As soon as I was alone in the car the tears came, slow and gentle off on and on. I knew when I woke up Sunday morning that I was feeling tired, tired and heavy. I did not have the answers to help Michael, and though the day before had ended beautifully with Dad and I having our first date night post-diabetes and now possibly ADHD, it had been anything but beautiful until the sitter came to watch Michael that evening. Sure there were some nice pockets of moments that Michael behaved and listened, but it was not when he was alone with me or Dad. I was feeling so tired and fed up of the roller coaster of emotions we were all riding as a family, but most important of all, the mother who always trusted her own parenting instinct was having an identity crisis.
How come with all the hard behavioral work we had been doing with Michael, particularly over the last two years, but let’s face it, pretty much over the last ten years, as well as the new medication which were helping, did we still have bad days like these? Where was I going wrong? Then, another thought hit. I don’t have the energy for this anymore. I am tired, fed up. I want off this train right now and want my old pre child life back, when I only had my own stresses and strains to worry about. The life where I didn’t have to handle filling out ABC charts, carb counting, charting side effects of drugs. Enough. I’d had enough. I wanted someone else to take over and take over being Michael’s Mom as of that moment. I did not want the stress, the heartache, and had lost trust that I could do the job in spite of so many of my Mom friends and family cheering me on and telling me what a great job I was doing. I thought back to the last time I was excited to do anything with Michael. It had been awhile. Even when things were going well, I kept waiting for disaster to strike, unfairly too. Sunday had ended up being a great day for us as a family.
Anyway, back to the drive home from church. So as my tears dried up I heard a soft voice inside whispering to me that I needed to go to the lake. We have a beautiful nature park near our house. It was not far from church or our house. I did not question this voice, but drove the lake. Once there I texted Dad that I would be home in about an hour as I needed some more alone time. I waited hoping all was well at home and I could do this. It was. After that, more crying ensued in the parking lot, until I felt calm, serene and ready to go for a nature walk. From the second I stepped outside and heard the crunching of my shoes on the gravel, I knew the voice that was whispering to me was my spirit. She was reminding me of how I healed my feelings of exhaustion, fear and self-doubt as a mother five years earlier and was reborn. It was through meditation, yoga and walking in nature. It was through making time to charge my personal battery. As I walked I started thinking, Michael’s behaviors have not gotten worse. I have gotten more tired, burned out, and have not been able to handle them as well. He needs help, reminders to use his strategies, but none of that will happen until I get a handle on my stress and fix my health. Soon I came to a bench and I looked out at the beautiful shimmering lake. It was a cloudy cold day, but it felt so good to be out in the fresh air, in the quiet with only the odd jogger and hiker to contend with. And then I saw the ducks swimming and quacking away in the water. I smiled for the first time at one of them as he continuously dunked his head in and out of the water. I watched other bathe themselves.
And then I started to pray. I started to pray to God to show me the way, to give me strength to be Michael’s mother, but before I could do that. help me be Joanne again. Help me be Joanne who makes time for exercise, alone time to read and unwind, as well as writing, all my writing. Help me be Joanne and schedule regular date nights with her husband and get back to her girls’ nights out. Help me be Joanne and do what makes me feel alive, peaceful and grateful for all my blessings. I knew I had so much to be grateful for even in the challenging moments. Friends had been reaching out to me and I’d been pushing them away. This was not due to me being in denial about needing a break, but due to total exhaustion and a bad sinus infection I am still fighting. I realized sitting there on that bench, that I would be alright. Michael and Dad would be alright. I just needed to take care of me and get strong. After that, it would all fall into place. The answers would come. And as I walked back to my car, I felt the first bit of peace I’d felt in a long time. And I felt happy, happy to be going home to see my boys.
Exceptional Parents, do you have fantasies about running away from being parents? Do you feel tired, angry, fed up with your child, with yourself sometimes? You have every right to be feeling overwhelmed, but the best way to tackle your feelings of lack of control, are to control the one thing you can control-you. Ask yourself when was the last time you made time for things that recharged your batteries. Remember, if you take care of you first, it will be much easier to ride out your child’s storms until you figure out the best solution to help them. Also, if you find yourself losing patience with your child, think of the last time you were patient with yourself. If it’s been awhile, this could be why you are having a harder time with your child. We can only love and support others once we are doing it one hundred percent of the time for ourselves. Take heart Moms and Dads. You are doing the best you can. Now it’s time to take care of your spirit so you’ll have that much more to give back to your child and for yourself in the long run. Until next time.
I am a writer, speaker and parent coach whose son with Autism and Type 1 Diabetes has shown me a whole new way to see the world and embrace the joy of living in the moment! I believe in empowering parents to trust their own instincts when it comes to their children, and in helping them parent with love, respect and confidence on their own exceptional parenting journey.
For more information on my coaching services, for a FREE 30 min consultation, and to receive a copy of my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL FAMILY ANXIETY,” see my website: www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com.