Being a new mom is hard. Being a new mom and an old mom is really hard. Having a newborn and two other kidlets and a husband and a dog who decides to dig in the trash and shit all over the floor means that you will inevitably have these little stress arrows thrown at you one after the other until sometimes you just want to scream. Or you do scream. I told you it was hard.
Having this be my third baby means I’m a little more experienced at dealing with stress, but I’m not perfect. I still get mad. I lose my patience. I yell. I hate myself for yelling. I remind myself that nobody is perfect and that I should read my Buddhism for Mother’s book again and that I should forgive myself but I’m still disappointed and stressed and feeling like a failure.
Of course life has taught me that moping and hating and yelling and guilting and stressing doesn’t solve anything.
But mostly what I’ve learned after doing this three times and living over 3 decades on this planet is that a change of scenery is what you need to do if you don’t want to fall into the pit of negative emotions.
If you are trying to teach your son subtraction and your daughter keeps throwing crayons on the floor and when you tell her to stop she kicks your box of vegetables that you haven’t had time to empty yet to the ground in a fit of rage, you have two options. Yell at your daughter and keep trying to teach your son while she continues to destroy the house and by then you’re sweating and yelling and the baby is crying and your son is losing his focus, or change your scenery. I recommend changing scenery, even if it’s for a few minutes.
If the dog shits all over the floor right after you dealt with your tantrum-throwing daughter and your son’s meltdown over not wanting to do his math, change your scenery.
Changing your scenery requires that you change your expectations. This is hard. As a woman and a mother and a writer and a teacher and a wife and a human being I have so many expectations for myself. Clean house. Happy kids. Clean kids. Clean me. Write. Learning. Get the garden up and running. Plan daughter’s birthday party. Read. Healthy, home-cooked dinners. Mop the floor. Organize baby clothes. More writing. Teach my daughter the alphabet. Teach my son math. Do creative projects. It goes on and on and on and the thing is, having 3 kids and a husband and pets and a house and everything else in life means that not everything is going to line up perfectly and some days are going to be a disaster. I know. I’ve lived them. You’ve lived them.
Change your scenery = change your expectations. Let go of what you thought should be done and do what should be done in that moment.
I don’t always remember to do this, but when I goof up and dig my heels in and stubbornly cling to my expectations and experience the inevitable suffering, I always want to kick myself. Why didn’t I just take the kids outside to let them play and blow off steam for five minutes? Why didn’t I walk away, nurse the baby on the bed with a good book for ten minutes and then go back to work on the subtraction problems?
So that’s my mantra these days. Change your scenery.