My first experience with anxious feelings happened in the mid-1990s. Being the youngest of three children and the only girl, I was tasked with finding ways to entertain myself. Luckily, I was given a great new game that did not require any other players. I could have fun for hours. Or so I thought.
Perfection. Anxiety embodied in red, blue, and yellow plastic. As the buzzing timer began to wind down, I could feel my heart begin to race. A lump would form in my throat as I attempted to fit the various pieces in their corresponding spaces. Despite these feelings of unease, Perfection remained one of my go-to games throughout my childhood. I developed tricks (or maybe cheats) to win the game.
As I outgrew the game, I found new ways to “beat the timer.” I would try to fit in tasks before the microwave beeped. Or clean all the trash out of my car before the click of the gas pump.
Now I have a new timer to beat…
Putting my little girl down for a nap is the beginning of the timer. As I rush through the house, I am simultaneously trying to be as productive and as quiet as possible. How many tasks can I complete before my timer buzzes? Well, technically, my timer yells.
Laundry, work e-mails, and loading the dishwasher are my new game pieces. Every noise from the video monitor is the buzzing timer. I may not feel the same physical symptoms, but the same sense of urgency is present.
Naptime is the golden hour for mommas. Naptime does not always mean productivity. It can also mean recharging. It is time to finish up the tasks that require two hands and full attention. It is a time to watch that not super kid-friendly sitcom. It is time to sit and just be for as long as possible. It is time to breathe.
Just like when I was little, I’ve developed tricks to “win” during nap time. I create an order of events while rocking. I try to group tasks together. Or sometimes I just tell myself that starting a load of laundry is a victory.
But when my nap time buzzer goes off, I do not feel defeat. I go pick my buzzer up out of her crib and begin to play a much more relaxing game.