Sunday, 9 December 2012

Hurricane Mom

When I was much younger and just starting out in my career, I had a colleague that I would refer to secretly as “The Hurricane Mom.” She was a bright, intelligent, talented and hard-working woman but she had a full-time career, two young children and always seemed to be completely harried. As a young, unmarried, childless woman, I vowed never to let myself become a Hurricane Mom myself. I was so na├»ve.

More than ten years later, my life (and outlook) has changed significantly. I am now married with a young child, and I have an established career that makes me literally sleep with my BlackBerry. I love my life, but I understand now that it’s not easy. Stress can creep up on you from every angle and make your chest hurt in the middle of the night if you let it.

I’m usually awake before 6 am every day and before leaving the house at 8 am, have to get myself and my son ready, prep breakfast for all of us, send my husband off with his coffee and newspaper and yes, cook tonight’s dinner. If I’m lucky, I can get a chance to empty the dishwasher so the evening’s cleanup is not so painful. While all that is going on, I have one eye trained on the BlackBerry to see if the blinking red light is signalling anything urgent.

Does this routine sound familiar to you? I’m sure it does.

But wait – not only is managing the day-to-day stuff challenging enough on its own. Then there’s the extra stuff that I feel like I need to do to ensure that I am keeping up with super-mom status… if I ever get to it, which is rare. For example, making the annual calendar of photos of my son to add to this year’s Christmas gifts. Preparing little Christmas gifts for my son’s daycare friends. Baking…okay, maybe baking is a stretch. I blame Martha Stewart and Pinterest for making me feel like I need to go above and beyond making sure my family is properly fed and clothed.

You might be asking yourself – where is your husband in all of this? Surely you’re not alone in managing everything. Fair question. I am not alone, it’s true. My husband is right beside me, helping with meals, cleanup, bedtime, etc… but when it comes to Martha Stewart ambitions, he looks at me like I’m crazy and implores me to take a break.

So what’s my point in all this ranting? My point is that lately, I’m starting to realize that it’s all too much. This constant pressure to go, go, go is going straight to the place inside my head that makes me crazy. And tired. And anxious. I’m teetering on the verge of becoming Hurricane Mom. And I only have one kid! How do people with more manage it?

In doing some talking with people much smarter than I, the solution it seems lies in making more time for myself. Trying to do things every day that relax me. That doesn’t mean passing out, glassy-eyed, in front of the television at 9 pm. It means do some yoga, go for a run, get a massage, read a book, meditate, chill out.

The first thing I do when I’m told to take more time for myself is give an internal snort. Really?! More time? Where am I supposed to find said time? But the reality is that I can’t take care of others properly if I don’t take care of myself. I know this much is true.

Moms, we cannot let stress make us sick. I know that I’m not alone in this. If my friends’ Facebook posts and Tweets are any indication of how we’re feeling inside, we need to take a break. I don’t want to burn out and be useless. Worse, I don’t want to die of a heart attack before I turn 40.

So I’m asking you – how do you fight stress? What do you do that is just for you? Does it work? Make a cup of coffee, put your feet up and let’s discuss.

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