Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Just because you can doesn't mean you should...

Remember how excited I was a few weeks ago when I had managed to get all three Gorman girls to nap at the same time? It was a proud moment indeed - I had timed things perfectly so that everyone was ready for a nap around 2:30 or 3pm. Bernadette, Deirdre and I had all eaten our fill, we'd had time to let our food digest (i.e. Bernadette was sufficiently burped), and we'd managed to unwind a bit with some books and a puzzle before we headed up to bed. It was great - and I was able to do it without much help from Paola or Johnny.

But orchestrating everything myself was tricky. And it was tiring. And it took a lot of effort. Effort that most days, I just don't have around 2:30 or 3pm. After all, that's MY nap time, too. And I don't have a whole lot of energy to spare before that wall of fatigue hits.

So now that I've proved to myself that I can do it - I'm wondering if I really need to do it?

At the very least, do I really need to do it all by myself? After all, who am I trying to impress? Paola? Johnny? Or am I just trying to be supermom again? Am I falling into the trap of trying to do it all, just to prove to myself that I can?

I mean - think about it: I have an au pair who is fully capable of putting either little lady to sleep. She can feed the girls, and she can play puzzles and read books like the best of them. So while I could do it all myself, why not share the fun? Why not utilize the resources I have (step #243 in our quest to live well), ask for help when I need it (step #435), and allow myself to take a nap when I really should (step #547)?

The fact that I can do it all has no bearing on how well I'm living with a chronic illness. It doesn't make me a better person. It doesn't make me stronger or more resilient against lupus. It just makes me tired. And that is not a step along the path to living well.


So over the last two weeks, I've decided to redirect my efforts. Instead of focusing on ways to manufacture the day so that I can do the entire food-play-nap routine myself, I've made a concerted effort to share the responsibilities with others. The question of the day is no longer "how much did I accomplish", but rather, "how well did I accomplish the goal of not getting too tired?"

Interestingly enough, once I started focusing on ways to avoid unnecessary stress or fatigue, I realized how much better I felt at the end of the day. The "high" that came from putting both girls to bed myself is far outweighed by the "rush" of energy I have, now that I'm fully rested. Pushing back my nap was just pushing back the time I was able to play with the girls, once our naps were over.

And Deirdre can tell you - I'm not the most patient, level-headed mom when I'm tired. I told her one too many times when I was in my "supermom/do-it-all" mode that "Mommy is too tired" to deal with her nap time antics. Wouldn't it be better if too-tired Mom handed off that responsibility to not-tired-at-all Paola, in an effort to let Mom get the rest she needed (without losing her temper at naptime), so that she could be awake, alert and ready to go once Deirdre is up? Absolutely!

In Friday's post, I'll tell you about the couple of realities I had to address, in order to make this all happen. As you know from past posts, asking for or accepting help doesn't come all that naturally to me. So I've had to set up a few constraints for myself, just to make sure I stick to the plan of sharing the responsibilities. Stay tuned to see how things are going...

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