Having spent almost an entire week trying to persuade my daughter’s drama teacher to issue her with a new exam certificate (name spelt correctly this time) I could feel the red mist descending. How can one exam certificate take 9 months for goodness sake?
What followed was not pretty….
Private Instagram messages, Facebook posts written on her business page, voicemail messages getting increasingly sterner by the day. I was like a dog with a proverbial bone…a woman possessed. There was no WAY I was going to give up on this one.
“Why can’t people just do their job properly?” I shouted at my husband who was cowering in the corner, wondering when it would be his turn to get it in the neck.
This my friends, is a sure sign that I am in Stage One of the Mum Meltdown. Stage One is typically characterised by an obsessive irritability over other people’s incompetence.
‘I think you need some time out’ came a voice from the unknown (Twitter) when I shared my frustration at other people’s incompetence (the drama teacher wasn’t the only one to get it in the neck that week). Of course I ignored that timely voice of reason for a little while, opting instead to internally justify every ounce of my irritation.
Cue Stage Two of the Mum Meltdown – persistent self-criticism – a habit which I now recognise as an indicator that something needs to change. Whilst in the throes of Stage Two, my internal dialogue goes something like this:
‘You have two days off a week, you really should be able to get all the washing done by the weekend.’
‘Everyone else seems to be able to achieve x, y, z in a week, you must be doing something wrong.’
‘You forgot to phone your friend again? She’ll be thinking you don’t care about her. What kind of friend are you?’
Bash, bash, bash, goes the stick as I whack myself over the head just one more time.
If I get this far into the Mum Meltdown, then we are on a surefire road to disaster. Stage Three is when the resentment kicks in. If you’re unsure of what that looks like for a mum on the brink, I’ll give you some clues: a constant low-level annoyance that I am ‘DOING EVERYTHING ROUND HERE‘, a lot of woe-is-me-style sighing and a reluctance to allow anyone else to step in to help. Think Mother Theresa gone bad.
* * *
I am ashamed to admit to being fully immersed in Stage 3 by the time it dawned on me that I NEEDED SOME TIME OUT.
Yes, yes, I know that the kind stranger on Twitter had pointed this fact out to me the week before, but us women can be stubborn creatures at times, can’t we? I also needed to realise it for myself.
Like most 40+ women *cough* I have various roles in life, all of which have their own set of demands. The difficult part therefore, is working out what ‘Time Out’ looks like in this particular season of my life. The first thing I have realised is that I don’t actually need a holiday (although that would be nice). What I really need, is to begin incorporating little acts of self-kindness into my day…
A leisurely stroll with the dog in the sunshine (or letting myself off the hook if it’s hammering down with rain), a 20 minute candle-lit bubble bath, a cup of tea whilst flicking through a magazine, or booking in for that beauty treatment that I’ve been putting off for weeks or even months.
We all have different things that we consider to be treats and yours are probably unique to you. But whatever they are, if we wait for someone else to show the kindness, we might well be waiting forever. This way? We have no one but ourselves to blame if we become depleted and out of sorts.
What little acts of self-kindness could you begin incorporating into your daily life?