The other day a very wise person told me that I am in “survival mode.” I found her statement incredibly enlightening because it is true; I am in survival mode. Survival mode in and of itself is not a terrible place to be. I mean it’ s not as if I’m in Holy Shit! My Life is Crumbling to Pieces Right in Front of My Eyes mode. I’ve been there before, so I would recognize that awful place. Nope. Thankfully I am not there. When you’re in that place, you feel like you’re a peasant from the Dark Ages, living in a cruck house, suffering from scurvy and lice and just waiting for the Dear Lord, a neighboring warlord or the bubonic plague to take you out of your misery. I am also not in Wow! Life is Really Freaking Great mode either. No. Not there, unfortunately. Survival mode should more accurately be called Just Barely Keeping My Head Above Water, But, Somehow I’m Managing mode, but that is far too long to either say or type over and over again, so survival mode it is.
When you are in survival mode, you are still able to experience happiness. You are still able to hold onto your hopes and dreams. The problem is that when you are in survival mode, you are only able, in fact, you are often barely able, to make it through your day. You have your hopes and dreams and plans, but you are unable to see any of them through because you are too busy, well, surviving. I am too busy muddling through my daily life. Sometimes I don’t even do a very good job with those things that other mothers and homemakers seem to do with ease.
My children create messes faster than I can clean them, and, yes, they are responsible with cleaning up after themselves, but they can’t even keep up with the disasters they create. I feel like I spend my days caught in the aftermath of a hurricane (this hurricane being a perfect scenario where two storms-Storm Jack and Storm Allegra- converge to create optimal devastation). Meanwhile, I’m being chased by two tornadoes, whipping around and tossing shit all over the place. It doesn’t help that Jack, due to some visual perception issues, tends to dump things out in order to find anything. He doesn’t calmly sift through a drawer of clothes or a bin of toys to find a desired item. No. In order to locate an item, he dumps everything out and spreads it all over the floor until desired item is found. I have to say, there’s nothing like the sweet sound of an entire bin of Playmobile figures being dumped all over the floor.
Never mind the kids, I can’t keep up with a laundry pile that has morphed into something like the blob from the 1958 horror sci/fi movie. Before, I can make a dent in the damned thing it grows and expands, dirty clothes oozing out of the hamper and onto to the floor, spreading faster than any human can possibly manage to keep up with. Oh, and the dishes. I can wash dishes for hours, only turn around and find that more dirty dishes have magically appeared in the sink .Add to the dumped bins and spills and laundry and dishes the fact that I am homeschooling my son and attempting to teach two college courses. Now it’s only the beginning of the semester. Just wait until my students start submitting term papers and research projects. Also add that I seldom say “no” when the kids ask me to play and never say “no” when they ask me to read to them. Another point that I have to add is that my husband is a chef and pretty much always at work.
So what does this all add up to? One frazzled, wreck of a woman who’s stuck in survival mode. Like I said, I still dream of doing really fabulous things with my family and for myself. I plan to uuber organize my home Montessori style. I plan to decorate our home in a lovely fashion. I plan to read the thousands of books I have piled next to my bed. I plan to take my children to beautiful and exotic places. I just don’t know when or how I’ll do all these things. When will I stop just surviving? When will I stop throwing myself down on my bed at the end of the day and saying, “Holy Shit! What the hell just happened?”
I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. You don’t have to be a parent to be in this place. You can be stuck in survival mode at work, in your relationships, in your own unique life. Again, it’s not that bad. We are alive. We are so lucky compared to those who are in true survival mode, as in those struggling to literally survive without clean water, food, money or their health. Again, what we are doing is really just barely keeping our heads above water, yet we’re managing. And we should be grateful to be managing. That said, as humans, we have the capacity for so much more. If we didn’t, why would we dream? We want our lives to be extraordinary. We want the lives of our children and those we love to be extraordinary. And they can be. The question is “how?” What changes can we make? What improvements can we make in our own lives in order to enable ourselves to fully enjoy all the extraordinary things that are waiting for us. I am an eternal optimist. I will figure this out. How about you? Any ideas?