Since I returned to work after my third and final maternity leave I have felt like life has just sped up. Like I’m living the same day over and over at the same time as being bombarded with never ending, mundane and taxing demands, intermittently interrupted by moments of heart meltingly wonderful monkey moments and milestones. Because I have three little monkeys in my care, I am not able to make regular and scheduled stops on the Monkey train. As such it’s momentum has increased. It has in fact begun to lose control. A runaway train, and all I want to do is shout STOP!
The runaway train came down the track…
From the time I wrote “There’s half a plastic chicken in my designer handbag” to now, the monkey train has been on quite an adventure. From the last few races in my 2016 challenges (Race 12: A Wheeze around the park) to trips to A and E with various monkeys (Race 10: Broken bones and tummy troubles and Sometimes you are stronger than you think) to my own injuries and disappointments. Life certainly isn’t dull but sometimes I wish it was a bit easier.
Although nothing serious or life threatening has happened. The numerous and relentless challenges have begun to take their toll on me both mentally and physically.
…and she blew…
The Monkey train was always fast but I felt it predominantly stayed on the rails. The inclusion of work, juggling childcare and monkey needs required more coal to be added to the boiler to keep the train moving at the required speed. As the fire burned more fiercely the train began to reach unmanageable speeds. I thought I could still drive it. Could handle the pressure. I stoked the fire again and again. Putting more pressure on me and the train. Soon the train was running away from me. Screaming down the tracks, leaving them at times as it careered around bends.
Pieces of the train began to break under the pressure. Constant and never giving. I realised there was a problem and began to apply the breaks. Gently at first, with no effect. Soon I was putting all my energies into breaking as hard as I could with limited success. The act of stopping damaging the train further.
Only when I shouted STOP
I soon realised I couldn’t stop this train alone. I began to ask for help. When asking didn’t help I realised I had to shout. It was only when I shouted “STOP” from the bottom of my lungs, that the things that needed to happen happened. A referral to the right people, some pain medication and a firm instruction to rest.
As the runaway monkey train dragged itself into the station of rest and recouperation, it heaved a heavy sigh. Ejecting a huge plume of steam as more pieces of it fell away. It was time to stop, assess the damage and begin a service and repair job. That is where I am now. I am done, both physically and mentally. But I am grasping the opportunity to rest with both hands. I cannot stop completely obviously. The monkeys keep running with or without me. But I must get stronger and get back out on those tracks.
It really is ok to make regular stops
Forcing myself to stop is proving difficult. Despite moments of quiet, I find it unnerving and I’m unable to stop my racing mind. This I am working on because I know it can’t stay like this. I also feel guilty for stopping and relying on others to carry me. A fact not lost on me or without gratitude. I know however that I cannot help myself without them. I hope I will come back stronger and different.
The difference I hope will be pace. If I can start pacing myself. Not just racing on until everything breaks. Then this monkey train will cope better with the speed. Knowing when to apply the breaks before we are completely out of control is so important however. So my plan is to start to factor in breaks and strategies that will eventually fit back into my life when time is tighter. Make some plans and prepare. The odd day or night off is not enough. Before injury I had that with running. Now it is swimming (on my back, no arms, with a float).
I’ll keep blogging my progress. Not just for me but hopefully to help you find some regular stop times and manageable changes. Because we all deserve the time to stop our busy lives regularly before your train runs away with you. Besides the monkey train doesn’t have to be a nail biting ride. It can be enjoyable and exhilarating. But it won’t be a steady steam train journey through the countryside, because lets face it the monkey train is the perfectly imperfect ride of your life. Find a way to cope with the scarier bits and you won’t want it to ever stop.