I’m one of those working moms who is always asked how I do it all. I’m not proud of it. It’s really just a testament to my ability to smack a smile on my face regardless of how insane I’m feeling at the moment. I think most working moms (and let’s be honest this includes women who stay at home and their full-time job is being their families’ CEO) are frighteningly good at acting like we have it all under control even when we feel like we are drowning.
Last week was one of those weeks. I felt overwhelmed at work, my oldest son was completely bombing seventh grade, I was a nervous wreck because I have a major test in eight weeks that I feel woefully underprepared for, oh yeah, and just for fun I broke out in a stress rash. Good times. But I was determined to just push through it. I could feel the stress in every muscle in my body. I was snapping at everyone. I just couldn’t bear to have one more thing put on my plate.
Then my friend insisted that she was going to stop by. The thought of taking even fifteen minutes out from studying sent me into a tailspin of frustration and anger. Didn’t anyone get how overwhelmed I was feeling? Couldn’t people manage without me for just one day?
My friend walked through the door and gave me those girlfriend-wtf-is going-on-with-you- eyes. I tried to fake it better. And by “it” I mean acting like I wasn’t ready to break down into a sobbing heap on the floor. She sat me down and said she could see how awful I was feeling and then asked if I would do some yoga with her to see if that would help. I’m that girl who doesn’t meditate because relaxing makes me too uptight. Or I fall asleep on the floor for two hours. True story. But this simple recognition of my stress and an offer to try to help nearly had me in tears.
After twenty minutes of cobra pose, downward dog and happy baby I actually felt the stress leaving my body and my mind calming down. And I realized that my pathological urge to “just push forward” was actually making everything worse not better. And that by taking one step back I would be able to take a whole bunch of steps forward because now my brain felt focused and clear instead of stressed and overwhelmed.
Lesson learned: sometimes mommy needs a time out. But be forewarned, the only one who can put this mommy in a time out is me. Telling me I look like I need a break could earn you tears of gratitude but depending on my mental state it could still result in me wanting to punch you in the throat. Namaste.