I'm All Cooped Up, Mm Mm, Oh Yeah...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

stir-cra·zy [stur-krey-zee]

adj. Informal

Distraught or restless from long confinement in or as if in prison.

Yep, that sounds about right. It seems that for months on end, while deep in the throes of classes, homework, various appointments and while enduring the twice-daily drive to and from my son's school, all I wanted was a break. A break from the mind numbing monotony, stress and the go, go, go of daily life. However, every year as the break nears I usually find myself dreading it, and today is one of those days when I realize why. You see, I can only do "laid-back" for so long before I lose my mind and feel like a prisoner in my own home. I'm not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom. Believe me, I wish I was.

My summer courses have come to a close and my son is home for two whole months. Summer has officially begun. We always plan a trip to see family and find ways to stay busy during these off months. However, this week my husband is out of town, we have few plans, and Mother Nature seems to think it is October. This is no Elvis song. Despite my new found freedom, I feel anything but free. My son just wants to sit around the house and play Legos, watch movies only he loves and read vintage Marvel comics. He feels wonderful spending day after day in his own filth. I was even willing to go see Brave today just to break up the monotony. Alas, no. He might get the opportunity to play the Wii, so there is NO chance he's leaving the house today. Or tomorrow. Or the next day.

Unfortunately, the longer I go without functioning the less I want to do. Boredom is a viscous condition that can be hard to break free from. When my husband called this morning he said, "you sound like you have ennui." He knows me too well. I have to abandon my morning cup of joe because it gives me the energy to do something, yet I can't seem to get anything going. I can acknowledge that pile of laundry and dirty bathroom, but chances are low that I will get to them. Instead, I just end up stewing in my own caffeinated restlessness. Should I clean out the basement? Yes! Or not. I know! I should make a vision board. No, wait! I should watch The Secret then make a vision board! Wouldn't it be fun to organize your makeup samples? Ooh...cookies sound nice. I should make some! You know you'll eat them all, right? Your goal was to lose about 20 pounds before our trip. Let's go for a bike ride! Naw, too cold out. Tomorrow. For. Sure. Welcome to my personal hell. It's lovely here. Really. Never mind the fact that I'm about to go batshit crazy.

If only my life were a movie starring Gene Wilder & Richard Pryor...
I love my son more than anything and relish every opportunity to spend time with him. So why can't I simply let go and enjoy all this freedom? And better yet, what can be done about it? How can I spend months wanting some uninterrupted downtime with him only to lose my mind two days in? As frustrated as I am that I can't just be, I have to accept that this is who I am. I also don't have the same interests as a 12-year-old boy, so I am at a disadvantage from the get go. While this may appear to be a simple case of mental instability on the surface, the fact is, I am a person who needs regular and consistent mental stimulation in order to function properly. My legs need to be shaved and I need to leave the house at least once a day, even if it is only a short walk out to the mailbox. Otherwise I start considering things like having another baby...and that is very dangerous territory. Catching up on my DVR is fun for a bit, but spending a significant amount of time doing so leads to an emptiness I can feel deep down in my gullet. I am a restless soul, and just like my blonde hair turns green in too much chlorine, my brain turns to an aggravated pile of mush without something to keep it occupied. Why do I feel so guilty, then? Because it taps into the "you are a terrible mother" part of my psyche. There is this unrealistic expectation that I should always be endlessly entertained by my child. The truth is, this is not always the case. When hanging out and doing mindless things with my son day after day isn't enough for me, I start to question my devotion to him. Logically I know that I am a good mom, great even, and my inability to lounge around indefinitely has nothing to do with my competence as a mother. Still, don't we all feel that pressure to be everything all the time to everyone, especially our kids? So when times like these threaten my overall well-being, I have to take a step back and reevaluate.

My son is my little soulmate. He makes my life better and richer, and my lack of interest in watching The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for the umpteenth time has no bearing on that. In fact, the two are completely unrelated. I can still be a superb mom and enjoy regular breaks from him. In fact, the breaks are what make me a better mom. I am not just a wife and mother. I'm an independent human being with wants, needs and desires. My identity doesn't end with them, nor should it. Also, it is not a sign of weakness to admit that I need a routine to feel normal. I am not a "by the seat of her pants" kind of girl when it comes to my day-to-day life. So what? It doesn't make me old or uninteresting. It just makes me, well, me.

The truth is, we as a family seldom sit around. It just feels like it today. We have two cross country trips planned over the next two months, my son is in weekly tennis lessons, I've committed to a weekly craft market, and my husband will be home in 3 days to help out. I would never let my son waste away all summer, so why am I allowing myself to? Instead of sitting here feeling inadequate as a parent, I am going to put on a bra, comb my hair, turn off the television, and go to the library. I need to find something to do with my brain and a new book is a good place to start. There. That was easy enough! Maybe tomorrow. No, now.

Update: The library was a good choice and the perfect diversion from my funk. Now I am back home enjoying our evening with a new perspective. It looks like this:

My pick and an all-time favorite. Is it weird that I find David Bowie strangely attractive in this movie? Meeeooow.

Chinese takeout. I was the picture of self discipline when I ordered the steamed vegetables and teriyaki chicken on a stick. That means cookies are in order, right?
I'll be tucking myself into bed with a book off my long neglected reading list. There is nothing better than a library book, which is why I will never be a true eReader convert. I joined my library's summer book club, so reading this book will not only expand my mind, it could expand my home library. Each book read enters me into a weekly raffle to win bundles of cool books. J joined the kid's reading program, so he and I are reinstating our weekly library date which had fallen by the wayside and become more sporadic over the last couple of years. See if your local library offers a program like this!

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