First, make sure to think that you are not trying to be perfect. Make sure you feel as imperfect as possible so it doesn’t even seem like you are trying to be so.
Personally, I like to test my own patience by trying to clean the dishes, sweep the floor and get dinner ready to go while my almost-two-year-old plays with the large utensils in the second drawer closest to the oven. We do a dangerous dance together as he swipes the barbecue tongs and drags them across the linoleum kitchen floor while I hop over him and open the fridge to grab the milk for the pancakes we need for tomorrow morning’s breakfast. I like to make them ahead of time and freeze them. Ben likes to take out our rolling pin and slam it into the floor as I open the dishwasher.
Next, and this is very important, absolutely count on everything falling into place exactly as you need it to. Do not, I repeat, do not, have a backup plan. When everything does eventually fall apart because a) you have a toddler or b) because you are a human living on Earth, make sure to fall into a sobbing heap between your living room and dining room, into the little nook where you fit, scrunch-style, folding in on yourself and making your son laugh because he doesn’t know what a weeping adult looks like yet – although he is learning.
I still seem to not get it. I still seem to think I’m doing it all correctly, that I’ve cooked the dinner, I’ve bathed the child, I’ve made the bed and folded the laundry. The tasks that I accomplish every day do not make me a complete person, as I thought it would. Scratching off my to-do list with pride doesn’t really mean I am the perfect mother and wife. Writing every night doesn’t make me a bestseller. But, I thought it would; and when it doesn’t, at the end of the day when I am watching Survivor with my husband and eating yogurt and blueberries because I am keeping to my strict diet because I’m not sure how much more of my mind I would lose if I began gaining the baby weight back, I scrunch into the walls between my kitchen and dining room.
Next, listen to all the motivational speakers. All of them. Women who inspire you to be who you “really are” because who you are now certainly is not enough, at least that’s what you think. Make sure you think this because you can’t be perfect unless this is true. Know, in your heart, that there is more for you and this moment is just a stepping stone to the next. Logically this is true, but it feels wasteful to think the present moment is only for the future. Make sure to confuse yourself so much that you spend more time in the ethereal clouds than with your son playing cars and blocks.
When I feel an anxiety attack coming on, I am usually thinking about something horrific happening to my son. Today’s almost attack was brought on by a thought about ball pits. My friend recently told me that she read about a little boy who was pricked by a heroin needle in an old ball pit and died that same day. They’re also full of germs and snot and throw up and diarrhea and whatever other diseased things you can think of. The thought of my son, first high, and then dead, sent my body into overdrive and my breathing started to shallow. I noticed it right away and instead thought of how beautiful the Pocono Mountains are in spring as we cut through them on the way to lunch. My attacks have lessened but I’m still really good at inviting them back.
When you know you have aced a day, make sure you put your initials on the VIP players list of your game. The game you are playing that you will ultimately lose. The game that only you are playing.
Fall asleep fast because you are absolutely exhausted of being you and don’t forget not to think about the same things you have to do tomorrow.