Every guy I’ve dated since becoming a single mom has told me, “you need to relax” or “you never relax” My reaction has been the same each time. I stand there and kind of stare at them while scratching my head and then try my like hell not to ask them what the think chill out means. But after the third or fourth guy gave me the “chill out” line I realized that perhaps they had a point.
When I was in high school and college my form of chilling out included downing six Hornsbys and then maybe doing a keg stand or two. I don’t drink nearly as often anymore, maybe once every two weeks. And parties, what parties? Are you kidding me? Unfortunately I was not trained by my mother, who is constantly stressed out herself, in the fine art of chilling out, taking a load off, resting one’s feet up in the air and just reading or staring at the wall. Taking a break or chilling out was not in my household vocabulary as a child. That sucked. But not to worry, I am very aware of this fact and so is my therapist.
Then I had Benjamin. He wouldn’t stop crying during the first 11 weeks. If he was awake he was crying and if he was asleep it was only for a few hours at a time. Somewhere along the way his father lost his job and refused to find another one. It topped off our Miserable Marriage Pie quite nicely and I left him. Now, three years later, I am just beginning to taste the freedom of being able to take a shower without feeling that nervous “what if he swallows a poison chemical and dies while I’m in here” sensation. Yes, I can shower again world and it’s amazing. No, I lied, it is exquisite.
Maybe I was a high strung mother when he was a newborn and toddler but I was alone, I still am (for the most part) and it will take me a while to chill the fuck out. It will. The one thing about being a working single mom that no one – absolutely no one – can understand is the constant 100%, no break whatsoever part of the job description. Going out one night a week for two hours does not constitute a break, especially when you have to pay for it. Having an ex-husband take your child away for one night a week, on a work night, does not constitute a break. Even getting five minutes to yourself in the shower does not constitute a break because if shit really hit the fan, if you just needed a week off you would have to do this: call all of your friends and family and arrange for a multi-tiered super complicated babysitting schedule. Even taking a vacation is stressful.
I can only imagine, they say.
Yes. You can only imagine because there is nothing like this and I am not going to apologize for being the way that I am because I did what I had to do to survive and get us through to the other side, this side – which is actually the happy side. With that said, I am probably more stressed out than most of the general population. I hate it but I like being who I am. So I’m not quite sure how to make it go away or how to balance it all so everything fits in a nice, tiny, little happy package.
I am trying my best to learn how to chill out. I really am. I am actually concentrating and focusing on it. Not working a day job is helping tremendously because when I feel an intense bout of stress coming on I can walk away from the computer and go for a walk or a run. (Yes, a run – I have actually been running here and there). It helps to be doing what I absolutely love. I can’t even begin to describe what it feels like to work for yourself, it is one of the most liberating feelings.
I am taking baby steps to reaching a nice, balanced and healthy mental state. I am also vowing to myself that I will try to accept the help of others more often. But it’s so damn hard to ask. Why is that by the way? And why can’t I just be one of those happy, normal, go lucky girls who knows exactly how to chill out? I hate those girls. Well, I don’t hate them – not really – but I wish they’d teach me a few things.
Did you know I haven’t had a pedicure or a manicure in over four years? After this eBook comes out (now over 120 pages btw) I am so getting both and a massage.
Just watched this episode of Momversation on Me Time and it made me feel worlds better, especially when Heather B. Armstrong (Dooce) gives a shout out to single moms.