When things don’t go as planned

February 10, 2021

I had big plans for this week, but then my kids got sick.

It’s just an average late-winter cold, but everything feels a little extra scary during covid times.

When toddlers get sick, it’s like when husbands get sick, only slightly worse.

Toddlers can’t always communicate using words. They just wail in the most heartbreaking ways, uncertain of what’s going on or what they need.

It’s awful.

Last night was especially terrible. Nettie, who is just shy of 18 months, cried for nearly 2 hours straight. She was half asleep, thrashing wildly in my arms with snot pouring out of her nose.

I tried nursing her until my nipples ached. She wasn’t interested in water or food, either. She was clearly exhausted and felt awful and desperately needed sleep. 

When she finally managed to pass out, I wept with relief and frustration.

I was deeply glad she was asleep.

And I was frustrated at the night lost.

Like so many things during the past year, these 2 experiences go hand in hand. Gratitude and frustration; relief and rage.

Maybe rage is a little extreme. It’s more irritation.

There are so many projects I had to scale back, push back, or get rid of completely in this past year. I’ve had to narrow my focus, which is something I’m not always great at.

This year has been a balancing act between motherhood and maintaining my sanity. 

I’ve tried to help my older kid adjust to remote school, while trying to make sure my middle child doesn’t feel neglected, while trying to make sure my youngest isn’t grabbing knives from the kitchen counter, while also trying to maintain my business, and still needing to make sure we’re all fed 3 meals a day.

Most days I feel the heaviness of judgments, big and small, weighing me down. Some of that judgment what I am feeling toward myself; some of it is what I feel from others.

Everyday is a struggle.

I share this not because what I’m feeling is unique; more because it’s not.

Last night, I felt defeated by motherhood. 

I couldn’t soothe my child and by the time she finally fell asleep, I was too exhausted to even go back into the kitchen to clean up what got left out while I was trying to get her to fall asleep. Instead of finishing up the webpage for my online studios, I collapsed in bed next to my daughter.
My nighttime ritual of tea and writing didn’t happen, either.

Before I fell asleep, I reviewed my day and I actually did a lot. 

I worked a little on my website, participated in an online workshop with one of my mentors, taught 2 quick yoga classes, made 3 meals, changed a few diapers, went to the library for new books, took a walk in the woods, did 1 minute of yoga with a 200 year old tree, went to the grocery store, and had a dance party with my kids after dinner.

It wasn’t a hugely “productive” day AND I also did a lot.

And even in my most lonely, hopeless moments last night, holding an inconsolable toddler, I knew that eventually she would fall asleep.

I kept thinking about the wisdom we learn from Dory in both Finding Nemo and Finding Dory.

Just keep swimming, she says.

This is a great mantra, but I’m going to tweak it a bit because language matters.

Sometimes you’re swimming, pushing powerfully through the water using your legs and arms.

Other times, you might be treading water, just trying to keep your above the water.

And then there are times when you just float. You’re not working hard to do it, either. You’re just letting the water hold you while you conserve your energy. This doesn’t mean you’re not moving forward; it simply means you’re moving a little more slowly.

I think this is what’s happening for most of us in life, pandemic or not.

We swim, we tread water, and we float — we keep going.

So while I don’t have a fancy new webpage to share — which feels frustrating and like a huge letdown because I didn’t accomplish my big goal for the week — I did lots of other stuff to pull me forward.

Knowing that helps, especially on those extra hard days.

And hopefully it helps you a little bit, too.

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