I was in Arizona recently for the holidays with my kids and parents. My boys are getting older and naturally, they wanted to spend the majority of their time with my dad, whom they call Best Friend.
“Best Friend, do you want to play catch?”
“Best Friend, do you want to watch a movie?”
Suddenly, I was out and he was in. I could have been a little miffed that I was no longer their pal of choice. But I wasn’t. It’s part of growing up, and frankly, it left me with plenty of time to write, go to yoga and spin class. Time I don’t usually have as a single mom.
The full force of responsibility hit me like a brick in the head when we got home to start the new year. All of a sudden, after having so much help, I was alone again. I had to unpack our bags, start the laundry, arrange play dates, cook, serve dinner, clean up from dinner, get their bags and lunches ready for school and make sure they were clean and ready for bed.
My parents called on FaceTime but I was too busy rushing around to pick up on the first call. When they called again, my heart was pounding from stress, my nerves were shot and when I answered the phone I yelled, “I’m busy! I can’t talk now!” and handed it off to my kids.
I’ve pretty much felt frazzled ever since. I’m struggling to get everything done and stay on top of things. Often I have to get two boys to two separate arenas for hockey games at the same time. Even when there’s only one game scheduled on a given night, I scramble to find someone to watch my other little guy. He spent so much time in 2016 going to his brother’s hockey games that he finally decided he’d had enough by 2017. Now he refuses to go at all. I will forever be grateful for my family, whom I can rely on for help. One Sunday afternoon, I dropped my youngest off at my brother’s house so I could take my oldest to a baseball tryout. My other brother picked up the younger one and brought him to his hockey game, at which time the tryout ended and I brought my other son to play at the same arena. I don’t know what I’d have done without their help.
I was recently talking to another mom at a hockey arena (where else would I be?!) and told her about how stressed I’ve been feeling. She said she’s frazzled too. Apparently, she knows so many other moms in the same boat. They self-medicate with wine and some end up on low dosages of antidepressants. It seems like the sentiment is more of an epidemic rather than something I face alone. It’s a relief, but also kind of scary.
How did our moms manage? Were we raised in an era in which the availability of programming for kids didn’t exist at the level it does today? Did our parents simply sign up their kids for fewer activities and have fewer places to be? Did they have us focus more on academics, which we could do at home, rather than make sure we could all play amateur level golf, hockey and baseball? How the heck does anyone survive in the demanding world parenting has become?
I don’t know about you, but I’m trying to be more mindful. When I feel my pulse racing, I try to take a moment to breathe. I try to slow down rather than rush to the basement when I hear the laundry machine beeping at me. If I’m stuck in traffic on the way to a hockey game and it appears we’re going to be late, I tell myself, “It’s ok, we’ll get there when we get there.” I’ll ask for and accept help without apologizing for it. This week I went to yoga. Twice. I’m going to try, but perhaps a little less hard. I’ll take it a little less seriously.
And I’ll look forward to visiting my parents in Arizona again next year when Best Friend can help.