Dancing with my Demons while Parenting


Zion Lutheran 10-13-12 (31)

I am not October’s biggest fan.  I love fall.  I love the cool mornings, windows open all night, foliage, the crunch of leaves under my feet.  I enjoy running with less heat and humidity.  The kids play outside more.  We go outside and look at the stars every night before bed.  Everything starts smelling like pumpkins and apples.  Fall in New England is a splendid thing.

In my work hat, it is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  As powerful as the month is, the scheduling demands are significant.  In general, fall seems to equal an upswing in demands, both at work and home.  With school-aged children, we call mercy before the first week of school is out.  Domestic Violence Awareness Month puts the demands over the top with requests from schools, churches, community groups and so on.

That would be enough, but alas October also marks an old significant, awful event.  Before kids, I would take the month and pretty much shut down emotionally, step-by-step my days, cut out anything that wasn’t completely essential and will time to pass.  I would sink into the overwhelm at times, with few consequences since little ones weren’t watching my every step.  Times have changed.

Having an old wound/trauma/anniversary is not unique to me.  For some of us it may be the loss of a loved one, for others old hurts and still others may be triggered by a song or smell.  We have lives outside of these little beings we care for, and sometimes those lives seep in.  For me, over the next month or so, it will. Every year, I try to handle it just a bit better than the year before.  My goal is simply to stay present to my life, my family and my kids while I also feel my sadness and pain.

I think it’s hard to even acknowledge that we might feel our own stuff once we have kids. At times, our “beautiful bloggerfest” is also a bit of a support group for recovering perfectionists, and so for all of us who may indeed FEEL emotions that exist outside of those dictated by our responses to our children, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned that make it a bit easier.

  • Surrender!  Seriously.  Call it what you want, perhaps acceptance suits you better, but just let it be.  Honestly, the more I try to be anywhere other than where I am the more I struggle.  It is what it is.
  • Don’t judge it.  Feelings are truly nothing more than feelings. How did we learn to loathe our own emotions so much, anyway?  It turns out, feelings won’t kill us.  I cannot even tell you how many times that was said to me, and I still need reminders.
  • It won’t always feel like this.  I didn’t believe this one either.  I tend to subscribe to all-or-nothing thinking.  If I miss one free-throw I will NEVER be any good at basketball.  Well, that thinking just makes it a whole lot worse.
  • Ask people to check in with you.  I feel extra needy right around now.  I hate needy!  But I’ve also learned that if I have the guts to tell or remind folks “it’s a tough time for me, can we hang together that night?”  Or, “Can you remind me that this will end,” I fare better.  With support, even the biggest challenges are less frightening.
  • Sink into every light, playful, fun, restful, relaxing, positive moment you can.  It will help you replenish your energy for when you next need it.

Finally, let your kids see you struggle some.  Our kids all have rough days.  If they don’t see ours, they only think something is wrong with them.  They don’t need to know the whys behind a tear, but you don’t need to hide from them.  Turns out, kids learn to accept themselves by watching us accept ourselves.  Whoa, no pressure.

Hang in there.  You’ve SO got this.

3 comments on “Dancing with my Demons while Parenting”

  1. I really needed to read this. This really touched me Sharlene, as someone that still struggles with trauma from the past I loved all your points on how to make the hard times a little bit better. It’s really hard for me to admit when I’m struggling with something (as a recovering perfectionist myself) and even just acknowledging that the feelings I’m feeling are valid and related to past trauma is difficult for me. I got a lot of messages as a child that because my siblings have special needs that I wasn’t really suppose to have any needs myself. So as silly as this might sound, those times that I have been in a deep emotional struggle because of past trauma I feel ridiculous for even feeling the way I do. But I know you are 100% right in all of your tips – thank you for the validation.

  2. Always such nicely written posts. You have an incredible way with words. I really loved this — a great list of tools to use to relax and fall back into some balance.

    Also — “recovering perfectionists”? Awesome!

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