Parent Support

Do you know how to give your child the gift of time and space…

This wasn’t the best of weeks with my teen. Something had been building within him, I could see it and feel, but I didn’t know what it was about, and I still don’t.

But it finally erupted and it was not pretty. There was some yelling, very harsh and hurtful words, some foul language being thrown about, which resulted in me losing control. And as soon as I did, I was awash with the feelings of shame and disappointment in myself.

I beat myself up. I worked so hard to not be the “old me”, the person who would retaliate just as quickly as it was lobbed at me.  I got worn down and let the nasty back in for that split second, and I had to sit with my uncomfortable-ness the entire day. I was just at my limit. Why did I have to continue to be the intended target of all his frustration and uncertainty. It hit me hard this time and I snapped.  I was now entering into a shame spiral. 

I dug deep and tried to channel all I had learned these past few years.  I immediately started to work “my process”, which can often include anyone of these go to’s for me: talking with my husband, a session with my therapist, some support from friends in the know, or reaching out to my parent coach.

This one was bad, I had to tap into all my resources in the same day. Shame will do that to a person, well at least it does it to me.  

Toward the end of the day, I managed to connected with one very wise friend who had traveled the same path as my family. He started to talk about all the good the boys gained from their experiences, even though they were tough, and now in retrospect that they see parts of their journey as memorable in a positive way. I then brought up the ill-fated subject of comparison.

I am well aware of Teddy Roosevelt quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy”, and generally I agree that comparison will get you no where but deeper down the proverbial black hole.

However in this case, the comparison was to point out, even though today wasn’t my finest moment, look at what a difference a couple of years makes. Simply explained, today might be a 6 on the shit scale, but a year ago it was a 15 on a scale of 1 to 10.

I then commented that we gave such a gift to our kids when we made the decision to get them help outside the home, in both wilderness and residential care.  They were literally plucked up out of their lives and dumped in a new environment, an opportunity to have a redo.

They had a fresh start, no one knew of their past escapades, there was no history, nothing they were clean slates for the writing.  They also had no responsibilities like spouses, school, jobs, or family to worry about.  Their only job was to focus on themselves, their emotions, and getting to a place they could exist on a healthy platform. 

We gave them the gift of time, space, and freedom to process, without distraction or concern for anything or anyone but themselves.   They needed our guidance and permission to be what some would consider selfish; only caring for themselves. They could explore every feeling and emotion that hit their brains and work the process as long as it took.  I will never be sorry for that.

Yesterday, I was jealous of that, truly jealous.  I would love to step out of my life and spend months working on me, without any external worries.  But we all know as parents, spouses, employees, that is not really an option and we will never have that luxury again. 

So while many parents would be horrified at what I and many other parents have resorted to for our children, it was clearly pointed out to me that we gave our kids a gift, lasting memories of clear thinking, bonded relationships, and the ability to rise from the ashes.  And without a doubt they and we are better for it. 

I realize now even back at home they need time and space to figure stuff out, and that may mean not talking to me for a day, or having the time to process thoughts and emotions without mom hounding them as to what is wrong. It might mean a gap year, or gap semester. Who knows, I certainly don’t. But I do know that allowing some space and time will rarely damage a relationship.

I am striving to provide space and time on a daily basis to my kids. I need to allow them down time in this crazy fast paced frenetic world of constant and instant access.

Do you provide space and downtime for your kids? And what about yourself? Take a day and see how much better it feels and then see if you can provide some of that grace to our over-stressed kids.

Sometimes it just takes someone else to share a different view to help you put things in perspective and so you can “snap out of it”, and get back on track.

Love you DW.   You continue to provide insight, peace, calm, and support. 

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Mental Health, Parent Support

When to ask for help, when dealing with teenagers?

Asking for help is not an easy thing for me to do, but I have learned it is a necessity for me to survive parenting.My social media footprint may lead some to believe that I may handle everything with calm and logic, unfortunately this is not always the case, and every so often there are times I struggle and have moments that render me useless and require me to reach out for help.    

The last few days have been very needy days for me.  It seems like I can hold my shit together only so long before I crack.  My definition of cracking means I retreat to my bathroom; I get in the shower where I can have a cathartic cry that includes ugly, loud, snotty sobbing. 

I adopted the bathroom as my “go to place” years ago as it has the essentials for a good stay.  I have water to stay hydrated, the toilet for when you have to go, and the shower which I can turn on to drown out any primal noises that erupt from deep within my core; or I can choose to get into the shower and let the water wash away whatever caused my melt down.

Yesterday I retreated to the bathroom.  Thus doing what I am constantly telling the kids not to do, took the longest shower and used up all the water.  At times I stood in silence, other times I just wept covering my face with my hands in disbelief that I am feeling this way.  I got my prune skinned body out of the shower, dressed and hopped right back into bed.  I decided I was going to spend the day there, maybe just feeling sorry for myself, I don’t know, I didn’t have a plan. 

I worked up the nerve and I sent out two texts;  to people that I trust with my entire being. The first one, couldn’t have been simpler it read…  “R U free?  I need to talk” and the other “Can you find some free time in the next day or so to talk with me?

I then got under the covers and turned on the television.  I have to say right after I hit send on both of those texts my first instinct was to somehow suck them back onto my phone.  I DO NOT, and yes that is capital letters, like to ask for help or want people to see me as “less than” capable.  I am the strong one, I listen and help others, and I am not the one who needs help.   Thank God, I am not enough of a moron to actually listen to myself, as I needed the backup of those two people in my life yesterday.  No, I was not suicidal or anything I just hit the wall of stuff I could handle.   

I snuggled down, pulled the covers up to my chin and started to watch the Chicago Fire, Med, and PD trilogy I had on my DVR.  I vacillated between watching tv and cat napping until both people reached out to me with back to back telephone calls.

My reaction to hearing each of the voices across the line was to burst into tears.  Did you ever have that happen, you think you are okay and then someone just says your name and you lose it?

Both conversations where short, but powerful and it helped me get out of my funk and move forward.  Both are parents who understand raising teens is hard, and both were profound. 

The first was a simple statement that clicked for me, “You are doing okay, stay the course”  I needed validation in my right to feel this way, and that I was doing the right thing. 

The second person said, “I am here, let it out, I will listen.  You are always helping everyone else, I am here for you.” 

Even as I type these words my eyes get a little wet, as I am so thankful that I have finally allowed myself to share my feelings without worry, because if I didn’t I would be losing the opportunity to have the one thing I needed the most for myself, which is the support of others.

I spent the remainder of the day in bed until my husband came home from work, at which time I felt like myself again.  I told him about my conversations and how I spent the day in bed.  His response; “That’s good I am glad you took care of yourself.”  His words were the tri-fecta of awesomeness for me yesterday.

Today I am back to feeling like myself, and I know it is only because I allowed myself to experience the vulnerability of needing people, asking for help, and showing myself some compassion.  Today, I am feeling like one lucky duck. I hope you are as well.