A Juggling Act; Putting Down Busy & Picking up Peace

Posted on: June 17th, 2020 by Jessie Topalov

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written in my imperfect parenting series. The world has been hurting and it turns out so was I. I’m grateful for my own personal struggles and awakening this past week but man it was hard. I’m going to put down perfect (remember I promised I would?) and tell you my real deal.

Sheltering in Place 2.0

photo of woman sitting on large porch relaxingA week ago Saturday we were all packed and ready to head to Ohio where my family is. After almost three months at home we decided we could shelter with family verses sheltering by ourselves. In the days prior to the trip I had run a marathon. I’m sure it sounds familiar to a lot of moms. I ordered groceries for the car, a Target pick up, met the dog boarder for Simon, took Simon to the dog boarder, laundry for everyone, bags for everyone but Martin, car activities, iPad charged, extra sunscreen, and a stack of books for me. We got in the car at 7:00 am and I was exhausted. My husband turns to me and goes, “thank you (I pause ready for praise!) for remembering to get gas,” in utter sarcasm. My heart sank as it usually does in these scenarios. I grabbed my laptop and buried myself in our family budget.

Our first stop was my uncle’s Lake House on Lake Erie. Sounds like a dream after 3 months at home. We got to the house and I did potty, diapers, lunches, sunscreen, and swimsuits. I’m already exhausted, remember? The kids get packed up again and we’re off to a secluded section of the beach where my uncle has jet skis. We’re unpacking three kids and one dog (Teddy is too old to board). Henry and Declan are like flies to the light once they see the water. Martin? Jumps on a jet ski and rides away. For a god damn hour and a half. Luckily my cousins were there and saw my panic with my children and the water. They jumped in to help supervise. Me? I was livid. Here I was exhausted after three months feeling like the primary caregiver with the addition of prepping for traveling and my husband was nowhere to be found. I’ve also successfully ran a company and prepared it for some awesome growth forward to serve more people. I wasn’t just physically exhausted on that Saturday, I was mentally done.

Now don’t get me wrong. I understand my husband needed to chill out. He’s also been trapped for 3 months in our home. I’m sure enough women have been through this scenario enough times that it’s easy to blame my husband for his inaction on getting ready for the trip then riding away. Leaving me with the burden of responsibility is equally our responsibility. Let’s dig in.

I’ve often referenced Brene Brown and her amazing work. I hope I’m lucky enough to someday say thank you in person to her; she’s changed my life more times that I can count. Her latest work is a new podcast, “Unlocking Us.” After moving through the tough emotion of feeling very alone about the responsibility I bear at home I needed this. I plugged in “Brene on Anxiety, Calm + Overfunctioning.” For the next 40 minutes I listened to Brene call my bullshit while giving compassion to the anxiety I held during COVID.

COVID-19 and Self-Care

I’ve written to you all many times about self care during COVID. I also personally wrote about over functioning and underfunctioning. I took surface steps (like a bath at night) to calm down my over functioning just to jump out and start my cycle all over again. I was writing these words to you while calling myself awful names (bossy, controlling) and feeling helpless stopping the process of managing our home. It took me actually stepping outside of our home and getting a break with the kids (this came later at my parents house) to see what I was up to.

Going into and during Sheltering in Place I turned on over functioning to volume 100. I was so scared of the virus coming into our home and grieving the life we had before the virus. I was worried about Henry, Declan, and especially Dametrius being new to us. Martin and I were also on a journey to a healthier marriage. And I was also deeply worried prior to the PPA Loan about my employees.

In my work I was and am the luckiest woman in the world; truly. My team honors my heart and leadership. They bring these amazing skill sets and systems to support my vision. Instructional ABA Consultants is a space I no longer over function. God bless my team. Home? No one calls my bullshit and I went to town running this house like a navy ship. My husband is a classic under functioner and slinked away.

When I’m not in a stressful place in life I still struggle with over functioning at home. Like I mentioned before Martin and I are still figuring out what our partnership means to both of us including how that plays out day to day. It’s a journey. A piece of that is that when I get anxious I immediately move to control every outcome and Martin prefers to hide when he’s anxious. We’re a perfect storm. In listening to Brene I saw myself and my husband so clearly. These three months and the visualization of the jet ski’s incident was the message I needed to hear.

Originally when I was going to write about the juggling act I’m guessing I was going to write about putting down your home projects that don’t serve you and find time to be present. On the surface that’s great but if underneath you’re still screaming it won’t serve you (or me). Here’s what I suggest to everyone. Rest. No really, rest. There is no way to come out of over functioning or under functioning if you’re exhausted. Or to even identify if you were doing it to begin with. Very personally I was able to do this through our trip and am now working to call my own bullshit because Martin’s not there yet. In the same sense he can work on saying when he’s overwhelmed versus hiding in the Iphone. We both have work to do but through it we can pick up peace.

The world is hurting right now. Me too. I’m guessing you too. If we can collectively reset and be kind to our body & minds peace is on the way.

Xoxo,
Jessie

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