Three Dirty Wash Cloths Can Put A Parent With Anxiety and Depression Over The Edge

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:

This is enough to put a parent with anxiety issues into a tailspin.

This is enough to put a parent with anxiety issues into a tailspin.

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.

The Purposeful Marathoner (The Purposeful Person)

This time around I set out with the intention of running a marathon again.  For awhile there, I didn’t think I’d be able to make it. I felt too weak.  Too tired.  Too busy.  But, I decided that I wanted it, so I found a way to make it work.   I’m not the skinniest.  I’m not the strongest. I’m not the fastest.  But, I do not care.  I want it anyway.

I want to do certain things.  So I do them.

The older I get, the more I am on a mission to make sure what I do has a purpose.  That I do things with intention.  I don’t know how many minutes, days, months, or years I have left, but I sure as hell don’t want to waste them.  There are things I want to do. Important things. Nice things.  Silly things.  Frivolous things.   Things I am good at. Things I am bad at. All kinds of things.  I don’t care what other people think about the things I do, because they are mine.  They make me me and they make me happy.

marathon 2

An acquaintance of mine asked me what I thought my time would be for this race and when I told her my time for my first marathon she said, “Oh, that’s a long time”, probably thinking I was going to run this one a whole lot faster, and then she told me what time she thought I should be able to run it in, which is nowhere near what my time will actually be and I do not care.  I will run it anyway, and it will take a loooong time and it will be glorious.  Because the past few months while one of my intentions was to train for this marathon another was to eat popcorn and drink homemade wine while I sit on the couch snuggling my husband, watching House of Cards, analyzing all of the relationships between the fictional characters on the show.  Long gone are the days that I let embarrassment, or fear, or even ability, stop me from being ridiculously, outrageously, happy with the things I choose to do.  This marathon is just one of the many things that are important to me right now, it is not the only thing.

I want to do things I can feel with my hands and my fingertips.  I want to do things I can feel with my brain and my heart and that weird spot in my chest that may or may not be a real physical space but that certainly swells every time I feel all the feelings.

Before you get all let’s-stop-the-glorification-of-busy on me, know that sometimes I want to do nothing, so I do. On purpose.

coffee

I will purposely fuel my body with fruits, vegetables and healthy fats. I will intentionally indulge in wine and nachos. I will purposefully smother those around me with hugs and kisses.  I will intentionally leave them all at home when I go for a long jog by myself. I will purposefully write.  I will intentionally not spend too much time wondering if it is any good. I will purposefully push myself into downward dog.  I will intentionally breathe.

I think it might be possible to suffocate oneself with all the crap and the sadness and the mundane.  I am working to collect every free minute I have, to gather them one by one and pack them together and carry them around with me, like a deep-sea diver carries a tank full of oxygen and nitrogen molecules strapped to his back.  I know I can only hold on to so many at once, so I will not be too stingy with my minutes and I will take deep, luxurious inhales of them. How could I not?  They keep me alive. Even though I know I will be able to refuel, I will certainly try not to let any escape because what if one of those wasted minutes ends up being the one that could save me later?

We all have the same hours in the day, and we all make our choices about what it is we want to accomplish.  I am done saying that I wish I had the time to do x,y or z that my pal is doing because if I really wanted to do it, I could.  It just might be in the place of something else.

What do you do with purpose? With intention?  What do you make sure to do with your minutes?