It all started a couple of months ago.
HEB stopped carrying my favorite variety of English muffins.
Everyone in my county started driving like a complete idiot, even more than usual.
My friends kept posting really annoying statuses and pictures to Facebook. And don’t even get me started on all of the meme-shares!
My home internet got really slow, especially at night and in Jem’s room.
All of my clothes fit funny.
I bought some new shirts and skirts, but then this strange unseasonable coldness descended on Central Texas and it has been too chilly to wear spring clothes.
All of my Pandora stations got hijacked by annoying songs and artists.
Jem somehow developed an ability to spit up twice as much milk as he consumed, yet he continued to gain weight so that he has become as heavy and unwieldy as a jumbo-sized bag of pet food.
For the life of me, I have not been able to figure out how to navigate iTunes after installing the most recent mandatory update.
Every time I turned around in my house, I was stumbling across yet another single white sock and/or used band-aid.
This is only the tip of the iceberg, but you get the idea. Then one morning I was irritated because I wanted only one stick of string cheese, but they’re packaged in one giant sheet with perforations between each stick, so I had to pull them all out of the package and then detach just the one. As I was mentally composing an outraged letter to the H-E-Buddy string cheese company for their asinine packaging, it began to dawn on me: maybe the problem was not with the rest of the universe; maybe it was just me.
I called it feeling “emotionally thin,” and “having no margin,” and I remembered feeling this way in the weeks before Sam was born and wondering if there was such a thing as pre-partum depression.Then I stumbled across a great blog post by Jen Hatmaker where she called this state of being “the doldrums.” I love that. It brings to mind the Ancient Mariner, sitting “as idle as a painted ship upon a painted sea.” It’s a listless, demotivating, miserable place to be, but it feels like too much effort to move away from it.
The blog post was called “Stuck in the Doldrums: An Attack Plan.” And since all my efforts to contract the flu and have an excuse to crawl in bed and stay there have been unsuccessful, I have decided to take Jen’s advice and try to paddle my way over to somewhere with a current. (Or a tail wind or a head wind or a rip tide…I’m a bit shaky on how to make this nautical metaphor work. Although I’m pretty sure a rip tide is NOT what I’m looking for.)
Step one: Start getting out of bed when the alarm goes off, rather than snoozing until someone (usually Abby) starts poking me in the eyeballs. Use the quiet morning time before the kids are awake to 1) Get dressed and makeup on, 2) Write a few lines in my gratitude list, which I abandoned months ago, 3) Read a book, preferably one that exercises my brain and reminds me that I am a human being and not an automatic bottom wiping machine.
Step two: Make a to-do list. Even if it is long, writing a list keeps the tasks from looming like an infinite dark cloud over my head. I make sure to include even the smallest items (“remove dirty diaper from trunk of car,” “take shower”) so that I can mark things off quickly and build up momentum for those really formidable projects, like “get budgeting software up-to-date” or “organize 2012 home movies.”
Step three: Throw all of the mismatched socks in the trash can. No guilt for not trying harder to locate the mates or turning the single socks into cute hand puppets. Socks are less than $10 for a package of eight and we’re in sandal season anyway and some things are just not worth it.
Step four: Call it what it is, and act accordingly. It’s been a real game-changer to recognize this as a season, and to know that THIS TOO SHALL PASS. I remind myself that while I’m in the doldrums, my feelings lie. So I avoid un-friending people, writing complaint letters, putting children up for adoption, or having confrontational conversations with family members because I recognize that I temporarily lack the capacity to distinguish minor inconveniences from major crises.
Step five: Ride it out. Repeat steps 1-4 as necessary.
Side Note: The worst of this phase is definitely behind me, but I’m still floating in and out of it. That’s why the verbs in this post keep switching between the present, past, and the past perfect progressive tense, in case you are the type to notice and/or care.