I grabbed my warm cup of coffee from the microwave once again.
How many times had I warmed it up this morning?
How many cups had I drank?
I think this was my first one…only halfway gone; yet this morning was definitely a morning where I needed a few cups. But I couldn’t seem to drink it while it was hot…even lukewarm would have done just fine! But no…It was one of those weeks. Everyday was proving to be harder than the last…and getting to the end of the week…the next day…the next hour became my new goal as I plugged away at my constant, ever present mom duties and responsibilities. This week was hard and I just needed to keep going and keep breathing…
I knew going into the week the calendar already had a few items on it that made the week more hectic; meetings and get-togethers; things I look forward to, but it means that the other daily and weekly stuff gets pushed to later or crammed into another time making life a little more crazy that week, but I was prepared…or so I thought…
My plans took a definite turn for the unexpected when my daughter ran a fever on and off for most of the weekend and on Monday we called the school to say she would not be coming that day and to the pediatrician’s office we go. One positive strep test later we are home with meds and a concerted effort to keep her 19 month old brother away from her in case he pick up the highly contagious germs and also be ‘down and out’ like his sister. This is no small feat; keeping a determined little boy away from his contagious sister takes man power…actually MOM power! 😉
However my efforts were in vain, because just as she was going back to school (after two days at home) and I thought we are getting back into the “normal” groove; my little boy started running an ever climbing fever. Thankfully I was able to call the doctor and pick up meds without having to make the trek into the office to confirm what I already knew; he was also hit with the strep bug.
So between two sick kiddos, a husband who also visited the dr due to a swollen forearm/wrist (snow removal injury-another story for another day) and other items and fires to put out that came up last week, I was unable to get to some of the items on our calendar, or even the daily upkeep and cleaning of the house, let alone any time for me to read, rest and just “be”. It was survival mode at it’s best.
Have you ever had a week like that? Maybe it is a day…or maybe it is a month or a season of your life?
The most memorable survival mode season I can remember is bringing a newborn baby home. It is one of the most beautiful times of life, but it is also one of the most grueling and exhausting because you are just trying to survive; to get from one feeding to the next, sleep when you can and everything else goes to the wayside.
I think it is instinctual as Moms, we automatically go into survival mode for several reasons; we don’t have another choice-we are stripped down to the basics at this point, we skim off the excess to get the feeding, healing, sleeping areas of life met…it is our job to provide care– we put that above whatever else may be on the calendar or to do list or agenda for that day, week, month or season….we love beyond ourselves– these people are ours and we put them above ourselves, so if we have to sacrifice or suffer it is fine as long as our people are getting what they need.
As I found myself in survival mode last week, I felt exhausted, worn out and reaching my limit. I know it is inevitable and also necessary at times, but I don’t like to stay in survival mode forever. I don’t think anyone really does, because it rocks our balance in life. We do need to take care of ourselves at some point in order to take care of those we love, so survival mode, while necessary at times, should be short-lived. However while in survival mode I realized there are three things that we can do to help us get through it a little happier and more joyful.
- Choose gratitude. I have found my attitude makes a huge difference in just about everything. If I am focusing on my blessings other than what I am stressed about this turns my stressed into blessed and I am able to care, love and support my family so much more. There is nothing more stressful than survival mode, however if I find myself there I can choose to be thankful that I have the food to feed my family, the medicine and doctors to heal my babies and the cozy house to sleep and rest in.
- Give yourself something to look forward to. I am strongly motivated by rewards, even small ones like 15 minutes of reading time by myself. If I have something I am looking forward to, it makes a world of difference as I am “getting through” a tough time. Survival mode is tough, but if you can see the light at the end of the tunnel, doesn’t that make it a little easier to muddle through and a little more rewarding when you get there?
- Laugh. Toward the end of last week my little boy was starting to feel better and the fever seemed to have dissipated (or maybe that was the Advil effect but either way he wasn’t as fussy anymore which was a relief!). He and I were sitting on the couch and he started making faces and I made them back. He would laugh his uninhibited baby belly laugh and throw his head back. I started mimicking him and he was in even more fits of laughter. We did this back and forth a few times and I realized how much more relaxed I was because of it. So even though I was taking care of him, my baby boy was also taking care of me…helping me to laugh in spite of a chaotic week and realizing that it is all ok and it will be ok. <3
In the midst of struggle we have to be thankful for our blessings, motivate ourselves with what is to come, but also enjoy the present time. We all find ourselves in survival mode at times, but it is how we choose to deal with it when we are there that makes all the difference. You got this mama, you can do it! We have (or maybe are) there too- you are not alone! Grab your coffee from the microwave for the 7th time today and remember-
There is always something to be grateful for and there is always a reason to throw our heads back, smile and laugh.
Have you ever found yourself in survival mode? When was it and how did you “survive”?