Delusions of Grandeur….
I’ve heard this term so many times associated with mania, and it never made sense to me. If this is a metric of mania, then I am manic when I’m depressed or completely stable. I’m a Mom. My delusions of grandeur start at 6AM, when I think that I will get 3 kids out the door, fed, dressed, with me actually in grown up pants versus, say, Santa pajamas…in May. This trend continues – whether I am working or on on disability. I either believe I will work, get a load or two of laundry done, and cook a lovely meal, with homework being completed, children bathed, and bedtime going swimmingly. Alternatively, I’ll think that I will clean my house and it will remain. I read somewhere cleaning a house with children is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos. It’s true, but not nearly as delicious. True mania/hypomania is difficult for me to discern from my reality, because 3 kids requires a lot of effort and energy.
I glance around my house right now and see piles of clean laundry, toys, floors needing vacuuming, and me covered in sweat from just doing yoga. I know there are things that need to be done, but the greatest gift I have given to myself are two simple words, “Good Enough”. I remembered the wise words I said as I was cradling my newborn Lock. “When he’s a grown man, I will not look back and wish I had cleaned my house more, and I doubt he’ll talk about how clean his house was, either.” Somehow, when I adopted Stepford-mode, I forgot that simple truth. Now, I will only not say “Good Enough” to my self care – daily meditation, yoga, writing, journaling, and MUSIC. I have to confess, sometimes it does feel like there’s not enough time in the day, and now, the laundry sits not me. I would rather a messy house than a messy brain.
I started prioritizing, because everything used to be a priority which made me crazy. I’m number one, the kids are number two. Call it anxiety, or being a mom, it doesn’t matter to me, but I am worried about the world my kids are growing up in. For one, I think everyone is in front of screens way too much. We’ve all become cavemen with blinking lights. I swear, my five year old turns into some sort of demented wolverine as he argues for his right to feed more cats named Tom, or whatever the fuck he’s doing. My oldest wants to kill more aliens, and they all want to watch more Shinedown on YouTube. I guess, the last part I don’t feel too bad about. The rest, though, I feel like a shitty mom. I’m not one of those moms that wants TV to babysit her kids, but at the same time, it is easier to make fettucine alfredo (Omg, the carbs, the fat, it’s not organic, this is an abomination…) when they are not setting the bathroom on fire or something. There are also times when I do not have the energy to “do it all”, and there are times I find myself lying around in a heap of exhaustion, depression, or freshly out of fucks to give. I believe that’s called being human, I forget. I’ll admit, when I feel like shit, I do spend more time with my face in my screen, and I’ve noticed it makes me feel worse. Part of my recovery is establishing realistic expectations for myself, and I have to believe all human beings lie around lazily from time to time. Hell, sometimes they stress me out so much, I tune them out and start meditating (instead of getting on my phone). I have heard my kids say to me too many times “Mom, can you get off your phone…” as I’m trying to respond to emails or texts that I didn’t get to.” My phone stays on Do not Disturb now, because I’m tired of my OCDish response of MUST RESPOND IMMEDIATELY which has been indoctrinated in me from work/society.
I am equally perturbed by the fact that they come home from 7 hours of school and have 1- 3 hours of homework. Homework is some sort of cruel punishment for parents. It seems in the US, we have this ridiculous work dog mentality. Everyone I know seems to work over 40 hours a week, often unpaid, and still works on vacation. It feels like I’m raising my kids to do the same. You read so much about work/life balance, yet many brag about how much they work; it’s bizarre. I did the working myself into the ground thing. It ends the same every time – panic attacks, nervous breakdown, hospital, and misery – for me and my family. No Mom can be happy when she’s running on nothing. Similarly, no Mom can be happy if she has no life for herself.
Let’s say I do send the gang out to ride their bikes. I’m a shitty mom because I don’t hover over them. I let them play and use this crazy thing called their imagination. I check on them, and I cook, handle that pesky laundry or I *gasp* do some shit for myself. When I was a kid, I was told to “get outside” and “come home when it was dark”. I should call CPS on my mom, because I know for a fact she was folding laundry and watching Oprah…It seems like through social media and news, we’re inundated with stories of kidnapping, stranger danger, and fear. It’s gotten to the point that kids are being robbed of childhoods in order to make safe, responsible adults who work 75 hours a week with no imagination or lives. It is incredible to live in a time of so much knowledge thanks to our screens and so little understanding thanks to a lack of introspection and passion.
The amount of statistics I have been quoted as I get in arguments with helicopter moms is staggering. If you understand statistics (you know it’s bullshit, because anyone can say anything __%), and my children are more likely to be abducted by their father or grandparents then a stranger. I’d rather err on the side of raising kids versus restricting childhoods in the name of safety. My kids engage in such atrocities as hunting for frogs in the creek, riding their bikes, and playing…on…a..playground. Some drunkard actually called the cops on my boys riding their bikes. The officer looked equally confused and ashamed for coming to my house, and hugged my boys and apologized to them. My kids’ school actually stopped kids from riding their friends buses due to the whole clown in the woods thing. “In the name of the children’s safety, despite not being targeted by the clowns or notified by the police of any potential threat from these clowns, we have decided to change our bus policy.” were words I had to read in an email.
I will freely admit that I struggle. In my recovery, I am working towards a balanced life – and that means reasonable expectations of myself, but also of my kids. I want them to be able to enjoy their childhoods to find their dreams and passions. I want them to watch me chase mine (my dream of being an author has actually been listed as symptom of mania….). I will raise my kids to be different and better in this world because I think this world is completely fucked up. I know I can only be the change that I want to see in the world – kinder, compassionate, understanding, authentic.
I had to get very, very sick to see how important caring for myself is, so in theory, I can raise three badasses to be like me who love and accept their strengths and limitations. I look at them, and I see perfection mixed in with humanity. I see boundless energy, joy, hope, and love. I see three kids that will change the world. Hell, when I named them, I tested their names with CEO or POTUS at the end, to ensure they sounded appropriate. In reality, I hope they have neither of those titles. I hope they have lives that give them everything they want, and it doesn’t require 75 hour work weeks to accomplish it. I hope they break every stupid mold we have made for these kids. I hope they don’t graduate college with a mortgage worth of debt to end up living at home with me while they make minimum wage. I hope they do not grow up in a world that looks at them as broken if they have letters after their name that aren’t PhD or MBA, and I hope they care for everyone, because they know that everyone struggles.
More than anything, I hope they do not repeat our mistakes. I hope they don’t wake up at 34 years old and say, “what the actual fuck have I done with my life?!” They know I have flaws, they have seen me sick, and they have seen me fall. They have also seen me rise, every single time. I want my children to see their mother – a fierce warrior, passionate, insanely intelligent, strong, loving, and kind. I hope they see my capacity for forgiveness and love. I hope they look at me and say, “damn, I want to be just like Mom.” I hope the five of us will change this world, even if it is just the corner we live in. Hell, maybe I am “just crazy” as I’ve been called all my life, but I’d rather be happy in my own skin wandering around in Santa Pajamas. I promise myself and them that every day, I will be the change I want to see in the world. My world just may be more laundry-infested than most.
My kids’ current favorite song is making me very hopeful that I am on the right track:
What do you want for your kids? What changes are you making to your world?
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