Survival Mode

I didn’t take a shower this morning. I did the calculations in my head and knew I wouldn’t have enough time. The 5 year old was up all night, although she thinks she slept. I was awake listening to her coughing and wheezing, alternating from sitting at her bedside to lying in my bed praying to get at least a few hours of sleep. I knew the morning was going to be a nightmare with me getting everyone ready to the soundtrack of her whining. Nails on a chalkboard…

So, she’s whining and I’m trying not to yell because everyone thinks a yelling single mom is angry because she’s heartbroken and alone– really we’re just so exhausted all the time. I made the decision not to shower because my mid-day workout includes a shower so everything would be fine. Then my mother called with the news that my sister had been rushed back to the hospital.

And that’s fine. Life still has to happen even if I want to ball up in a corner and cry and be scared. I saw her just yesterday and in the back of my mind I was thinking she didn’t look as well as I’d seen her before. But who wants to be scared and face those kind of thoughts? So we chatted and I left because life goes on. I hung up with my mom and shuffled the kids out of the door because life had to continue. I could take them to school and leave work early to pick them up. That’s fine. Everything is fine.

We rush downstairs into the freezing sleet, I ignore the hole in the five year olds tights because there was nothing I could really do about it at that point. I unlock the door and as they climb into the car I notice my back tire wet and sagging onto black pavement. It was completely flat.

I am amazing at survival mode. Something comes over me and I’m making decisions and getting shit done under pressure. I thrive in survival mode: I.am.supermom! I don’t know what happened this time. I told the kids to go back into our apartment. I sat on the couch, emailed my boss then stared into space. I took a shower.

I really wanted to cry but I feel like the tears are suspended and I would have to put in effort to release them. I’m just so angry that survival mode let me so down. I should be with my car insurance company figuring this shit out, but I’m on my couch writing this out hoping it will somehow release the tension in my body and let me get shit done. Life goes on! This is fine! Why can’t I move?

Fuck you, survival mode. You have let me down.

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Are You Stressed?

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I am a little upset with my father at the moment. I sat in two hours of traffic to travel across town to his house to pick up my two little girls after school—and I was fine with that. Tons of driving in traffic, never having money and scrambling for time is a part of my daily routine and who I am as a single mother. I was standing in his kitchen, thinking nothing of this when my Dad wanders into the room and asks, “…Are you stressed?” My immediate response was to laugh. Seriously, what a stupid question. Isn’t everyone stressed?

 

I didn’t really get the chance to adequately respond before my two girls interjected and proceeded to tell him about why they were stressed in school. At the time, their chatter was enough to take my mind off the subject at hand, but lately it has been coming back to haunt me. I lay awake at 3am last night pondering the question and what my answer means for how I live my life. Life and living is stressful—EVERYONE is stressed! Aren’t they…? I mean, are there people in this world who are at peace and living stress free lives? I had no idea.

 

Something about yesterday just hit me the wrong way. I hadn’t slept well the night before, a colleague of mine is switching departments so I am mentally preparing to take on a larger workload, all while managing to promote, post and scramble to find daycare for upcoming spoken word gigs. At any given moment I am at my wit’s end—and this is how I live my life every day. Stress is life! There is no loophole, there is no end; it’s just the way it IS. For me, stress can sometimes lead to depression. I try to allow myself to indulge a bit but to snap out of it before I am sucked into a vortex of listlessness and despair. I have goals that I want to accomplish and it is my understanding that stress is a part of the program.

 

I suppose in all of my ambitious life-mapping, I never mapped out a destination. I see my roads full of the same old obstacles of working too hard to impress others to book gigs, financial struggle, rushing home from work to make dinner, braid hair, check homework, micromanage bathtime, etc. It has not occurred to me before this that I don’t have to live my life this way. But what does a stress-free life look like? It still sounds like a fable, I just don’t know. Is the desire to live worry free asking too much out of life, or is this just the price of living? Am I stressed? ABSO-FUCKING-LUTELY! I am ready to pull my hair out! I am tired and always worried about money. I am sick of driving and sitting in traffic—of having to cram every hour of the day with SOMEthing in order to accomplish all of my goals, of contemplating whether I actually should give up on my writing aspirations so I’ll have more time to be with my girls, my man, to workout, to BREATHE! This endless grind is wearing on my health and self-esteem.

