Tag Archives: Stress

Parents Need to Get a Life

I’m tired of it. The saintly, June Cleaver-ish, I-simply-exist-to-service-my-children-and-husband ideal that I keep running into. There’s a religious version. And an organic-hippie version. And a sleek, modern-day tiger-mom version. And yes, even a special needs, therapy-is-our-life version. Their parenting may look very different from each other, but they are all entirely consumed by it. And it’s not just the women. They’re martyr parents.

martyrmomIn this day and age, parenting is the last bastion of acceptable nobility. We no longer expect to lay down our freedom, our identity, our dreams… our lives on the altar of marriage, or country, or vocation. But when Jr. Me arrives on the scene, we’re prepared to gift wrap all of the above. And pat ourselves on the back for doing it.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of selflessness. It’s something our culture could use more of. It’s something I could use more of. But good parenting is about a lot more than sacrifice.

To clarify, I’m talking to good parents here. Not the pseudo-adolescents who barely show up, much less engage their offspring. Nor the workaholic yuppie with a trophy child they stash away until family photo day rolls around.

The rest of us. Most of us. Regular folks who desperately love our kids and feel desperately overwhelmed and underqualified a lot of the time.

To compensate, we read more. We do more. We sleep less. We are the hardest-trying generation of parents who have ever lived.

And sometimes we forget that good parenting isn’t about giving more, it’s about being wise.

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s a long haul. And we need to conserve our energy and recharge our batteries from time to time. That’s not selfish; that’s smart.

The Center-of-the-Universe is subpar housing. No one should live there. Certainly not an impressionable child. The most miserable adults began as children who believed they deserved what THEY wanted, when THEY wanted it, no matter the cost to others. It is good for children to wait, to pitch in, and to sacrifice for others, especially their parents. It builds this old fashioned thing called respect.

Kids grow up. Ouch. I know. And it happens so fast. Which makes you want to soak it in as much as you can (unless they’re really whiney; then you send them to visit the Grandparents). But someday when they need you a little less, or when they are grown and gone, your life will go on. If you have no life anymore, you are in for a shock. You are more than just a parent.

Life is happening now. Life can’t be put “on hold” until your busy child-rearing years are over. Although we are technically “adults,” we are still growing and learning and becoming. If we neglect ourselves we will be stunted phsyically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. One of the worst mistakes a parent can make is to sacrifice the health of their marriage to the immediate needs of the shortest family members. In the end, everyone suffers for that.

Whatever stage in life you are at, whatever unique circumstances you find yourself in… find something that is your own. In those first few crazy weeks/months, that might be nothing more than a quick, hot shower. Take it. Own it. It’s good for you. And that’s good for them. A good parent has their own life.

The week our baby girl was diagnosed with Down syndrome, we met with the hospital social worker. She handed us stacks of brochures and articles and tax benefit forms. But the best thing she gave us (apart from heartfelt congratulations) was this advice:

“Don’t change your whole life for her; let her fit into yours.”

Down syndrome will always be a part of her life, but we don’t build her life around it. Down syndrome will always be a part of our lives, but we don’t build our family around it.

Nor do we build it around our son’s adoption or his special needs. Or our eldest daughter’s consuming passion for dance. Or our 10-year-old’s absolutely-essential, must-have-or-she’ll-never-be-happy-again, latest trend/toy/hobby/obsession. In our family, everyone gets to have a life.

A good parent gives selflessly and sacrifices and often puts their kids first, but NOT always. A good parent has hobbies and friendships and goals and needs. A good parent goes on dates and takes long hot baths and reads books and takes holidays. A good parent can say NO, and a good parent actually does.

So here’s me, and I’m my own person.

Along these same lines… I love this article: Stress Less Parenting: What Everyone Can Learn from Lazy French Mothers What do you think?

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When Life Goes into Overload

They call me the “One Trip Wonder.” A shopping bag hanging off of each finger and one wedged beneath my chin. Wrangling uncooperative bags with my hands while body checking the trunk closed. Beckham’s got nothing on me, as I dribble the extra-large package of (extra-large) pull-ups up the driveway with my feet. I bellow through the front door from someone to open up and give me a hand. Not to brag, but opera singers wish they had my lung capacity.

An overflowing cart of groceries carried into the house in ONE LOAD. That’s a crucial 47 seconds in valuable time saved! The crowd goes wild with applause! They’re amazed. They’re impressed. They wish they could be like me.

groceriesThey’re the imaginary audience in my head.

The actual, real people in my life just shrug and ask if I remembered to get crunchy peanut butter this time. They sigh weary sighs when asked to carry the food into the kitchen. They gripe about the broken egg and the misshapen bread.

Nobody appreciates my genius.

I’m Queen of the Grocery Overload!

Unfortunately, I’m not quite as competent when it comes to handling an overloaded schedule. Every once in a while we find ourselves facing a week of extras. Extra challenges. Extra events. Extra work.

Common sense dictates that this is the time to buckle down and plow through.

Deer-in-the-headlights, Overwhelmed, Procastinating Perfectionist suggests curling up into a fetal ball and crying like a baby.

Guess which one I usually choose?

February has had a few days of overload (much like January, and December of course, oh and the whole year before that). We truck along quite happily until a few extras get thrown into the mix. And then it seems like too much. Of course, the worst part isn’t the actual workload. Or the unsettled children. Or the break in routine.

The worst part is the anticipation of busyness beforehand.

When push comes to shove, I take busy and make it my b…. aby. But the pre-show isn’t pretty. Instead of getting MORE done, because life is about to ramp up, I seem to accomplish less than ever. I moan and complain and sit around feeling overwhelmed.

But this year I have a secret weapon.

This year, I’m not responsible for tomorrow or all week long or the rest of the year or however many days I have left on God’s green earth. This year, I’m responsible for TODAY. And the rest I’m leaving in God’s hands.

The days I remember this, it makes all the difference.

So here’s me, and I’ve had a few Overwhelmed Fetal Ball episodes, but remembering my One Word has helped. And this week I am facing a midterm, a school project, a sick child, a visit from in-laws, a family outing, a trip to the States, several meetings, Glen working evenings, baking 6 dozen cupcakes and pulling off a large Gotcha party for our boy and 50+ of our closest friends… but I’m feeling pretty cool, because I can handle TODAY and TODAY alone.

MonthlyOneWord150


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