For the past several weeks, my emotions have felt like water boiling in a kettle, escalating to a rolling boil with the increased pressures of life and threatening to erupt in a burst of hot scalding anger at anyone unfortunate enough to be nearby. Have you ever felt like that? Like you’re spinning a lot of plates in the air and then life throws you another just for sh!ts and giggles? Or maybe you felt like your life has been one bad event after the other? Sometimes I feel like that and I can’t help but wallow in self-pity. Why me?!
Two weeks ago, we plunged into our fourth lockdown since this pandemic started. We were allowed to leave home for authorised work or study, food, medical care and care-giving, 2 hours of exercise per day and vaccinations. We were allowed travel within a 10 km radius from our house for food and exercise. Lockdown hadn’t really fazed me this time around as it was to be short-lived and kindergarten was still open. So in a way, I was less concerned about my 4-year-old son regressing in terms of socialisation, and I could balance helping my 8-year-old daughter with her remote school learning while doing my studies.
As fate would have it, my 4-year-old got the sniffles and couldn’t attend kinder with cold symptoms. So with the old adage of “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” chanting in the background of my mind, I made the best of a bad situation.
During the day, I was a cheerleader and sub-teacher to the 8-year-old doing remote school learning while trying to keep the hyper 4-year-old occupied with board games, reading and arts. Every other second available was spent on micro-cleaning, attacking the laundry monster and cooking. At night, after the children had gone to bed, I stayed up to finish the 3000-word research proposal, 2 teaching plans and Powerpoint presentations and coursework that was due. I was optimistic that the following week, my 4-year-old son would be back at kinder and I’d have more time.
But seriously, how can anyone truly plan for anything in life. Life happens, and you just have to roll with it. The following week, my son did actually return to kinder but for unknown reasons, began to wake at 4 am instead of his usual 6 am needing reassurance. There were nights he’d run over two or three times needing a hug before returning to his bed. My sleep suffered. And then I fell out of bed and sprained my toes. You know those lemons? I started hating the idea of making lemonade.
I hobbled about with a bung foot, sleep-deprived and stressed with the looming deadlines. Half-way through that week, I was still trying to keep a positive mind. It wasn’t until a zoom meeting with my university professor over my research paper and realising how much rework I needed to do that I decided lemonade was bloody overrated.
I threw a tantrum and gave myself a pity party. My low-carb diet became a lets-order-takeaway-cos-lockdown diet. I went on a Flamin’ Cheetos binge. Other than helping the children, I put my studies and housework on the back burner. I reacquainted with my kindle and indulged in some romantic comedy reads. And you know what? It was exactly what I needed. A guilt-free break. A time-out to regroup and re-energise.
The 4-year-old started sleeping through again. My 8-year-old needed less support and became more self-sufficient with remote learning. My bung foot gave me less grief. I ended up with a clearer mind and finished my research proposal. I completed the coursework and one of the two teaching plans and Powerpoint presentations.
The mental load I set for myself is astronomical. The high expectation and pressure that I pile on myself to be “perfect”, to achieve success, and to do things the “right” way is unrealistic and unhealthy. Whether it be house work to parenting to my studies, I overwhelm myself with this invisible burden and will often forget to give myself grace to simply breathe. We can all cope to a point but when we go through tough times and everything in life seems to be going downhill, it can be easy to lose perspective and fall into a poor mindset. It’s often hard to ask for help or even acknowledge that you don’t have it all together like how you think you should.
I’m waffling. What am I really trying to say with this post? That sometimes when life gives you a lot of damn lemons, you make yourself a nice big jug of lemonade margarita and sit down with a good book instead.
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