This Relaxation Thing, Part One

Yesterday, my husband took the girls and my cousin into New York City, ostensibly to go see Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. (Our working theory is that we need to do all the touristy sight-seeing thing NOW because if we don't, we never will. I have yet to find a native New Yorker who has been to the Statue of Liberty.) Unfortunately, the lines were too long so they ended up doing a lot of shopping and eating. But they had fun and they had an adventure.

I, as we all know, am gimpy (but honestly, I think my foot might be LESS painful than it's been. Honestly.) so I stayed home. But I could NOT just enjoy my day. I knew my husband was working hard to keep the kids entertained and happy and to make it an enjoyable outing for everyone and therefore, in some confused logic all my own, I felt like I was PLAYING HOOKY. So, I cleaned the whole house (Look! Courtesy stripes--uh, NOT.) including actually making a foray into Ana's (10 and very much a Collector of All Things) room, did all the laundry, loaded and unloaded the dishwasher, gardened, showered and shaved my legs, planned dinner, and even, in a fit of over-achievement, finished the jigsaw puzzle my cousin had started.

What the heck is THAT all about? Have I really gotten so far from my Zen little groove that I can't just BE STILL in my own house?

And THEN, once they got home, I couldn't just let them be, either. I kept putting stuff in the trash and recycling and snapping at people to pick up after themselves and in general behaving like a LUNATIC. Ana wanted to make her noodle bowl surprise dish and the thought of her messing up the kitchen just about sent me over the edge.

Uh, hello? Is THAT a self-defeating theory of action or what? Do I WANT to cook every meal for her until she's 30?

(I'm sorry, Ana.If you would like to cook it today, you are welcome to do so. Have at it.)

I don't know. Somehow, moving to an area where the pace is so artificially inflated has seeped into my daily life. My anxiety level is running really high and my new motto seems to be "Stress the Small Stuff." And it seems like this attitude of stress and control and worry is robbing my life of any FUN. And in this fleeting time when my kids still like me (mostly) and want to do things with me, I should be having more fun. We should ALL be having more fun. Heck, we're on a big adventure!

I'm going to think about this while we take the family to the beach this morning, both to try to figure out exactly why I'm so worried about my house getting messy or the kids getting too loud or why I'm stressing over money and the Austin house when stressing will do exactly NOTHING to help. And I'm going to make a list of things to let go.

Because the last time I looked, there weren't any Life Police walking around giving demerits for failures to achieve perfection. Last time I looked, the imperfection of daily life was called LIVING, and there was a beauty in its chaotic rhythm. My "Zen Groove" was FOUND there.

I'm not sure exactly when I lost sight of that.


I think it's left over from the move. You spent about 6 months in high gear, and it's hard to ratchet down.
Memarie Lane said…
I think I lost sight of that the first time my mother in law came to visit.

J/K. Sort of.
Miri said…
I can feel your anxiety from the West Coast. You are such a good mom & wife & writer ... but you really shouldn't try to do it all. Now that sounded like lecturing.

What I mean is:

Sending you a hug.
DK said…
So my friend Annie...have I told you this story? My friend Annie from Long Island and I are in the grocery story one day with our friend Marilyn, who realizes, as the cashier is ringing us up, that she doesn't have her check cashing card and needs to go get something done at the customer service desk to be able to use a check. So she goes over to do that, and leaves us in line. And the cashier and the people behind us are all waiting politely, but meanwhile, Annie's having a fit. She's like, "Ohmigod. Ohmigod. If we were in New York, these people would be so pissed at us. Ohmigod. On Long Island, the cops would be here by now. Where is she?? Oh. My. God" (you have to read that with a really thick LI accent). And Marilyn comes back, and pays, and they're all, "Have a nice day."

And we're walking out to the car and Annie turns to me and says, "Huh. Maybe I don't have anxiety. Maybe I'm just from New York."

Food for thought. A big, floppy slice of pizza for thought, as it were.
Mokihana said…
I am sending you a big bunch of Hawaiian time.
Katie said…
You are an amazing woman/wife/mother/writer, don't be too hard on yourself!

Try to take it easy or before you know it you will get one of those stress wrinkle thingies, in the middle of your forehead.

NOT GOOD. Trust me I know!
Tenna Draper said…
Um, didn't you just have a steroid shot in your foot???????

You do know what steroids do, don't you, beyond helping things heal and reducing inflammation--

Once those steroids hit your brain--well, mild irritability and an inability to sit still...snafu.

And if you don't know what snafu is, ask your girls.
hokgardner said…
I'm with you on this. My goal for the summer is to get better at sitting still. I tend to spend too much of my time puttering to the point of making myself a nervous wreck.
Anonymous said…
Now, this sounds more like the Barb I know and love. This weekend, my goal was to sit on the deck and finally read a book I've been struggling to get through for about 2 months....and you know what? I did!

No laundry got done, not meals got prepared, not carpets got vacuumed but I'm still here plus I feel this amazing sense of accomplishment. Take some time to sit on your a$$ and watch the world go by. I highly recommend it.
MadMad said…
If you find it again, could you let me know where? 'Cuz that "crazy" lady from the first half of your story?

Yeah. Me.
Marie said…
I used to be very much the same way. My motto was "Nothing is fun unless you are making everyone around you as insane as you are."

It took a long time to let that go. Part of it was the kids growing up. Part of it was medication and decades of therapy. lol Part of it was me growing up.

I heard a perfect saying recently that really hit home: "Worry is like taking a trip in a rocking chair. You do a lot of work but you don't get very far."

Isn't that great? Of course, you may have heard that a million times, but as a native New Yorker (who has been to the Statue of Liberty :) )it was folksy and exotic to me.

Enjoy the beach!