Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Bad Brain Day

There are definitely some nice benefits to being pregnant. One of those benefits is a long break from an otherwise monthly  time of distress and outrageous hormones. You would think so, anyway. On Monday, I discovered that my brain was still afflicted by a sort of hormonal that I just hope will not return in cycles.

It proved to be a very trying day. I have documented it in simple doodles to make it easier to tell.

So Monday began. It actually began like a normal day. A normal day that's a holiday, at least. The kids were both home with me, but Michael had school. That was disappointing, but we figured we would still have fun. But before we could begin any fun activities, I had some immediate-deadline paperwork to do.

The paperwork was stressful and boring and took a very long time to complete.
The kids were bored but not too badly impatient...after about an hour, I discovered why Scarlett seemed content to wait so long.

She got into my makeup. Big time. And I got mad.
I spazzed, I yelled a few times, I gently-but-firmly sent her out of my room,
and I nearly cried while I cleared the mess.
I had parallel thoughts going on in my mind. 
One said "It is just makeup."
Anger said "It is MY makeup, and I like my makeup."
One said "Nothing is really ruined."
Anger said "My cream lipstick and cream blush are all dug up now!" 
One said "You don't use those very often."
Anger said "But it is MINE...and I don't want to deal with this..."
One said "And the mess is all taken care of. That was quick. Breathe." 
Anger said "I should calm's so hard to calm down..."

I finally succeeded in finishing my paperwork,
 and I cleaned the majority of makeup off of Scarlett (minus lipstick streaks
in her hair and eyebrows). I didn't feel ready to give her a bath. 
So the day pushed itself past me to lunchtime, and we had to eat. 
The kids were pleasant. I'd given them a good lunch, and they enjoyed it.
Scarlett had already forgotten the makeup incident (or pretended she had), 
and we sat together in nice enough company. 
But something was off, something about myself. My mind was still a little tight,
like it had been strained and twisted. It felt cramped.
Even though I didn't want to talk, I took a deep breath and apologized.
I apologized in a low, quiet voice that I was sorry for being cranky and frustrated with the kids.

They were fine with it. Ender said casually "it's okay." 

And I felt like that should be it.
With my mind still swimming in a fog of irritable moodiness,
the kids and I made a plan.

We played a game together, at Ender's request. 
Machinarium is a charming and wonderfully clever game.
I recommend it! Please follow the link and see what it's like!
It's not really kid-level, but the kids like watching while it's played.

We made peanut butter cookies:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 1/4 cups flour

Heat oven 375 F.
Mix butter and peanut butter 30 seconds.
Add and mix sugars and baking soda/powder.
Add and mix vanilla and egg.
Stir in flower.
Shape into balls, roll in sugar, press criss-cross with forks.
Bake 7-8 minutes.

We did a little craft project together.
We filled balloons with flour and drew faces on them.
Scarlett drew a "real" face for the first time! That was a sweet moment for me.
Ender drew a great cat-face on his. His artistic skills are fantastic!
This balloon-blob idea is not super crafty, and it's not much of a project.
But it's something fun for kids to play with...
And I teased myself that it was like those stress-relieving ball things.

At that point, we had about half an hour before Michael would be home.
I sent the kids outside to play with their new blob-toys.
And I massaged my temples and turned off the lights and closed my eyes...

We had done good things together. 
I had tried very, very hard to be kind and patient.
After the makeup mess, I didn't show any anger outwardly,
but I felt very irritable and cranky. Every time Ender asked a question,
I had to take deep breaths before I said anything.
He asked normal questions, but I just felt so disinclined to talk. At all.

What was going on? I was doing things "right," 
helping my kids and doing fun things with them.
I was trying so hard to be happy, trying to make the day better.
But my mind seemed closed to my efforts.

It seemed as if something else was going on in my brain, rerouting my efforts and running the show.
It felt like my wires were crossed and sparking. My brain held the remote; there was no changing this channel. It was like a hormonal invasion was taking place, emitting radiation and rage.
On paper, the day had been good. The kids and I had done fun things together.
The kids were even fairly happy. 

But I was not.
I felt tired,
and very exhausted.

All day.

When Michael came home, he rescued me from further frustrations and took on my duties.
He handled the kids' problems, he took over dinner when I burned it (lack of interest rather than lack of skill, sadly), and he put the kids to bed. But I still found myself getting worked up over the kids' various mini tantrums or excessive questions. I still felt annoyed by their need for attention.
And while the hormonal charges of my brain proceeded with disregard, another part of me felt so bad for my kids. I wanted to be a nice, soft mommy for them.
It was supposed to be a sweet Monday holiday.

With Michael's help, my mind finally turned around, but only after the kids were in bed. I was able to relax and kind of forget the weirdness that had plagued me all day. But I had some regrets...I felt like I hadn't handled things well. I felt like it had been one dark day in my head despite my ongoing efforts to make things right. While I pondered everything, I felt sure that the problems in my mind were hormonal and excusable.
I felt sure, too, that I could have avoided at least some of my anger by not choosing to hold on to my frustrations...specifically when Scarlett performed that nuclear makeover. I did feel some peace for actually doing fun things the kids enjoyed. I couldn't feel like I had failed, not this time.

I will be honest-- that "hormonal mind control" was a very uncomfortable feeling, to say the least. It really distressed me. I did recognize it, for which I am very thankful. But even while realizing that, it was so disconcerting to feel like I couldn't explain my attitude. It was strange and disturbing that I was having such a ridiculously hard time turning it around. It felt so out of my control, and I've always held strong to the understanding that we can choose our attitudes.

Well, attitudes are a separate thing from emotions. I think this has to be the case, at least for my case. My emotions are definitely vulnerable to my hormones' swirling, shifting world. My body is growing a baby, and that miraculous work is serious work. So while my emotions undergo this turbulence, I believe I can grasp a tiny thread of willpower to maintain a good attitude.
What's a good attitude? In this kind of situation:
Forgiving myself, being patient with myself, giving myself the room to forgive and be patient with others.
My kids are sweet and forgiving. Their childlike forgetfulness of my mistakes makes it so much easier for me to keep trying.

I am actually very thankful that life is marked by passing days.
And I'm ever so thankful my days are bookend-ed with prayers that clean the slate.
Monday happened.
Then Tuesday happened, with more light crowding out my darkness.
Then today. Today is happening. 
Today I will try my best to be kind. And when I fall short of my best, I will forgive.
And I will try again.


  1. I love this post! I feel like this often and I'm not even pregnant! There is nothing like knowing your children are unconditionally forgiving of our shortcomings. :) Plus, recognizing when you're feeling "not right" is half the battle and the first step to combating it. :)

  2. I love this post! I feel like this often and I'm not even pregnant! There is nothing like knowing your children are unconditionally forgiving of our shortcomings. :) Plus, recognizing when you're feeling "not right" is half the battle and the first step to combating it. :)


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