Thursday, May 5, 2011

Back to Reality

The last few weeks have been a roller coaster between finishing my writing workshop, taking an exam for work, getting ready for vacation, traveling, then coming home. Our vacation in New Orleans was heavenly. Beignets, barbeque shrimp, po’ boys—I think everyone who’s pregnant should go to New Orleans. I also took advantage of our Babymoon to take naps, wander around art galleries, poke in and out of stores, get a pedicure. I don’t believe that our life will be over when the baby comes—thank god—but I am trying to savor these last few weeks of having the time and independence to do adult things.

If New Orleans was a fantasy, re-entry was a nightmare. Forgetting how difficult transitions can be for me, I spent the better part of last week feeling very cranky, and then upset with myself for feeling that way. As if one can talk oneself out of grumpiness. Now that I’m through to the other side, I thought I’d share a few things that helped.

1) I recognized I was cranky. That may seem small, but for me, just putting a name to something is often helpful.

2) I accepted that I was cranky. This is huge for me. I’m blessed with a pretty sunny disposition, so whenever I’m feeling down, I want to make it go away immediately. This time, I gave myself permission to be in a bad mood, which didn’t make it go away, but did ease the self-flagellation.

3) I bought myself a coke. Sometimes eating or drinking something sweet will sweeten my disposition. It did help, at least temporarily.

4) I listened to music, another mood elevator.

5) On Friday and Saturday, I rested. A lot. I had many things I wanted to do, and felt like I should be doing, but I was exhausted. So I gave myself permission to rest. Even at 8 months pregnant, this is difficult for me. Especially when my to-do list is so long! (But then, it always is.) After meeting my essential commitments for the day, including my minimum daily word quota, I let myself off the hook. Often when I’m cranky I’m either tired or overwhelmed. After resting for the better part of two days, I was rewarded with superhuman energy on Sunday, reinforcing the idea that if I take care of myself, I’m better able to efficiently meet my responsibilities.

6) I reminded myself to focus on the positive. Like many simple ideas, this one is hard to practice. Coming home from vacation to reality can be hard. I kept thinking things like, “Why can’t I spend every afternoon shopping and eating beignets?” “Why do I have a schedule?” “Why must I go to work, and food shop, and do laundry?” But then I read something that reminded me that when I focus on the negative, the negative grows, and when I focus on the positive, the positive grows. So this week I made a strong effort to focus on the positive in my life. From things as small as the scent of lilacs in the air, to making a chocolate tart for my parents’ birthday meal, focusing on the positive helped me feel better, and seemed to draw more positive experiences.

With some rest and some perspective I have remembered that I love this life, here at home. I need the structure, even if I don’t always like it. I love to cook, I love walking around Narberth, I love the satisfaction I get from working, and writing, and caring for my home. It’s just the transition that’s rough. So next time I go away, I’ll try to remember, reality is good, I just need to wait out the transitionary period.


Greg said...

Tiff was hoping the P's wouldn't take the extra dessert so she could have taken it home.

One weird technique for getting out of a bad mood that I use sometimes is to just put the biggest smile I can on my face and keep it there until I feel better. You'll feel stupid, but at some point I usually start laughing and actually feel better. There are some people who think your body language can control your mood rather than the other way around.

Mr. Ackerman said...

Thanks for the great ideas. I need to use some of these coping mechanisms every Monday. This somebody always gets a case of the Mondays.