I think I have Postpartum Ennui, a condition I just invented to describe why I don’t want to do anything, ever. This is especially true with anything that involves my brain: I can get myself motivated to straighten the kitchen or make the bed, but someone sends me an email asking if I can go to an event next weekend and I stare at it like they just asked me to derive the quadratic equation. I find this rather unsettling, since it’s normally the opposite with me. I’m the person who aspires to be a brain in a jar, for goodness’ sake! Why is it that I suddenly can do all this physical activity but cannot seem to get my brain to work at all? (I know, I know, I just had a baby recently, but normally I don’t still feel like my brain is a bowl of oatmeal a month out.)
I’m reading Scott Jurek’s memoir Eat and Run, which is probably not surprising given my love of reading about people who survive physical challenges that would kill me ten times over. Jurek is an ultrarunner, meaning he regularly competes in races that are over 100 miles long (those of you who read the amazing Born to Run will recognize Jurek from that book). He runs these things without stopping, so he often runs continuously for over 24 hours at a time. It’s all so insane and foreign to me, it’s like reading about an alien lifeform. As I read I’m thinking, You get up before dawn? To run? For hours? Until you’re vomiting and about to collapse? And then you run some more until your toenails fall off? It makes for fascinating reading for us couch potatoes.
Interestingly, Jurek’s memoir has had a significant impact on me, even though I mainly read it to gawk at the insanity of ultrarunning. Check this out:
Back when I was jogging a lot before this pregnancy, I still never built up any impressive endurance. At the peak of my jogging routine, when I was in the best shape of my life, I never could jog for more than about 3:45 without stopping to walk for a while (in case there are any ultrarunners in the audience, I should clarify that that’s 3 minutes, 45 seconds). I went out for one of my first post-pregnancy jogs yesterday, many pounds heavier and much more out of shape than the last time I exercised, and I was able to maintain a slow jog for an astounding 5:20. I thought it would take me months to work up to that level!
I give most of the credit to Jurek’s memoir. I can’t pinpoint any particular tip or passage that changed things for me; I think I’d just been spending so much time immersing myself in reading about people who run, run, run until they can’t run anymore, and then they run some more anyway, that it rubbed off on me.
I realize that what I said in #3 would seem to contradict what I said in #1. It doesn’t sound like I have Postpartum Ennui if I’m out there breaking personal records for jogging. The reality is that I’m not all that motivated to exercise, but I am extremely motivated to get some time to myself. I don’t think of my jogs as opportunities to burn calories and get in shape as much as I think of them as “that thing I do when I get 30 whole minutes where nobody asks me for a snack or a sippy cup or to put on Shaun the Sheep the entire time.”
One of my biggest surprises of this year is that homeschooling has gone very well, despite all the craziness we’ve had to deal with. In terms of the “three R’s” (Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic) the kids are not only ahead of grade level but ahead of my own goals that I set back at the beginning of the year. The philosophy I’ve adopted that has simplified everything and made it easy for me to keep up with is that we do structured work (following prepackaged curricula, doing worksheets, systematically working through lessons) for the three R’s, and we unschool for everything else. I even combined spelling with handwriting, so that each spelling test is also a handwriting test and therefore I can get it all out of the way at once like a boss.
So, when I found myself too exhausted to undertake too much (which was most of this semester), I would do a Survival Homeschooling day, which looked like this:
- I teach each kid a brief math lesson from their Saxon Math books.
- I go over a grammar lesson from the awesome Growing with Grammar curriculum.
- I give them math, grammar, and spelling worksheets to do on their own.
- After they finish their worksheets they have 30 – 60 minutes of reading time, when they can read whatever they want from our selection of nonfiction kids’ chapter books. (I stocked up on a bunch of cheap ones from Amazon, so we have a whole shelf full of books that tell stories of interesting people and events and things).
Notice that it requires very little hands-on time from me. As the kids get older and I regain my ability to deal with life I’ll probably attempt to do more, but this improvised Survival Homeschool routine is working really, really well for us right now.
Have I ever mentioned that I am sunglass blessed? Sometimes I think that if a Sherlock Holmes type were to analyze my appearance, he’d be completely thrown off by that detail. He’d say: She’s carrying a purse from the discount rack at Kohl’s that shows that she doesn’t spend money on accessories, her scuffed shoes show that she has little attention to detail when it comes to her clothing, and those flare pants show that she has no awareness of what is currently in fashion. And yet she’s wearing the very latest Versace sunglasses?!
You see, my mom has done the finances for the same eyecare corporation for almost 30 years, and she has tons of friends who are sales reps for the big eyeware companies. They all love her and are constantly offering her free products, and she generously passes many of them along to me, and so my purse is filled with gorgeous sunglasses from Anne Klein, Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, and other fabulous brands. It’s almost a shame that I don’t have bad vision so that I can get great eyeglass frames too!
It is going to be unseasonably cool here in central Texas this weekend, which is unheard of for May, and I can only imagine what that might mean for more northern parts of the country. Stay warm, and hopefully we’ll get some real summer weather here soon.
Have a great weekend!