I read somewhere this week and saw a few seconds of a video of a mum’s meltdown. It seemed to catch some by surprise, so in solidarity I thought I’d share one of mine. I believe elements of the story will resonate with many other mums. We are mentally juggling and balancing many scenarios and emotions on a daily basis as we try to make the right decisions for the key players in the various relationships we hold and manage. Actually I’m amazed we don’t have more meltdowns, but maybe that’s something to explore in a future post.
On one average morning..
On one such morning (this happened a few weeks ago), I had a meltdown. I’d come off a weekend in which I was thankful and in celebration mode on account of Mother’s Day, but was feeling ill and sneezing my face off (hayfever allergies). To top it off me and Mr. were irritating each other so that was on my mind too. I was able to have a nap on Sunday which is very rare for me, but great as I needed to just stop for an hour or two. I knew I would be in for a busy day at work the next day so made effort to sort out stuff on Sunday night (kids school uniforms and what to wear to work, kids football kits, kids homework, the makings of packed lunches, some quick work on my laptop prepping office documents etc). See, I was implementing being organised, so I could get out the door early on Monday morning.
So in the morning already pre-organised and sneezing less I managed to get myself out the door on time to catch my train. With the snowfall of the previous week and juggling appointments like washing machine delivery at home, I had been getting to work late for the past few weeks. I don’t like doing things like that – getting to work late. As I have to pick my kids up from afterschool club I’m the first to leave the office by 4.30pm. If you’re talking to me at 4.25pm all I can hear is “blah blah blah” cos the only thing on my mind is to run out and catch my train on time. Whilst none of my colleagues have said anything directly to my face, I know some aren’t impressed with this. But hey, I’m a mum, I do my work to a very high standard, and I spend most of my train ride in and out responding to work emails just to make the extra effort. Abeg I can’t kill myself! So you see, getting to work on time is a big deal for me, and one way (in my mind) of smoothing over any irritations about my leaving early.
All was going well until I changed trains, to get on the Underground service. Halfway through the journey the train stops. An announcement comes on about some signal failure or other. This is normal and usually within a minute or two it’s resolved and we continue on our way. 5 – 10 mins later we’re still in the same position and the announcements are sounding worse. Haba! To cut a long story short 30 minutes later we’re still in the same spot and advised to try alternative routes if possible. The train station we were stuck at didn’t have an alternative train routes that would advance me to my destination so I had to stay put. At my place of work we usually have team meetings first thing on Monday, and on that day I had booked our IT providers to come in and carry out some repairs. So, for the third Monday out of 4 I was going to miss the meeting, and I who was co-ordinating the IT repairs would not be on time to greet and direct them on the work to be carried out. I also remembered that I’d barely said bye to my kids that morning because I literally flew out the door, all in a bid to get in on time. Only to be stuck on a stupid train, miserably late for everything. As all this came to mind as I sat in the train, I couldn’t help myself, I started crying.
I thought of the irony of my prep the night before, my rush out of the door, only to be stuck with no choice but to sit tight until the train could start to advance again. I thought of how tired I was, how I wasn’t feeling 100% physically anyway, only for my efforts to be dashed to pieces because of a stupid train. In my mind I asked myself, “Who send me?”, and all for nothing. Would my boss start thinking I wasn’t serious and that this was becoming a bad pattern? In my mind, I just kept repeating to myself, “But I tried really hard, this is not fair”, and as I did so I cried.
Please be assured that I remained dignified. Apart from not wanting to draw attention to myself, I know that I am a really horrible looking crier (face squeezed, lips quivering, mascara dripping, snot flowing and loud sniffling giving way to manly sounding snorts). Not pretty or cute at all. Somehow I held it together. I also knew if I started, (me not being a crying person generally), it would take me a while to stop. In the midst of my hidden crying, whilst I took deep breaths to try and calm myself down, I started speaking bible verses to myself, especially my favourite one for such occasions. 1 Samuel 30:6, which ends with the words “..But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God”. At that time I couldn’t remember the book, chapter or verse (I have to get back on to memorizing bible verses), but I know the line well. If David can encourage himself when he’s about to be stoned to death, then who am I not to at least try and do the same? Bigger than your issues
Get it together gurl
We were back on the move a little later, slowly but surely. In total a 1 hour journey took me 2 hours (plus a few minutes)! It was raining outside by the time I got out of the train station and my hair was a mess. I had drafted a text to my boss whilst waiting, and sent it just as I emerged from the train station to explain the reason for my delay. Luckily my boss is alright, and knew me enough to know that the delay truly wasn’t my fault. It didn’t stop me from feeling like I’d let him down AGAIN. That’s the danger when you’re too hard on yourself – you are the last person to give yourself a break. I was still in my feelings a bit in the office (it took me a good 15 minutes to fully compose myself), and I refused to talk about my journey in to the office with my colleagues who were just trying to be nice.
It’s life – how are you doing?
This is one story, of one morning, but I’m sure millions of us mums are going through similar whether we stay at home, work, or own our own businesses. Constantly weighing up how our actions and activities, plus the circumstances that lead to them and how they affect everyone around us. We can be so hard on ourselves, and take, take, take a lot until it builds up to a meltdown. For me, it wasn’t just about the train, it was a lot of things that had just built up over time. Some might even say mine wasn’t a meltdown, but like I said I’m not one for crying easily, and I just remember feeling completely overwhelmed by everything.
My advice is, don’t let things and emotions build up too much. Talk, delegate, build in some self-care system for you no matter how small. If it does build up and you do have a meltdown, it’s okay. You’re no less a boss lady or a bad ass chic who performs miracles everyday. You’re human. You can’t be superwoman every day, and in life sometimes things just happen that you can’t control. You can always get up and try again.
So finest mums, what things do you do or steps do you take to get yourself out of a foul or depressing mood, and prevent a meltdown? How do you cope when things just don’t seem to go your way despite your best efforts? Share your meltdown story with us (let me know I’m in good company).
I see you, would love to hear from you.