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Winter funk first hit me a few weeks ago (no, not that scary, Australian super-virus though the threat of it definitely adds to the funk). Like many Midwesterners with cabin fever, I tried escaping it by going on a short girls’ getaway (though we couldn’t afford anywhere warm!). And that sufficed while I was away, but the day-to-day was still waiting for me when I returned. 

It’s not just the obvious outdoor activities and nice weather that I’ve been missing…this funk has been affecting other things I love, like writing, yoga, and meditation– those “self care” things that my mom has always encouraged me to do.

Yet I seem to have found time to read super-woman blogs. You know,the ones where the writers not only lead “got-it-together” lives but also have time to write about those perfect lives. You know the ones….. they wake up energized at the crack of dawn and do a relaxing 2 hours of yoga, cook amazing, delicious meals from scratch while homeschooling 6 happy children and still manage to find a few hobbies to dabble in on the side as they await the birth of child #7.

Meanwhile, I’m just trying to manage blogging about my struggling life.

You know, the one where you wake up aching because you slept half the night scrunched in your toddler’s bed after she awoke screaming in pain with a foot cramp, so you end up hitting snooze so many times that it shuts off. A few seconds later you find yourself stuffing a peanut butter sandwich into your child’s backpack while frantically searching for their missing mitten and then end up walking your child to school in your rainbow pajama pants (honestly, you really should invest in some nice, solid-color fleece pants that can double as clothing!)

Lots of “real life lessons” make for great blogging material, I comfort myself.

This would be somewhat comforting if I did not have to learn so many lessons the humiliating way. Does my toddler really have to be the one who gets poop all over a friend’s bathroom and then tracks it around their house on our first (and probably last) playdate there?

I know I’m on the verge of sounding bitter here. I really do wish those super-woman bloggers well. I just can’t relate to them. And I can’t spend that much time reading about them. Or their recipes. Or cook them a meal when they have baby #7.

So what’s an average struggling Joe o Jill (or Joy!) to do?

Approach the funk in the same way that my struggles with embracing vision loss have shown me.

Thoughtfully.

With kindness toward myself,

compassion toward the place where I am,

appreciation for the place where I was

and a quiet, knowing confidence for where I am headed.

Oh, and a bit of spontaneity and fun!

In a way, it’s baby steps…. one round of meditation when it can be fit in before bed, one well-thought-out home-cooked meal that carries a homey aroma, one night where writing takes precedence (or whatever is your outlet!), one 20-minute window to read or breathe or eat/pray/love.

I tend to get in the rut of thinking all these things need to be in place at all times for my life to be as it should. Yes, in an ideal world we do the things we love and that are good for us all the time, and everything is perfectly balanced. But this winter I’m learning to enjoy life in pieces. Sometimes segmented. Sometimes together.

I’ve found that overcoming the winter funk takes some short-term sacrifice. You know the saying, “you have to spend money to make money”? I think sometimes you have to Sometimes use up time to find time. It may even seem like squandering or wasting time, but in reality it’s gaining new time and opening up more space.

After hearing my toddler’s plea, “play with me, mom… play with me!” over and over the entire week, and hating the sound of my guilty reply, “in a minute!” as I did just one last load of laundry, one last dish, one last e-mail, one last text, one last bill, one last “absolutely necessary” chore…. I began to think about the work-flow pattern I was in, and how it’s not a bad thing to “make sure all your chores are complete before you go out to play” as we were all raised to do. But sometimes as adults, and especially as moms, our chores will never be complete.

So at some point I had to have some words with this pattern, “Um, crazy-work-horse pattern, you’ve done a lot for me, but this really not serving me anymore. At least not this week”.

So this morning, with a very full to-do list, along with breakfast dishes in the sink and clothes strewn about the house, I bundled up my sweet, toddler girl begging for my attention, and I pulled her around the neighborhood in a pink, plastic sled. We visited and played with great-grandma and aunty. We climbed snow mounds. We put the yellow snow back where we found it.

