fathering mothering PARENTING

My Mental Breakdown in the Middle of A Target Store

I am losing my mind. Little by little.

This past month my son has been sick. It hasn’t been a major sick, it’s been a cough that wakes him up three to four times a night sick. Roughly translated, that is a “wake your parents up three to four times a night” kind of sick.

For a month.

Add to this fact that the weekends have been filled with mandatory professional developments on Saturdays.

I’m feeling a little panicky even talking about it.

My husband said recently that a baby’s REM cycle is 45 minutes. On nights when I am too exhausted to sit in a chair and rock my baby back to sleep and place him in his crib, opting instead to bring him into the bed with my husband and me, I imagine I’m waking up about every 45 minutes.

I am showering a lot less than I used to. Back to the sloppy ponytail. My brain feels like someone has replaced the gray matter with Styrofoam. As a friend of mine said, her own children grown and this stage of mothering far behind her, “This level of sleep deprivation is outlawed by the Geneva convention.”

And yet here I am.

But this happens, right? Those days when the most basic needs seem to be too much work, so they are stripped to only the most basic of the basic needs.

It became clear that my sore throat on Monday, coupled with the delirium, mandated a day away from work, a day for rest. Except, after tossing and turning for over an hour, sleep was not available to me. So I did what every other person losing his or her sanity does.

I went shopping at Target.

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I had no illusions about my intentions at the Target. I was there to SHOP. I grabbed the cart, not the basket, and started making my way methodically though the entire store, letting my cart push me more than the other way around.

To be fair, this was a trip that had been needed for some time, but because I could not be bothered to write down the many items needed in our home, like outlet covers to keep our toddler son from electrocuting himself, it became necessary to walk through every single aisle just to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything.

Or that’s what I told myself.

Among my purchased items: a loofah, cream of mushroom soup, a sippy cup, a suspension shower rack, 2 picture frames, outlet covers, 2 bins to fit inside our IKEA bookshelf, and gum. I also scheduled an eye appointment, since apparently Targets are now small countries with infrastructure and eye clinics. I almost scheduled to get a strep culture to see about my sore throat, but I have an HMO and wasn’t willing to pay $90 out of pocket.

Oh, and I bought a candle.

It was actually the purchase of this candle that put me over the edge.

There I was, standing in the candle aisle at Target. You know the one. It makes you remember all the yoga and meditation that you should be doing to live a more mindful and healthy life. It’s the one that makes you feel like maybe if you just lit a few more of these beautiful candles in your home, a fung shei fairy would appear and magically transform your house from what it is into a Zen garden with straight lines and empty space.

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The candle I picked up had a big red label that said, “BE JOYFUL!” in tall font. I smelled it. The combination of peppermint and sage transported me to the moments of sitting in our living room in Minnesota, unwrapping the Christmas decorations one by one. It reminded me of my dad’s collection of nativity scenes, many with candles whose heat causes the whole scene to spin and spin. It reminded me of Christmases when money was too tight for a tree, and then the doorbell rang and a tree was sitting, like magic, on our front porch.

The tears came immediately. Because I desperately wanted to hug my dad. And because those precious moments, like the ones with my family at Christmas, are so perfect and beautiful, tight with love and light. I cried because I wanted that candle to transport me to my family, to Christmas, to sleep. I cried because I knew that it may take a few months, but Christmas will come again.

I cried because sometimes just the thought that Christmas will come again can make the sleep deprived moments when I am a lunatic crying in a Target seem a little less lonely, a little less frantic, a little, well, less.

And, I cried because I was tired.

My mom promises me that one day I will wake up and I won’t feel tired anymore. I’m holding onto that promise for dear life. That promise, like Christmas, helps me keep getting up, keep doing the basics of basic, even after the days when the tears flow in the middle of a suburban Target store.

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I took the “Be Joyful” candle home. It has not transformed my living room. But smelling it is a good reminder that this moment is fleeting, and there can be pockets of joy even in the midst of losing my mind.

henri nouwen

261755_10150290602379874_2436766_nRachel

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20 Comments

  • Reply
    lenoraland
    October 24, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    Yay for Target. Yay for tears in Target. Yay for Rachel…you may be tired but you make me laugh and cry and feel things that are good to feel. Which seems like quite an accomplishment.

