A little over a year ago I put Miss P in a gym class for preschoolers. It included tumbling and other basic gym stuff. I really wanted to put her in a dance or tumbling class but I had no idea how she’d handle a stranger telling her what to do, and this class was cheap.
She loved the class and making new friends. So when the new term came along in September I signed her up again, but I also signed her up for dance and tumble on Monday evenings, hoping she might like that.
You see, she LOVED swimming, so I signed her up for lessons at the nearest community college. She HATED the lessons. She only made it midway through the second lesson before I pulled her out of the pool, got her dressed and vowed never to go back. She won’t even go swimming our local pool right now (and yes, I know it’s November, but it is Florida and the pool is heated).
So off we went to dance and tumble. She loves it. She is thriving there.
Yesterday she had her first performance at a local fall festival. They had costumes. They danced to “Do You Want To Build a Snowman”. She was imperfect, but I’ve never seen her happier.
I presented her with a bouquet of flowers, because ballerinas get flowers after their performances. She also got a trophy from her dance teacher.
While they were dancing I stood at the front and videotaped it and cried. This beautiful little creature in her shiny blue tutu prancing on stage is MY DAUGHTER. She is luminous and happy.
How did I ever get so lucky?
After the dance and award ceremony we walked around the festival. Ate a snow cone, bought some tickets, then she went on some rides, most of them by herself.
Four is a magical age.
For that matter, so is 44.
Two years ago when we first moved to town I took Miss P for swimming lessons at the local pool. They didn’t go well. We got free passes to the pool to “practice” but never used them and they got stolen during the burglary of our home several months later.
I’d heard in local moms groups that the community pool could be a not-so-fun place to hang out. Some moms said that there were “mean moms” there who made it an uncomfortable experience. I’ll be honest. I read those things, and I stayed way.
We replaced Miss P’s last life jacket with a puddle jumper and she has really gotten independent in grandma’s pool. However, grandma lives an hour away and we don’t have our own pool.
So off to the community pool we went. I don’t look my best, or even close. My swimsuit is a few years old. But my daughter loves to swim.
And so we went. And you know what? I have no idea if there are mean moms there. I have no idea if anyone is disgusted by my appearance.
My daughter has the cutest smile on her face. She enjoys every minute in that deliciously cool pool. So do I.
I think this must have something to do with being in my 40s. Whatever it is, it feels like freedom.
I have been praying and soul searching trying to decide if I still want to remain on the leadership committee of this group, or even in the group at all, for over a week now. I wanted and needed a sign whether I should talk to the group leader or find a friend to talk to or just suck it up and use my own judgment.
Our regular bi-monthly group meeting was this morning and no one showed up except members of the leadership team so we decided to have an impromptu meeting. We discussed a few things, then the social chair started discussing events we could do as a group, many of them requiring a certain number of sign ups which would mean the ENTIRE group (only about 12 women) would need to sign up to get the discount. That is never going to happen.
Someone else suggested piggybacking on a similar event with another group for an existing event, which would be cheaper. Then she mentioned the pre-planned happens on Thursdays.
“Well, I was told that we could ONLY plan events on Tuesdays so I’m trying to plan something for Tuesdays because you all said that Tuesdays were the ONLY days that would work.”
The person who suggested it tried to explain but the social chair kept talking over her, saying “But everyone insisted it had to be TUESDAY!!!!!”
The mentor mom came in and tried explaining that putting together a group event involving a group discount with such a small group wasn’t the best idea and so we should think of something else, but the social chair kept talking over her, as well, being very defensive.
To be honest, no one was attacking her, everyone thinks she is doing a great job, there is just a learning curve with a smaller group. She just refused to listen. So I decided to jump in and say “There is no need to be defensive, no one is attacking you, we’re just discussing” but as soon as the word “defensive” left my mouth she turned on me and snarled that she was NOT being defensive we insisted TUESDAY.
I immediately put my hands up in a posture of surrender and sat back because her response was so out of whack for the situation I was stunned.
The group leader immediately jumped in and said she wanted to table the discussion because it wasn’t going in a positive direction.
