I Know Why the Caged Mom Drinks: Dark Season

Supermom

August has barely even ended and I am already wrapped up and completely done with summer. My final pedicure was 2 weeks ago (no gel) and my final stage performance on August 25th ended with me browsing online for comfy fall sweaters. The kids have their school clothes, and—after one last trip for additional school supplies this weekend—I am battening down the hatches and lying in wait.

It is Dark Season, my friends. As a parent who compartmentalizes A LOT I find this time of year stressful af and I have never identified with the commercials showing parents dancing gleefully down the aisles of office supply stores celebrating back to school season. There are so many moving pieces to my life that my head starts pre-spinning in mid-August, fretting about the stress of my commute, time management, shorter days with less sun and juggling parenting and school obligations vs. work and Whiskey Girl obligations. I am a walking, talking ball of stress and emotions at least until spring—and that’s a long time to be absolutely out of your mind while pretending to be a functioning adult.

This year, it’s looking as if Dark Season is being combined with my worst nightmare: actual success. Together, the two are a recipe for a mental health disaster! I have had more invitations to speak on mental health, to perform and to host and produce events than I have ever dreamed would come to fruition. I am over the moon excited that my little brand has gained some traction but I am also riddled with anxiety that I may not be able to juggle this lifestyle. I can’t sacrifice sleep because without sleep I am a murderer. I can’t sacrifice any more time with my daughters because I want to be a real cook dinner, help with homework, embarrass-you-while-bra-shopping kind of mom. Lastly, I absolutely cannot sacrifice my full-time job for obvious reasons like health insurance and not starving to death. [Side note: I have eliminated dating but that’s not really adding any time back into my schedule since dating nowadays is mainly “wyd” texts from dudes sent well after 10pm].

Last night, after the kids went to bed, I found that I couldn’t open a jar of salsa so I sat on my couch and cried for half an hour. Today, I used a knife to pry the jar open and performed an epic victory dance that probably lasted about 30 seconds longer than it should have. Clearly, I need to brace myself for the peaks and the valleys, because the fear is that if this is the first week of school I may end up in a mental institution by December. My challenge to myself this year is to do a better job of leveling my emotions so that I can experience more balance instead of the constant rise and fall of a terrifying roller coaster.

Although I am a single parent I still recognize that I am a privileged parent. I have hella family support, I have hella flexibility with my 9-5 job and I am starting to gain support for my creative endeavors. I am a person motivated by the good deeds of others and the concept of paying it forward, so in this case NOT having a nervous breakdown is definitely a way to show that I am worth the investment! I feel as if I owe it to my parents, my job and mental health sufferers/fellow advocates alike to keep my shit together for as long as I feel led to spread myself across these various projects. Most importantly, I feel that if I successfully juggle this lifestyle I will be able to show my daughters a realistic example of what it looks like when you follow your dreams.

 At the end of the day, I want my daughters to know that on the road to finding and fulfilling your life’s purpose, some days you may cry over unopened salsa.

 

**Stay tuned for Dark Season updates throughout the fall and winter season**

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I Know Why the Caged Mom Drinks: Black Panther

I wanted to do something nice for the girls this weekend. I wanted us to go see Black Panther and I wanted to paint their little faces– but I don’t have white paint. So it was going to be black dots– which would be fine because they are low maintenance and they don’t really care about that sort of thing.

I had it planned, I would order the tickets online, we would watch a movie together and when they went to bed I’d tell them that tomorrow we are all going to see Black Panther.

So I tried to order the tickets and the transaction wouldn’t go through. I tried again with updated information and received an email from my bank. Apparently, I didn’t have enough funds in my account to purchase our tickets. That’s not right– because my funds are low but they exist and I know there is enough for this! This, I needed– this, I had planned for…

My bank had counted each error as an actual transaction and taken the money out of my account, placed it back, then took it out again. I sat on the phone on hold with the movie theater for about an hour. I vaguely noticed the chatter of the kids slowly died down. They eventually retired to their room, I still had the phone to my ear feeling frustrated and entirely defeated. Nothing is simple. Ever.

I got off the phone realizing that Black Panther was not going to happen for us this weekend. My money is all crazy and it will likely be awhile before the bank releases it back onto my account. I was disappointed and just sick of living this kind of life. What is the balance? Do you live poorly and save, do you make the most of your money, try to stretch, save and enjoy it? Do you martyr yourself and spend it all on the children? I don’t know the rules. I’m barely even in the game.

“Ok babies, what movie do you want to watch?” I call out to them. Silence. Walking through the foyer I notice the light in their bedroom. Peaking inside I see that and both are fast asleep with the radio on. I walked back into the livingroom, sat on the couch and cried. Is this what motherhood is? Running on a treadmill with the best of intentions and never going anywhere at all?

I don’t know how to juggle any of this. I don’t know what I am doing and I’m just so worried I’m going to screw them up in the process of figuring it all out.

The Scientist

I woke up this morning to receive my 6 year old downstairs. My ex husband drops her off to me every morning before work and picks her up in the evenings on his designated week to be with her. She’s tired because she stayed up late to watch the fireworks. I’m tired because I stayed up all night drinking. (The ugly shift from spending time alone to being lonely took place suddenly and the sadness caught me off guard.) I lay her down on the couch and go back to my room thankful for the chance to maybe catch a few more minutes of sleep. As soon as my head hits the pillow and my eyelids close, I pop them wide open again as I hear the sound of retching. I tilt my head up listening intently…the two year old is moaning. I go over to her bedroom door, creep it open slightly, and there’s a precious girl lying in her own vomit and stool. She wakes up and looks at me expectantly. I mentally rearrange today’s plans to include washing a load of clothes at my parent’s house. Which is more gas used to get there, more money, more time. More, more, more.

Sometimes in still moments I hear the Coldplay lyrics play on repeat in my head “Nobody said it was easy, no one ever said it would be so hard…”  I don’t know why I have so much difficulty sometimes. I used to be a wife, I had a full time career, I ran a household—I was nailing this five years ago. But I’m not even that person anymore. I’m more fragile than I used to be…tired. If I had the money for counseling I wonder if I would go? She’s throwing up again…I should go