When it’s all too much

You know those days or weeks in which just nothing goes right? You forget an important quiz, your kid is fluish and moody, you’re late for everything and the house could not look worse? Yes, that has been the last two weeks of mine. More or less.

It’s like when you have a puzzle and none of the pieces are actually from the same game. They just don’t fit together, no matter how hard you try.

It definitely doesn’t help when you have to be out of the house at 6.15 am almost every morning and stay at school till 4. By the time I am home, I can’t stand another sound, let alone a whiny child who feels out of it due to a flu. But what can I do? Escape? Not an option obviously. So what ends up happening is that I kind of plough through the day, always wishing it to end while dreading the next morning when it will just repeat again.

I have had people tell me that going to school is a great thing since I then get a little free time from Yunus. Well, sorry to say guys but Cairo University is not a place where you go to take a breath. The renovation that is taking place in our department makes the place noisier, smellier and dustier than ever: the ideal ingredients for a migraine.

But there’s been a little light at the end of the tunnel. We decided to start taking Yunus to a nursery. I am so lucky to have found that place. Everyone there’s just so sweet and understanding and Yunus seems to be happy to find company his age. I’ll talk more about the nursery experience in another post.

Trust me, I have tried everything. Everything from meal prepping to fixed laundry days to strict bedtime routines but somehow close to the end of the week, everything’s falling apart again. I am quite sure that it’s because of studying. If I was just a working mom, it might be better (or maybe not). The day would be over the moment I pick Yunus from nursery and come home. But as a college student, you fight and bargain for time to prepare for a lecture, to come up with a “creative” idea for a presentation or to simply catch up with your reading in the midst of the other stuff.

And then there’s the fact that I refuse as a principle to remain standing on my feet for 18 hours a day. If, if I wanted the house to be organised, work done, food on the plates, I would have to stand for at least 10 hours (minus the college hours in which we sit on back-breaking benches for 8 hours). Why should I stand for 10 hours straight? Yesterday I reached the conclusion that I’d rather have a tower of dishes and toys scattered around than miss that ONE hour of calmness after Yunus goes to sleep.

Clutter creates extra stress and depression. It’s a scientifically proven fact. But what to do when the other option is a mental breakdown from tiredness, both physical and emotional?

I am from a family of 6 children, so clutter was part of my life for many many years. I always wondered how mom put up with it especially because she’s sort of a cleaning freak. Now I realize the true reason behind the late night episodes of The Good Wife and Law and Order and the frantic Friday everyone-has-to-clean-to-prepare-for-the-week sessions. I do the same now.

Breathing and mindfulness exercises have been a part of my life ever since I took prenatal courses when I was pregnant. Sometimes I forget but most days, when it all gets too much, I stop for a moment and focus on my breath and the parts of my body which are tense. It’s like a moment’s break, a reminder that this isn’t life in its entirety and that this moment, even if it’s hard to believe, will pass.

Me and Ammar love this line by Dory in Finding Nemo: Just keep swimming. We’ve made up our own version of it too: Just keep smiling. We constantly try to remind each other and ourselves equally to smile. It’s like sending a signal to your brain, that you aren’t all sad or depressed, that there is a teeny tiny part of you that is actually content. Sounds stupid, but it works. Even if you fake it!

Posts like this one should not have a conclusion. Because life doesn’t have conclusions. It goes on, as good or as bad or as both. But what is in fact necessary, is to acknowledge what you feel, that you’re tired and that you’re done at some points in life.

The very fact of acknowledgement allows us to put the situation in its true perspective and maybe then be able to see the good, those little moments of joy, of contentment and of relaxation is the midst of the chaos.

Be well all and remember to breathe,

Halima

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