Again the social chair turns on me, eyes blazing, still snarling “I am NOT being defensive. You said Tuesday. All of you said it HAD to be Tuesday!” And the group leader jumped in again and told her the discussion was over.
I have always liked the social chair and I don’t know there this came from, though I overhead her telling someone else that she doesn’t appreciate being treated like a child because she is almost 40 years old and she is not a child.
I gritted my teeth and managed to be civil for the rest of the morning. The group leader approached me later and thanked me for backing down during the situation. I told her I’m not sure this is the place for me anymore, so we’re having a play date later this week so we can talk about everything.
Right now all I want to do is cry.
I wrote recently about how in one group of parents I was being left out, while in another I was being asked to take on a leadership position. Interesting how things work out.
In the group where I was being left out, a new-to-the-group mom who is part of the inner circle has been inviting me to things where everyone else is, so I’m inner-circle-adjacent now, I guess.
And the group in which I have a leadership position is becoming… well, it’s becoming a problem.
The group is for young moms or at least moms of young children. Because it is a new local chapter, an older mom (she did this group when she had young children and now her young children are grown) started the group and is currently the group mentor.
The local group is big enough now to have its own leadership committee, which I was asked to be a part of. This means I’m working closely with this mentor mom, as well as the other moms of young children.
The mentor mom is a fairly negative force during our leadership meetings, though to be fair, she’s been through this before and can point out all the reasons why an idea isn’t feasible based on group size, etc. That’s not the real problem.
The real problem is she’s “Christian” so she has no problem disavowing the Girl Scouts (“I don’t buy cookies from them because I cannot support an organization that supports Planned Parenthood”) and eschewed one of our volunteer opportunities because “we don’t want our children exposed to bisexuals or homosexuals”.
I had forgotten that these sort of people existed outside of Trump rallies.
People can disagree with me, and she surely does. I support Planned Parenthood. I also believe in safe, legal abortion. And one of my best friends on Earth is gay. I would trust my daughter to her and her wife without a second thought. They would treat her as their own.
Then yesterday this mentor mom posted something on social media about how since everyone hates Trump “he must be doing something right”. Just the night before I was talking to my husband about how the news coming out of the Trump rallies terrifies me. Could this man really have a possibility of becoming our next president? And now she’s supporting him?
I generally try to live and let live but I’m just not sure I’m comfortable interacting closely with this woman. I “unfollowed” her on Facebook after I saw the Trump comments, but as a member of the leadership committee I’m going to be working pretty closely with her.
I just don’t think I can do it.
It seems like it’s been months since I’ve felt “normal”. I’ve been sick, exhausted, stressed.
And then Friday happened.
Friday there was a break in the pollen-laden weather (rain)
My monthly cycle started 2 days early (I always feel tense leading up to it).
And my trainee got fired. I’ve been working with this person for weeks with no measurable progress. Every day the trainee was a blank slate. Every day the trainee argued with me over proper procedure. Every day the trainee complained about not having enough work to do. I reported to my boss as did others who have been working with the trainee and employment was finally terminated.
I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I love my job but it had become hell while training this person. The difference? I logged in and worked a couple of hours this morning just because I felt like it and wanted to get on top of some things.
I’m still feeling a bit yucky (and the forecast doesn’t bode well for continued improvement in lung function) but the sun is shining both inside and outside of me.
In the last 5 months my life has changed drastically:
- Started a new part time job.
- Had what I thought was a minor injury that turned out to be a mid-to-major one.
- Muddled through the holidays trying to balance two jobs and a child.
- Started a new healthy eating plan.
I kept telling myself that once I figured out fitting the part time job into my schedule things would get better. Then when my knee healed things would get better. Then when the holidays were over things would get better.
And things got better after the holidays until I got sick, my father in law had a massive heart attack (he’s on the mend), I took on a few more hours at work because our rent and insurance went up. My illness lasted far longer than I anticipated, probably because I got no time off for sick leave as a part time employee and full time mom. Then my husband got sick. Then he got better and Miss P. got sick, and I got sick again (or had I ever really recovered?).
