Every parent knows what it’s like to have a bad day, this bad day can be directly related to parenting (it’s hard work), maybe your professional life or a relationship are the cause of your “funk”, regardless of the reason we all have bad days. Parents, again, aren’t immune to life, to bad days but we to still have to be “on” for our kids, even when we feel very “off”. We don’t always have the time, the energy or the desire to do or be what they want from us at that very moment or even the day. Example: When I’m having a bad day or I’m tired, no…I’m sorry I don’t want to get out your messy science set, (keyword is messy), that I’ll later get to clean up, only after we realize we don’t have the right ingredients for the only experiments you want to do, because not everything we needed came in the box. The end result will be you feeling disappointed, me feeling guilty and more “off” than before. No thanks. This isn’t overly appealing on good days, it sure as hell isn’t the answer to my troubles on the bad days. Can we just stop with those sets? Please? Or, here’s a thought, let’s put everything we actually need in the box or staple a list of shit we need to the box! Stop selling kids disappointment and parenting guilt, you’re setting us up for failure! We have kids, haven’t we been through enough? I’m over you, science set makers. Over. you! (Apparently I really needed to get that off my chest, my son loves science and I hate those sets). Sorry for a very long example, turned rant.
Even though I sometimes say no to “science time” or get snippy when J does something ridiculous like clogging the toilet with half a roll of paper towels, I still consider myself a good mom. Most days I am a “good mom” but I also meet myself with a lot of harsh criticism, why do those bad momma days or bad mommy moments stick to us more than the good ones? Everyone tells me I’m too hard on myself, or I need to give myself more credit and they’re probably right but this is who I am right now.
I’ve danced around sharing this and I’m sure most of my readers have put two and two together, but I do suffer from anxiety and depression, I always have. Losing Luke, suffering a loss, living through his diagnosis and treatment, only compounded what was before manageable. An occasional nuisance or inconvenience became a much larger part of my life. I am functional, “high functioning depression”, usually high functioning seems like some kind of a compliment but not in this context. I am thankful I can function, obviously, but I wish I didn’t have to battle anxiety and depression to get there.
There are mornings, while I’m getting ready for work, maybe running a little behind, where a simple conversation can derail me. I may feel fine but if someone calls me with something I’m unsure about or asks me a lot of questions about anything (plans for the weekend, can you send me what’s his faces’ number, where can I order this, what do you think about this), I literally “can’t even”. I get snippy, I’m short…rude, even. I’m not any of these things because I’m a mean person but I truly feel there are days I just can’t help it, I can physically feel the pressure and tension rise in my neck, into my head. I have a physical reaction to feeling overwhelmed, and typically in the most ridiculous of circumstances.
Of course when I’m feeling down or if I’m already upset about something, this is heightened. My senses are all ultra sensitive when I’m feeling anxious, overwhelmed or agitated. Any additional noise, the cat cleaning herself (this noise drives me crazy), Jackson’s tablet being too loud, really any extra stimuli, can push me into “over reacting” or just completely shutting down. These things, these behaviors are NOT me. They are the opposite of me so on top of my anxiety, depression….let’s slather on a thick layer of guilt! I can acknowledge the irrationality, I know it in the moment, but that doesn’t calm me. It is only after that I can be rational, with regret and guilt, that I didn’t handle a situation or circumstance the way I wish I would have.
Yesterday was one of those days, it was a battle, a bit of a rollercoaster, to be honest. I don’t have super low, lows every single day, or often, but yesterday I did. My day started with one of those morning conversations. I was on my way to a seminar, I wasn’t sure where I was going, I was worried I would be late and I didn’t feel equipped to make a decision about anything in that moment but I felt pressure to. The end result? Me feeling like crap for being snippy with someone who really didn’t deserve it. I made it to the seminar, I got checked in and I was able to network and be “on” without any sign that my morning had brought about some frustration. In between being in line for breakfast, finding my table and waiting for others to get seated I tried to call and text the person I took my “overwhelmed-ness” out on. I was able to make amends so I felt better and went on about my day, feeling pretty good after.
