“Well, spring sprang. We’ve had our state of grace and our little gift of sanctioned madness, courtesy of Mother Nature. Thanks, Gaia. Much obliged. I guess it’s time to get back to that daily routine of living we like to call normal.”–David Assael, Northern Exposure
That’s pretty much how I feel about vacations. They’re nice little “springs” in our year, but after a season, it’s time to get back to normal. To our daily routines.
I’m resistant to change as a general rule. It just makes me all uncomfortable and out-of-sorts and irritable.
When we go out to eat, I have my “usual” at each location. (Bonus! Dan can order for me if I’m in the bathroom!)
I am always behind on almost any given fashion trend because at the time it debuts I think “How hideous!” and then, a year later, I find myself on the hunt for the perfect pair of rain boots or gladiator sandals or shade of nail polish. (Bonus! I find them on sale at T. J. Maxx because they are last season!)
I don’t often try new things.
I need our normal. Apparently, so does Joshua.
As we were getting ready to leave the mountains on Sunday morning, Joshua started throwing a tantrum. Most of his tantrums are over nearly as soon as they begin. This one lasted for an hour. At one point, I actually stuck my fingers in my ears in an attempt to drown out his…noise!
I just couldn’t do it anymore!
I felt myself on the verge of a meltdown nearly as epic as his was at that moment. And I’m sure my friends wondered why I wasn’t doing anything about the tantrum. (Though, they too have a toddler and are likely as flummoxed as I was when their son goes into Tiny Terrorist mode. Everyone just kind of stands around dumbfounded and drooling like “uhhhh…..”.)
When things like that happen, I KNOW that 97% of the time they are because our routine has been interrupted.
If we have a bad evening, something was likely out-of-sorts that day at daycare. Or we made a detour by the grocery store on the way home. Something not normal happened and our normal shifted.
One of the things that helped me the most in the height of Joshua’s colic and the loneliness of PPD was going back to work the August after he was born. Because it gave me a routine. A normal. I knew what to expect. I’d been home with him for four months at that point and there was little to no routine.
I tried. Believe me. I tried. I used the ItzBeen timer. I looked for cues that he was sleepy or hungry or wanted to play. I tried, tried, tried to get him on a schedule and us into a routine that worked. And it was a futile attempt.
When I woke up from a nap on Sunday afternoon, a nap just like I take almost every Sunday afternoon, I felt instantly more calm than I had just hours before. I felt normal. Or like I was on the way back to normal. By the time we got home from the grocery store that evening, which is part of our Sunday routine, I felt even better. When my alarm clock went off Monday morning and I got dressed for work? I was myself again.
Establishing a routine was one of the most healthy and normal and normal things I did for myself two years ago.
A quick question thrown out to Twitter had three moms in five minutes telling me that routine was incredibly important to their recovery and that they felt great frustration and anxiety when they found themselves out of routine.
Instead of wallowing in the fact that we couldn’t even manage a simple weekend trip away from home without a meltdown (and I did, eventually, melt down once we got in the car—all over Twitter and the #PPDChat mamas!) I am reveling in the fact that routine is a way that I can cope with this illness.
Does this mean that we’ll never veer from our norm? Absolutely not. But it does mean that when there is a need for us to stray from our normal, it’s not the end of the world. Joshua will adjust and so will I and we’ll both be better for having lived and learned through a shared experience.
Though I think I’m the one doing most of the learning right now, and for now, maybe that’s how it should be.