 

I need to add a destination to my life map, that doesn’t have me on the pathway to a nervous breakdown. A stress-free life… I still don’t know why that possibility has never once occurred to me…

I Know Why The Caged Mom Drinks

Supermom

Sometimes parenting is about admitting that you don’t really want to go to the school play. And all the students have to wear jeans and solid shirts– why so many rules? I don’t have a solid colored shirt for my daughter to wear because solid shirts are a parent’s nightmare—it’s much easier to hide ketchup stains when you buy them clothes with crazy patterns. Nor does she own a pair of jeans because she’s 8 years old with the butt of an 18 year old and it’s just too early for me to deal with her learning what the term “badonkadonk” means. I have two dollars in my account until Friday so purchasing a new shirt is DEFINITELY not going to happen. Although if I did purchase it I certainly wouldn’t make it to the play on time for her to wear it because the play starts at 7pm and I don’t get home until 6:30pm, of course. Because that school transfer just never quite happened I will be traveling across town against traffic to get there. This sounds pretty ill-prepared but in my defense, I was reminded this play was taking place just last night as I walked in the door after a long day of work and a freezing commute home.

I still don’t know why we’re not allowed to bring flasks to PTA meetings…

#Gymflow

I throw the baby in the stroller and proceed to walk on one the angriest walks I’ve ever taken. I know that this is a new part of my life: walking everywhere. Hmm, where is my car? It decided not to start after being parked outside of daycare for a hasty afternoon pickup. My brother called and told me the news while I was coming home from work and I felt the heavy tension return home to my forehead. My first panicked thought was, “How the fuck am I supposed to get to the gym?” I can’t stop obsessing about this.

With the chaos of all that’s going on in my life, this is the least of my worries but I am fixated. Somehow my ability to get to and from the gym with ease equates to the final balance and happiness I feel I need in my life. Calm down guys, I know you’re poor and hurting and suffering loss— but the gym will make everything better! This “no excuses” bitch pictured above has got me believing that somehow this is the key. I suppose its not really her, its my reaction to her that’s messing me up. What’s my excuse? Bitch, I’m tired! This morning as I’m walking the baby to daycare in a stroller with a flat tire, we roll passed my busstop to see a bottle of hand lotion on the ground. I know instantly that its mine and it immediately sets fire to a stressor fuse in me that’s been burning for some time. Seriously, wtf am I doing in my life where I’m so poor and deranged that I actually contemplate dusting off my old hand lotion from the ground and putting it back in my purse? And how did I manage to drop it out of my purse without noticing? And why don’t I realize that I am not in a position to be throwing $1.50 down the drain like that? Let’s not even mention how my ashy hands will suffer! I need to get my life together– I need to go to the gym.

At the gym I can relieve some tension and even stop half lying to my co-worker about going. I suppose I’m not lying, per se, I do PLAN to go to the gym but my car, and fate, and the gods of hotness just have something else in the cards for me. I stood in the employee lounge listening to this little, beautifully shaped cock diesel goddess (she looks like the hot woman from 12 Years A Slave) complain about how she struggles with her body and I’m thinking “Wow, are we really having this conversation?” I try to listen to her with a sympathetic ear but my mind begins to wander to whether I should make the kid’s lunches tonight or just pass out when I go home, or if I should go on a liquid fast until my best friend comes to town then maybe I’ll have a flat stomach for when we go out drinking. I really shouldn’t be drinking, its fattening and too expensive. But, I digress.

My #lifeflow is like this blog post. It’s just a mindless stream of shit happening with no real flow or pattern and I can’t keep the reins on it. Furthermore, I don’t even know if I used the proper spelling of the word “reins”– and I really hate that I use words like “furthermore” and care about spelling! Anyway, I have no car, no money, no man, no common sense, no freedom, no life and all I need to fix it is the gym! The gym is home. I know my place there. I show up in my baggy t-shirt, dingy yoga pants and old running shoes and I know where I belong– in the back and far away from the mirrors and hot chicks taking #gymflow selfies. I belong on the treadmill panting it out, music blasting and tears flowing because I just need some sort of outlet to relieve the stress in in my life. Minor stress to some, but colossal stress to me. At the gym I don’t have to constantly fight the battle to be understood, accommodated, appreciated, loved, stress-free, worry-free, or problem-free. In the gym I ain’t shit and as I sweat it all out on that fucking elliptical I realize that here, I don’t have to be shit.