I’ve always hated Sunday nights.
When you’re in school or working a job, Sunday night is the last moment of freedom– from assignments, from expectations, from whatever ladder you’re trying to climb.
Now that my work is at home with a 10 month old, Sunday nights are the last moments I have with my husband before he goes back to his grueling job. The last moments I have until I’m alone again with that 10 month old. When she depends on me for all her meals and bath times and play times. And while I still feel dread at starting another week, I try to make the best of Sunday nights.
In an effort to make the Sunday Best, I want to share a little here each week about my Sunday day.
Today I’ve been thinking a lot about how to cope with stress. So far in my life, I’m terrible at it. When I’m stressed out, I lash out. It’s like this mean, tunnel-visioned monster takes over my brain and, even more unfortunately, my mouth. I say things I don’t mean, I feel anger I can’t justify, and I regret it all later. So today at church, when I was stuck in the hallway with my baby who didn’t want to sit still or quietly on my lap in an actual class, I was searching on my phone and came across this thought: “Some experts like to rank stressful activities by the amount of stress they produce. But the truth is, it is more the way we react to events, rather than the events themselves, that causes stress. It is our ability to adjust to changes in our circumstances that determines the degree of stress we feel.”
That last sentence really resonated with me because I know it’s the reason the mean, tunnel vision monster comes out to slay. I can’t adjust to change. Before having a baby, this wasn’t as much of a problem. I could control a surprising amount of things in my life. But now that a baby is here, I’m a slave to the schedule. Wake up at 7 am. Breakfast at 9 am. Nap at 10 am. Lunch at 1 pm. Nap at 2pm. Dinner at 5 pm. Bath at 6:30 pm. Bed by 7 pm. Every day, over and over and over. When the day goes exactly like this, I feel accomplished and my mind stays mine. But then there are those days. When she doesn’t fall asleep at 2 or she wakes up from a nap too early or she doesn’t want to eat the pasta she loved so much yesterday. I can’t make her fall asleep right at 2. When her naps are less than an hour, she needs to go to bed earlier that night. And pasta might be all we have already made.
I’ll spare you the rest of the ins and outs of stay at home motherhood. The point is that I fight off stress through control. Through this perfect routine I’ve created. And when I fail, the monster comes out.
I was thinking about this today because yesterday, the monster seemed to have free reign all day. Meltdowns and misery, with only brief moments of clarity. And by the end of the night, I was exhausted, guilty, and almost bewildered by my behavior. Could that have been me?
I don’t want this to happen anymore.
So from that phone search in the hallway, there seem to be some common suggestions for coping. Here is what I’m going to try:
Be realistic. Set priorities. Calmly share frustrations. Remember to be kind to others. And finally, remember to be kind to myself.
So I can skip a bath every now and then. She can skip a nap. Meals can be late. All things can and will change. And it’s okay. No more meltdowns, no more misery. No more monster.
P.S. I’ll also share pictures of me and Ella, the famous 10 month old, in our Sunday Best because I never get stressed about dressing this little angel.