There are times in life when you’re going to need to work hard and keep it together and push through the challenges with all your might. And then there are times when you’ll need to run away for a little while.
Whatever you need to do right now, know this: you’re going to be okay.
For the past month Millie and I have been swapping colds back and forth. Finally she got all the way better and I got pneumonia!
And bronchitis. At the same time.
So it’s been a struggle just to get out of bed most days, let alone keep another human alive and happy while Daddy’s at work. Millie has entered a super-attached phase, which I am both enjoying and cursing under my breath. Nobody dislikes being around Millie, least of all myself, but BOY does life get difficult when she won’t nap and won’t allow you to leave her presence.
However, I must confess that I felt I was doing a decent job of working hard, keeping it together, and pushing through the challenges for a good long time.
Yesterday I desperately needed a shower. Have you ever spent the better part of two weeks spewing mucus and hacking up lung particles and sweating like a dog on the Fourth of July and not wanted to shower? If I had it my way I would probably be taking three showers a day, minimum, at this point. Alas, it had been almost 3 days of greasy torture waiting for the opportunity to rinse off the grimy film of illness from my body.
Because Millie had a full tummy and a clean booty and was happily jumping in her bouncer (a movie playing in the background, even!), I mindlessly convinced myself that she would be fine if I slipped away for five minutes to shower. I’d barely rounded the corner into the hallway when she sounded the alarm. Not cool, Mom.
A few minutes later found us in the bathroom, her on a play mat on the floor and I shampooing my hair right next to her. Hunky dory. Until, all of the sudden, the distance between us was just too much to bear. Cue wailing and gnashing of gums. I couldn’t do this anymore. I finished the quickest and most unfulfilling shower of my life, then balled up my towel and screamed into it momentarily before picking up Millie and whisking her into the nursery to assuage her fears with the no-fail cure: milk.
She started to eat. I started to cry. Who knew there was so much to cry about? All I could think was “I’m so tired. Everything hurts. I’m. So. Tired.”
I cried for a couple minutes until, a moment too late, I realized that Millie had stopped drinking her milk and was watching me. As soon as I looked down at her she burst into tears even louder than those from before. So I pulled myself together, calmed her down, and we finished snack time quietly as I willed myself not to start bawling again.
As soon as my angel husband came home from work, he took the baby and let me take the car. I rolled down the windows, turned up the volume on my playlist titled only with a middle finger emoji, and followed the interstate to Coalville. (Probably never been, probably never going back.) Turns out I needed a hundred-mile round trip to yell at the top of my lungs and sing worse than I’ve ever sung (totally blaming it on the bronchitis) and cry a little more until I started laughing instead. I danced like my ’70s-era stepdad — a compliment to myself — and drummed on the dashboard.
For a couple hours I simply allowed myself to savor the feeling of being me. Being crazy. Being loud. Being goofy. Being so, so happy.
And when I came home, I didn’t feel guilty for leaving my family alone for two hours. There was no resentment. There was no beating myself up. I had done something for my own mental and emotional health and it was okay that I did it. It was okay.
As I continue on this long, painful, frustrating path in the pursuit of self-acceptance, I’m learning how good it can feel to let go. To be okay with being okay. And to be okay with not being okay!
There are hard times. There’s crippling depression. There’s panic and anxiety. There’s numbness. There’s emotional overload. There’s hurt and struggle and exhaustion and fear and sorrow and regret and confusion and insecurity. There is always more work to be done. And that’s okay.
It’s okay for me to disco dance in my car on an empty highway, too.
So, every once in awhile, I’m going to drop in and tell you things that I realize are okay. And you can tell me things that you realize are okay. And we’ll remind each other that, even if not everything is okay right now, we are going to be okay.