BY Jen Tobin
I’m looking around and realizing I’m not really living, just sort of surviving.
I had this dog once. She was a Lab mix from the pound and highly crazy. My neighbor (who now has her) believes she has PTSD. She wouldn’t recognize me when I walked in the room sometimes. If I had a towel on my head, fresh out of the shower, she would go ballistic.
When my baby was born, a friend offered to take the dog, Mrs. Mia Wallace, for a week to help lighten our load. We thought that sounded wonderful and dropped her off. Our friend lived about twenty minutes away and Mia immediately got out of her apartment about an hour after our departure. Mia was on the streets for exactly a week and went into survival mode.
I walked the streets she had been seen on, up and down with my fresh C-section wound, calling her name, for seven days. On day five, I spied her. She was lying under some bushes in someone’s front yard like a lion. My heart jumped. Surely she would recognize me and come running for treats, tail wagging.
I called her name and she ran, RAN, in the opposite direction as far as she could with her tail between her legs. She had no idea who I was; the person who saved her from the pound, who massaged her hind quarters every night and slipped her scraps of tofu baloney. Not a clue.
I knew in that moment what “survival mode” really meant- this blind movement forward where you shut out everything that isn’t necessary in order to get by and stay alive.
I have been in survival mode for almost two years and to be honest, I’m kind of tired of it.
In February of 2011, the baby we had planned for was born and I went back to my full-time job eight weeks later. I was still breast- feeding and pumping at work and then again when I got home at eleven o’clock. I would wake up in the night with her and then at six when my husband left for work. Almost two years later, there aren’t any middle of the night wake up calls, but not much else has changed. I still work nights teaching massage and have clients on the weekends. My husband teaches junior high and then teaches guitar on the weekends. The only help we really have is when our schedules overlap three days a week and our neighbor (the awesome one who took on Mia) watches her. We have friends who kindly help on evenings when my husband has band rehearsal or a gig, but otherwise, we both work two and a half jobs. Baby, full-time job, part-time job…each. We don’t live crazy outside our means, but seem to just squeak by. We’re tired.
I find more and more that I want to sleep and not get up. I eat when I have to, go to work, clean the house, make sure my child is happy and go to bed. My head is down and I’m missing whatever scenery abounds.
My new year’s resolution is to start feeling joy again in little everyday things. To really delight in the crazy stuff my daughter does and appreciate the food my husband makes. It’s to have adventures…whatever I can find. To take a road trip or a plane trip or a trip by myself. It’s to live more simply so we can live better. I want to look around and recognize my surroundings and the people who love me. I don’t want to run in the other direction because I don’t know what else to do.
I know I’m not alone and everyone on the planet tells me this is just how it is with a toddler.
Is it? Does it have to be?
I’m taking suggestions on ways to spice up my life. I’m stuck and I loathe the word “stuck.” I don’t believe it’s real, just self-made so I don’t have to act. So if you have everyday things I can do to make my life a bit more adventurous, I’d love to hear them in the comment section! Perhaps you will inspire me and the other women here to live bigger, better and more alive.