    • Reply
      Rachel
      October 25, 2014 at 1:42 am

      Thank you for you. I appreciate the many times you’ve talked me off the cliff. 🙂

  • Reply
    lenoraland
    October 24, 2014 at 10:04 pm

    Yay for Target. Yay for tears in Target. Yay for Rachel…you may be tired but you make me laugh and cry and feel things that are good to feel. Which seems like quite an accomplishment.

    • Reply
      Rachel
      October 25, 2014 at 1:42 am

      Thank you for you. I appreciate the many times you’ve talked me off the cliff. 🙂

  • Reply
    Kas Winters
    October 24, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    I follow quite a few moms, but your posts always seem to reach my heart immediately. I’m a great-grandmother now and you bring back memories, among other things. Sending hugs and knowing that you will make it. You are doing a great job, even on days when it might not feel like it.

    • Reply
      Rachel
      October 25, 2014 at 1:42 am

      This made my day. Thank you. My goal is honesty, and I’m glad to know it reaches your heart.

  • Reply
    Kas Winters
    October 24, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    I follow quite a few moms, but your posts always seem to reach my heart immediately. I’m a great-grandmother now and you bring back memories, among other things. Sending hugs and knowing that you will make it. You are doing a great job, even on days when it might not feel like it.

    • Reply
      Rachel
      October 25, 2014 at 1:42 am

      This made my day. Thank you. My goal is honesty, and I’m glad to know it reaches your heart.

  • Reply
    Momarch Steph
    October 25, 2014 at 2:39 am

    This post deeply touched me! Maybe, it’s because I’m a sleep deprived zombie mom too, but I had tears when I got done reading it thinking about my own family. Thanks. 🙂 And I totally know what you mean about simple tasks become seemingly impossible. Some days are just hopeless…have a good weekend!

    • Reply
      Rachel
      October 25, 2014 at 10:09 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment! I hope you have a good weekend, too. Is Zombie Mom a legit Halloween costume? Because if it is then I have that down. 🙂

  • Reply
    Momarch Steph
    October 25, 2014 at 2:39 am

    This post deeply touched me! Maybe, it’s because I’m a sleep deprived zombie mom too, but I had tears when I got done reading it thinking about my own family. Thanks. 🙂 And I totally know what you mean about simple tasks become seemingly impossible. Some days are just hopeless…have a good weekend!

    • Reply
      Rachel
      October 25, 2014 at 10:09 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment! I hope you have a good weekend, too. Is Zombie Mom a legit Halloween costume? Because if it is then I have that down. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jessica gombis
    October 25, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Exactly what I needed to read this morning. Yes. It’s 7:13 and I’ve been up for almost two hours on a Saturday morning with my 3 month old. Thank you.

    • Reply
      Rachel
      October 25, 2014 at 10:08 pm

      I really know that feeling. Isaiah’s first word (besides Mom and Dad) is “Up” as in, Time to get UP! Glad to know there are others who understand. 🙂

  • Reply
    Jessica gombis
    October 25, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Exactly what I needed to read this morning. Yes. It’s 7:13 and I’ve been up for almost two hours on a Saturday morning with my 3 month old. Thank you.

    • Reply
      Rachel
      October 25, 2014 at 10:08 pm

      I really know that feeling. Isaiah’s first word (besides Mom and Dad) is “Up” as in, Time to get UP! Glad to know there are others who understand. 🙂

  • Reply
    Hannah
    October 25, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Ah, my heart is going ‘yeah. yes! oh man, yep.’
    I am SO glad I’m not the only mom finding my tears at Target. 😉
    Bless you for sharing your story.

    • Reply
      Rachel
      October 25, 2014 at 10:07 pm

      Bless you for the comment. Thank you. 🙂 Glad to know I’m not alone.

  • Reply
    Hannah
    October 25, 2014 at 5:55 pm

    Ah, my heart is going ‘yeah. yes! oh man, yep.’
    I am SO glad I’m not the only mom finding my tears at Target. 😉
    Bless you for sharing your story.

    • Reply
      Rachel
      October 25, 2014 at 10:07 pm

      Bless you for the comment. Thank you. 🙂 Glad to know I’m not alone.

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