We picked Lucy up after school, and then a neighbor girl, and we went to the giant riverwalk sled hill….where we shrieked wildly as our sleds glided down a slick, white mountain of fun, occasionally colliding into flimsy, orange fencing.

We spent the whole day playing.

And i even lost track of time.

My cell phone ran out of batteries, and so I didn’t even have to worry about taking tons of pictures and videos. Or incoming calls or texts. All I had to do was laugh and scream and spin around aimlessly on plastic saucers with my kids.

A perfect winter day. (Okay, just so I don’t fall into the “super-woman-blog” category, I will add in some bits of reality– the walk home kind of sucked, with the kids all hungry and wet, worn-out and whiney! And we had to stop and eat at Noodles & Co. because I had ditched my meal prep time).

And then I came home to a disaster. Apparently Mary Poppins did not receive my memo about tidying up the nursery in a fun way while I was out flying kites with the children.

But you know what?

I had more energy to clean than I’ve had all winter. Perhaps exhilarated by the winter air or perhaps manic. I whipped around the house while my girls helped each other get ready for bed. I turned Bon Iver and some of my other favorite musicians up loudly while I did the dishes, and the neighbor girl helped my first-grader with her homework. My kids went to bed tired– the good kind of tired produced by fresh air and laughter.

And my husband actually got to come home to a smiling wife instead of that cranky one!

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11 thoughts on “Overcoming the Winter Blues

  1. I always love your honest posts, Joy. I have also learned the hard way that we can’t compare our blogs and writing to others who are at different places in their journey. I’ve also been seeing many of the “Mommy” bloggers who seem to have it all together stepping back from blogging in order to spend more time with their kids. Our kids are only small once. They want to spend time with us and that day you had yesterday will be burned in their memories for a long time.

    Thanks for the great reminder. As a Mom, there will always be plenty of “to do’s” on our lists. But sometimes they need to wait while we enjoy being human and experiencing life with our kids. Great post.

  2. I love how real you are. I totally remember feeling like this when my girls were young. I love hearing about how much fun you are having raising my great nieces. You are doing a fantastic job!

  3. Awww, wow, that certainly was real and honest and true. I bet that was therapeutic to write. You have allowed everyone here to sigh a collective sigh and put things in perspective. I say we picket against perfection! We are all too hard on ourselves. A ‘good enough’ mom is actually a great mom because she is modeling well for her children. No more ‘House beautiful!’ In reality it is ‘House Good enough!’ Most importantly, girls need to see ‘less than perfection’ as they grow up with so many expectations in life. It will make them healthier and happier adults. Cheers to being ‘good enough!’

  4. Love this post Joy! My inner voyeur was thrilled to get a peak into your life as a REAL Mom 😉 Your girls are so blessed to have a mom who crawls into their tiny beds with them in the middle of the night to comfort their pain, who takes them sledding for hours, and much much more. You really are a wonderful mother <3

  5. Ditto on the others comments! The supermoms that you read about do NOT really have it all together like they seem to make it sound. You are a great mom, and your kids will remember those great times you had with them, and not how clean the house was. Enjoy that time you have with them, it goes so fast. I wish I would have spent more fun times like that with my kids when they were little instead of cleaning/chores. Love to you and the kids and hubby too.

    • You did, Beth. I remember lots of fun times. But, I know that when our kids are in the teenage years as yours are, we moms tend to feel nostalgic about the early years. You are a good enough/great mom:)

  6. Joy, you are a GREAT mom every time I see you and your girls are so full of love it’s obvious you do a wonderful job. Thanks for the real post. Have you ever noticed the Perfect Mom Bloggers Who Also Homeschool 10 Smiling Kids always seem to show sunny weather all winter too?? I think there was 1 sunny day and they just re-post the same photo several times!–I mean this metaphorically too. ;). Anyway, I agree that stuff is harder to read over the winter when I personally just want to give up and crawl somewhere and hibernate ’til spring.

    • Haha! The thought of someone reposting the same picture and happy thoughts over and over makes me laugh! Thanks! It’s freezing today, so I really do want to hibernate until spring!

      Sent from my iPad

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