Anti-Survival Instincts

Yesterday, I poured myself into a writing project that drained every last bit of me out through my fingertips and left me as useful as an empty waterbed. I emerged from my computer around 5 p.m. to be on active mama duty, and let me tell you—the following three and a half hours until the girls were safely tucked into bed rivaled snowboard cross for difficulty. Every “Mo-om! out of their little mouths felt like someone ramming my board just before a jump. The fact that they expected to eat dinner sent me skidding. Our bedtime routine stretched from here to Russia. It. was. hard.

This is how things go when I’m tired; everything ramps up in intensity, and a wipeout is inevitable if I don’t let myself slow down. That’s the key, isn’t it? Slowing down? It sounds so simple here in the straight lines of a paragraph, but in the glorious mess of real life, slowing down runs exactly opposite to my instincts. Here’s what goes through my head when I feel fatigue start to drag at my reflexes: Oh no, I’m running on fumes. Better SPEED UP so I can get to the end sooner!

Yeah. Have I ever told you about my other anti-survival instincts? Like how my palms start to gush sweat if I even consider the human act of dangling from a precipice? Or how my fight-or-flight reflex could more accurately be called the curl-up-in-a-ball-and-forget-everything-but-the-lyrics-to-Bohemian-Rhapsody impulse? My instincts do me few favors when it comes to winning at life.

So yesterday evening, I sped up to reach the finish line faster, and it wasn’t pretty. Sure, I got the kitchen cleaned and the laundry put away and the allergy treatments administered and the children homeworked/fed/cleaned/pajamaed/storied, but I did it with a kind of urgent clumsiness that left the girls reeling and myself too tired even to sleep. (Irony at its most insomniac.) What I’m trying to say is that no one was particularly happy with the result.

Here at the starting gate of another exhausted day (see above re: ironic lack of sleep), I’m writing this down to cement some facts into my modus operandi:

  1. Daily life is not a competition… unless you’re on reality TV, which I am not nor ever shall be so help me God.
  2. Slow is good for the soul, especially when said soul is feeling drained.
  3. Putting down the frantic dishrag and curling up with my daughter is a two-way grace.
  4. I should probably consider hiring Bear Grylls to be my personal life coach, help balance out these unfortunate instincts a bit.

Wiping out in style
(Oh yeah, I could totally rock the snowboard cross.)

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  1. Re: your first sentence – YES. YOU. DID. And the world will be better for it. <—-True story. Also: "useful as an empty waterbed"? You have the BEST similes.

    SO excited for Monday.

  2. My day was like that yesterday and I couldn’t fall into bed fast enough, only to be wracked with pain and exhaustion and weepy-ness and nightmares and the worst night of sleep I’ve had in ages. 🙂 And my dogs decided to bark their bloody heads off and hubby snored and storm raged and I lay there feeling so very MAD at everything and everybody and wishing I could just disappear into oblivion. 🙂 But then the new day came and, like you, I remembered, I don’t have to do it all, I don’t have to do it now, I can give myself permission to slow the heck down and crumple up a bit if I need to, especially after pouring my heart into something so thoroughly that I have nothing left. Thanks for being so open and honest. 🙂 You rock. XO

  3. Erika – Unfortunately, I have the experience to know what an empty waterbed feels like. This here’s truth-telling. 😀

    Krista – As do you. Ya know, I often think of you when I’m struggling to find perspective during a rough day. Your honest and thoughtful posts about learning to be gentle with yourself have made a big impact on me as well. Much love, friend.

  4. I do that too! I have a cold, and feel rotten. So, I decided to leave work early, go sign the papers that I had to sign, and take them to the post office to mail them, go grocery shopping, go to Nicholas’ conference (this was the only planned event) and make pasta carbonara for dinner, with crescent rolls. I got about half way through the dishes and couldn’t go any further. I left the sink filled with hot water and dirty dishes and went to sit down. I don’t do that. Ever. My husband isn’t home, and I think that is why I listened to that voice that said, “I may keel over if I don’t lay down.” My lovely daughter finished the dishes and brought me a pop. And the children have left me in a dark room with the computer. Bliss.

  5. Megsie – Well, you sure know how to take it easy! 😀 I want to give your daughter a hug on your behalf. XO

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