Staying Home and Resting in the Age of Busyness
Have you tried colouring to release stress? Try the Mindfulness Colouring Book, over in our library 🙂 Hope you relax and enjoy it!
“Dum, da dum,” goes the theme music. Again. The screen prompts me, “Watch next episode?”
“Yes,” I click.
I’m now on my sixth straight episode of a series on Netflix. I’m lounging in what my children have named the “Feel Better Chair,” which is an overstuffed brown leather recliner more appropriately sized for a 300-pound linebacker. My feet are up and there’s a cold drink and a bowl of apple slices, grapes, and carrots at my side. My eight-pound puppy, aptly named Buddy, is curled up on my lap, peacefully dreaming about chasing rabbits. I’m still in my pyjamas and it’s three in the afternoon.
This scenario is a 180-degree about-face from my typical life. I’m a working mom who runs her own psychology practice. I employ seven people, see a full caseload of patients, and serve as my own bookkeeper, human resource specialist, and social media consultant. I also write a blog, and am slowly working my way through my first book. I have two children under the age of thirteen, one of whom started junior high a few months ago. My spouse, who also works full-time, helps with the kids but he doesn’t cook. So add meal-planner, grocery shopper, and cook to my normal job description. In the past I’ve had weekly in-home help with housecleaning, but my housekeeper resigned about a month ago.
Earlier this week, I took my son to his doctor’s appointment. “I thought you were having surgery,” the paediatrician said to me.
“I did, two weeks ago, ” I replied.
“What?” He says incredulously. “Why are you here? Go home. Rest.”
“I’m having a hard time staying still,” I reply.
A few months ago I was having some strange symptoms, so I went to my primary care physician. One thing led to another, and after a series of tests, a radiologist pronounced that I had a large tumor that appeared malignant and required immediate surgery. It was a very painful surgery. And although the tumor turned out to be bigger than they thought it was, it was not cancerous. But both the specialist and my primary care doctor were clear that I needed six weeks off work for medical leave in order to recover.
So here I am, staying home and resting, watching television. Our family is so busy we haven’t even bothered getting cable, so I’m scrolling through Netflix. And honestly, although this is addicting, I hate it. Normally I’d rather read. I usually read chick lit or genre books: fluffy murder mysteries with lots of adjectives. The intensity of my work often requires something equally non-intense to wind down. But between the pain medication, the latent effects of anaesthesia, and physical healing, I keep falling asleep and find I can’t concentrate. So I’m trying to enjoy the pleasure of finding entire television series that I have never watched or heard of, and watching episode after episode. “Are you going to watch that show again?” my seven-year-old son asks.
“I guess so, honey,” I reply. “I’m supposed to be resting and recovering, and this seems to help.”
“Can’t we watch Spiderman or something good?”
“No, honey,” I say without a trace of guilt. “That’s really boring to me, and there’s no way I can sit through it.”
“Aren’t you only supposed to have like one hour of screens per day?”
“Normally yes, but recovering from surgery is different.”
About an hour later I have to pick up my thirteen-year-old son from his after-school activity. I’m still in my green pyjamas printed with large goldfish. “No one will see me, ” I think. “I’m just going to put on shoes and go get him.”
True, except when I get there someone parks behind my car illegally and we can’t get out of the parking lot. Darn. I’m in the stupid fish pyjamas. Suddenly I see one of my patients’ parents bolting across the parking lot.
“Is that you, Dr. Anderson?” she asks. “How are you doing? Let me help.” She asks the driver to move their car.
“Thank you,” I say when she comes back and is standing beside my driver’s side window. “I would have done it, but I’m wearing my pyjamas.” My thirteen year-old son is sliding down in his seat, his face turning red.
“So I see,” she says. “Well carry on.”
Note to self: Maybe you shouldn’t wear fish pyjamas to pick up your thirteen-year-old from junior high, even after surgery. I’m learning. I’m new to this resting thing. “Sorry, son,” I say.
“Does this mean I still need to vacuum the stairs?” he asks.
Cindy Nichols Anderson, Ph.D., ABPP,
Author Bio – Cindy is a practicing clinical child psychologist. She owns Hope Springs Behavioral Consultants in Coralville, Iowa.