uncle. Divorce may be a divisive factor in our lives, but death brings us all back together. It was a wonderful service for a man who had such a servant’s heart. He was always there for anyone in need. He was one of those people who just made you feel good by being around him. As Maya Angelou said:
The funeral on Monday was emotionally exhausting and then Tuesday was physically exhausting. I went to work for a few hours, then went to my daughter’s track meet for a few hours, then went by my attorney’s office to sign some paperwork, then went BACK to work for a few hours, then raced home to get my daughter’s basketball clothes/shoes and pick up my son, so we could race over to pick up my daughter from piano. She changed in the car as we raced to basketball practice. When the kids got out of the car to go into basketball practice, I realized it was the first silence I had experienced all day. And it was after 6pm.
So what did I do with my free time? I opened my brief case and pulled out some work. <sigh>
Joe called to talk about dinner plans. I guess I was a tad short with him because he said, “What’s wrong, honey?” I felt like I let all of the air out of my lungs as I said,
“I’M JUST….. SO……….. TIRED. And I’m just so tired of being tired.”
It’s that time of year again. The time of year where we all just do whatever we can to get by. Jen Hatmaker’s blog that went viral last year, Worst End Of School Year Mom Ever, was absolutely the best verbalization of this feeling that we all feel every single year at this time. We are just sick and tired of being sick and tired, so we just EXIST. It’s that “existence” that is so hard for someone who takes pride in being on top of everything. Instead of being my normal prepared self, I find myself wishing away time – praying for a little bit of something… something that I haven’t felt since last summer. FREEDOM.
And I don’t mean freedom away from the kids, necessarily… I mean freedom to just NOT DO.
We go, go, go, go all the days. Our schedules are marked on and highlighted and color-coded as we race from one activity to the next or divide and conquer while kids have different activities in totally different cities. We make it happen because like Maya Angelou said, we want our kids to remember how our dedication made them feel.
Children don’t feel love through the thousands of dollars worth of shoes you buy them or the expensive camps you send them to. They feel love when they are out on the court and they look to the sidelines and see you give them a thumbs up. They feel love when they fall on the field and they hear your familiar gasp from the sidelines as you say a quick prayer to God to make sure your child gets back up. They feel love when they see you with flowers in the audience after a piano recital. They feel love just spending time with you. But most importantly, they will remember how your love and dedication in their lives made them feel.
It’s YOUR TIME they need the most. It’s that simple.
The best thing we can do for our kids and for ourselves is to get a quick re-charge. Like when your AC stops blowing cold air and you need to re-charge the freon… we go so hard for so long that we just start blowing hot air all around. And when we are blowing hot air around, we are of no use to anyone. Especially our kids.
And right now I feel like I am blowing hot air EVERYWHERE…
This weekend we have no basketball tournaments and no plans. I am already scheduling in my calendar (WITH A SHARPIE) the 12 hours of sleep I want to get on Friday night. I may not even get out of my nightgown on Saturday THANK-YOU-VERY-MUCH! Visions of kids laughing by the fire pit while watching outdoor movies are floating around incessantly in my head. And I know that after having a restful weekend I will be back to the Val who everyone knows and loves, not the Val that everyone hides from because she may burn a hole through you with her exhausted/angry glare. Not the mom with the ultra-short fuse.
I know that once I get my refresher weekend that I will again be the kind of person who encourages people… the kind of person who makes people smile and whose energy makes others feel good. That is the real Val.
THAT is how I want to be remembered.