It's a busy time, and I am finding myself feeling overwhelmed with my never ending to-do list and the bills and the reports and the online course and the workshop leading and the teaching and the mothering and the cooking and the speech lessons and the homework and the cleaning and the laundry and the trying-to-be-but-failing-good friend and the flights to book and logistics to sort and the writing deadlines and the second/third/fourth jobs and mail to get out or open and the laundry. That damn laundry that just. won't. stop.
Someone said to me today: "I know, it's too much for you as a single parent. You can only take care of your son so much, you will drop some of it."
This in response to why I hadn't set him up with daily tutoring support after school, and why I had him in aftercare. "You are doing a good job for a single parent," she said.
For a single parent.
That line right there nearly made me snap. But not in two. Wide freakin' open. I was engulfed with a sort of something that I am not sure I have ever felt before. Let's just call it rage. Because right there, in those 4 little words, I felt like it was being said that everything I am breaking my back to do for my son just wasn't enough. And that feeling made me want to open up and roar. Roar with the exhaustion and the frustration, but mostly, with the fear that maybe that is right.
In reflection, I know that isn't what was meant. But the response has lingered with me all evening.
It was there at the back of my mind while cooking. While cleaning up. While putting the little guy to bed. While reading to him. While responding to parent emails for my teacher job, and while working on the online course that I lead so we can (barely) afford this NYC life.
And what bothers me the most is this idea that I am exhausted to the core, and yet...
I keep thinking about my inner response. About how I had to walk away quickly for fear of what I might unleash on this well meaning supporter. What I am realizing is that the response is the result of an empty well. There has been zero self care;I have not been filling myself up so that I am able to give more. My tolerance levels are low, I am not as energetic as I like to be, and I am easily irritated. I can feel the negativity goggles slipping on over my worldly view. This is not at all how I want to be showing up in the world.
And so now it is time to reach back into that bag of tricks and bring out the tools for happiness. I am going to commit to at least 20 minutes every day for myself. Twenty. That sounds like a tall order right now, at 12:36 a.m. but I am going to find a way to make that happen. It's oxygen mask time, and I need to get mine on before I can assist anyone else. Twenty minutes and daily WOW seeking mixed in with a little gratitude. I can do that... baby steps...
How about you? What are you doing for self-care? How do you avoid feeling exhausted to the core, or do you?
Here's a little soundtrack to get me started; maybe you need to hear this, too.
Erin Michelle Threlfall
Theatre Artist, Activist, and Educator, Erin is the mother of a budding genius in his 9th year of study. Erin and her little man, Edem, have a plan to investigate world theatre and influence education one continent at a time. Ghana, South Korea, Togo and Bali have been checked off the list of places to live; these days they call Brooklyn, NY home.