Oh man. There will just be those moments. Those moments of parenthood when you can barely breathe or collect your train of thoughts because the weight of your work is pressing down so hard, so heavy upon you, that you're practically paralyzed. And hopefully they are few and far between because when they do hit you'll pretty much have no choice but to hold on for dear life and ride them out even as they suck the very life force right out of you and leave you with the worst hangover of your entire life; the parenting hangover.
I'm in the middle of one of those moments right now and it is exhausting, both mentally and physically. I actually went to bed at like 7pm last Sunday just to catch a break from it all. If you're like me (crazy sensitive and slightly OCD) you're going to want a home remedy for this hangover, but just like Emergen-C didn't work in your 20's there is no quick fix in your 30's either, nope, not for this. However, there are a few things that can go a long way to helping you through the worst of it.
1) You are not alone. I repeat, you are NOT ALONE. When we first started facing tough challenges with our teens a few years back I remember how lonely I felt. Maybe I just didn't have enough friends with teenagers or maybe it's simply not as easy to discuss the challenges we encounter during adolescence because they seem larger, more intimidating and in some ways more real. Let's face it, the baby who wakes you up in the middle of the night and the toddler who still isn't potty trained are not real problems. Now don't get me wrong, I'm coming off of 14 months of interrupted sleep, I know it feels like a problem, oh I know, but compared to some of the things you'll face down the road these early challenges are easy~they're the warm up. No matter where you are along the parenting journey please just know that you are not alone, there are plenty of other parents who have been exactly where you are, you are not the only one. I promise.
2) Reach out. You will find that there are tons of places for you to pour your sleepy heart out during the early years. Whether it's a playgroup or a Mommy and Me class or even an online support network, it's out there and yours for the taking if you seek it out. As your kids get older this may seem more daunting. The challenges loom larger and can be extremely painful to open up about. The same mom who was more than willing to commiserate about sleep schedules, homework hurdles and chore charts will have a much harder time sharing the rock bottom moment she just had with her first grader, the fact that her middle schooler was recently suspended or how she sometimes hides from her high schooler. Perhaps it's because we're scared that the other moms will judge us (because unfortunately some of them will) or perhaps it's because we have already judged ourselves much too harshly. In any event, the only true way to realize you are not alone is to reach out. I know it may seem risky, especially when you're feeling so vulnerable, but hearing from others who have already weathered a similar storm or who are in the middle of it right now, right NEXT TO YOU, can help lift your spirit in ways that nothing else can. And that my friends is a risk worth taking.
3) Breathe. Sounds dumb I know but seeing as how your breath is basically your lifeline, take some time to find yours. I think sometimes we become so intertwined in the lives of our children that we forget to take the time to breathe on our own. Just as you are not the whole of their successes, you are not their mistakes either. So when your lovely child makes a mistake (and trust me they will at one point or 50) or does something horrifying that makes you feel like you are actually the worst parent on the planet just know that you're not. Every bad choice has the potential to be a learning experience and an opportunity for growth. So take a moment to breathe on your own, to fuel up, and then help your child with whatever he or she is struggling with; they NEED YOU. For the same reason you need to remember it's not the end of the world, they need to know it too. This isn't the first storm and it certainly won't be the last, so keep a bit of perspective, be kind to yourself, know with unwavering certainty that you are loved and BREATHE.
And remember that one day you might just laugh about the whole thing. Once you've sobered up a bit that is.