I’m sat here looking at my kids playing together. I feel emotional! There are 8 years between them and the youngest has just been given the right of passage by the eldest to play with his toys.
I’m filled with so much love for them that I could eat them up but yet I think about all the moments when I’m frustrated with them and the times when ‘I JUST WANT ONE MOMENT OF QUIET TO MYSELF PLEASE!!’
I think back to when they were babies. When I was their everything and the push and pull of emotion was different, but the same.
One minute you’re full of happiness and contentment and the next you wonder what the hell you’re doing, you feel sad, lonely and resentful and feel you can’t cope.
THIS IS PARENTHOOD.
The rollercoaster of emotion, of happiness, of anger, of being proud of them and proud of yourself. Feeling you’re failing and feeling you’re #winning. Of resentment and anger then, full of love of being a parent and then full of disillusion. Feeling it’s all too much but then feeling it’s not enough.
The push and pull of emotion we feel in those early days is very similar to the push and pull of emotion I’m feeling now, and my eldest is nearly 12. The feeling of failure, wondering if I’m doing the right thing teamed with the feeling of how great these little humans are turning out.
It’s all completely normal.
We become parents in a single moment. Nothing prepares us for it and there isn’t a manual. Advice and information are conflicting at every turn and can go to two extremes. We feel like everyone else seems to have it together and it’s a lonely place.
No wonder it’s a rollercoaster of emotion! So how to deal with it?
Accepting that parenting is full of extremes of emotion all in a single moment can help to feel more in control and better able to cope. I’ve accepted that there will be times when I want to walk away, and there will be times when I want all in. I’ve also come to know when I need to step away for a moment before it all get’s too much. I grab time for myself when I can and a big one for me, I’ve accepted that I can’t control everything.
As I peel away the layers of parenting I always end up back with this notion of the perfect parent and this, although seemingly removed from the push and pull of the emotion of parenting, is very much part of it. The feeling of not being good enough, of not knowing what we’re doing, of feeling so much pressure, the disillusion, the loneliness, the feeling that we can’t cope. It’s all born of the idea we have for ourselves of the parent we should be.
The perfect parent doesn’t exist and by letting go of that ideal the pressure releases too. The pressure to make it seem like I enjoy every single moment of parenting. The pressure of keeping it all together as the push and pull of emotion sends me into a spiral.
I’ve let go of all of that. My kids see when I’m struggling to cope, I don’t hide it. But they also see when I am coping and how. They see me when I break down and when I get angry. They see that it’s OK to show all emotions and have all emotions, that they don’t need to hide them. And although the push and pull of emotion is still there, it’s easier to cope with as each moment passes.
WHAT I’VE COME TO LEARN
The extremes of emotion never go away when it comes to our children. And when I speak to my mum it seems they never will. They’re always there and they’re the same but take on a new meaning and feel a little different as our children grow. Knowing that makes me ready for it and gives me the ability to embrace every emotion along the way.
Know that every parent before you, those with you and those who are yet to be parents will go through the same. Please know you’re not alone. Don’t struggle alone.
If you need to reach out please do. I’m here for it.