Wednesday, October 15, 2008

No Animals Were Harmed in the Writing of this Post, But I Seem to Have Broken a Nail and There's Something in My Eye

Y'all? It has come to my attention that I may need to learn a new skill. One that I have somehow avoided learnin' in 41 years. Yep, I may be long in the tooth, but I am way, way short in a little thing called STRESS MANAGEMENT.

I believe it'll come as no surprise to y'all that newbornhood and all of its trappings STRESS ME RIGHT OUT TO THE END OF MY TETHER. Probably does that to all mothers to a certain degree, it's just that my particular degree happens to be BOILING OVER AND SCORCHING ONTO THE BURNER.

But I do already have some STRESS MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES. In fact, I've spent my whole life practicing these techniques and lemme tell you, practice makes perfect, people.

Here's how I currently cope with stress in my life:

1) Lie on my bed (actually any horizontal surface will do, up to and including my desk at work back when I was gainfully employed) completely unresponsive to any/all stimuli, and shiver.

2) Hate everyone around me with the fury of a pit bull* who's just been given a rose-and-peony scented bubble bath in a pink claw-footed tub using a wise-crackin' cat** for a scrub brush and then gotten out of the tub to discover that same cat has tinkled on his Kibbles-n-Bits.

3) Google things. Mostly things directly related to the stress trigger but sometimes I just type in "AAAAAAAAAAAAGH!! Make it STOP!" or "This cannot be happening to me!" to see what'll come up. Sorta like a Google-ish Magic Eight-ball type of a thing.

and finally, my favorite

4) Stand at the kitchen island and eat. Everything. Yesterday Bean's little friend Bubba fell and smacked his forehead on the sidewalk in front of our house, and while they rushed the sweet boy to the emergency room (he's fine, thank God), I stood at my island and ate the rest of a box of garden herb croutons, half a bag of chili flavored Fritos, a Dagwood sandwich and a quarter of a cherry pie, all of which I washed down with a liter of Gatorade consumed directly out of the 2.5 liter jug. Bubba and his family were already back home, every inch of exposed skin on Bubba's body covered with CARS stickers, and standing on my front porch by the time I wiped my mouth on my sleeve and belched an "Okay what's next" belch that rattled every window in the neighborhood.

So. Are you thinkin' what I'm thinkin'?

Those methods really aren't all that healthy. Thus, wishing to to avoid getting to the point where I'd hafta employ any of 'em, I've carefully managed life - people, events and resources - in such ways that stress has rarely come a'knockin at my door.

'Course that's required a whole 'nother set of skills - my stress avoidance techniques - all of which can be summed up under two very effective, very simple main categories:

1) The Don't Bite Off Even Remotely As Much As I Can Chew Method
2) The Bury My Head and Most of the Rest of Myself in the Sand Method

Now it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that a woman with two smallish chiddren and a husband who's only content when he's burning the entire candle - both ends and everything in between plus whatever else he can find to douse with kerosene and set ablaze - isn't gonna be able to avoid stress, no matter how little she personally bites off or how far into the sand she burrows herself.

(The little people, they WILL find you. Kids LOVE to dig in the sand.)

And we've seen now that my stress management techniques are, well, not exactly family-friendly.

So I guess I'm gonna have to woman up and figure out some way to deal with your garden variety daily pressure and angst without having to lie down and quietly hate the world.


Anybody got a bag of Cheetos?

* To the pit bull owners out there, my apologies. I used pit bull for the sake of vibrant imagery only. I am certain your little Pookie Bear is just as sweet as the day is long. Just please don't sic him on me send him over to my house for a cuddle.

** I seriously don't recommend attempting this type of thing with a cat. I can't imagine it going well for you. I haven't personally ever TRIED to scrub a dog or anything else with a wet cat, wise-cracking or otherwise, but my considerable experience with felines (and water) leads me to believe you would almost certainly be seriously injured. And the dog, too. The cat itself would escape unscathed and you'd find it hours later, sitting damply in the middle of your new cashmere sweater licking its nether-regions. Cats pretty much always win. Just don't go there.

