Thoughts on Life

#092222: Stones unturned

Thoughts on being a mom
by Leandra Medine Cohen
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Something about last week overstimulated the hell out of me and I think I’m feeling the effect of it now. I was going to say it knocked me off my skis but I’m pretty sure it was more like an overload than it was an overhaul. Does this ever happen to you? Like a period of time, sometimes long sometimes short, goes by with you moving very quickly, and then it ends and you realize it was a frenzy and you’re tired but don’t have to sleep, and you’re thinking, but words won’t come out to convey it and then you realize you’re in this like, state of shock.

It sounds like I’m describing burnout, but the term is too charged and hustle-culture adjacent to adequately convey what this feels like. This feels more like I’m drained. Maybe the subtle linguistic shift seems negligible but within the framework of my mind’s classification system, it’s the difference between me as a worker and me as a mom.

On one hand, I think I am becoming much more aware of how sensitive I really am — probably have always been though I didn’t always accept it, about the extent to which a season changing can really mess with me and I think I can only track it now because it’s no longer just about me.

Settling myself into new routines, doing whatever I must in order to quiet a voice that says I’m not good enough at this or can do better at that and vice versa is one thing but having to help my kids through these same motions: into their routines or through a funk of disappointment (but really the earliest inklings of heartbreak), is something else completely.

Not because it is harder or takes more effort though these things are symptoms of something else that is true — that because I am used to bossing myself around, to telling myself to suck it up and figure it out, to finding a system that works (no matter how dysfunctionally) to make it appear that “I’m totally fine!,” to contorting myself into shapes that don’t fit in order to run away from raw acceptance, it’s not as easy to access the instruments that will actually help me help my kids help themselves through their own tricky moments.

Even though I know that the instruments exist, that I’ve even played on them occasionally.

I have known that kids bring up most of the stones that have been left unturned from one’s own inner trail but increasingly, it’s becoming evident that it — the turning — also doesn’t end. That once one stone is turned, another unturned is found and this process goes on as they get older and I’m living right next to it, which sometimes feel like I’m in it, this time with them but still over again.

Just now I had this relieving thought though that every time a new stone is found, every time it seems like I’m back at one of those primitive crime scenes doesn’t have to mean that I really return. That I have to excavate, investigate, examine and analyze. That every time is not meant to serve as an invite to beat myself up as I dwell on the past pointing fingers first out, then inward to me until I write myself back to baseline, pointed fingers dissolving with each key stroke. “Healing” as it were could be as simple as challenging the impulse to attack, and then choosing some other way. Turning away from the weapons, or putting them down and picking up one of the instruments.

Sometimes I think I’m so sick of talking about my kids, other times I wonder what else there is.