I truly had no expectations for the start of Summer. I was having a rough time anyway and didn’t want to predict it getting any rougher. But it still did. The same day that school let out, the two-year old got sick. And the next day, my husband had a tire blow out on the major highway. I then found out I’d allowed the children’s insurance to lapse and there I was in the strike zone again.
Worst of all, being underneath a sick and tantruming toddler for the next 7 days meant there was just no room for me.
I like having time and space to myself to create and feel productive and whole. In the absence of that, I feel ‘less than’, angry, and hopeless. Fed up and exhausted from the perpetual waking up of the child and the sudden relentlessness of my life, I felt shameful moments of rage and desperation and behaved in a ridiculously dramatic way to show to my husband that I in fact couldn’t handle all of this as well as he thinks I can.
I then explained that my mommy brain thinks I have to be watchful of the children 24/7. This consciousness ensures they’re kept alive but wears me out and could he please know that I do this and step in and say he’s got them for a while even without me asking? He may or may not have heard this but it was me saying something out loud. I need to hear myself say that I’m allowed a break.
My constant irritation by everything was exactly the opposite of the feelings of bliss and ease I’d had with my family on several weekends in the month before. What’s the difference I wondered ?
And as each day played out and eventually her health was restored, the insurance was renewed, the car was being repaired, and Mark’s work evened out, I began to feel better. And watching moments of tenderness between my children filled me with the gratitude I was missing. And I knew the spell had passed.
And then I knew what the difference had been.
Faith in my life. Faith in myself.
When I thought about what really tweaked me during those really hard days, it was the belief that it would always be bad. My anxiety was climbing as I was silently predicting a future that would have me dealing with this stress perpetually. And I’d always be handling it alone. These wrong thoughts are called cognitive distortions. They are lies that we tell ourselves and then, when we feel the feelings of sadness, desperation, or depression, we say that the thoughts must be facts then because the feelings make them feel real. But they don’t. The distorted thoughts are the cause of the yucky feelings.
What I tell myself I believe.
I had myself believing I would always be alone, never have the help or support I would need, and that mothering a daughter would be the hell everyone has ever warned me about. But the truth is that phases ebb and flow. Bad spells come and go. Kids get sick and better. My support system was on vacation that week but they would return again.
What’s most important is that my kids don’t get the idea that I doubt my abilities to parent them. I spend quality time with them and they know that they’re loved. The sickness behavior screws it all up for a week and then it’s as if it never happened. And no, mothering doesn’t have to be the only thing that ever defines my worth. But I better get hopping on stuff that invests my talents for me and my hope into the future. So when the next tantrum and the next bad spell happens, I know I’ve invested in my goals and my getaways and my hope for my future. And that I’m not alone. That I’ve got my back too.
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