On Tuesday night Aaron was gone all evening refereeing two soccer matches. I usually hate these evenings. They are long, tedious, and loud as I count the minutes until Aaron gets home or bedtime, whichever comes first.
I could feel that familiar dread coming on but instead of drowning in it, I decided to make a plan.
“Come here, boys,” I called my 9-year-old twins. “I want to talk to you.”
I got out a piece of paper and a marker and wrote the date at the top.
“Let’s make a plan for the evening.”
And so we did. First, we made a plan for the things that we needed to get done:
Feed the Dog
Wash the dishes
Take a shower…and more.
The paper soon filled up with tasks. We fleshed out the plan more fully, deciding who would unload and then load the dishwasher, who would be mom’s dinner helper, and who would take a shower first.
Then I asked them, “is there anything you would like to do tonight?”
“Anything we would like to do? If we get all our chores done?”
“Can we play the X-box? And listen to Harry Potter?”
I wrote their requests on the list and placed the paper on the fridge with a magnet.
It was a new thing, making a plan. I usually just wing our evenings. And evening are usually the lowest, most irritating part of my day.
I have all these grand plans at 2:30 in the afternoon: I will read to the boys, they will enjoy bubble baths, I won’t yell, we will play games and have fun.
99% of the time it dissolves into kids complaining about having to do the dishes again, screaming, crying, manic wrestling matches (and occasionally broken windows), and me mentally checking out because I am so overwhelmed and exhausted.
(Are anyone else’s evenings like this? I don’t know…)
I knew we needed a change. And my first step came last week when I acknowledged my depression and started getting help.
My health care provider told me that it usually takes about two weeks for an antidepressant to start kicking in, and a month for it to start being effective.
I’m already starting to see results, though, because on Tuesday night, on Day 6 of taking a little white pill each morning, I had enough mental energy to make an evening plan with my boys and then follow through.
And we had a great evening, really really good.
My son made dinner with me and I didn’t lose my temper.
I told him, “I like spending time with you.”
And I meant it.
Soon, the dishes were done, the food was put away, the dog had eaten and pottied (twice), and the living room was picked up.
It was x-box time.
I even played a little bit, which is something I would have completely refused to do last week.
Then, while Micah and Benji played Quidditch, I lay on the floor and played “airplane” with Silas and Eli until my legs shook from exhaustion (yeah, I felt that “workout” the next day).
We had a good evening but it was different from other “good” evenings.
“Good” evenings in the past meant that the boys obeyed, didn’t argue with me, fight with each other, and there was minimal crying from the two tiniest humans.
“Good” evening meant that there was minimal yelling on my part.
But this evening was different. I felt different.
I wasn’t as tired.
I didn’t feel overwhelmed.
My driving desire wasn’t to mentally check out on my computer all evening.
I didn’t just endure or go through the motions.
I engaged with my kids.
I enjoyed my kids.
I felt…happy, which was both surprising and foreign because I haven’t felt that way in a long time.
I am just at the beginning of this journey of addressing and treating my depression, but I’m already starting to see some benefits of taking medication and continuing all of my self-care techniques.
It’s good to finally have a plan, to set it in motion, and to see Good Things start to take place.