Laundry is not a chore I mind doing. It’s something I can do while I’m doing other things around the house. It doesn’t require me to get my hands dirty. It’s not too physically demanding, except when I lug the basket up and down the stairs, but then I can pretend I’m getting some cardio in. I like the way our detergent smells. I like taking the mess of dirty clothes and ending up with the neatly folded piles. I like the way it feels when it is all done. Every hamper emptied. Every drawer stuffed full of folded clothes. When I’m done with the laundry, I know I’ve done it right and I really like that feeling.
Most things I do don’t give me that absolute feeling of successful completion, of knowing the job was well done.
Parenting is certainly not a job that leaves me feeling that way. Especially being a parent that deals with anxiety and depression.
I try to do a lot of things for me, to ward of the depressive slumps, because doing so helps make me a better mama. One of them is running. Nothing on this planet feels as good as a long run. Running makes every molecule in my body vibrate. Right now a pretty significant hip injury has left me unable to run for several weeks. WEEKS. And my body is not responding kindly. Other than the shooting, stabbing, searing pain in my hip joint, for the past four weeks it has felt like my legs are numb. I’ve been wading through thigh-deep water instead of just walking like a normal person on land. The other day I stood in place in the middle of my kitchen and had to think, much longer than should ever make sense, about walking to the garage to grab my shoes and then carrying them to the front door, or just walking outside barefoot because I wasn’t sure I could manage the extra trip across my house. Lately I am moving very slowly. I am dropping things. I am worried I will not be able to run the marathon I signed up for. I am not happy.
Maybe it’s my mind that isn’t responding kindly.
This month there have been so many days that I’ve felt like I didn’t have the energy to be the best parent I could be. When I get like this, I worry I’m not doing enough arts and crafts, or taking the kids outside enough, or reading enough books. I worry about my toddler watching too much t.v. I worry I’m not giving enough attention to my youngest.
Lately I keep hearing a lot about how if you’re worried you’re a good parent, then you shouldn’t worry because that means you are one. Which is sort of confusing. Does that mean to stop worrying? Because I’m worried now. Is that good? Now I’m worried that I don’t even know the right way to worry.
Today I was finishing the final fold and had the, “Ahhhh” feeling of a task fully completed. I exhaled for a minute.
Until I went into the girls bathroom and saw this:
I shit you not my heart jumped a beat. How did I miss this? Damn it, I thought I had done all the laundry, but here are three wash cloths in the sink! It’s like even though I did five loads of laundry today and everything is folded and put away, it all the sudden doesn’t count because of three dirty wash cloths. For some reason it made all the more insulting that they were still wet.
And I know it doesn’t matter. I know that by tomorrow we’ll have dirty onesies and socks and bibs and whatnot, so what’s the big deal? I know it shouldn’t bother me.
But it does.
So even though I’ve come a long way, I realize I am always on edge. My anxieties are raging. I’m always worried that something won’t be good enough. The kicker? Something always won’t be. And usually the more I worry about it, the more I screw shit up. Or at least the more I notice. Either way – that’s not a good situation to set oneself up for.
I’m working on it. Usually at the end of the night I do a final load of dishes and clean up the living room and kitchen, making it somewhat presentable before I pour my glass of wine and relax on the couch. I pat myself on the back on the nights I’m able to step over the baby toys on the floor and just leave them. I’m happy to report that there have been days that I have been able to do this and let it go.
Today just wasn’t one of them.