When I was a kid (I kind of chuckled at this, the joke is I never really was a kid) I used to love roller coaster’s and all thrill type rides. Later, probably after watching any of the Final Destination movies, it began to occur to me that these large machines were as capable of breaking as any, and I could be putting myself in danger. Let’s be honest I hit a point in my life where my imagination ran my world, and what it often told me is that death was somehow after me. So I recall after this occurred I would still try and push myself, but by the time that conglomeration of nuts and bolts reached it’s peak, inside I would want to scream “someone let me back down before something bad happens.” I would want to turn back and the only thing that usually prevented me from doing so (was probably my ego) was the fact that other people behind me were waiting and I would cause a scene. If it weren’t for fear of inconveniencing others I would have marched right back down the line and out to safety, never having plummeted.
*A present time update is that I do not ride those rides. I get dizzy, and also feel like the chiropractor is necessary after a single ride. I am officially “old” 😉
In my life currently with regard to parenthood I am going slowly up and up, imagining my impending doom, and feeling sometimes as if I want to scream, let me off this ride. When you’re a new parent you spend lots of time imagining what the heck people mean when they playfully warn you about the teenage years. I feel like I did not take those warnings seriously enough. What I have learned in my 16 years of parenting that IS comforting is that MOST everything (at least so far) is a phase, which means it does pass, you get a brief breath of fresh air, and then a new struggle will be laid out before you. Just as soon as you feel you have the parenting game figured out….. it changes.
I used to get so scared and bewildered when caught in the moment that I could only intensely emotionally react to each part of the phase. When it was in its worst I thought I would never make it out alive, and when it resolved finally, I felt I would be safe forever. Both of those illusions can be very dangerous. The reality is that all things in life will ebb and flow, there will be good and bad moments throughout. It’s about making it through the difficult ones and how we manage that, and about enjoying the good while still knowing it will not be some constant state to try and grasp and keep forever. It’s like a flower that you can’t pluck and take with you for it will die. You appreciate that moment, take a snapshot in your mind, and buckle up for the next hurdles.
Currently my hurdles are compounded by my self-components : ADHD (this is a big one), being highly sensitive, Crohn’s Disease, Anxiety, running a full time practice doing a job that while very rewarding, can take a large tax on my available resources, which brings me to “being the type of person who constantly is spread too thin because of their sheer thirst for experience in life and inability to sit still, even for a second”, PTSD (also a big one), an ex-husband who does not really fall into the category of supportive (understatement), personal struggle with self-image including still feeling inside like I look like my 20 year old self and becoming terrified when I see my “nearing 40 self in the mirror”. I am sure there are more, but these serve the purpose for now.
At any given moment I burn at 1,000 KW hours (this probably doesn’t even make sense and I’m not going to fact check it, because if I do my thought train will leave the tracks, and my inspiration may be lost). I burn bright ok, strong and bright and I go and go UNTIL I drop. When I have dropped you WILL KNOW. If you see my drop you are most likely to be my partner or my kids. The drop can appear as ugly snoring on the couch curled up with Sig, but more often the drop appears with me being able to hardly focus on anything, and being very SHORT. Here I sit knowing I can show up day in and day out warm and friendly, an ALLY for my clients, and knowing that my children get what appears to be “the shit end of the stick”, the very worst parts of me. Writing this line even almost brought me to tears. They get me running on fumes, and we all scratch and claw and bite at one another at the end of the day.
And here is the epiphany fellow parent travelers who come across this: The great trick here is this is also what I get, “the very worst parts of them”. I said to my partner the other day in an adult temper tantrum moment, “but I don’t want to be the mom”. I came across a lovely woman on my travels to Texas. She is from Iowa and has a beautiful family that sounds like a dream. When I shared some vulnerabilities with her she said something to me, that I will keep, treasure, and now share with others. She essentially told me that our kids are for other people and not ourselves. We are home base, they come home and refuel, and pack up and go out into the world to others. I think I didn’t know, that I didn’t know, if I was ready to be home base yet or not.
When we feel safe and loved really well, our full selves are able to be present. This means also our selfish and mean selves, selves we have to learn to manage. I want to show up for my kids journey with this. *disclaimer this is not an excuse for blatant poor behavior and if you come up with some code for how to know exact lines around this please share it with me. Discerning how much wiggle room to give, and when being a parent takes priority over being a friend is a costant battle.
Children when they are young are very gratifying, they love the daylights out of ya. They give and give and give, and would fix everything if they could. Their warm light brightened the path for me to come back from years of a neglectful and confusing childhood. My children saved me. I’ve struggled with, is this ok?, should I be guilty for this? Are they too parentified? So many things. The reality is though they are my greatest motivator, for which I would never have traveled this far. I need to keep this in perspective as I journey these treacherous paths.
So now I talk to myself as much as I talk to anyone reading…. now is my time to fully bloom into adulthood (my path with this has been affected by my personal story, and does not appear on a traditional timeline, if anybody’s really does) and to be their harbor and be patient with them while they go through the phase of selfish discovery, the phase I went through very latently. I went through it while they were young. This happened because I didn’t have the space they do with me. I have to always remember that fact. When I am lost I have to always remember that fact.
I need to find a way to reconnect with my 13 year old daughter. Some of that journey has begun by reconnecting with what my 13 year old self may have left unresolved. Some of it has a life of it’s own I can’t control. Some components I believe are genetic and temperament and some things are beyond the scope of being able to figure out. But I’ll be here keeping on… trying. Because it is what I know how to do. I don’t know how to give up. That is my one true gift. I didn’t give up on becoming a parent. I continue to become one every single day. There are always new lessons and growth to be had. The most I have ever learned in life is from being a parent.