In full disclosure, I felt like a fraud when I started typing this blog post. And maybe I am.
As the title suggests, I’m supposed to be giving some insightful words of wisdom about if and how you can survive whatever season of parenting you’re in. But the truth is, I’m right there in the trenches next to you, mirroring your shell-shocked look and matching your lack of energy reserves, all while coated in someone else’s bodily fluids. I am you, and you are me.
But then I said to myself, “Now, wait a minute, sister! Maybe you can add some value here because you have survived every single one of your worst days.” And I have. Survived, that is.
On the best days, I have survived toddler temper tantrums and a baby whose crying can’t be pacified.
On the worst days, I’ve found myself curled around my kid in her hospital bed.
On the unimaginable days, I’ve stumbled through the darkest days of postpartum depression and figurative and clinical mental breakdowns. And wouldn’t you know, my kids survived it all. So, maybe I can impart some wisdom after all.
Just hang on. As a fresh, young newlywed, I once received some of the best marital advice that still rings the truest of the true now that I’m a parent: “When you want to give up, just hang on for one more day.” Simple advice, right? But before you roll your eyes at how trivial it is, think about it for a second: How many impulsive decisions or words you shouldn’t have said out loud could’ve been but a mere cautionary tale if you had just waited one more day? The bad days won’t always last. They can’t. There can be no darkness without the existence of its counterpart — light. So, just cling to these words like the life raft they are.
Call anxiety what it is: A liar. Anxiety is a bully. It shoves you around late at night, causing your mind to contemplate all the what-ifs. It grips you by the collar and mutters menacingly in your ear that every fear of yours will come true. It threatens to make you spend your days looking over your shoulder in fearful anticipation. There are many acronyms out there for the word, “fear.” My favorite? “Future Events Appearing Real.” I am not here to delegitimize your fears. Sometimes, your fears do come true. But a lot of times? A lot of times, we work ourselves into a TV drama in our minds that even television producer, Shonda Rhimes, would lift an eyebrow at. So, push back against anxiety. Defend yourself against it with a one-two punch of truth. And if that doesn’t work . . .
. . . go talk to someone about it. Ask any of my friends or family what I usually bring up in any conversation — it’s therapy. Oh, sweet therapy. Where would I be without you? Oh, I know! In the darkest of dark places, that’s where — a spot I’ve been that I never want to return to again. There will be times when you just cannot get out of the weeds of whatever you’re feeling — rage, despair, or a healthy helping of both. That’s when you need to call in reinforcements. Therapists should be your first line of defense. They’ll help you process flawed thinking and past traumas that influence your mindset and parenting today. Everyone needs a therapist, just like everyone needs a doctor. Things going well? Great! I’m sure your therapist would love to hear about it. Things going horribly wrong? Never fear! Your therapist’s calendar has an opening.
These may be ramblings of an overtired, overworked mom living through a pandemic. But I’ve seen the ebbs and flows of life enough to know the better days lie just ahead. So, whatever you’re going through, just know . . .
. . . you will feel like you again.
. . . you will be less stressed again.
. . . the dark circles will roll from underneath your tired eyes and the sun will shine again.
And when the seasons of easy come around — and they will, my friend — promise to pay it forward and encourage someone who is in the spot where you are right now.