In spite of my efforts to continue to see this experience as a Gift and to dwell on what has been gained from it, there are moments when all I can seem to focus on is what has been lost.
I am in the midst of one of those “moments” now…and it’s a drag! I wonder if I write about it, might it help me pass through this time more quickly (two days of feeling crappy and bummed out is enough!)? I’m willing to give it a try….
So, what are some of the things that have been “lost” over the course of these 6+ months? The biggie, and the most obvious, is energy. That’s a no-brainer, right? I don’t have all the energy I used to, and consequently, can’t do all the things I used to. It’s hard to get a full day’s worth of stuff done when I know I’ve only got, effectively, until 12:30 or 1:00 to do it! If I go for a walk to try to get at least a little exercise in , which I’m trying to do more often now (unfortunately, something that I haven’t lost during this experience is weight!), there goes almost an hour of that time. If I have a cup of coffee with a friend, which I do a couple of times a week, there goes another hour (or two!). If I need to go to the grocery store, which I often used to do at night after the kids were all in bed but rarely feel like doing at that time of day any more, that’s another hour gone, and then all the groceries still need to be put away! It’s spring, and our yard could use some sprucing up…but whatever time I spend cleaning out a bed of irises is time that I’m not doing laundry. Or even more critical at this time of year: our taxes! And this is all, really, pretty basic stuff–exercise, coffee with friends, groceries, laundry, weeding…. Things that, for the most part, have to do with life within the “confines” of my family. I just don’t seem to have the energy to do much more than that…which can make me feel, at times, like my world has gotten very, very small….
It makes me sad sometimes to think about how my diminished energy and consequent “small world” have affected my kids, too–I’ve hardly allowed them to have any friends over throughout this time, for example, because it just feels overwhelming to me to have additional kids to be aware of and be “on” for. I haven’t taken them to other friends’ houses as much, either–perhaps they’re being invited less because of the lack of “mutuality” in the invitations! I don’t seem to have the energy to take them to the park to play, or to the library as much, or to encourage sleepovers…. It pains me to consider how they might be negatively affected by my lack of energy.
That notion leads me to another loss: activities. As I’ve said before, this hasn’t been all bad. It’s one of the places, in fact, where some good has been found–fewer activities overall has meant, for example, more time with my family, more time for my family, more time to be purposeful as a mom, as a wife, as me, all with more focus and less distractedness. A less good consequence that I’ve recently been experiencing, however, is not having much to talk about! I’m finding that without having as much going on, without participating in as many activities, without having as many interactions with others, I often feel like I don’t have much to contribute to a conversation! And for those of you who are reading this and know me, you can perhaps imagine what an unsettling feeling that is for me! 🙂 But seriously, it actually can be difficult! I found myself telling a friend earlier this week about the highlight of this past weekend: ordering a new vacuum cleaner! Talk about excitement! Talk about a conversation-killer! I mean, how could she be expected to top that??…. I am not suggesting, of course, that conversations with friends are meant to be based on any kind of competition to determine who has the more exciting, or more fast-paced, or more productive, or more fulfilling life! But when the best I’ve got for a weekend highlight is ordering a new vacuum cleaner, it just seems like I don’t got much….
Another loss I’m feeling is simply the loss of time. And by that I mean the 2ish hours each day that I “lose” napping. It occurred to me this afternoon, as I was feeling grumpy (this is actually helping–I have begun to feel better as I’ve been writing this….), that if I figure I sleep for an average of about two hours a day, that’s 12-14 hours over the course of a week! That’s basically a day’s worth of awake-time! I’ve lost 1/7 of my time to this fatigue for over six months now! Sheesh!
Yet one more loss is one that I alluded to above, and that is the loss of physical fitness! Trivial, perhaps, in the big scheme of things, but frustrating nonetheless, at least from time to time. I had gotten into fairly good shape before all this happened–I had begun exercising at the local gym (I even had a membership for the first time in my life!), I was walking and/or jogging about 3 miles a day, I had lost some flab and gained some muscle, I had even dropped a size or two in my clothes. I was feeling pretty fit and fabulous! And then this. Ugh. I’m finally walking that 3-mile loop again a couple of times a week, and usually some shorter distance one or two other days, which feels good…but it’s not enough! My pants are tight, my arms are flabby (or as a dear friend offered as a “re-framing possibility”: “I just have friendly arms–they keep waving after I’ve stopped!” 🙂 ), and I’m dreading swimsuit season! I suppose it would help a little if I went back to steering clear of the ice cream and let go of the compulsion to eat whatever scraps my kids have left on their plates! But if only I had the energy…and the time…to get some real exercising in again…..
But enough. Enough for now. As I said before, I am actually feeling some better for having written down some of these thoughts. I really don’t like to dwell on them, and I think that expressing them has helped, perhaps giving them less “power” to affect me going forward. At least for now…. Maybe in the morning I’ll go back and read some of my thoughts on the gifts of all of this, and in the freshness of a new day, I’ll be able to see them anew…. If not, I guess I can start to look for the gifts of grumpiness…. There are bound to be some! 🙂