Unloading

Since the day I could form words on paper I have loved to write.   I enjoy the artistic part of crafting the letters together to form beautiful script.   I play with words until they create the perfect image in my mind.  Then I actually write them and my script looks like chicken scratch and my word images become a jumble that really don’t do justice to what I had created in my mind.  But that is OK, because when I write in my personal journal, I don’t care what others think, because it is not for them.  It is for me.  It is my safe zone to unload all that boils in me all day.   Now one big problem I have is keeping my writing to something less than the length of  “War and Peace”.   That is why I have the journal I use.

It is full of prompts that focus me on the important parts of my day.  The space to answer those prompts is large enough to allow a couple of sentences, which forces me to really think about my answers and to distill my thoughts to their purest form.  The back of each page of prompts is a plain pages with lines so that I can free form anything that was not covered in the prompts.   Often I use that page as a gratitude journal.  One of the struggles of depression is finding the good in a day, especially when buried under the dark feelings. My mother gave me the exercise when I was a child, to report to her one good thing about the day when she was tucking me in at night.  I have carried that forward to my journal and I have found, even on my darkest days that I stop writing the good things only because I have run out of space on the page.  Not every day is that easy, but as long as I keep up my journaling and writing, it becomes a habit to focus on the good and identify it before I identify the bad.  My snarky sarcastic jabs lessen and I become a much nicer person.

I had fallen away from journaling for quite a long time.  When my dad’s cancer came back this last time I knew I needed to dig my journal out again and start writing.   But I was having a really rough time and just could not get motivated.  So I checked my e-mail and found a 50% coupon at one of my favorite craft stores,  marched myself in and spent the whopping $3.50 on myself and bought a pen that creates lovely writing even out of my scrawling hand!

As I write I imagine I am a regal lady who has wonderful history to record for posterity instead of a working suburban mother of 2 just trying to make ends meet.   In reality, though, when I write with that pen my writing becomes art, it becomes more important, if to no one else but me.  And at that moment, as I pour out my day onto the page and work to make sense of the struggles and celebrate the victories and fulfill my mother’s request to find something good at the end of the day, I am writing a unique and priceless story because no one else will ever do the things I do or feel the things I feel in exactly the same way.   And by filling in the blanks on the daily page I empty myself so that the next day I can once again be filled with the love, laughter, and joy that my family brings to me each and every day.

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How to balance parenting and health

Tonight was to be TKD night.  My legs no longer scream when I do more than breathe.  We were to go to class and then head down to my parent’s house.   I ran over to the school to drop off Baby Bear’s treats for her class to celebrate her birthday.  Since it was so close to the end of the school day I decided to give Little Bear and Baby Bear a ride home – at treat since we are part of a carpool.  We no sooner got in the car than they started in on each other.  While I am starting to understand that siblings will be siblings and fuss at each other, they were just being plain mean.  There is some deep-seated jealousy between them and it is rearing it’s very ugly head more and more resulting in subtle but cruel bullying towards each other.    By the time we got home (a grand total drive time of about 4 minutes) I was in tears – I was honestly feeling like a parental failure.  After some discussion Bear and I decided that there needed to be some very strong repercussions for their behavior.  So the decision was made to not go to TKD and the overnight trip to their grandparents’ house was cancelled.  This left me in a quandary, though.  What is more important – my need to exercise or my responsibility as a parent?  I honestly don’t think there is a “right” answer to the question.  At this time I gave up my workout (I am going to be active tomorrow, so I know I am not totally losing out).  But I felt I was in a no win situation.   Ultimately the young cubs understood that their behavior was not going to be tolerated.  I am really not sure, though, which was the worst thing in their eyes – having their grandparents’ told why they were not coming down tonight, or watching me type the e-mail to Mr M explaining why we were not going to be at TKD.  Whichever it was, an impression was made.  We had a long family talk this evening.  We discussed how we should communicate with each other as family members.  Each of us had the chance to respectfully tell thoughts and feelings.  We parents listened to the cubs explain what they thought some of the problems are.   All of us were uncomfortable at some point during the conversation.  But by the end of it, I think we at least started to learn a bit more about each other.  I also think (and hope and pray) that the cubs understood that respect is not to be reserved for just parents out of obligation, but out of love, for us as well as each other.