Thursday, March 20, 2014

Mommy Gets a Time Out

My mother taught elementary school for close to 25 years, and  a damn good one at that.  Since I share many of my mother's facial features, I am often accosted by a stranger - usually about my age- on the streets of Jerusalem, with the enthusiastic exclamation, "You must be the daughter of my amazing third grade teacher. She's the reason I went on to get my PhD in...."

Growing up, we constantly heard in our house, "Whatever profession you choose, don't become a teacher!  You spend all day giving your kindness and patience to someone else's children, and then you have nothing left for your own."  Ultimately my mother left teaching and joined the business world, where she deals with frustrating grown-ups instead.

Since moving to Israel and becoming a parent, I have learned (the hard way) the virtue of balance in life IE work pays the bills but it represents a means to an end, toward more quality time for yourself and with your family.  But this past week has been totally disrupted by the holiday of Purim:  Raphaela had vacation from school from Friday and through Monday, and yesterday I overbooked my schedule.  I don't think I had even one minute that was not set aside for someone; a Chiropractic Board Meeting, patients at the clinic, a most necessary trip to the supermarket, phone calls and texts, picking up the runner's package for the Jerusalem Marathon on Friday, getting in a quick run before the Marathon on Friday, etc.

BTW, our day starts at five am, when either Harry sits on me and asks for breakfast, or Raphaela wakes up in tune to the rising of the sun.

By the time I had to pick up Raphaela from school in the afternoon, I felt physically exhausted and emotionally burnt out.  The candy loot from Purim taunted me, and it took all my will power not to inhale the junk food on the kitchen counter.  I had given and given and given, run and run and run all day.

Then Raphaela started with typical behavior for her age, pushing limits and asking questions in the cute sweet voice of hers, and trying to grab my undivided attention.  As well, as a single mother and the only adult in the house, no one else is going to volunteer to feed her dinner to set up her shower or tuck her into bed.

I blew up, not because Raphaela's requests were unreasonable, but because my tank was empty, beyond empty, and I could not even stand the idea of my daughter standing near my personal space.

I explained to Raphaela that Mommy was very tired, and that little things that are normally no big deal might make me say or do things that might be unusual or scary.  I told her that I was going to lock myself in my bedroom for an hour or so, gave her some of her favorite books to read, and set her up with an A-B-C video in front of the computer.

I gave myself a Time Out, and then once Raphaela fell asleep, the accumulated stress of the day kept me awake, so I cruised the Internet for hard core comedy, anything to make me laugh and smile again.

The Universe tests our resolve, do we really "mean it" when we say that our family comes first?  Well I learned yesterday that when my Inner Voice starts shrieking, it is time to take some items off the agenda and forgive myself for my perfect imperfections.

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