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  • Writer's pictureRachel Bennett

Not my best... but I'll take it.

If you take a brief look around my house right now you will see a gazillion signs of a mom that’s not at her best. Laundry is folded and not put away. My son’s suitcase is lying in the middle of the living room floor half un-packed from his beach vacation with the grands. The clutter of things on the dining room table is building up. And if you go in my office, it just looks like a frickin’ flea market where there’s just junk on every surface. You’ll also see a fridge full of vegetables that I haven’t eaten and super clean meal prep containers that haven’t been used in weeks. Over the last few weeks, you will not have seen me in gym clothes… because I haven’t gone. I haven’t really gone anywhere, which means I probably didn’t even put in the effort to wear a bra. It’s a good thing I work remotely, and the zoom camera is optional. Dude. It happens.

I’ve been under the weather in some capacity for the last 35 days. I’m on the mend, but my energy has been all over the place. And if you’re a mom… well a parent, really (because who am I to discriminate) … you know that life doesn’t slow down enough for you to catch up if you’re not on your game. I have found myself prioritizing where I will put my energy every day (sometimes every hour or minute). Do I do the dishes, or just sit and take some deep breaths? Do I put away the laundry or take a nap? Do I do all the things for all the people or just veg out playing Xbox for 6 hours? Do I turn off the alarms and sleep in as long as my body will let me? All of these questions that I ask myself are in search of what to do with my energy. Do I have enough to do the things I want/need to do? The answer lately has been a big resounding “No”. And speaking of “No”, I’ve had to say a lot of that lately too. Which I hate to do.

This morning I was having my coffee and checking out my daily dose of news. I ran across an article about returning to running after a long break. And it was probably what I needed to read. Because it’s not just about running. It’s about a lot of things. Sometimes we just have to take a break. Life happens or gets in the way. It could be the loss of a loved one that stops us in our tracks for a bit. Or the loss of a job. Could be injury either major or minor. Fill in the blank with the circumstances of life. Breaks sometimes happen. And throughout this whole break I’ve been thinking about the return. The article brought up a really big point that hangs on the word “gradual”.

I don’t know about you, but for me I keep thinking that a bounce back is quick. I’ll feel better one day and then go run 4 miles. Or go to the gym and I’ll be back to hitting PRs in a week. But the reality is, it might take me weeks to push the weight I pushed over a month ago. And I may be walking more than running for a while. And the only thing that can be disappointing about that is my own expectation of myself. It can be difficult for me to be at a great place in my workouts and then must slide back a bit. I feel like I’m working so hard to be where I was. Chasing the energy and intensity that I had prior to being sick or injured. (I remember doing the same thing with roller derby after I’d broken my ankle and honestly it was just time to hang up the skates. And that was heartbreaking.) In the article, the author wrote about focusing on the now…. the current state. I’m paraphrasing horribly at this point, but she mentioned to be mindful of where you are in the moment and to not worry about what you “should” or “could” be. Just keep moving.

Back to the mom thing… There are times when I keep pushing “should” all over my thoughts. I should be able to get up in the morning and hit the gym and then I should come back and have breakfast for everyone and then I should put on my eyebrows and go to work and be the best manager to my people and when I’m done, I should have all the energy to tidy up the house…. I should. But I don’t. And maybe even on my best day that’s too many shoulds. I find myself getting stuck in the guilt of not living up to my own expectations in this way. I want to be all the things to all the people. And while that desire is probably ok, the expectations that I ACTUALLY SHOULD is a little extreme to put it mildly. But I think a lot of us do that. We’re called overachievers for a reason, right?

When I look around at all the ways I believe I’m falling short it reminds me of how important my health is to me. I won’t be able to do all the things. But I can do what I can, and then preserve my energy for later. Or at least focus my rest toward getting better. In the process of resting I see the importance of practicing grace for myself as well. It’s ok that I take it easy while my body heals. It’s ok that I ask for a little help around the house. And when I return to my normal routine of gymrat/mom/wife/boss/friend it will be ok that the return is a gradual one.

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