This isn’t the post I was planning to write this week; but life happened, and here we are. As I mentioned in my post on procrastination, there are times when everything I’m thinking about just becomes too much. The past week or two has definitely been one of those phases for me.
At the beginning of February, I noticed Little Man didn’t seem quite like himself. I took him to his peewee gym class, but he wasn’t nearly as interested in exploring as he usually is. The next day’s story time at the library was more of the same—Little Man seemed low on energy, choosing to sit in my lap or staring off into space instead of cruising around the room or engaging with the other attendees. By the time Friday rolled around, Little Man had a fever, was extra clingy, and kept sticking his fingers in his ears or holding plush toys up to them. I ended up taking him to urgent care on Saturday afternoon because he still seemed miserable despite his fever having gone away. The doctor thought his ear looked infected and prescribed a liquid antibiotic for us to give twice a day for ten days.
I knew Little Man was not going to be thrilled about taking medicine (he tends to resist when he’s really not feeling well), but I didn’t anticipate how unbelievably difficult it was going to be. We tried giving the medicine straight from the syringe; he spat it out. We tried mixing it with food; he spat it out. We tried mixing it with chocolate sauce; he spat it out. I completely emptied out an applesauce pouch, then sucked up the chocolate-medicine mixture with the syringe and injected it back into the empty pouch. I re-sealed it, put it back in the cabinet with the rest of the pouches, and had Hubby get it out to give to Little Man. He spat it out (all over the carpet, which is now sticky). I mixed the medicine with a little bit of very chocolaty milk, put it in a baby bottle, then made glasses of chocolate milk for Hubby and myself so we could all drink our “chocolate milk” together; he spat it out. I even tried reasoning with him (who knows how much a one-year-old can really understand, right?)! He still spat it out. For our last-ditch effort (which we absolutely hated doing, by the way), Hubby had to hold onto Little Man while I emptied the syringe into his cheek pouch and tried to keep him from opening his mouth so he’d swallow. I don’t know how, but Little Man somehow managed to find a way to spit it out.
Exhausted and with nothing to show for our efforts but a whole lot of sticky messes and one very unhappy little boy, Hubby and I gave up. The whole ordeal was a completely miserable experience. How were we supposed to help our sick baby no longer be in pain if we couldn’t get him to take any medicine? To make matters worse, we noticed dark spots on the back of Little Man’s two lower front teeth. A bit of internet sleuthing identified tooth decay (read: cavities) as the most likely culprit, which means a trip to the pediatric dentist to investigate and, most likely, a follow-up trip for some sort of fillings. It also means I’ve been very busy beating myself up inside about how I could possibly let this happen (although I suspect part of it is not wanting to have to hold my child down twice a day, every day, to brush his teeth. What kind of horrible associations would that create for him, I wonder). So there’s that.
On top of everything happening with Little Man (and the accompanying negative self-talk), I have been working extra shifts at my day job to both make some extra cash and help out my department while they search for a replacement for the person who left. At the same time, I am trying to build readership for this blog. Don’t get me wrong, I really like writing and don’t regret choosing this path, but the marketing aspect is a lot of work and is very time consuming (and also not really part of my nature, to be honest). Creating the branding takes time, uploading it everywhere takes time, finding the right featured image for each post takes time, writing posts to promote my work on social media takes time…You get the point. And that doesn’t include actually writing the posts!
So, long story short, I have had quite a few late nights recently—nighttime, after Little Man goes to bed, is really the only time I have to work on these things. Plus, I am naturally a night owl, so one late night can easily derail any hope I have of getting to sleep at what the rest of the world considers a reasonable hour. On top of being extra tired (and who can say they truly function well when they’re tired?), I still have to try to give my absolute best to Little Man every day; Hubby, Little Man, and I have all been feeling under the weather; our house is a cluttered, messy disaster, which makes me anxious; I have no clean clothes left to wear to work; our refrigerator is a barren wasteland of expired yogurt, molding fruit, and sugar-laden junk food; Little Man loses his mind every time Roomba runs out of battery; it has been snowy in Chicago and I’ve been late to work multiple days in a row because I was stuck behind teams of plows working to clear the roads at a pace quite unworthy of the Indianapolis 500 (I hate being late); someone tried to make fraudulent charges on my debit card; and Hubby was in a car accident (he’s fine) that has left us down a car seat, out $500 for the deductible (thank goodness for insurance!) plus whatever the rental car costs, and sporting a gas-guzzling minivan until Hubby’s car is out of the shop. Sigh.
I am not trying to complain—that isn’t the point. My point in telling you all this is to illustrate how much is going on in my mind at once (and also, in part, to break the pink elephant cycle of intrusive thoughts I talked about in my last post). With everything that’s been going on, my brain is a very chaotic place to be. There are all sorts of shoulds and what ifs flying around. What if I had done a better job brushing Little Man’s teeth? I should do laundry, buy groceries, get more sleep. What if I invest all this time into the blog and still nobody reads it? I should have more energy and be able to get more done in a day than I do. Without question, there are people much worse off than I am right now, but this is the life I’m living and how I’m experiencing it.* It’s both dizzying and stressful. Too stressful to think about sometimes.
So I don’t. Think about it, that is. Or anything at all, really. I am, admittedly, an over-thinker; I could probably think most things to death if you let me, which is why I need to stop myself before I get so deep down in the rabbit hole I can’t claw my way back out again. In my mental landscape, “should” is a very dangerous word; it’s the gateway word for all sorts of rumination and negative self-talk that will ultimately do nothing to improve my situation. Over the years, though, I have learned to recognize and avoid “should” because the only place it takes me is somewhere I don’t want to be.
So, what do I do instead? The short answer: check out—mentally, that is—to the extent that I can. I take some NyQuil (or Benadryl when I don’t have a cold but do have insomnia) and sleep. I ignore the cluttered disaster surrounding me. I don’t make decisions about anything. I don’t think about promoting this blog, creating and scheduling new pins or Instagram posts or tweets, or writing what I had planned. I forget about making this the week I try to get ahead so I’m no longer scrambling. I unabashedly put on cartoons for Little Man and sit on the floor with him, even though I know screen time is discouraged for a kid his age, because they make him happy and he snuggles with me, which makes me happy. I revel in the relative mental silence (an over-thinker’s mind can never be truly silent, can it?) until my internal batteries recharge and I am once again ready to face another day. It’s the closest I can get to a vacation; for a few minutes, at the very least, I get to simply exist. And, beyond that, nothing else matters.
*By the way, I really can’t get behind trying to make people feel better by pointing out that others have it worse. I understand why people think getting you to re-frame your situation in light of this knowledge would be helpful [maybe I don’t have it so bad after all!], but, more often than not, this approach doesn’t really work that way. Instead, pointing out the plight of those less fortunate serves to invalidate the sufferer’s experience, which I discussed the problems with at length in my previous post, “Please, Don’t Try to Fix Me.”