I’m so sorry for my lack of updates. One word: midterms. (TMI: I’m actually writing this post via my iPhone in the bathtub – multitasking for the win!). I’ve been significantly less stressed out this year compared to first year, and I’m not sure that’s a good thing. I attribute it mostly to my spending as little time at the law school as possible to avoid the realization that other Type A law students such as myself are currently experiencing the mental breakdowns I’m inevitably slated for after I get my midterm marks back and realize my nonchalant attitude is getting me nowhere. (Well, it may be saving a few years of my life, but aren’t grades more important, anyway? I kid. Sort of. Unless you ask a law student, who will invariably answer “yes” to that question because we’re all crazy overachievers).
Which got me thinking about Type A parenting. To be honest, I don’t possess ALL of the attributes of a Type A personality. In some aspects of my life (*cough* finances/social situations *cough*) I’m pretty disorganized and careless. But, when it comes to parenting, working and “student-ing”, my Type A characteristics are glaringly obvious.
I have always been my own worst critic. Even as a child, I’d accept nothing less than the best for myself. I had high standards and sought out perfection in everything I did. It’s what almost broke me during my first year of law school when I realized that I was one of the less intelligent students in my class. And that scared me into almost quitting, allowing me to completely forget I was as deserving of being there as anyone else.
And of course those qualities followed me right smack into parenthood. When I was pregnant, I took careful pains to avoid deli meats, coffee and soft cheeses. I read everything I could get my hands on. And I dutifully took my prenatal vitamins – all in a ridiculous attempt to convince myself I was getting an A+ in Pregnancy 101.
And then, Ellie was born. And I, Amanda – Admitted Control Freak and Perfectionist Extraordinaire – lost all control. All control was instantly piled on a tiny, squirmy newborn who didn’t know her days from her nights, who ate constantly (what about my SCHEDULE?), and cried well beyond the predetermined “witching hours”. June 20, 2013 will be forever remembered as the day I lost control. The day I stopped showering at my usual time. The day I stopped sleeping through the night. The day I stopped wearing makeup and non-yoga pants on a daily basis and the day I should have (in hindsight) thrown my hair dryer to the wolves.
Don’t get me wrong: I love Ellie more than life itself. But being a parent is hard. Being a Type A parent is even harder. I’m constantly worrying about her. I’m constantly planning out every facet of her life. I’m a mess if I don’t think she’s getting the gross motor skill practice she needs, or if she hasn’t read a book that day. I beat myself up over every sucker she eats, every night we get home later than her bedtime, every morning when she requests toast for breakfast again for the eight thousandth time, refusing any healthier option I present her with. Mom Guilt is a real thing, you guys. And I have the worst case of it.
Add to my official list of “Mom Worries” the worry that Ellie will become some wound-up, anxious kid who doesn’t know how to enjoy life. And for me, that would be the ultimate parenting fail.
Are you a Type A Parent? Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Here are a few things I try to do – in my fleeting moments of normalcy – to try to re-position myself when I’m feeling particularly stressed out (whether it be as a parent, a student or an employee).
Step outside. This seems simple enough, but I used to NEVER do this. Until one day when newborn Ellie was screaming her head off after I’d spent the entire afternoon feeding her and we stepped outside together and the crying stopped. Just the change of scenery was enough to calm us both down. Tyler came home to the two of us sitting on the front porch many times during that first summer. Nowadays, between classes I’ll grab a snack and sit outside. It helps that the view is pretty amazing around here, but the fresh air alone is just enough to calm me down no matter where I am.
Take walks. I’ve never been a jogger. I’ve never been athletic or prone to exercising at all, really, but walks are SO helpful when I’m feeling anxious. Sometimes I like to walk alone to sort out my thoughts, and other times I love walking with a friend who can cheer me up and keep me from my thoughts.
Yoga. Every mom should try yoga at least once. I don’t do it often enough these days but yoga is SO calming. My prenatal yoga class saved my life. It was the only time I felt serene during my pregnancy. Bonus: toddlers love yoga, too. Ellie likes to copy my poses and she’s actually surprisingly coordinated, for someone who stumbles around like a little drunk person most of the time.
Meditation. Okay, I know this is a bit out there for some, so maybe I can scale it back a little and call it “breathing exercises” instead. I used to be pretty cynical until my anxiety became overwhelming. Now, I use a free app called “Stop, Breathe and Think” that has guided meditations you can tailor to your moods. Try it, you guys. Seriously. So relaxing.
Take a break. For me, I find alone time can make me feel isolated sometimes, so my best breaks are with my best friends: sharing an app, having a social drink and forgetting – for the moment – that Ellie didn’t get her sensory play in this week, etc. For even an hour, it’s nice to kick back and just be me – not Ellie’s mama. I cannot overemphasize the power of taking some time for you. Plus it’s great to have something to look forward to after the end of a busy week. It’s so easy to forget about yourself when you’re busy. Moms are especially guilty of putting everyone else before themselves.
Next time you notice your own Type A characteristics creeping in, take a breath and some time to yourself. Try not to sweat the small stuff. And remember: I’m probably right there with you at that very moment, worrying about whether my kid will still get into her top choice university if I don’t pay extra for the organic carrots.
A Type A Mom.