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Tuning In Rather Than Tuning Out

It’s early morning, and my husband has been gone over night for duty. I roll over and look at my phone. It’s 6:30. My daughter is crying, and I pause in bed before getting up. “God, please let her fall back sleep,” I pray.

I wait two minutes. She’s still awake, no longer crying but calling out, “Mama, Mama, Mama, up pease!”

I roll out of bed and hastily get dressed and stumble down the hallway. It’s 6:35 and I pull her out of her crib. She’s happy to see me but her delights shifts to confusion. Where’s her dad?

“Daddy?”

I unzip her pajamas and am surprised by whole poop nugget mysteriously on the outside of her diaper.

“Dada?”

I wipe her legs off, then begin to change her diaper.

“Daddy’s working honey,” I say while gently cleaning her. “He’ll be home soon. I think he’ll bring breakfast.”

“Daddy?”

“Working,” I reply tugging a shirt over her head.

“Working?” She muffles out through the shirt.

“Yes working,” I pull pants on her.

It’s 6:45 and we walk out the kitchen. I sit her on the counter and she helps me make coffee. She scoops the ground, and helps froth the milk. I get her a cup of milk and we sit on the couch with our beverages and turn on the TV.

This is a habit I don’t love. I’d rather not have the television on, but my husband’s favorite thing in the world is to watch cartoons with our daughter early in the morning, so I’ve complied. I turn on the cat cartoon and sip my coffee. I pull out my journal and place it awkwardly next to me on the couch. She shifts slightly on my lap to give me more room to write and my heart pours out on the page. I write about sad I am over a friend’s heartache. I write about how I wish I could hold my sister’s new babies. I write about how I’m lonely and disconnected I feel. I write about how I feel like I’m a bad mom and a bad wife and a bad artist and a bad athlete and how I feel bad for feeling bad about these things. I write about how I love coffee and cuddles.

It’s 7:15 and I’ve filled out three pages. I’ve tuned into myself, and I know where I’m at. I know what I’m struggling with and what needs to get done today. The TV gets turned off, and music gets turned out. I refill my coffee cup and open up a book; she crawls off my lap to go play with blocks. The morning creeps on and the sun finally rises. My love comes home, we drink coffee while our little one colors pictures scribbled with crayon. There’s peace in our home but there’s also a little bit of sadness. I think on other mornings where I have tuned out rather than tuning in.

It looks similar.

It’s early morning, and my husband is gone on overnight duty I roll over and look at my phone. It’s 6:30. My daughter is crying, and I rush out of bed. Although I’ve laid out clothes to change into the night before, I rush by them carrying them into her room. I change into them hastily in her room. She’s begun crying in more honest.

“Sorry baby,” I say while pulling on my shirt. “I’m trying to go as fast as I can.”

She cries harder, adding pleas for her dad. “Dada pease, Daddy pease, pease, pease!” She thumps her chest while pleading with me for her dad making the sign language motion we taught her to ask for things nicely.

“I know baby,” I say while lifting her out of her crib, smelling her suspiciously. “I want Daddy too, he’ll be home soon.”

She continues to cry. I unzip her pajamas and am surprised by whole turd somehow outside of her diaper.

“Dada!” She sobs while I wipe her legs off.

“Daddy’s working,” I snap while cleaning her. “He’ll be home soon.”

“Daddy?”

“Working.” I say shortly, wrestling her into a shirt.

She cries even harder through her shirt.

It’s 6:50 and we walk out to the kitchen. She yells, “Baba!” Over and over and over running through the kitchen while I make coffee and prepare her cup of milk. We stumble over to the couch. I turn on the TV, it’s a habit I don’t love. I’d rather not have the TV on first thing in the morning, but morning snuggles are important to my husband. I want to make him happy, so I’ve given in. I pull out my phone and scroll mindlessly through first Facebook, then Instagram, the news, then instagram again. It’s 7:15 and I’m angry at a friend from years ago that posted something. My mind is hazy and my emotions muddled. Everything feels convoluted and confused. I’ve tuned myself and my world out. I’ve numbed instead of engaged. It’s like being beaten, and instead of fighting by tuning in, I’m rolling over and playing dead.

I’m trying to learn to be better about being understanding with myself for when I do tune out, but trying to do so consciously. Plan when I’m going to tune out the world around me, instead of making it a habitually daily act.


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