It has been tough to string more than couple of words together the past few weeks. The days are going by quickly and I’m shocked that we’re edging in on August, but around 3 pm every weekday, time seems to stand still, and there aren’t enough Otter Pops in the universe to hasten the coming of bedtime.
I am looking forward to a new school year, but my inner teenager shudders at store end-caps already filled with college ruled spiral notebooks and crayons. I wish for a carefree end to summer for my children’s sake, and I wish for a return to normalcy in schedule for my sake.
Both older boys have asked me in all earnestness at some point during the summer to homeschool them, and then reneged on the request when I explained that school at home would still, in fact, involve schoolwork.
I did consider the possibility for about 2 hours; I even got so far as to text a couple homeschooling friends, asking what their discernment process had been. Then Dave went out of town for the weekend and all thoughts of teaching my little darlings math and Latin were ejected from my brain by 48 hours of solo parenting.
We’ve had a good summer, and I’m glad we’ve been able to spend so much time together. I’m also glad I am not responsible for their mathematical development.
I’m trying to implement some better time management strategies to help realize some of my perennially-deferred goals. I’ve been waking up earlier than the kids most mornings and forcing myself to produce for 30 minutes or 1,000 words – whichever comes first. I’ve also strapped the trusty old FitBit back on to hit that 10k step count each day. All of the swimming and early morning gym-haunting has yet to result in any visible results to my postpartum return of form, but I do feel better when I move.
Oddly enough, my body seems to be responding better to gentler workouts. I think I am probably so depleted from back to back pregnancies that strenuous workouts were further taxing an already stressed system.
Gentle walking and stretching seem to be what my body craves, so I’m trying to honor that. The physical therapist I’ve been working with has indefinitely ruled out running, which I’m going to be honest, is actually a huge relief! It’s great to just let go of that part of my identity, for now, and embrace what is rather than lamenting for what once was. Not by slipping into depressed inactivity or anything, but by really embracing a period of physical recovery and rebuilding. And by spending a small fortune on vitamin and mineral supplements.
I’ve come to realize that I usually exert a lot of time and energy in the postpartum period beating myself up – mentally and physically – straining to “undo” something that can’t actually be undone. Whether from sheer exhaustion or just experienced maturity, I haven’t been able to cow my body into submission this time around. When I hit the wall, instead of redoubling my efforts and crashing through it, I curled up at the base of it and took a nap.
It has been pretty eye opening to be honest with myself about what my body needs, and about the tremendous personal cost of having a baby. I don’t “bounce back” physically, though when I was younger I could grit my teeth and sort of fake it.
At 35 I don’t seem to have that same resilience. But I do have a little more wisdom and lots more experience, which seems to me to be a fair tradeoff. So when the baby sleeps, I sit on the couch with a toddler and read a book, or stare vacantly into space, or sometimes do some dinner prep.
Mostly though, I’m sitting down a lot (always with intentional and improved posture!).
Stretching. Going for walks around the block with the bigger kids and not gritting my teeth in frustration that I can’t run the laps we’re making. Spending a decent amount of time and money going to therapy, and just generally investing in myself. It feels decadent. It also feels almost disastrously overdue. It feels a bit like I’m backing away from the edge of an abyss, step by faltering step, and reclaiming some ground that was (necessarily) ceded during the chaos of the past two years of home buying and selling and baby growing.
The real sign that I’m recovering and starting to get my head above water? My urge to paint has been restored.
Last weekend when Dave was gone I pulled the trigger on a long-desired flooring update and painted the linoleum in the kitchen and downstairs bathroom. I’d put the kids to bed and then creep downstairs each evening to tape and paint and after about 4 nights worth of effort (and 4 overnight drying periods) I’m just about finished with the whole project.
For around $60 bucks our lower level looks like a different house altogether, and I no longer feel like I’m peering bleakly into the mists of time while mopping spaghetti sauce off of hideous yellow linoleum. Time will tell how sturdy the “porch and floor” paint proves to be in an indoor application, but anything is better than our before pictures.
I’ll try to whip up a full tutorial one of these days for all my curious Instagram friends, but it was really one of the easier DIYs I’ve attempted.
For now, feast your eyes on the improvement:
What is the rest of your summer shaping up to look like? Are you eager for back to school time, or relishing in the last month of summer? My kids go back relatively late, as I understand, not resuming full classes until August 27th. I’ll have a second grader, a first grader, and a three day a week pre-K this year, which means I’ll be backing 13! lunches! a week! Come to think of it, summer can go ahead and stick around for a couple more weeks…