On behalf of busy people on overload everywhere, let me be the one to say it.
SHOVE IT, Frankie.
I am so thankful that my dearly beloved and my close friends know that saying, “Relax” would have the same effect as saying, “When are you going to start potty training?” or “What is your plan for staying healthy post-baby?”
(The answers are 1. When Firstborn can say things like “Poop”, “Potty” or “Ew.” At the appropriate time. This will probably happen AFTER he turns two. Unless you are the one changing his diaper, go sit in time-out with Frankie. 2. I no longer live anywhere close to Texas. This means I am not close to Whataburger, authentic Tex-Mex, or Mom’s cooking. That and trying to not steal animal crackers from my child’s snack cup before realizing what I’m doing…which didn’t happen today…why do you ask?)
The fact is, it is a very valid question and has been asked by just about everyone who is concerned with my well-being. In fact, I appreciate it. I just haven’t had a good answer. Yesterday, however, I was asked that very question by Secondborn’s main care worker during our first home visit. Now, the agreement for these visits is that I must limit distractions and visitors.
1:34: Firstborn is introduced and gives our new guests a good leg tackle in greeting. He is promptly excused for a nap.
1:36: Knock at the door as we began paperwork. The garage repairmen, who we had waited on for a week, could only come at 1:00. Only 40 minutes late for a 30 minute repair. Not bad, really.
1:41: We began to assess Secondborn when the roofers who had not finished the job the previous day called. They were promptly ignored. They returned the favor when I called back.
2:00 : Halfway into the infant massage and strength assessment, the garage repairmen left and then knocked on the door to say the payment had been denied. I gave them the two numbers for the property management company, waved goodbye, and returned to the very patient ladies.
2:15-2:35 Three more missed calls from friends and family.
2:38: The worker asks, “What are you doing to take time for yourself?”
My answer: I shrugged, half smiled and said, “This is my life. This is actually an easy day because we are at home. I find the good and work in time for the people and things that are important and hope for a moment of peace in the next few years.”
“Well, be sure you find time to just relax.”
I’ve come to realize that for mothers, there is no ‘peace and quiet’. This is because if things are quiet…someone is probably up to no good. Either that or something is about to crash very loudly. No, we have to find peace in the noise. Life is noisy, whether there are kids or not. We find blessings in the battles and frustration in the life we lead. When someone sees us boiling over and tells us to “relax”, what I hear is “You are handling yourself wrong and I am totally judging you for it.”
As I sat talking to a stranger about the years of therapies and appointments my son has ahead of him, it was hard to balance one day at a time with the years ahead. Everything I do now will directly impact his necessary skills, even more so than a typical child. That brings a LOT of pressure that can be hard to shake, particularly with a very demanding toddler wanting constant attention. My mind is a whirl of 3 am feedings, messages from daycare, diaper-bag refills, rewriting wills, wondering which therapies will be paid for, keeping up with appointment schedules, remembering to fill up with gas (40 cents more a gallon than last week?! WHAT!?) and hoping my toddler will someday take interest in potty training or speaking in sentences. All of a sudden I can go from calmly making my 1,095th PBJ with both hungry boys crying to having a full-fledged meltdown in less than a minute.
I asked another great friend who has been in my place before how to ‘relax’ on this issue. She recalled it well, saying she couldn’t fold laundry with her son in the same room because she felt pressured to work with him at all times. Eventually, she limited her ‘working time’ with the boys to 9-5. This information was mind-altering.
My friends didn’t tell me to relax. They didn’t ask if I was okay. They KNOW I’m NOT okay! Instead, my dear friends have asked some excellent questions. Please, the next time you feel the need to tell someone to relax, ask one of these questions instead.
- What is on today’s agenda that I can help with? (Sometimes people don’t know how you can help.)
- When can I bring a meal over?
- Would it be helpful if I _______? (Watch the boys? Grab some groceries? Came over for a bit?)
- Would you like to come over sometime? All of you are welcome. (INVITE these reluctant people out. Even if they decline, KEEP doing it. Let them know they are remembered and not alone.)
- How do you most feel comforted/ What helps you decrease stress?*Oh, GOOD one! I had to really think about this. My answer helped my friend know my heart and made me identify my coping techniques.
Another friend that is dependable and always encouraging recently laughed with me about the foolishness of telling someone to relax. I’ll close with her wisdom on the subject. “Amy says, “Don’t tell me to relax. Don’t do it.”