Friday, January 01, 2010

The End of Christmas Break

I seem to learn a lot about myself at the end of Christmas Break. Last year, Dave requested that I go to counseling because I was barely functioning by the end of the 2 weeks. No matter how much I tried to explain to him that Christmas Break is horrible for me and I would be better within a day or two of getting the house back in order, he was certain that I needed more than that.

What I think we failed to realize is that basically this request was along the lines of asking a gay person to seek counseling with the intention that the counseling will turn him/her straight. Counseling is NOT going to turn me into an extrovert. Plain and simple: I am an introvert and THIS is really difficult by the end of two weeks.

* noise
* chaos
* questions
* touching
* messes
* expectations
* interruptions
* no routine
* traveling
* absolutely no time to myself
* no place to escape any of this because it all follows me wherever I go

I don't think all of this would be much easier for an extrovert... however, knowing that I'm an introvert I'm learning more about myself today.

TODAY I am cringing at the mere sight or sound of my children. I hate that. But it is reality. I cannot find a place to get away from any of it. And when I thought I figured out a plan to get a few hours of break, I got a phone call indicating that I was expected to go somewhere NOW because thats what someone else wanted of me. So now what - do I miss seeing some friends? I know that I'm not going to be good company today - even if it is only until 3:00. But do I preserve myself? I feel like these are the choices that I'm constantly confronted with during Christmas Break.

Today I've learned that even when I enter Christmas Break with full intentions of just going with the flow and letting things happen for the two weeks - changing my expectations - I'm still internally distressed by something else. I've been good up until today. I've let the house and the laundry go. I've changed my expectations and had a good break. But what I've learned is that there is a direct correlation between how much disorder there is in my life and my ability to go-with-the-flow.

There is an extremely high level of disorder in my life today: Messes everywhere I turn. Bedrooms that need to be switched out. Toys that need to be sorted and given away. New Christmas gifts that need to find a home. Ripped and cut up paper EVERYWHERE. Snacks and treats galore. Arguing children. A few additional pounds on my body. Not enough water. Not many real meals. Much disorder. Because of all of that, I feel like I NEED my days to follow the plan that I set forth in my mind when I wake up. Sometimes my plan is to sit around all day and watch movies. Sometimes my plan involves an errand or a visit - at a specific time. What I'm learning today is that any deviation from that plan in my head causes a lot of internal stress for me. And this is not the case at the beginning of the break... just by the last couple of days.

So my note to myself is this: Next year I need to figure out how to get rid of my kids for a day or two at the end of the two weeks so I can reestablish some order in my life. I know I'm only two and a half days away from getting them back on their buses, but as of RIGHT NOW I'm not sure how I'm going to get through those two and a half days. My body feels tense. I'm crabby. I have a shorter fuse. I feel like the fight or flight response system is at high alert inside my body right now. I'm withdrawing more and more into myself.

I am not taking this time to complain about my kids. They aren't the problem. They're kids. They're doing what they're supposed to be doing. This is not a "When are my kids going back to school because I can't stand them?" post, but rather a "I need the routine of school back in my life" post: I need the same wake up time, bus time, lunch time, bus time, homework time, dinner time, bed time. The problem is the disorder and my inability to find peace in the midst of any of it. This problem exists for me at the end of every Christmas Break and toward the end of every summer.

I will be fine next week, its just getting there that is going to be the battle:)


April 11:31 PM  

I love your honesty!

I have a similar feeling to the disorder since this week has been far from normal for us. Even though the kids are here since we homeschool, at least it is time that I can schedule and work around. There were so many points you made that so duplicate many aspects of me. It is so wonderful to have someone be able to articulate them for me. Thank you!

Mommy Brain 9:21 AM  

I am feeling the same way. I'm not an "ordered" person...but the complete lack of order is like a small silent alarm going off inside my head. At first I can ignore it but after awhile, it starts to make me looney and tense and crabby. Everyone being home is wonderful for awhile, but then the sight of all of them laying around while I try to quiet the alarm, that they don't seem to hear, infuriates me. Why don't they hear it? Why can't they feel how tense I am feeling? Why aren't they feeling the same way? We are different people my friend...however, I think we have similar experiences.

Jen 6:47 PM  

Preach it. I survive summer because it's a new routine and new rules. School breaks are so hard b/c there isn't time for a new routine. And if another person gives me a speech about the "joy of Christmas" and how dare I be stressed, I will punch them. ;-)

Skooks 11:49 PM  

Holidays are stressful in general. Even when you're having a good time, the thrown off schedules of little people is a strain. I, too, ate poor and didn't interact with my kids as well while we were traveling around for the holiday season as I seem to do when we have our regular nap schedules and are in our own home.

P.S. Are you going to update us on the status of your Christmas letter?

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