One of my eternal life struggles is knowing when I really need to lie back and take a rest, and knowing when it’s time to push myself. In the past, I’ve not been too great at making the distinction between actual tiredness, and just…laziness. Especially when it comes to things I don’t really want to do. Shocking, I know.
As I’ve grown and maybe matured (a little bit), I’ve come to a place where I like to be busy. I love going to bed at night with a sense of accomplishment, and knowing that I did the best I could that day. This is a very fortunate turn of events, because having children creates lots of chores. Lots of errands. And everything takes longer. However, as I’ve mentioned before, my to-do list can become quite a compulsion for me. A race against myself, to see how much I can do before…my head explodes, I guess.
So my tendency these days is less toward laziness, and more in the direction of attempting to do everything all the time. Even my self-care can take on a compulsory quality, like “Ok. I have to get in at least one hour of yoga today, or I didn’t succeed,” or, “Ok. I didn’t get up at 6:00 this morning and do my meditation, so I’m already behind for the day.” And just like that, the things I do to make me feel better become just another item on my list, something else I need to check off.
Lately, I’ve been crushing it. Chores done, errands done, yoga done, meditation done. Bicycle rides, walks to the park, special time with the girls, I’ve been making it all happen. Even more, I’ve been doing it without my miracle Dr. Murphree Fibro/CFS vitamins, because I ran out and there was a delay in shipping my new tub ‘o supplements. Yesterday was no exception. I ran errands, cooked, made homemade protein bars, practiced yoga, cleaned house, cooked dinner, fed and washed children. Too much stuff. And then, night came.
Last night, the tiny one was in our bed by 10:30. I wasn’t even asleep yet. Squirming. Kicking. Turning sideways. And her bigger sister waking up. “I had a bad dream”. “Ok, let me tuck you back in.” Then it was, “I heard a noise!” “Ok, let me tuck you back in.” Over and over again, all night long, ’till time to get up this morning.
And it was just too much. Today, my body is done. I hurt all over. Literally, all over. My head hurts. My feet hurt. My hands feel like two misshapen petrified dragon claws. My legs feel as though they weigh 2,000 lbs. Apiece. Neck, back, spine, hips – all aching. I am exhausted. Done.
So now, the real work starts. It’s all well and good to talk about self-care when everything is fine and we’re all feeling good. But what happens when, all of a sudden, you find yourself with an empty bucket, where either you’ve poured out more than you’ve put in – or your children maybe dumped it out beside your bed while you were trying to get some sleep? It’s easy to fall into the trap here of “should”. I “should” feel better. I “should” not be so tired, achy, sleepy, etc. I “should” be able to do what this or that person can do. That last one is a biggie. We always want to compare ourselves to what other people can and do accomplish. But you’re not that person. They, and you, have your own unique set of challenges, struggles, goals, strife, whatever. Because of this, your needs will not be the same.
What do you do, when your body needs care? How do you know what your body needs? How do you give it what it needs, when you figure out what it is? My go-to is yoga and meditation. I’ve found that these tend to be the most effective in making me feel the best I can, along with taking my vitamins, religiously. Some days, though, the body just says “No.” Not just “no”, “Hell, NO!” It tells me, “I will not yoga today. I will not bicycle today, I will not walk to the park today. I might wash dishes and fold laundry, but only because your children think they need to wear two months’ worth of clothes in a week and if the laundry doesn’t get done they will surely be nekkid by tomorrow. I will also cook dinner, because, apparently, you have to feed them. But nothing else, so DON’T ASK!”
So you have to listen, because your body is forcing you to. You send the girls off to school, and rather than immediately starting laundry, you get in bed (your bed), with the littlest girl. You snuggle up to her warm back, and feel insane happiness when, as you are the first thing she sees as she rolls over and opens her eyes, she smiles and hooks her sweet little arm around your neck, the same way she does with Grover all night. You sit at the computer, with a heating pad on your aching back, and write about caring for yourself, because it makes you feel a little bit productive. You vow to spend a day doing just what needs to be done, so tomorrow you can do what you want to do.
You try and remember that you can spend a day not doing everything. You can spend a day doing just enough.