Oh, I feel just like a Rolling Stones song- tragic me! Right now I’m celebrating simply surviving the weekend I just had. All of these events occurred in the span of 48 hours- seriously:
- My husband left me. Ha, ha- not left me like divorced, but he is no longer in our home. Last Friday afternoon, he received a job offer far, far away. I’m not good at how many miles away it is (I ran a marathon once, so I think 26 miles is far), but I know he had to drive through six states yesterday to get there. And it’s not one of those jobs where you fly home on the weekends. Nope, I’ll pretty much be a single mom for the next nine months, and I had from Friday until Monday to process and prepare for that. Oh, and did I mention that I work fulltime and my office is an hour from my house?
- My daughter ran away from home. Actually, she left for college, but since she’s the first to leave the nest it feels a little like abandonment. After spending the entire summer preparing for this event, we finally packed up the car and left at 5 AM Monday morning to take her. I dragged a couple of the other kids along as unpaid movers since my husband was conveniently indisposed due to his new 13 hour commute. My daughter’s excitement was indescribable, and she would not be happy until the excitement level of everyone in the house reached the same level. As much as you look forward to kids going off to college when they’re whiny toddlers, sniffly grade schoolers or sassy teens, it turns out you’re actually a bit emotional when the day actually comes. Oh, and we left shortly before my husband, so within the span of 90 minutes our household went from six people down to four. Unfortunately the pet population remains at the same high level (four, if you count the turtle).
- I temporarily acquired dozens of new teenagers. In case the two aforementioned events weren’t stressful enough, a couple months ago I agreed (probably while drunk) to host a campout in our backyard for my daughter’s entire high school cross country team. When would that occur? Why, Saturday night, of course- the night before we had to pack up 33% of our family. I pledged to the parents of these girls that I would sleep on the back porch to ensure they didn’t run wild in the middle of the night to do drugs or have sex, so I got a whopping three hours of sleep. My son declared that the girls seemed to have bladders the size of kittens’, which is actually insulting to kittens who probably can hold their urine better than these girls. I swear they were in and out of the house, and therefore walking past my bed on the porch, ALL NIGHT.
Two of those three things are positive. My husband is thrilled to finally be able to use the degree he spent years pursuing, and obviously we’re very excited that our daughter is at a good college and appears happy (24 hours into it). The third event? Well, that’s just one of those parenting tasks that you endure because you don’t want your kid doing drugs or having sex, so that one gets discounted immediately, although lack of sleep makes any situation worse.
A couple months ago, I took a stress relief class at work, partly because we have an education requirement and it sounded more pleasant than elevating my Excel skills. We began the class by completing a stress assessment. This evaluates various life events, not your ability to handle the stress that may accompany them. The interesting thing is that even good, positive events carry stress with them, and anyone who has ever planned a wedding or had a baby knows that.
One of the stress relief techniques we learned was related to music therapy, although it was kind of that sleepy meditative spa music- and as a working mother of four teenagers I obviously spend days on end in spas. I’m not a licensed music therapist (like so many others careers, I believe this would be one I am highly qualified to enter), but it seems like an easy cheap form of therapy. Make yourself a playlist of music that makes you feel calm or happy and play it in your car or your kitchen or through your headphones while you’re puttering around the house or walking the dog or any of the thousands of other tasks that a stressed out mom completes in a given day.
Maybe tonight I’ll spend a few minutes making myself a stress relief playlist. I’ll let you know how it works- if I survive the evening’s parenting activities…
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