The seminar was powerful. I felt empowered and I thought so much about my blog, what I’m doing and where I want it to go. What are my goals? Do I have clear goals? One speaker stated simply “create what you wish existed” and I thought to myself, how simple! I asked myself what was missing for me, when I was in the thick of my grief that I can give to people? Am I already doing that? I spent the day pondering my purpose, and then the last speaker, Mr. Tyler Perry spoke about his road to successes, the many failures he had before he had his first success. He felt one of his obstacles, one of his reasons for failure was that he was pitching something, through a play, that he wasn’t living. Forgiveness. It wasn’t until he was able to forgive, that his play really came to life. People bought it when he did, I guess, that was my take. This struck a chord with me.
Was I doing the same thing? AM I doing the same thing? I write about these notions to “be still”, I write “we’re doing the best we can” but the truth is…I’m saying these things to myself just as much as I am to you. I didn’t want to feel like a hypocrite, but I did. Some days, I don’t have the capacity to “be sill”. I am way too hard on myself! I fail every single day at something. I felt compelled to post “I don’t have any idea what I’m doing”, “I’m still trying to figure it out”. I still have forgiving to do, mostly, I need to forgive myself. I am who I am, with all of my flaws, my intentions are good and I want to make this world a better place but I’m not “better”.
I’m not a grief expert. I’m not a bereavement expert. If anything, I really sucked at grieving and I’m an expert at that. I’m an expert at imperfection. I’m an expert at falling, but I’m also an expert of getting up. There are days I really, really don’t want to but I do, because I’m still Momma, even on the “bad days”. Before I picked J up yesterday, I took some time for myself, I guess I knew I needed it. I called my best friend and I sobbed, I cried and I told her everything I’ve been afraid to say out loud for a long time. I did that, I cried for about an hour and then 15 minutes later I was picking my son up from school, suggesting dinner and a movie. He held my hand the whole way, maybe he knew, and I guess that’s okay because I was still showing up for him.
Managing being Momma, even on the “dad days” meant that yesterday he probably ate too much junk food, I suggested a movie because it was dark and maybe he wouldn’t notice if I wasn’t as present as I wanted to be. We were doing something, without me having to do anything. I’m a Mom, I’m not an expert at being a Mom…I don’t think anyone is. I’m just doing the best I can.
Lean in. I hear that a lot, I’ve said it. Lean into grief, lean into success, into failure…we can all lean into a lot of things but I’m going to try, not suggest or say I am, I am going to TRY to lean into imperfection. I am too hard on myself, I’m sensitive, I’m too much of a lot of things and not enough of others and I’m going to try really hard to be okay with all of those things, while I work on them.
Lastly, I do believe grief is forever. Not the thick of it, not the way people think of it in a traditional sense, but the survival of it…I believe it changes you. I have been changed. Three years ago today, I had a boyfriend who was 33, he was due for surgery the following day and we were unsure but he was “healthy”. Three years ago, tomorrow…my life changed forever when I heard the word “cancer” like I had never heard the word spoken before. Three years ago this month Luke celebrated his last birthday, the big 3-4, still recovering from his first surgery.
Luke has been gone for over two years. How do you come out of that the same? You don’t! I will never be the same but I hope one day I’ll be better than who I was before, maybe in some ways I already am, even if that means I cry more than I used to. Was all of this top of mind yesterday? No. But maybe my heart knew what my mind was trying to avoid. It’s there, even when I don’t want it to be, not every bad day is about Luke, but the experience of it all…I can’t put that down. Some days I carry it well and others I have to readjust it about a hundred times before I feel I can manage it. Much like my depression & my anxiety. If you follow me, please know I am with you, right along side you trying to figure all of this out.
Create what you wish existed? Honesty! Transparency! People who aren’t afraid to say; I’m afraid, I’m sad, I’m scared, I’m depressed, I’m lonely, I’m anxious, I’m mad, I wasn’t the kind of Mom I wanted to be today, I lost my temper, we went through the drive-thru again, I forgot to sign J’s agenda this week, he didn’t wear his running club shirt on running club day, I didn’t want to get out of bed today.
I miss him. I’m still mad. I’m afraid of being alone. I haven’t forgiven myself. I don’t know if I ever will. I’m afraid.
You are NOT alone. You don’t have to suffer alone and however you are getting through whatever it is you’re going through…you’re doing a good job and I am here, in this space.