Updated: Jan 9
“Nobody said it was easy,
no one ever said it would be this hard.
Take me back to the start.”
Have you picked up on the fact that many of my thoughts are played out through song lyrics? I LOVE lyrics, most likely due to the fact my grandmother used to require us to listen to her read poems as we sat on the “divan” and then critique their meaning. Thank you, NK.
These Coldplay lyrics have been playing in the back of my head for quite some time. No one actually ever did say it was going to be easy. Any of “it.” Life… relationships… parenthood… functioning as an adult…healing…growing…loving…letting go…(fill in the blank)…
And thank the heavens no one ever said it would be this hard. You never really know how hard something will be until you’re in it, and thank God because it would deter many of us from jumping into the journey in the first place.
So, take me back to the start. Let me begin again. Erase those mistakes I made, take back time wasted or lost and just do it all again. Would be nice, but not an option. We don’t get the chance to go back. But we do have the chance to start a new day and move forward on a different path. Everyday. Every minute of every day, we get this chance.
You know what the “it” is for me today? Motherhood (insert Fatherhood if you’re a dad). A simple little 3 syllable word that can fill your heart with so much love it feels like it’s pouring out of your body and then the next minute it can take every ounce of patience not to lose your shit and leave the country.
On the days when it just feels like too much, what do we do to keep it together? Well, I haven’t perfected that because I’m human, but I do have some ideas…
Learn your triggers. Many times, the situation in front of us is not the only thing presenting itself. Parenting can trigger deep-seated emotions and beliefs. Ask yourself, “Do my feelings and reaction to this situation match what is actually presenting itself in front of me?” Is the fact that I’m about to throw this cookie sheet across the kitchen a match to the kids jumping on the couch and laughing? No, it’s triggering something else from the past. It's ok if you can't pinpoint what it is. In these moments, you may need to walk away, ground, get some water, slow down…
Repair and reconnect. If you know you’ve been disconnected or overtly frustrated, talk to your children. Tell them things feel hard. Normalize discussing emotions. Allow them to be a part of the solutions. Start basic. Ground, hydrate, breathe. One of the worst feelings a child can feel is unseen. When you are honest and open, they realize it’s not them it’s YOU. You are the adult, you are the role model. Day in, day out. Do what you can to keep your shit together.
Recharge. If there is one thing I could go back to the start with, it would be valuing my own need to recharge and renew my own energy. This seems like something we learn in our 40s… it has to start far earlier than this. Self care is not selfish. It’s necessary. Have 5 seconds? Do a triple warmer smoothie and thymus thump (Donna Eden exercises, free on YouTube). Have 5 minutes? Go outside and breathe. Have 10 minutes? Go for a walk or stretch. Have an hour or more? Get the fuck out of your house or grab some tea and read a real book.
Ask for help. You should not and cannot parent alone, even if you’re a single parent. Please, please, please ask for help from your partner, neighbors, friends, family, me. Stay connected- your happiness and health is just as important as your children’s. Martyrs don’t win prizes. Neither do victims.
Find the joy. Everyday. It is there. I promise you. But somedays you have to dig a little deeper. Step back and look objectively at their little faces. Notice the way they move, the way their hair falls on their face, or the freckles on their cheeks. Take photos of their drawings, their play schemes, the snacks they prepared for themselves… notice them not just as your children, but as people figuring out this weird world. Even if it’s your 16-year-old working as a cashier (and you watch him from your car waiting until he gets off his shift) as he makes eye contact and chats with a customer. Take the time to be present.
And listen to this song by Walter Martin, an old favorite of my daughter’s.
Join my parent chat coming in February. You know what I’m calling it?
Brutally Honest Thoughts on Parenting.
Thanks for reading, now go hug your kid and thank yourself for showing up for them.
This shit is hard. But as Glennon Doyle says, you can do hard things. Our babies are worth it. AND SO ARE YOU.
“I don't care about the funny way you wear your hair
Someday you'll let me put my comb up there
'Till then you're beautiful and I just stare”