I knew this journey was going to be hard. I knew it would have its struggles. But when you’re in it, knowing all those things ahead of time doesn’t help you feel any better in the moment. Mostly I just feel heartbroken, enraged, and exhausted.
My heartbreak comes from a place that I just wanted so much more for them. At this point, I hoped they would be in such a different emotional, educational, and literally physical place in life. So many times I’ve questioned if there was / is something I could do different. I want more for them? What part of this is up to me? Have I let them down? I hoped that our relationship would look so much different than it does.
When our son was younger, I had hoped we could be best friends, have a tight relationship. The age he is now, is the age I was at when I watched my own father walk into prison. I saw this as the opportunity for a new life. But this is not the reality. And that just leaves me heartbroken.
My rage comes from a place that I deserve to be treated better. I’ve responded to ridiculous behavior and ridiculous choices with more patience, more love, more support, and more compassion than the situation would ever call for! I reflect back on my own upbringing and what would have happened if I would have yelled at my parents the way I was just yelled. A question that often float through my mind is, “What did I do to deserve this?” I have spent more money, given more time, held my tongue more often, and forgiven more mistakes. Don’t I deserve better? This is when my rage starts to spark inside.
My exhaustion comes from spending the last 10 days sleeping on my kids’ floor. One of kids struggles with extreme anxiety at night and wakes up at 1, 2, and 3am screaming our names. As a strategy to help minimize everyone’s sleep disruption, I’ve chosen to sleep on their bedroom floor so I can immediately respond without everyone’s sleep getting too disrupted. We recently had a rough night where my strategy didn’t work. She was awake and restless from 2am all the way to 5am. For those three hours my mind kept racing that I have to get myself back to sleep so I can function the next day at work.
I wish I could say that this would be where I start to explore what to do in these moments. This is where I tell you the tangible things you can do to get through, and to make it to the next moment. But the truth is, the best I can do is acknowledge and embrace where I am at, how I am feeling, and the fact that I am powerless. In this moment I am choosing to accept it rather than attempt to change it. I am choosing to accept that life is hard. I am choosing to accept that these kids are having some really bad days and I cannot stop this healing process they are still in. I have to sit in this season of life. I am choosing to accept that I'm doing a good job, but that brokenness hurts.
I’m a child and adolescent therapist during my day job, and one of the concepts I’ve learned throughout my learning is the idea of acceptance. It’s led me to acknowledge where I am at and just be for a bit. I literally choose to sit in the situation for 60-90 seconds and just acknowledge the emotions I’m feeling in that moment. I allow my mind to wander during that time and pay attention to where it goes. What do I think about? What do I dwell on? What emotional reactions do I feel when my mind “goes there?”
I’m not offering this moment of acceptance as the fix to the situation. Acceptance doesn’t change the emotion. But what acceptance does is ease the distress we feel when we are powerless. Because in the end, that’s exactly what we are… powerless. Rather than running around thinking we’re in control, acceptance helps us realize we aren’t. And that’s okay. It’s acknowledging what I’m thinking and what I’m feeling in the moment. And that’s it.
I’m not sure how this week is going to end. If I’ve learned anything while parenting, it’s that I can’t predict what’s coming next. But what I do know is that emotions are going to be involved. I know that my relationships are going to impact my emotions. Because I love all of those in our home I am going to experience the ripple effects of their peace and turmoil depending on the day.
We’re going to continue to have struggles and successes. Parenting kids from hard places is never an easy journey. Not for anyone.
I will choose, moment by moment, to acknowledge how I’m feeling, and embrace it.
The good, the bad, whatever it might be, I’m going to walk into it with open arms, take a deep breath and accept it.