I am working really hard right now on taking better care of myself. On putting my energy where I want it to go, instead of frittering it away (I'm lookin' at you, BuzzFeed quizzes and Pinterest Humor section). I am tired of getting fatter and fatter; I'm tired of surviving day to day at my job; I'm tired of oversleeping and scrambling to get to work on time; I'm tired of being snappish with my kids. I was thinking I had all these separate issues, and they were too overwhelming to tackle. But as I start to chip away at the pieces, I realize that I have been pretty darn depressed, and that ties directly to each of these. Also, duh, could it be that I took my dad's death a little harder than I realized? Plus, winter is just hard, and I have two close family members who are dealing with a lot of emotional stuff and need some extra TLC--two people I tend to rely on to support ME, so as glad as I am to return the favor, it also means more stress and less help.
I'm trying to do something about the 30 pounds I've gained in the last 12 months. None of my clothes are comfortable--I can barely squeeze into my pants, and when I do, I spend the rest of the day desperate to take them off again--and I have rolls in disturbing new locations. Sweets are my solace in times of trouble, so this is hard for me. I'm making some better main meal choices, and hoping that will have some effect even as I continue to be ruled by my sweet tooth. The other angle, of course, is to actually move my ass off the couch from time to time.
Last night Oak asked the Winemaker if he'd go on a bike ride with him after dinner. The Winemaker said he'd take a walk and Oak could ride. Linden asked if she could come too. I paused a moment, balancing the peacefulness of an empty house against the benefits of taking a walk, then said I'd come too. It was, as walks always are, a good decision. We wound up taking a longer route than expected, leaving the nature trail to loop around to the duck pond and back home. Once we'd reached familiar ground, the boys went on ahead, and Linden hung back with me. She kept saying how much she liked being with me, and I melted into a little puddle each time. Then we spotted a rainbow.
A coworker friend and I are introducing Genius Hour to our 7th and 8th graders. It's a buzzword, and part of my wants to roll my eyes and say, "Can we just call it an independent project?" Still, its buzziness is was has gained us the support of our principal as we give kids one period a week in each of our classes to work on something they are passionate about, then create a presentation to share what they learned. You want to make stop animation film? Go for it. Bake apple pie from 3 different recipes, perform a taste test, and make a list of key tips? Save us a slice. Learn how to pick a lock? Um, maybe not. (Or our favorite, the kids who wanted to "learn more about how babies are made and make a video about it." Seeing the look on our faces, he added, "No! Not THAT kind of video! I mean the science part!") But is there another mechanical trick you'd like to master? Let's think about it. It takes a pretty hardened 12 year old to not get excited about the change to learn about their own interests. It is doing good things for morale in our classes, and the challenge of researching and planning the unit together has done good things for my energy as a teacher.
As I take these steps, and others (calm.com has 2 and 5 minute guided meditations, I use Tae Kwon Do practice time to read instead of text or play games on my phone, I'm reintroducing weekly menu planning...), I'm reestablishing the person I prefer to be. I was going to say, "the mom I want to be," but I guess that's the point. I can't be a good mom unless I'm doing alright as me, Wendy. I can't be a good teacher, a good wife, a good citizen, a good ANYTHING unless I'm taking care of that inner core of me that is both all and none of these things.
A long time ago, I realized that I would never be perfect. But effort really does count. It's the continued struggle to reach the ideal that matters. It's much the same way I feel about the flag salute. "Liberty and justice for all" my ass, but would I want to live in a country that didn't at least TRY to achieve that? I am not kind enough, brave enough, energetic enough, patient enough, generous enough, creative enough, organized enough, or (newer one) therapeutic enough of a parent--but continual striving to become those things will do me much better than giving up would.
Now I'm off to do my 2 minute meditation then get to bed!