stressed to the breaking point

Someone posted an article today on a Mom’s board I’m on which suggests that most Moms rate their daily stress at a level of 8.5 out of 10, for various reasons. The poster then asked people to rate their own stress and list the major things stressing you out most. I was overwhelmed even thinking about answering.

I’m pretty sure I’m at a 9 pretty much every day. We all read stories about what chronic stress does to the body and mind, and there are tons of articles about how to “relax” and how you should “take time for you” and all that. How to not let the bad things bother you so much, etc. But in reality, it would be much nicer if many of the bad things just WENT AWAY. And the fact that they don’t, and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon makes it awfully hard to just go, tra la, I’m not going to let it bother me! and skip away down the sidewalk.

It seems every moment is fraught with stress, with a decision that will bring one kind of stress or another and I just have to pick which is worse. I wanted a really, really strong coffee on my way to work today for example. I generally drink Desperation Coffee (free, at work, watery and mediocre) when I get to work but I had really weird nightmares last night including talking to my dead father in Macedonian, so I was pretty tired. But should I stop at Starbucks? No, that’s expensive. And it’s not local. The local place is really hard to get to and they don’t have any parking. Plus if I stop, I’ll be late to work, and I’m working on another Big Project which needs urgent and regular attention all day for the 5th day in a row (including this past weekend) so being late is not good. So I skip it. I want to take myself out for lunch, but then wrestle with whether or not I can afford it. If I go out, that’s money that could be spent on groceries for my whole family, not just me. Then the Project People started back up around 11:45 ensuring once again that I have to work through lunch and suffer my miserable frozen entree that I brought half-knowing I would have to work through lunch again. Gee, why don’t you just take some time for yourself? Ha.

I tried to read for 10 minutes this past weekend on the patio in the tiny sliver of sun we get, and my son wouldn’t leave me alone. He kept wanting to come out, then wanted me to play, then wanted to go back in, then wanted to come out and in and out and leave the door hang open until FUCK IT, NEVER MIND. I love the kid to pieces, seriously, but I don’t WANT to play Mater and Lightning right now. And every time I sit down I see something that needs done, cleaning-wise. Or else I feel guilty for sitting, because I have all these PT exercises I’m supposed to be doing, but trying to find an hour to do them basically means any time I would have spent “relaxing” is going to be spent doing exercises. Another “should” instead of “want.”

I’m 44 and all I can think is how I haven’t been able to do whatever I want to do all day long since I was in middle school on summer break, and I’d spend long days at the pool, walking down to Long John Silvers with a quarter to get a bucket of crunchies, which was sometimes the only thing I’d eat all day long until I came home for dinner.

Calgon, take me away.

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