The new healthy eating plan was the last thing on my list, though I tried to incorporate a bit here and there. I lost 9 lbs in 2 months (slow, but I was happy) and then gained 5 of it back during illnesses when I stopped caring what I put into my mouth.
A few days ago I woke up, made my husband’s lunch, then fell back into bed. Miss P woke me up an hour later, and I was still groggy. I threw some food and drink down my gullet and sat down in the recliner and dozed off. Miss P sat happily watching TV, occasionally interrupting my “nap” for requests of snacks, juice, a butt wipe.
No matter when I went to bed or when I got up I was exhausted. I dragged myself out of the recliner and took Miss P into the shower with me. It perked me up to be clean and fresh smelling. That’s when I realized that I haven’t been caring for myself.
So here’s my minimum of self-care:
- A shower EVERY DAY, first thing in the morning if at all possible. I had been showering every other day and that wasn’t helping me feel good about myself.
- Three meals a day, minimum. I had been skipping lunch to get logged in for work.
- Making the bed. This is simply a mental health thing. The bed is made, so the day is started.
Level two self-care:
- Moisturizing. I am so bad about this. My skin has been dry and itchy and I’ve got a cabinet full of lotions I never use.
- Supplements. I take several supplements every night before bed (along with my multivitamin and allergy med) but I’ve added elderberry syrup as an immune booster.
- Healthy eating. I’m trying to following the Trim Healthy Mama plan. It is doable, and my whole family likes the food. I feel better when I eat this way.
To be added for self-care:
- More time writing. I love writing and need to do more personal writing.
- Exercise. I need it, and as soon as the weather stops being bipolar I’ll get outside more. In the meantime I have a ton of exercise video options.
- Exploring career alternatives. There is one career I have always wanted to have but never knew how to pursue. I am starting to figure out how to make it happen. I’ll talk more about it as it comes to fruition.
- Be more social. I have a bit of social anxiety but I love spending time with friends and I need to do more of it.
Since jump starting self care I’ve dropped 6 lbs, which puts me back down a pound under where I was when I stopped taking care of myself. I am cleaner and have more energy and focus.
I didn’t grow up with a mom who practiced self-care. She was overindulgent, and she spent a lot of time sitting around watching soap operas, drinking diet sodas and snacking. She ordered me around from her throne and came down hard on me if anything I did was less than perfect. Not a model for self-care.
I’m figuring this out for myself, and for Miss P.
What do you do for self-care?
Just when you think it is safe to start blogging again, life gets crazy. I’m recommitting this week to doing more personal writing, and this is step 1.
Back in January Miss P and I went back to her preschool tumbling/gym class. We both sustained injuries in a fall there in late October, so our return to class was tinged with trepidation.
Nearly all of the same parents & kids were there and they expressed happiness to see us again. They asked about our recovery and said they had been rooting for us. That felt nice.
In February one of the other moms returned with her daughter after an absence due to her giving birth and caring for a newborn. I was sitting nearby when one of the moms came up to her and said “we were going to call you but no one had your number!”. I didn’t think much of it since people form their own friendships.
Later that day and in the following two weeks other parents from the tumbling class came up to her and said the same thing. From what I can suss out from bits and pieces of overheard conversation, ALL of the other parents and children from the tumbling class are getting together on Mondays to hang out and do activities together. This has never been mentioned to me or my daughter, and we’ve never been asked to participate.
I’ll admit, it stings. I thought maybe it was due to the age difference between me and the other parents, but there is one other over-40 mom in the group and she is included. I guess I need to switch deodorant.
Another activity we are involved in is Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPs). I joined MOPs and tumbling to have activities for Miss P, but both have actually provided me with a social outlet and get me out of the house, too.
After the MOPs meeting yesterday I was approached by another mom and asked to be on the steering committee for our local MOPs chapter for the coming year. I am by far the oldest mom in the group (by at least a decade) but it was flattering to be asked, and I accepted.
I thought about it all the way home, how it felt to be asked to be in a leadership role in one community while being ignored in another. Life is strange.