Monthly Archives: July 2014

Secrets of Single (or Just Crazily Busy) Parenting-For Feeling Overwhelmed

Secrets of Single (or Just Crazily Busy) Parenting-For Feeling Overwhelmed

I was feeling a little down this week- too much to do, waking up hours too early, worried about kids, blah blah. The same old schtick we all feel. I think it comes with the territory of being responsible for too much, whether you are single or your spouse travels a lot, when we are outnumbered by kids, or when we just feel overwhelmed, it is important to stop and check in on ourselves. So I came up with this quick list.

1. Take care of our needs
Take care of all of our needs (except the new wardrobe every season, that doesn’t help me stress less to spend money like that). Get exercise more than once a week. Eat healthy food. Read a book. Sleep when we are tired. Then, when we are needed, we are ready. Remember, parenting is a marathon race, not a sprint. We have to be ready to keep on going and going and going. So feed yourself.

2. Deal with our anger
If we are angry at someone, it will come out when our kid pushes us to the limit (which happens often, since they are checking on the boundaries of their lives). We need to put the anger where it belongs- become comfortable with healthy conflict and tell coworkers when they took our awesome idea, or cut us out of the deal, or left a mess in the sink. If we stuff it down, it will just come back, at an inopportune time. It is not very effective parenting to blow up when my daughter doesn’t put her backpack (towel, socks, dishes, 100 other things…) away. I have to think about who I am REALLY angry with and put it where it belongs.

3. Forgive the Grownups
Our parents, your ex, my older sister, your older brother, and our friends in 7th grade SHOULD have behaved better. You are right. We didn’t deserve that treatment. And we won’t let it happen again. But they were doing the best they could with what they had back then, and if it happened more than 10 days ago, or 10 hours ago, quit harboring energy there. Make our plan to take care of ourselves better next time, talk to them if needed, and then, ask God to help us forgive them. Send them love and forgiveness every time we think of the bounced check, the biting comment, the abuse, the whatever. Like Frederick Beuchner said (I paraphrase here) “When we are angry, we are feasting with passion, yes. But we are feasting on the bones of ourselves, eating at our own well being.”

4. Stop trying to be perfect
Stop fixing everything and every relationship. Stop trying to have a house like on TV (this is my downfall- those kitchens look so clean!). Stop trying to fix the relationship with our sister/brother/mom- my sister really doesn’t want a face to face relationship. But I keep trying to push it, rather than accepting that she is filled up quite enough on texts alone. Every now and then, I wear my hair really frizzy and crazy, just as homage to the crazy way I feel parenting alone sometimes.

5. Reach out for support
Call friends, write friends, talk to supportive people. I have to be careful with this one- I often “go to the grocery store trying to buy a house”. I call a person who is not able to provide support (but I think they should, so I keep trying). The person I call (e.g. my mom) is just too caught up in her own stuff to hear me, and somehow, I am listening to her tell me how lucky I am, when I wanted her to listen and give me a verbal hug. So I check in and make sure the person I am reaching out to is capable of providing support, and has provided it in the past. (And of course, I need to be sure to provide her support when she asks- the street goes both ways).

6. Find the humor
Even lame stupid humor is better than nothing. I told my son this morning that I forgot what his floor looks like, but the stinky giraffe who moved in there really likes it. He laughed and opened up enough to share to me that it was bothering him too. That was music to my ears. Because when we have kids with messy rooms, aren’t we just afraid that they will live like street people and never wear a clean shirt after they turn 22? If I can abate the fear, I can sleep better. And laughing at fear seems like really good revenge for that 3:30 am worry session.




Carving It Out

Carving It Out

I wake up at 3 am often these days, not sure if it is the heat, anxiety based on chemistry, worry based on real-life stuff, or just hormones.

Part of it is my worry that I am not getting enough time with my son. This is funny, because there are many moments when I have had more than enough of his 18-year old snarky comment about the phone rule (in the kitchen at bedtime), or his lack of cleaning up his own dishes, or the rank smell of his bedroom. I am trying to be ready for him to move on.

I am working on carving out those “love moments” with my teenagers- times when we connect heart to heart without any mention of the dirty socks, the drinking glasses lining his bedroom shelves, his gas money needs, or the lurking conversation about birth control (semiannually I force myself to check in with him, despite the choking sensation I have when I start the conversation).

It is SO important to my son that we have a relationship based on caring about what is important to him,and not on (undone) chores and homework.

My kids blessed me with the insistence on real authentic communication. Unlike my parents, they are not appeased with lame pleasantries. “My day was fine” doesn’t cross my daughter’s lips unless she is REALLY mad at me. She almost always gives me the longest long version possible. When I ask how school went, I might hear “Well, my T-shirt wasn’t right, so my boobs were a bother, and that made me self-conscious. And then in Chemistry, Mason spilled the solvent, and Allie complains about her cramps too much, and… for another hour most nights.”

“Ack!” I want to run screaming 50 years back on first impulse, but we have to buck up and respond, don’t we? We have to be genuine and honest with them, in order to have a genuine and honest relationship. So the tough conversations that mean something to them have to happen- and we have to sit on our hands sometimes while they discuss the best zit-popping techniques rather than lecture them not to touch their faces. They want us in the now, right here with them, with our energy and our focus.