Monday, January 30, 2012

Muscle Memory

I had a soccer game last night.  The stars all aligned perfectly and K walked in the door just in time for me to be able to rush off and get there relatively on time.  I play in an indoor league with a bunch of ladies that I've known for awhile.  We are pretty competitive and regularly play teams 10-15 years younger.  I think I've talked about it here before that when I play soccer it really is when I feel the most like "Peg."  The ball at my feet, seeing a pass at a split second, zipping past someone, and ripping a ball into the back of the net.  Even without playing everyday like I did in my youth and twenties, I still have the same skills and game awareness.

Athletes regularly do repetitive actions in order to perfect certain aspects of the game or activity and soccer is no exception. I have 33 years of creating muscle memory. Last night at my game, there were several times when instinct took over and I can't tell you "how" I did something.  It just happened and felt awesome.  On the field, how I strike the ball, carry the ball at my feet or thread a pass in simply natural.  I don't really "think" any more.  It's completely liberating.  Great stress release to say the least.

As I was driving home, contemplating this last night, it got me thinking about the "muscle memories" I'm creating in other aspects of my life.  I'm stuck in this cycle of working hard all day with the kids, switching over to "work, work" once they're in bed and then staying up way too late reading or watching useless TV to unwind.  This results in a very tired Peg the next day who gets energized after a cup of coffee and shower in the morning and keeps the train going with diet cokes and random bites of sugar (usually involving chocolate) till I collapse in my bed at night.  I've been justifying this by admitting I"m still in survival mode.  This excuse is getting thin.

Ultimately this has created a very inpatient, grumpy mom.  My first instinct lately is to yell, say the wrong thing or generally just overreact at the kids.  As with most things, I'm a lot harder on the boys.  My worst moments are first thing in the morning as I'm hustling 4 of them into uniforms, fed, shoes on, bags packed in about 25 minutes.  A close second is bedtime in which I'm trying to get 5 of them bathed, jammies on, teeth brushed (not batting 1000 on this one) and into bed.  The last one a real challenge with a 15 year old who needs to get to bed since she gets up at 3:40 am for swimming.

I want to break this cycle.  I don't want this to be this mom.  I know I've written about this before, but I'm still struggling with how to make the right steps to fix this.  More sleep.  Better organized.  I guess recognizing it is a step in the right direction.  No more excuses.

I don't want this muscle memory to be as natural as a left footed certainly doesn't feel as satisfying.


  1. First off, I'm so glad you have an outlet for stress relief. That's awesome!

    I was thinking last night that I'm tired of being the crabby mom who always says, "no" and never says "yes". I was irritated and out of sorts with the girls this morning through no fault of theirs. I'm peeved with B for not taking care of his car and therefore needing mine so that all MY plans had to be tossed. Should i have been pissy with the girls? nope. I'm working on it, but it's slow going.

    I think it's so hard to change patterns and self and if we're mindful of it we can start to try.

    I don't envy your situation. I adore my nieces and nephews, but really would struggle to take any of them into my home permanently, and then to deal with their grief on top of my own? Yeah, that would be beyond difficult. I think you need to give yourself a bit of a pass because you ARE still trying to figure it all out. You all haven't settled into a comfortable groove yet--although there are indications you're starting to get there.

    Be gentle with yourself. That's the key. Forgive yourself for you really ARE doing your best. No one can ask for more than that.


  2. For all other readers who don't know this, when Peg says she has "muscle memory" when it comes to soccer, boy does she mean it. She is an amazing soccer player. And although she is tiny, she is one of the toughest players out there on the field. She is very modest when she talks about it being muscle memory. She is also just purely a great athlete. Not your ordinary "soccer mom", i have to say :-)

    I think muscle memory physically takes time to build and you are doing that, but mental "muscle memory" which is the act of accepting how you are re-defining yourself and your life takes longer.

    I think you should become a writer and quit your day job, personally. You are so eloquent it breaks my heart sometimes. Love you Peg.