Hi Bee, I’m a mother of 2 middle school aged children like you, and my son is going through a rough patch socially. My heart breaks for him. My mind races a mile a minute. What do you do when one of your kids is going through a rough time or is unhappy? How do you manage?
Misery and Motherhood
Dear Misery and Motherhood,
Oh, my heart goes out to you. Mother’s Day can evoke so many different emotions in all of us, whether you’ve lost your mom, you have a strained relationship with your mother or child, or if you’re yearning to be a mom.
Mother’s Day is always a bit of a mixed bag holiday for me. Having lost my own mom nearly 10 years ago I find it to be a balancing act; a tightrope walk of allowing myself the enjoyment of being celebrated all the while resisting the urge to call the whole thing off and crawl into bed. It’s holding it together to let my kids know how much I appreciate their small acts of kindness they show me throughout the day and also allowing myself the luxury of curling into a ball and whimpering with animal longing for my own mother who I still very much need.
So what to do when this Hallmark holiday becomes fraught with worry and anxiety? When your beautiful “baby” is struggling, hurting, even quietly, even worse while wearing a smile? “We are only as happy as our least happy child,” I once read. No truer or more searingly painful words have ever been written. And I don't know a single mom who I respect and trust who hasn’t uttered them while slowly shaking her head. But now what?
For me, I try to find, as my mother in law Myrna Block wisely talks about, the action step. “Ok,” she will calmly say, “show me the plan.”
There is, after all, peace in what we can control. There is comfort in checking the box. It’s why we all love lists. The feeling of crossing something off that list, accomplishing an act, being able to point to the red line through the action item. “Done!” It exclaims! “Look! " It screams. “I’m one step closer to achieving my goal!” Even if your goal is the overwhelming task of raising a perfectly happy well adjusted kid. The balancing act, that tightrope walk. Teetering over an audience of your own worst fears.
Motherhood can be horribly isolating and lonely at times. So go ahead and wail at 1:30 am (that’s when I was finally able to let it loose yesterday), but be prepared to call in the troops, and spin yourself into warrior princess/don't f*ck with my kid mama bear mode come daylight. After all, if you don't don the shield for them, who will? It doesn’t mean we should blindly defend them, it doesn’t mean we don't hold up the mirror and allow them to see their imperfections and their missteps; it means we take action where we can.
This week, my Monday was cancelled for motherhood. The day looked something like this…
Wake groggy and swollen as f*ck after last night's late night bawling session.
Action item 1) Make strong coffee and recognize this day is most likely going to suck the life out of me.
2) Cancel 9:30am SoulCycle class, lose money, curse loudly.
3) Make beds. Sound stupid? Guess what? I can’t think straight until the duvets are straightened first.
4) Throw in load of laundry (Magda just canceled due to a stomach bug, ahhh this day keeps getting better). Wait impatiently while over caffeinated for 9am to arrive so I can start making productive phone calls.
5) Make two phone calls to two TRUSTED friends. Pick their brains, take notes, gather strength from the power of other mothers.
6) 9:01 am - begin to make phone calls with The Skinny Confidential notebook in front of me. Already I feel a bit better with a clean page waiting to be conquered.
7) Construct necessary emails.
8) Cancel 12:30pm SoulCycle class with a groan.
9) Pretend I’m on a bike while throwing in another load of laundry.
10-20) Scream, breathe, shower, eat, kiss Norman’s face, call out to my mother, text Bazz, send white light visualization to surround my kids at school (thank you @carolinebasshealth), MOVE THROUGH THE DAY.
Lastly, and if they’ll let you, and I’m incredibly fortunate that mine still will, hold them tight. Run a bath for them, let them soak, sit on the edge of the tub and ask questions. You’ll be amazed at how much they’ll talk while they marinate in lavender. Encourage them to listen to music. Don't be afraid to make it a “screen free week” even if they’re pissed and think that you suck. Download a meditation app for them. Throw the spaghetti of motherhood at the wall and see what sticks. Parenting is messy, parenting is not for the faint of heart; it's why you earned those lovely cards on Sunday.
“If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do matters very much.” -Jackie Kennedy
Better be prepared to lose a few SoulCycle classes, girls.
P.S. Have a question for The Bee? Looking for some advice? Don’t forget you can submit it here. Everything is kept confidential, no names are ever used, and no topic is off limits. Juicy juicy!