“This is one thing they forgot to mention in most child-rearing books, that at times you will just lose your mind. Period! “ Anne Lamott
I was thinking about that quote recently because I realize how often my Parent Pulse blog encourages and celebrates what children need from us, as parents, and how we should try to be empathic, aware, compassionate, loving, understanding, positive, funny – even during our children’s most difficult times.
But there are definitely moments – days sometimes – when finding those particular responses are slow, hard and very challenging – at a parent’s most difficult time.
And so we may miss the mark when a child comes home and has a huge meltdown because there’s not time to go to the park before dinner, or you’ve just experienced a morning of whining from a child who can definitely talk in “her big-girl voice”, or when two children are arguing over whose turn it is to choose the bedtime story.
This when you are the one who actually needs someone to read you a story, tuck you in bed, rub your back, listen about your day – all the time feeling held and embraced as your eyelids grow heavy and you drift off to sleep.
Wow – that image makes me feel good just thinking about it.
And that’s the answer, I guess. Knowing what it is that can make us feel well – renewed – affirmed – so we will have the energy to meet our children’s emotional and physical needs.
So …perhaps it might be on this particular long rainy day that the children do get to watch one of their favorite videos; that you take a bubble bath at 1:00 in the afternoon while the children nap; or spend that time curled up in a cozy chair reading whatever you want, cell phone turned off; that you order pizza delivery for dinner; bring out the coloring books and crayons your aunt sent and zone out together, sprawled on the rug; arrange for a sitter so you can take a hike up the bluff; make plans for a girls’ night out two times a month, mind and hands free.
Whatever it takes to restore ourselves for the difficult but lovely challenge of parenthood.
On our new phone systems that we have installed at The Parenting Place (thank you, volunteer Randy Mathe) a bright light flashes on and off when there is a new message for us to notice. It’s hard not to pay attention to it.
In a way we have one of these message systems installed within ourselves. I think we all know when our emotional selves are needy, when our personal light system is perhaps dim rather than bright. So that’s the time we should cut ourselves some slack, and recognize there needs to be some room in parenting for taking care of ourselves as well as taking care of our children.
Pay attention to the light from within and the message it brings.