Monday, February 1, 2016

Stuck in the middle

Last week, I read a post by one of my long-time favorite bloggers, and found myself nodding so hard my neck hurt. Yes...YES. I so get this feeling:
A morning at home: kids off to school and a somewhat open day presents itself. And all of a sudden I’m torn about how to spend it.  
I need down time; I should just watch 100 shows on Netflix. I need growth; I should read something that challenges my faith, my parenting philosophy. I need rest; I should nap all morning. I need endorphins; I should exercise. I need to get ahead on household chores; I should clean and organize. I need to work; I should catch up on emails and phone calls. I need to see my friends; I should meet someone dear for coffee. I need fresh air; I should bundle up take the dogs for a walk in the snow.  
And then, as I’m weighing out these options, the morning is already half-gone. I’m crippled by the indecision and no choice feels like it’s quite enough, or the right option to pursue.  
Ummmmm, anyone else?
(I know it's probably frowned upon to long-form copy paste like this, but she just articulated this so well. I'll link to her again...go...come back if you wish, but I'm not mad if you wanna hang out with her instead!) 

I go through something similar pretty much every night after we (fiiiiiiiinally) get the kids in bed:
I should clean. Ok, I must clean. But I'm so tired. I should just go to bed. But that's no fun. I should do something fun. Like what? Hobbies sound exhausting. I do have some writing to get done. Ugh, but that requires me to think of words, and I'm pretty much out of words. And ideas. And coherent thoughts. Lemme just check what's new on social media for a minute. Oops, I mean 45 minutes, how did that happen? Ok, seriously I need to clean. J/k let's just watch some reality TV until we fall asl-zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Oh wait, I hear the baby crying......
Life with three little angels/monsters/ kiddos (plus jobs, plus....oh I don't know, just like, regular adult responsibilities...) is awesome, and yet also draining in every way possible. Being constantly focused on the needs of little people makes me crave "me time"- hobbies, projects, brain stimulation- but the never ending cycle of doing also makes me want to just curl up and take a nap. I find myself stuck in the middle: wanting to do everything and nothing at the same time. Doing nothing feels like a lazy waste, but doing anything feels exhausting.

I get paralyzed in this middle zone, and more often than not, I end up puttering around- doing a little of this, and a little of that until I realize it's later than I wanted, I didn't really do anything of value, and I probably should have just gone to bed. Is there anything wore than feeling like you don't have any time, but then mindlessly wasting the time you do have because you can't quite land on how you want to spend it? Well...yes. There are probably about a million things worse than my basic complaint-fest. But you get me.

It reminds me of when I was a kid and I would complain to my mom: "I'm so booooorrrrrrrrred." If she was already annoyed, she might respond, "Only boring people are bored", (actually...I'm not sure she ever said that, even if she probably should have). Usually she'd try to help, listing off activities or tasks I could do. But like the petulant child I was, I'd dismiss each suggestion. No. No. No. No. No. I didn't want to be bored, but I didn't exactly want to do anything either.

And that's where I find myself right now. Stuck in the middle. Maybe it's a case of the post-baby semi-blues, maybe it's the wintertime funk, but there have been quite a few nights these days where I've started with great intentions, and ended with a half melted bowl of ice cream snoozing through the last 10 minutes of Top Chef again.

I believe the appropriate phrase here is: The struggle is real.

I'm trying to be patient with myself, trusting I won't always feel this slothful. This season with lots of little ones, and very little sleep is a tough area to succeed in. And deep down I know that given all that's on our plates these days, it's a little unreasonable to push myself too hard towards some imaginary late-night productivity target. A little vegging out is necessary. I'm confident that sooner than later the winds will shift again, and things will feel a bit more balanced. In the meantime I have a freezer full of ice cream, and a DVR full of reality shows. And in this moment- that sounds pretty perfect.

Anyone else feel this push and pull between the two sides? Intentions vs. ability, desire vs. exhaustion? How do you handle that frustrating middle place?
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  1. I totally feel you on this post. You're ~6 months into life with 3 kids, I'm ~6 months into life with 2 -- but I feel the same way. I remind myself that I will have time to myself again, and that it's ok to not be "productive" all the time. And yeah, I'm just freaking tired.