I see you and I get you.
I’m a mom of an 8 and 11 year old and I’m right there with you. Here, in this crazy place of parenting in a global pandemic for quite some time now.
As a child therapist and an elementary school counselor, I have witnessed how incredibly hard these times have been on you and your families. The sheer weight of this pandemic (not to mention any assortment of environmental disaster, plus the chaos of political and social upheaval… woah) have left us utterly frazzled. As a parent, I have found myself weighed down by all of it while trying to juggle the pace of Distance Learning, other virtual meetings and obligations, and the influx of what is happening socially and emotionally within my own family.
With all this going on, on so many levels, we are BOUND to drop the ball as parents. Please don’t feel badly. We are struggling greatly to maintain our prior levels of functioning. There is just too much going on in our heads, meanwhile too little going on in our homes. We are confusingly under and overstimulated at the same time. I’m pretty sure the ability to “keep it all together” is as impossible as seeing live music or shopping without a mask.
This confusing cluster of constant overwhelm and underwhelm has affected us on every level including; the way we parent, the way we are in our relationships, and the way we treat ourselves. Remember that alone time you had pre-Covid, or the ways you took care of your mind, body and emotions? For most of us, that has been on hold. Perhaps paused, like much of our normalcy, since mid-March 2020.
Now we are in 2021. We are beginning to take stock on what we have been through and where we are going. We made it through the holidays and into a sparkling new year. We have the ability to hit a bit of a reset as we reconsider the ways we are functioning, or merely “getting by”, since early 2020.
Are we even getting by? At times it feels impossible when we are often so focused on the needs of those around us. I know I find myself perpetually scanning my environment, and assessing everyone else’s needs. Sometimes I get lost in that scan. Taking care of your own needs gives you more space for the needs of everyone around you. You have more capacity to breathe, think and be. So suddenly when your toddler screams at you because he can’t get his shoe on, you won’t explode in return. Or implode into tears.
Yes, I’m talking about self-care, which has become a bit of a buzzword and a tired old phrase, all at the same time. Self-care isn’t always a scented bath, rather it is simply and truly “taking care of your needs”. Tune in for the briefest moment and ask yourself “what do I need right now?”. Maybe it IS a scented bath or a massage (ha!) but it could also mean closing the door to your bedroom and blasting your favorite song, or writing down the cluster in your head, or going outside and closing your eyes to the sensation of the breeze across your face. In other words, self-care can mean anything! Tuning in and having simple awareness of your needs is first and foremost. And this step is often… hard. And it takes practice… just like anything else we learn to do well.
We will make it through this parents and we are making it through this, one step at a time. Please know that you and your children will make mistakes through this stressful time. In my practice, I often encourage kids to look at mistakes as an opportunity to learn and grow. Please, offer the same grace for yourself. Give yourself a moment of forgiveness and understanding, as being hard on yourself doesn’t actually really help anyway.
It’s been said ad nauseam that these times are hard, and dare I say, unprecedented. We’ve grown a strange immunity to the oddness of it. And yet, if you look inside yourself, you may notice this small and consistent tension that is there almost. every. moment. This is the burden we are bearing of tough times, the constant weight of something else that is always there. A threat lurking, sometimes the threat is small and sometimes we can hardly breathe under the weight. It’s a lot people.
I do have a lot of words, but not a lot of words of wisdom. As I am also deep in this unprecedented soup of chaos with you. I won’t say “we’re in this together”, cuz you’ve heard that before too. But I will say this… I see you. And I get you.