Tuesday, November 18, 2014

getting creative

It is November. As one of my veteran homeschooling moms reminds me (every year) it is a time for burning out, wanting to throw in a towel, or storm out of the house, get on the first bus to nowhere, and disappear off the face of the earth. It is also a prime time of year to see other people boast about what their kids are accomplishing, and to feel like a total failure.

I am suffering from burnout. I am also suffering from unsaid assumptions that I can take on other responsibilities, and put up with grown-ups behaving like kids. If it wasn't for my brutally honest homeschooling friends, and for some other friends who are willing to put up with my insane mood swings, I would be on that first bus.

I have set a new limit this week: I am off after 2 pm. That means that all the schoolwork that requires mommy's checking or assistance has to be completed by that time. It is probably not the best thing for my kids, for me to be unavailable like that. It is probably another cause of anxiety for 8 yo. But it is a much-needed mental boundary for me. Therefore, now it is 2 pm, 1 yo is still napping, and I can sit down and write a blog while I still feel sane rather than at 10 pm at night.

This new boundary is liberating. I might regret it, and I might not stick with it, but, at the moment, this is what I crave the most.

I love drinking tea and coffee. I allow myself one cup of coffee a day (some days it has to be two, if I don't want to fall asleep while driving). But I drink cups and cups of steaming decaf tea. The sad story of moms and hot drinks is that, often, too much time passes between the time the drink is poured, and mom can actually drink it. And I feel cold, always. Even being pregnant does not warm me up. But coming back to these lukewarm cups of beverage seems to add to misery rather than soothe me. This morning, I poured my tea into an insulated mug. Ah, a moment of inspiration! It has a lid, so the drink stayed warm all while I could casually sip it. I am on my third hot cup, and I am feeling peaceful.

Last summer I got into watercolor painting. I enjoyed it tremendously, and got basic supplies while the kids were in camp. The baby, who was a few months old napped, the kids were at camp, I painted. I also dabble in acrylics, and some pottery painting. The problem, all these lovely hobbies take time and creative energy. All of them are incompatible with an active and demanding toddler. And all of them lose all luster at 10 pm, I am a morning person. That's when I get desire to shake things up, create, give to the world. By the evening time, I am wrung out. I do not want to give, and I do not want to produce. I want a warm blanket on a couch, and a good book.

I found that the longer I went without doing those creative things, the sadder I got. I saw how days went by, but there was nothing that I could show for them. Finally, I just used my babysitter time to go and work on a trivet at a pottery painting place. I happened to pick a pattern which is very heavy on details, so it is taking me multiple sessions to finish it. It is probably not the wisest use of my time, but I am finding that no matter how efficient and productive I am, there is always more to do, and none of that "to do" was going towards my sanity or self-care. Somehow, doing those little curlicues is like a balm. I am not kidding myself into thinking that I am producing a great work of art, but I am relaxing.

What little creative things do you do to boost your mood?

P.S. I am finishing this blog post at 9:30 pm. Sigh...


  1. I am in there with you. There are days I feel like I have stretched to the max only to stretch my schedule more and realize there is so much more I can do with my day, but my creativity has lapsed. For now I am helping with the N'shei Chabad Convention Graphics department and God willing that will be good enough and suit my mood.

    Good luck! I love reading your blog!

  2. i'm laughing/crying about the hot drink! do you know how many times today i microwaved and remicrowaved my hot buttered rum!! the coffee i just drank cold. i'll have to look into an insulated mug.

  3. I am so happy our mutual friend (Bethami) directed me to your blog! This is my first year homeschooling 6 out of 7 of my kids, and its nice to know I am not alone. Coffee is my fuel. Nothing happens before my coffee.