Running on Empty

It was bound to happen. I just didn’t think it would happen this soon. But the weather turned c0ld and rainy, so our family walks and work on the tree house have been put on hold. Three out of four of us are battling a cold at any given time. Our youngest has some weird bites or rash on his legs (which we let him believe are mosquito bites or none of us would get any sleep). And all the family fun I wrote about, less than 24 hours ago, is taking its toll on our more routinized older son.

When my husband succumbed to his sore throat and other symptoms, and spent most of his day in bed, the bottom fell out of my secret stash of energy. Much to my family’s surprise, I ripped off my mask and revealed my true self: (gasp!) a human being. Instead of the patience and empathy I’ve doled out all week, any whining or neediness I encountered was met with my shouting (essentially) “Man up!” – as if they could control their behavior any more than I was controlling my reactions to them. None of them deserved my short temper (they rarely do). Today was a not-so-gentle reminder for me to pace myself.

I had to admit to my husband (and myself) that the string of good days he had last week made me think, perhaps, things aren’t as bad as we thought. Like putting off getting him help in the first place, I wanted so badly to believe that the hard part was behind us. I felt like I was getting some control back and looked forward to every day getting a little better – as if anyone’s recovery from anything is ever a steady ascent, with no dips or valleys or setbacks or returns to square one.

Tonight I hugged my boys, served them ice cream and let them use multiple toppings (instead of my usual “just one” rule), then I hung up my cape and tights. Super mom/wife needs to take a little break while I learn how to define and live into my new normal.

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