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  1. Oh, girl, I feel your pain. My kids are now 7 and 9 and I still, AT TIMES, feel indescribable amounts of stress. Between my real job and stuff that needs to be done at home, I find myself quite unhappy if something goes wrong.

    I don't ask the Lord for patience, because that just seems to beg for increased amounts of stress. I do ask for wisdom though.

    I'd just stick with the cheetos! ;-)

  2. Oh megan...It hurts my heart to think of you struggling so right now. :( I really wish I had some good stress managment ideas to throw your way, but I don't.

    All I have are cyber hugs, and a listening ear.

  3. Yep. Uhuh. Ditto. Amen.

    And any other word that essentially says I'm RIGHT THERE with ya.

  4. Oh honey. I feel for you. But first: That was hilarious!

    Okay. As for the stress, in my mind you have ONE amazing reason to be stressed out: You are my age and you have an INFANT. Parenting is NOT the same at 41 vs 25. It's just NOT.

    That is all.

    PS You need a nap. And some grace. And some time. This early in the process, I was always overwhelmed. And down on myself.

    You're also dealing with a move from one to two kids, which is a big deal on many levels. Hard on you, on both kids, and on hubby.

    I had a terrible time learning to divide my attention between the kids. They always both want you at the same time and the adjustment is a process.

    I find that a nice walk all by myself, even if only for 15 minutes, does a world of good. I didn't always force myself because moping at home with a pint of Ben and Jerry's seemed like such a good solution. It's totally worth it.

    Sorry it's so rough. It will get better.

  5. Re: my previous comment:

    I meant the walk. The Ben and Jerry's was only worth it when my kids were nursing the weight off of me.

  6. I used to keep a pile of old and broken mugs and dishes at the bottom of the garden and go down there and throw a few when times got hard whilst muttering to myself "this too shall pass...this too shall pass".

    Lord knows what the neighbours thought ;)

  7. Ben and Jerry's.... or a big mound of nachos smothered in high-calorie goodness. Those are my two stress foods.

    I keep a spray bottle of lavendar body spray on my desk at work, and have been known to douse unsuspecting co-worker's offices with it when they seem stressed out. :) I swear by the stuff!

  8. I turn on old country music (Little Town, Big State has a "Country Legends" station). It brings back memories of my childhood, and the peeps start singing and dancing too. It also gets me in the mood to clean - yes, I'm weird - especially this one

  9. Oh, how I wish there was something - anything - I could do to help. I'm not so good with the stress management and the stress avoidance stuff, either. I'm trying to think of what works for me, but I think I must just block out the memories in order to maintain my sanity. Well, and maybe so's I won't actually crawl into The Hole for days/weeks/months/years as I would really like to do. :o)
    For what it's worth, we're praying for you. I like Hat Chick's idea of listening and dancing to fun music. :o)

  10. How about a babysitter once a week so you can go get a mani and a pedi and maybe a massage? Consider it an investment in your sanity.

  11. Oh my goodness! I just about woke up the kids cacklin' at this post. I'm relatively new to your blog, but I have added it to my favorites - you are too, funny! Everyone needs more humor in their lives!

  12. I think when I'm stressed I just mainly get mean. Oh, my poor, poor, family.

  13. If you find some great stress relief tips PLEASE pass them on!

  14. Oh my took the words right out of my mouth!! I am a mama to three amazing children (8, 4, 2) who have tested my patience and my sanity sooooo many times. The best thing that I ever did was join a mom's group (try and search for mom's groups in your area). I have made some of the best friends of my life there and so have my kids. We are stress relief for eachother! The first two years I was home I did not have this and I think I lost my mind...seriously. I am slowly regaining it thanks to the wonderful women that I have met through there. We have weekly playdates and mom's night out once a month or so. It is comforting to know that I am not alone. Hugs to you!

  15. I have been there so many times with my gaggle of kids... a book that has helped me a lot, not to be all clinical but The stress reduction and relaxation handbook is such a good book for practical ways to relieve stress.
    Anyway, hope you are feeling better soon!