As I write this post I have a large, imposing fortress sitting on a hill top in my mind. And inside that fortress I am sitting, blissfully happen, ALONE and not BEING TOUCHED OR CRAWLED ON BY ANYONE.
Can you tell I’m PMS-ing a bit today? My poor, sweet husband wanted a cuddle last night. I wanted TO NOT BE TOUCHED BY ANYONE OR ANYTHING including the cats. I was done.
Which brings me to today’s topic. It’s really about defending your fortress. Your last bastion of solitude from what I call the slow creep.
As mamas, the slow creep is something we have to be super mindful of. Each part of the slow creep seems innocent in itself. But x365 days of mat leave, making choices over and over again, each one you make sets a precedent – and enough times, will set a pattern.
It leads to us feeling guilty and checking our i phone at the gym or not leaving until everything seems peaceful and perfect at the house.
(The slow creep is “I’m just going to pause my workout to answer this question / solve this problem I just got texted about.”)
It leads to us choosing the “easier” option – not going out, not bothering to dress up, skipping the makeup that day, eating cereal instead of a balanced meal.
(The slow creep is “I’m going to change back into my runners to walk with the stroller later, there’s no point in bothering with a different outfit.”)
It leads to us not even being able to go to the bathroom or shower alone.
(The slow creep is answering a question from someone from behind the door.)
It leads to us doing the bulk of housework or chores.
(The slow creep is “ugh, I just want this done NOW so I’m just going to do it myself.” )
It leads to us slowly losing our self confidence.
(The slow creep is that one morning where you think “I haven’t done that in __years/months since I had my baby, I won’t be any good now!”)
It leads to us slowly losing a sense of our own self-identity.
(The slow creep is that one night where you don’t bother going out with some girlfriends because you just don’t feel like it.)
Sounds pretty sinister, right?
The problem with the slow creep is that it is each seemingly innocent moment that we are not always conscious of. Those have a huge compounding effect over the duration of a year, and set precedents, set patterns.
One day you are in the bathroom. Your 2 year old is being especially cute and you let her in, just once to watch you do your hair and makeup. *This is the slow creep.
One day you are in the bathroom. Your husband opens the door and your baby comes crawling in, hanging on to your leg while you are trying to pee. *This is the slow creep.
One day you are in the bathroom, your husband has a question and asks you through the door. You answer. *This is the slow creep.
Each time is innocent enough to say “yes” or let it happen right? But now three humans can do it. And you are just one person.
A precedent has been established.
You are now accessible whilst in the bathroom, to three people.
This is an example RIGHT out of my book. Last week I realized, of all things, I at least deserve to take FIVE MINUTES to complete basic bodily functions in privacy. I got annoyed at myself because I had fully let it happen each time somebody wanted something from me. I didn’t defend my fortress from the slow creep.
I cracked down. I reinforced my moment to myself physically with the lock on the door and in words, with a request: “This is one time I need to not be interrupted. I give a lot of myself all day to all of you, and this is a time you will have to be without me” (ok, the words I used for my two year old were a lot simpler than that!)
THE CHILDREN EXAMPLE
It’s the weekend. Or maybe a week day if your husband does shift work. He’s not working. One of your two children has a playdate.
You decide to take both, you might as well since you are going out. *This is the slow creep.
What precedent / pattern / routine are you setting up if you always offer / settle for taking and managing both kids and your husband gets the downtime?
This is one I also have to work on. If my husband has specifically requested some downtime, no problem, I will take both. But I don’t want to set up the precedent that both kids all the time is my responsibility. I frequently have to remind myself of what we have agreed is 100% equal in our books and what would / would not lead to a pattern of resentment settling in
For me, I would feel great resentment if it became a pattern – if he was kid-free all the time, by my own doing – by settling for just taking both kids “because I might as well.”
(-please note this is in our own family’s situation, other people may have a different balance point that works for them.)
Have a think about it. Has there been anything that slowly, innocently enough, has seemed to have faded away. What is important to you, that you should put in your fortress and defend with words and actions from the slow creep? What does the slow creep mean to you?