I’m sleeping on the air mattress this week. Or at least I was. More on that in a moment.
My husband tested positive for COVID (round 2, yay!), so we’ve got him isolated in the bedroom with full access to his very own bathroom and privileges to go out back into the yard whenever he feels like it. In our little house, that means I get the excitement of blowing up the air mattress in the living room and trying to keep my daughter from bouncing on it like a trampoline. This is the kind of thing that maybe felt like a novelty when I was younger and now feels like a chore. Who knew you could hurt yourself just by sleeping?? Hello, post-40 life!
All was going well until about 1:00am the first night when I woke up because…what was that hard thing underneath me? Did I leave my Kindle on the bed? And why does my hip ache so badly? Also, why is my butt so cold??
Oh, because the air mattress was pretty much out of air.
Perhaps due to the aforementioned 4 year old’s treatment of it as her personal trampoline, or maybe because it was time for a replacement, or possibly just because the Universe had some jokes in store for me this week, the air mattress was deflated. I did a quick air refill, but in another hour or so found myself in the same exact position as before. By this point, my kiddo had joined me (further accelerating the deflation, of course), and trying to exit off of it was like trying not to spill a full glass of wine on a water bed. I considered slowly rolling off and then stealing my way into her bed, but by that point it was getting pretty close to when my alarm would be going off anyway.
I opted for snuggling closer to her, which, if you’ve ever actually slept on a trampoline or had more than one person in a hammock, you know everyone ends up in the middle being sort of cocooned on all sides by the blankets and the rest of whatever piece of furniture or playground apparatus you happen to be on. I lay in the dark with my aching hip, my little one snuggled against me, and my butt still freezing because WOW that tile floor gets cold, and I took stock of what was going on for me emotionally.
I was exhausted, yes, but the emotions tagging along with that experience were intense. I was stressed out about how tired I would be later, and THIS WAS NOT THE DAY to be exhausted. I was afraid of how I would get everything done that was on my list. I was a little (ok, maybe more than a little) resentful of sleeping on this dang deflating air mattress, and there were even some little (okay, maybe not so little) bursts of anger in there. I wasn’t in full-on pity party mode, but if I were to be totally honest, there were some things that weren’t all sunshine and roses.
My daughter finally woke up a little bit later, and after we navigated the school preparation and drop-off, I noticed my mood was still feeling pretty nasty. Part of that was sleep deprivation, I’m sure, but there were also some parts that I was struggling with that felt like maybe they could be under my control instead. Reliably shifting my mood is a practice I’ve been working on developing for quite some time, so I opted for a few more minutes to myself before jumping into the day. I find that when I can do this instead of hustling headfirst into ALL OF THE THINGS, my day is immeasurably better for it. I worked through the following list of steps and found myself a bit more ready to head into my day. (Without an impending night of sleep on a deflating air mattress!)
- Feel your feels! This seems simple, but a lot of us – myself included – have been conditioned to ignore our feelings or at least shove them back down inside a more manageable box. “It’s ok to feel angry, but don’t get too angry.” Nah. I say go for it. Whether it’s a text to a friend, a guided meditation, journaling, or a quick treadmill session, I think it’s always better to let yourself feel the full range of your emotions without judgment or limitation. THEN you get to decide what you want to do with them. Which brings me to step two.
- Get sorted. I like to filter through my feelings to get clarity on exactly what I want to do with them. Is there something funny I want to share with someone else? (In this case, I made a note that this situation might be fodder for a blog post) Is there something sad or hurtful I need to process? Maybe I need to find time to do that or consider what would be helpful. Is there something that needs more reflection/investigation? For example, beyond being tired and a bit physically uncomfortable, why exactly was the situation making me SO tense? I needed some additional time to investigate what felt disproportional. And lastly, what am I ready to release? Yep, the night kind of sucked. Also, it wasn’t going to happen again, so I was ready to let go of it and move forward without giving it any more of my time or energy. (Also, released that dead air mattress to the trash can!)
- Move forward intentionally. Once I get past 1 & 2, I need to also consider what needs to be done and how I want to do it. I think we don’t give anywhere near enough credence to what we want, and this is where there’s a lot of room for magic! Asking what truly needs to be done and then refining and refining that list again helps carve out some of the hustle culture and overcommitment. Then asking what I truly want helps me cultivate a vibe and a day that actually feels good to me, and it leads me to specific actions that can help bring that about.
Next time you find yourself on whatever your version is of a deflated air mattress, remember to be gentle with yourself, move the heck off of it, take stock of the situation with some reflection, and then move forward in a way that is intentional and builds the feelings you want to have. Oh yeah, and if it’s one you keep coming back to because “it’s good enough” – I’d encourage you to consider a trip out to the trash can and replacing it with something better! Just adding more air to something that’s not working isn’t the answer.