Last night, I knelt down with my daughter to say our little nightly prayer. She proceeded to wax poetic about her life (I’m glad she is thankful, but perhaps naming every single animal from the Yellowstone documentary we watched was a bit excessive). She followed this up with, “I pray that my mom can remember how to be nice like before.” She wraps up her little prayer and snuggles under the covers.
“Am I not nice anymore?” I asked.
“No. You’re kinda nice sometimes. But, you’re kinda mean.”
“How long have I been kind of mean?”
She thought really hard about this. “Moooom. I don’t know a lot of numbers, remember?” She gives me a look that I’m sure I will see far too often in the upcoming 13 years. The look that says, Mooom. You’re being kind of a moron right now.
“Well, how am I being mean?”
“You don’t give me stuff anymore. You yell a lot. You don’t do things fun…” This was hard for her, I could tell. She was being really honest, the way only a new 6-year-old can be. I hugged her, apologized and tucked her into bed.
“I’ll try to be nicer from now on,” I said. Then I turned out her lights, went into my room and gave up on being a mom forever.
Here’s the problem. She’s 100% right.
Over the last 6 months, I have turned into a mean, mean lady. I don’t need my daughter to tell me. I KNOW. Most of the time she only gets what’s left of my energy and patience after I’ve given them to everyone else. Not to mention poor Kyle. He’s lucky if he comes home to a human instead of a talon-wielding harpy.
I’ve officially taken this opportunity to re-evaluate my life…again. I know, it seems like I do this constantly. But, what’s so wrong about that? If you’re sewing a seam and you notice that you’ve suddenly attached the neck to the armpit, you’d stop and rip that sucker out, wouldn’t you? I feel that I need to rip some things out of my life now, before they get completely out of control.
Here are the reasons I have become so mean:
1. I’m lonely
I work inside a tiny bathroom-sized (also bathroom-shaped and bathroom-scented) office for 4-8 hours each day. I have a few friends, but they’re often as busy as I am. For a natural extrovert, this is torturous. So, I fill up my need for connection with social media, namely Twitter.
Twitter is awesome! It solves my problem of feeling alone, but adds an additional 15 problems in its place. Twitter is TOO AWESOME. It’s like performing for a crowd of 5000 all the time. As a performer, this is completely addictive. Whatever I tweet, there will be at least one person who thinks I’m funny or smart or interesting. I don’t get that kind of response in my real life, so it makes Twitter that much more valuable of an escape tool. Thus, my real life begins to dull by comparison, even though I know that Twitter is a heightened, shortened world that just makes everything look shinier than it really is.
When my real life starts looking boring, I start to get dissatisfied with my life. I’m dissatisfied that my husband doesn’t tell me how awesome I am all the time. I’m dissatisfied that my friends aren’t funnier, smarter or more interesting. And, when I get dissatisfied, I start being really negative, picking on things and people who don’t meet up to my false standard of how the world should treat me.
3. Too much work
So, I spend more time in my bathroom-cave. I’m online all the time, working, tweeting, writing and “researching.” I think of more and more ways to get out of being with my daughter and husband so that I can do more “work.” I take on too many jobs, so many that I have to bring in other people to help me do my jobs.
4. Lack of physical health
All this work then leads to a general breakdown of self-care rituals. I can’t remember the last time I showered. I forget to eat, stop sleeping and stop exercising. While all these things are good general habits, they’re absolutely necessary to do in order for me to maintain my mental and physical balance. You know. Because of the craziness.
4. No creative outlet
If there’s no time to do important things like eating and sleeping, how could there possibly be time to do things that aren’t “important” like WRITING! No, writing little stories doesn’t pay my bills, so I must cast it on the pile to be sacrificed to the almighty God of This World, the dollar. Unfortunately, it is one of my key creative outlets (the others are singing and acting). Without these outlets, I become bitter, repressed and jaded. What is life for, what is all the hard work for if it’s not to make the world a better place than when you found it?
5. A loss of spirituality
And what is the overall effect on my spiritual life? Awful. I’m sad, depressed and angry. I’m just angry a lot of the time. I’m impatient, unkind and demanding. Plus, my house is a mess and my husband and daughter are telling me that I need to check my attitude. I want to defend my position, but I can’t. They’re right. I’m out of control.
I’ve become a mean mom and a bitchy wife and the kind of lady that yells at a thrift store manager because he won’t drop the price on a stupid, second-hand prom dress. Really. And, even though I did apologize a couple of days later, I was THAT WOMAN for 15 minutes. And my daughter was watching.
Bad mom. Bad. Go to time out.
(If you’ve managed to make it this far, I applaud you. Give yourself a gold star for stick-to-it-ness. No one wants to read a bunch of self-pity bull-crap on their lunch break, especially not me.)
It’s not hopeless. I’m not all complain, no solution. That’s just not my style, baby.
Here’s what I propose: I will change my life. Although it will be difficult to do, I will change the way I do things so that I can find the part of me that is a nice person. I will refocus my life from being right to being happy.
These are the 6 things I propose to do:
1. Get involved in some outside-the-house activities that encourage my need to perform, connect and generally make people laugh.
2. Get off of Twitter and Facebook. Eliminate all of my social media responsibilities and funnel all of that energy into my blog and writing.
3. Eliminate all the jobs that I currently have, except for the ones where I love what I do or who I work for.
4. Eat healthy food, in normal quantities, 3 times a day. Exercise every day for at least 30 minutes.
5. Write for myself every day.
6. Make studying scriptures and saying prayers a priority, rather than an afterthought.
Those are my goals. They may be impossible, but I don’t think so.
If you are reading this, if you’ve made it all the way to the bottom of this post, maybe there is something in here that you needed to hear, too. You’re probably not a horrible person (just like I don’t think I’m a completely horrible person), but maybe we’re both letting our lives control us instead of the other way around.
Let’s not be so mad and mean anymore. Let’s eliminate the stupid, idiotic crap that we’re clinging on to and infuse our lives with things that make us truly happy: Family, friends and a relationship with God (or the great Universal Essence, or Bob, or whatever you believe in).
I think that when we remove all the extraneous stuff, we’ll find that a much nicer person is inside of us, waiting to show us how to thrive instead of just surviving our lives.