Last month I had a week full of the common aches and pains of life – a pulled muscle, a migraine, mild insomnia, achy knees… And I was grumpy. So very grumpy. By that Wednesday I figured I had logged at least ten hours in the kitchen over a three day span; I had picked up the house at least four times (because I’ve been on a mission to keep the house in better order, even though no one else is…), and I was tired and feeling funky. I’m sure hormones were a factor in the funk, but mostly it was a week that I spent taking care of the house and everyone else while ignoring basic self-care.
I was focused on the to-do list and not doing things that I need to maintain a little bit of sanity, like exercise, writing, and crafting with the tiny human. I plopped down on the bed and exhaled all of that grumpy as one long huffy sigh, and my husband asked, “What’s wrong?” Every time he asks this question, all of the things run through my head in an incoherent stream of consciousness jumble, and I want to say, “Everything. Everything is wrong,” as I try to list all of the mess in my head. But I pause to inhale and let the inner dialogue slow just enough to form a coherent sentence. “My head hurts; that muscle in my back is still sore. I’m tired because I haven’t slept well in a week, and I’m very grumpy.”
I would love to tell you that identifying the actual problems made me realize I should slow down and take better care of myself. That night I tried to go to bed earlier, and I felt better physically the next morning. Before we got up, my husband ran through a checklist. “How’s your back?”
“Mostly better, but still a little sore.”
“How’s your head?”
“How’s your grumpy?”
My grumpy was still going strong. Knowing that it was at least partially a hormone cycle issue made it easier to work through because I could tell myself there was a clear end in sight, but I had to focus on ungrumpification for a few days. Maybe I will always fight depression. Maybe all of us feel bouts of mild depression, and I’m more aware now when it happens to me. But my new found power of awareness is useless if I don’t take better, healthier steps to address my grumpy when it happens. With great power comes great responsibility. And we are responsible for taking care of ourselves, too.
It’s easy to forget when we are faced with taking care of family, taking care of work, taking care of home… I cycle through great periods of self-care and then long droughts. I struggle to fit everything I need and want to do in a day, so I let the “non-essentials” slide. Those things are what keep me healthy and strong, though, so they really are essentials if I want to keep my grumpy in check and stay productive. I’m working harder to keep the essentials prioritized so that I can tackle the task list without resenting the largely thankless work of housekeeping and parenting and work. It’s a work in progress; I think it will be a lifetime job.
How’s your grumpy? If it’s running amok, check in with yourself, and be honest with yourself about what you are doing to stay healthy mentally, emotionally, and physically. If you don’t have a single thing in your daily to-do list that strengthens your body and your soul, add something and do it first. I have learned that I will never exercise at night if I skipped it in the morning, so I have to do it in the morning. Same thing with Bible study and prayer time. Guess what the first two things in my morning routine are now? If you’re struggling to make that happen, find a friend to check in with who will lovingly hold you accountable for taking care of yourself. I have two such wonderful women in my life, and I trust them to tell me truth even when I don’t want to hear it and make excuses. I rely on their encouragement, and I try to be the same type of friend for them.
If you’re struggling to find a friend to trust, please let me know. Maybe we need to form a support group for grumpies. Find a way to keep your grumpy from controlling your days, and don’t do it alone. You are a precious Child of God, and he made you to be full of life and abiding joy. If you don’t feel full of life and joy more days than not (not all days will feel like that – crap happens to everyone), then your grumpy may be in charge. Don’t let it win. You are not your grumpy. You are beautiful and valuable and worth taking care of.