My parents used to affectionately call me Sunshine when I was little. I’d wake up early, always happy and smiling, and I’d ask to go to bed early. I loved my sleep.
Now a days, I find that story to be a bit of folklore. Me? Wake up happy and smiling? In what universe? I typically wake up grumpy and miserable, and it’s all because of pain. Pretty much the only unchanging factor in that story from when I was a child, is that I still beg to go to bed early.
Pain turns you into a monster. A grumpy, low on patience monster. Not all the time…but definitely at its peaks. My peaks are first thing in the morning and around dinner/bedtime. Unsurprisingly, this is when I need to rush the most. I have to get up and get moving immediately. Get the kids dressed, get them breakfast, make Nolan’s lunch for school, get them bundled up, walk to Nolan’s bus stop pushing the stroller and holding the dogs leash (because he needs to be walked, after all. And I’m going for a walk, so why not?). After Nolan’s safely on his bus and we return, things aren’t so pressured. It’s not so go go go. I can have a coffee, sit down for a minute and cuddle with Archer.
After I have a rest, I start on laundry and do dishes from breakfast. Then I make lunch for Archer and I, clean up from that and keep doing laundry. I vacuum every other other day, and mop whenever our feet start to stick to the floors in the kitchen. I used to do it more, before Nolan started going to school, but my energy is pretty much spent and vacuuming and mopping uses a lot of my energy. I hate mopping, and vacuuming. I do all this while still in pain, of course, but it’s different than when I first wake up. I’m almost numb to it.
Getting to Nolan’s bus stop in the afternoon can be, and often is, a challenge. Archer enjoys not napping until it’s nearly time to go, so I have to wrestle a very tired, grumpy toddler into his snow suit and stroller, which is exhausting. We walk to the bus stop, and walk home. I try to sit for a bit before having to do dinner, but once I stand up again it’s go go go. Cook dinner, feed kids, clean up from dinner, bathe kids, clean up living room, read stories, brush teeth, tuck them in by 7:30pm.
During my waking hours, I try really hard to restrain my inner bear, to not lash out at those I love out of frustration, exhaustion, and…pain. I often am not so successful, especially if anything skews with the very delicate balance of my very fragile routine. My husband has a habit of skewing the fragile routine, so he gets to see my inner bear when things don’t go the way they’re supposed to.
I say “supposed to”, but I really mean “the way I’ve done it and somehow, despite all, managed the last little while”. Anything heaped on or any alterations to the routine makes the possibility of completing all those tasks harder, and it can’t be any harder because I’m barely surviving them as is. I’m literally pulling “spoons” out of thin air to complete these things. Probably from my reserved fund of spoons, wherein one would typically do extras like go to the park or the mall or anything really. Which explains why doing any of those things is really beyond my ability at this point.
I’m working on communicating my pain better, because that’s the easiest, most successful way to ensure that my inner bear won’t lash out when my fragile routine is skewed. I’m working on asking for help more often, whenever it’s available, even if I don’t necessarily “need it” in that moment, it’ll help me reserve some energy in my tank. I’m working on allowing myself to confess when I’m having a hard time managing things, instead of trying to live behind the illusion that I can handle everything, all the time. The truth is…I can’t. I strive for perfection and fall short more often than not. I push my own needs to the very back of the burner. I know that most mothers end up doing that, and even for the ones not suffering from a chronic pain disorder – that’s not good. Every once in a while you’ve got to focus on you. Happy wife/mom = happy life. Lately, I haven’t been happy because my pain clouds everything and makes me miserable. I need to take more breaks, focus more on keeping my health from totally deflating.
Do you suffer from chronic pain? How has it changed you?
P.S. Bear memes are unbearably funny.