I recently confided in a friend who has three children that things with my daughter were rough. Stella’s anxiety was off the richter and I just didn’t know what to do (outside of our trips to the feeling doctor + breathing exercises) or how to help her. Also, truth be told I was getting REALLY annoyed with the struggle. The daily worry was something that wore me down, and the nightly bedtime was beyond challenging.
That friend said something so simple: “Jen, I decided that the only way to deal with all the woes, the constant needs, and the worry, that my kids had, for me (now it may be different for other parents), was to just be that annoyingly patient parent….Forget about yourself. All they want is you to hear them, see them, teach them, you need to let everything else fall away and be present.”
Now my gut reaction was to say well…. I AM that “annoyingly patient parent”… I mean, I changed my career so I could be home full time with Stella. I pride myself on being a SAHM who has an unconventional “job” that allows me to be “ever present”. Every day I am a home with her I know in my heart is a god damn gift. (Can you hear how emphatic I am?)
BUT … if I was being really honest with myself, I had to wonder if I had somewhere along the way lost the the will to be patient and present all day long… did I get lazy? Did I secretly believe that after a long day I had an expiration time? Didn’t I deserve an hour at night with my husband, or alone with a glass of wine and a good book? Didn’t I get to exhale before doing it all over again tomorrow? There was a time when I had that time and now, well …. poof it’s gone again. What’s left at night is a short tempered me that is ready to tap out out at 8:30pm and if Stella’s not asleep and is having a hard night … I want to scream (but of course I don’t, although I have been known to cry).
The next question I had to ask myself was why was that? Was it because at six I expected it would “get easier”. Insert eye roll from every parent with a child older than 6 … (“oh honey it does NOT get easier, just different kind of hard”). Now don’t get me wrong Stella is a dream child. She is smart, funny and very independent. She is socially well rounded and developmentally right where she should be. But she still needs me to be “ever present”… and when she needs me the most is the time of the day I find being needed is most challenging. I am tired, I want to take a bath, wash my face, scroll instagram, be alone, hell I want to go to bed in my big girl bed early! But she needs me. AND … if she senses any type of reluctance to be reading the 5th book, or singing the 6th song or rubbing her back for the 25th minute it makes matter 10000% worse.
Can I say “goodnight” and leave the room? Hell no. Can I tuck her in and turn out the light and go watch a show? Absolutely not. If I even LOOK like I don’t want to be there her anxiety triples, and that my friend is the making of an even LONGER more disastrous bedtime for all. So all I can do at this stage in my life is SURRENDER (again) and know that for now, even nighttime is not my own.
Is it where I expected to be with a 6 year old? No. Do I get anything done after 7:30 pm? Also no. Am I in my pajamas and washed up for bed before the sun goes down …. 100% yes. Will it last forever. Im pretty sure it won’t.
So that’s where I am today. That’s probably where I’ll be this summer. I don’t know if its the right thing to do… but it’s the only thing that works. Being annoyingly patient, being annoyingly loving, being annoyingly dedicated to one little tiny person. Warm baths again, nighttime yoga and breathing exercises, 4 books, 3 songs… and repeat. I’m putting myself on the back burner, gently reminding myself that being a mother is all of the time, not just between the hours of 6am and 8pm. That it really doesn’t get easier and that why would I expect it to?
… and well in a nutshell I didn’t do the “cry it out” method as a baby so I am sure as hell not doing it for her when she’s 6 …so here we are.
🍷cheers to day drinks instead🍷