By Cheryl Chastain of cherylchastain.me
I am not good with kids.
I don’t mean that I neglect them or avoid them. I mean that when I am in mom mode, my kids are the only things I don’t neglect or avoid. I can be a good mom, but that’s it. Everything else falls to mediocre or worse.
When I returned to work after having my second daughter, I stopped writing altogether. I hated to disappoint my many followers. All six of them. But there was just nothing creative that was going to be coming out of my brain right then. When I finally wrote again, to my six faithful readers it was like in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, when Lucy comes running up to everyone going, “I’m back! I’m okay!” except no time had passed for anyone else—they hadn’t even noticed—and she gets this confused look and goes, “But…I’ve been gone for hours.” Yeah, that was me. Returning to my blog. But here’s why I tapped out and six readers probably didn’t lose sleep worrying about me:
I went back to work. That was all. Rest easy, good people. I knew returning to full-time would knock me on my donk, so I just decided to give myself a break on all the extra things I do and focus on the necessities, like remembering to eat. And I was right to. Returning to work gave me one of those fancy life opportunities to notice how much I need the help of my tribe. It took less than one day for the lesson to set in. But it did take a tiny plague …
Let me explain. The night before my first day back at work, I was determined to have every bless-ed thing go perfectly, blast-it-all. I packed lunches, backpacks, diaper bags, and purses. I filled sippy cups and water bottles. I planned and assembled dinner a day in advance. I checked homework, emails, and the gas gauge. The ship was going to sail on time, or I was going to go down with it. Actually, everything did go extremely well most of the morning. I could tell I was on edge, tunneling my vision towards getting out…that…door…on…time, but I was managing to keep it together. That is, until we went out to get in the car.
While buckling the baby into her seat, I was startled to find a tree frog had scooted up into the door frame of the car right above her head. I scooped him into my hands, but before I could turn, he spike-hopped into the car and disappeared into the abyss of junk that collects on the floor. Before I could think of what to do about that, I looked up and there was another frog on the door frame. Something in me snapped a quiet little snap.
Looking back on this moment, I realize God was just trying to show me early on that I was going to have to ask for help. One mini-plague was really all it took to trip the wire.
I started frantically swiping at the second frog, while simultaneously skittering around and raging, “Frogs? Are you kidding me? On my first day back at work? FROGS?!?” My preschooler thought all of this was hysterical, so she started chanting, too: “Frogs? Are you kidding me?” I managed to grab the second one and deposit it on the ground, but the other one was still hiding in the sink hole of back-seat rubbish.
I delicately got out a baby-wipe to rid my hands of tree-frog gunk, and then did breathing exercises before explaining to the excitable five-year-old that we would be driving to school with a tree frog somewhere near her feet.
I remembered to pray a little after we pulled out of the driveway, which I’m guessing is the only reason I didn’t spontaneously combust when our little stowaway hopped up onto my eldest’s backpack. Suffice it to say, there was some screaming. It wasn’t me. Probably.
I stopped the car and somehow managed to get the poor frog out the window. So, for the second time that morning, I wiped my hands with baby wipes, except by then my nerves were so frazzled I couldn’t really feel my hands.
Thankfully, this was one time I actually got it. I just got it.
Since starting back to work, I have unclenched my teeth. I have pried my white-knuckled hands off of the proverbial steering wheel. I have stopped breathing shallow, caged-animal breaths. Instead, the plan is just to keep asking for help and to keep thanking everyone with big, teary hugs. And to keep breathing. Oh, and eating. And sometimes writing.
About the Author
Cheryl is a freelance writer, speaker, relationships and psychology hobbyist, and a sleep enthusiast. She’s a contributor at Thrive Global, and you can find her at http://cherylchastain.me, or @myveryown on Medium, Twitter, and Contently.