There’s so much swirling around in my head, and yet I’ve been pretty silent here. All the things I have wanted to write are there, but I’m also struggling with writing and finding the time to do so. Instead I decided to just throw it all together in one post to share what’s been going on lately. I’ll be the first to admit that despite the exciting part of moving and life lately there’s a lot of heavy emotions and feelings that have been going on in the Whalen house, so if you’re looking for a rah-rah post this isn’t it. This is me being honest about how life is going lately.
Solo parenting sucks y’all
Solo parenting is not single parenting-let’s be clear. I was a single parent for a time, and I truly know the difference. The difference is that I have a loving partner, caregiver, and spouse–he just happens to elsewhere for now. He’s living the bachelor-like life (well with the family commitments) in downtown Minneapolis for three months. As part of our relocation he has some trips he can use to come home, but instead we’re opting to use them to fly everybody out to our new home. It’s actually been a wonderful thing for each of the kids even if it’s a huge sacrifice for both of us.
I know that what I’m dealing with is temporary, even if it doesn’t feel that way right now. I have support and I know we’ll be back together and better than ever soon. But it still sucks. Like a lot. For me solo parenting mirrors the challenges I faced during single parenthood-even if it’s only for a limited time. I’m it. I’m the disciplinarian, the taxi, the cook, the cleaner, the laundress, the nurse, the shoulder to cry on, rarely the fun one, and the one who has to figure it all out no matter what life and our kids throw at me.
It’s been good in some ways though because I’ve had to learn to connect with the kids on certain things when previously I would have let him handle those situations. And they’ve had to figure that part out, too. They have to be able to come talk to me even if they’d rather talk to their dad.
Long distance love
The other tough part is being without my husband. Three months may not seem like a long time, but it is for us. It’s the longest we’ve been apart ever, and there was a lot of uncertainty in the beginning-when would we move, when would our house sell, when was I going to travel out to visit him-that I just don’t deal with well.
He’s my partner in life and my best friend, so I miss him all the time. I try not to get too goopy about him online, but he’s seriously the best. FaceTime is good but it’s not real life. I am probably a little codependent, but I’m okay with that-he makes me a better me.
I do think there are some benefits to this, too. I think it will (at least for a time) make me a little less critical of the small and everyday stuff I get hung up on.
Now we wait
For awhile I had household tasks (a million and one) to take care of, and then I had plans to focus on house hunting, but that all resolved rather quickly in just a few days when we sold and bought homes in a matter of two days. It was kind of magical and amazing. I’m really grateful it all worked out so beautifully. But now? I’m left just waiting. Doing all the million and one other tasks that come with life and work, but just waiting. I’m so not patient.
Thankfully it’s only another 33 days until we’re together again as a family. And guys? I’m totally going to get a video of the dog reuniting with my husband. I mean he gets excited when I come back from getting the mail-I can’t wait to see his reaction to seeing his ‘dad’ for the first time in three months! Every time one of us comes home from visiting I can tell he’s looking for Bob. He smells him on us. It’s going to be ADORABLE.
Nope, I’m not packing
On the more practical side-I get asked this a lot. I’m not busy packing. As part of our relocation package the movers are packing us, so I literally have a trunk full of stuff to pack and a few things to get rid of, but that’s it. It’s kind of weird and amazing to know it will all get packed up in a matter of a day and I have to do exactly none of it. Plus I already purged ALL the things before staging the house, so we’re good there.
But those fries though…
Truth time. I’ve been very careless about eating well and have been eating my feelings a lot lately (stress tastes like fries in case you’re wondering).
Over the course of 2015 we made big changes as a family. We were exercising more, eating right, and healthier than ever. I lost about 35 pounds (which was much needed) and my husband has dropped about 50. Those changes happened slowly over the course of about 15 months. We dumped sugar, we counted calories, we stopped buying junk at all. It was well worth the result, but changes like that take time. It’s not instantaneous, and it’s certainly not easy to break old habits. It’s what we (and like every internet lifestyle and healthy living blogger) calls a lifestyle change.
Unfortunately, in the last few months I’ve undone almost all that work. Since my life and lifestyle changed dramatically (and I lost the grocery shopper, meal planner, and chef that had been living under our roof) I went back to old habits.
I am tired, I feel awful, and I know that my choices are what is causing this, but fighting my way back seemed so hard.
I recommitted to that lifestyle change this past week. I know I need to do it to make myself not only healthier, help me lose the weight that came back, and just feel better. So, I started back on the path to healthy living again. Nothing crazy. Meals I know are good for me, dumping sugar and junk food in favor of more fresh fruits and veggies, walking at least 45-60 minutes a day (when it’s not pouring rain-UGH) and bodyweight exercises. I’m already seeing some progress in how I feel, and while I have checked in on the scale I know that’s not the real indicator of how I’m doing-how I feel is. I’m getting there.
Self-care all day every day (sort of)
Like my eating habits taking care of myself also went out the window. I’m usually pretty good about balance when I have a lot going on, but taking care of myself always comes last when we go through a stressful period. I know what I should do, but I don’t often actually DO it.
Now that the homefront has slowed down and I’m consciously less busy with work I have more time. I’m trying to structure my time so I can take full days off doing things that are caring for myself like reading, long hikes with the dog, cooking something I want to eat that’s healthy but time-consuming to make, and seeing friends. So far this hasn’t quite worked out as I’d hoped (sick kids, rain, etc.), but I’m trying to find some peace in the moments I can snag for myself even if it’s just 30 minutes mindlessly walking around Target on a rainy afternoon.
In addition to diet, sleep, and self-care going out the window my anxiety and depression have flared up pretty badly during this time, so I took the big step (why is it so hard?!) of booking appointments with both my therapist (which is long overdue) and a psychiatrist. I’ve been open about my struggles with depression in the past and had been managing well to fairly well, but I think I’m at the point now where I need help, so I’m getting it.
Carpool line hate
I totally hate doing carpool pickup. Like haaaatttteee. It’s really unnecessary since the bus picks up and drops the kids off right near our house, too. However, they have had experiences that I would prefer not be repeated (let’s just say there are some kids who shouldn’t have cell phones) and both have expressed how much they haaaatttteeee the bus rides.
So, I started driving them to and from school. It’s a concession (when I normally wouldn’t because I think this kind of thing can help kids develop autonomy) because we’re all having a little trouble with the whole moving thing.
As much as I loathe carpool (don’t get me started on parents who can’t follow simple safety rules) and I hate the time and gas I’m spending, it has a really great side benefit of getting a chance to connect with the kids-talking to them about their days, tackling topics like homelessness and poverty (I’m fun at parties I swear), and allowing them to emotionally unload before they come in the door. It’s wonderful, but also a lot of heavy parenting that comes with older kids.
Now I just need someone to drive me around and listen to my feelings. Maybe that should be a thing-like car therapy. Someone get on that. It’s like a million dollar idea.
That’s all folks. I’ll be back again soon. Promise.