The last several years have been relatively drama-free in my life. As much as I enjoy excitement, I prefer to get my entertainment from television, movies, books, and websites.
Well, within the last 48 hours, it sort of feels like a part of my life has been sucked into the television and now I'm living the soap opera. I feel shaken, sad, and withdrawn. I can't stop crying.
I know these things can't be avoided. It's life. Shit happens. It's just really awesome when shit doesn't happen. You know?
And the difference about shit happening this time in my life, is that my 22-month-old toddler has no idea that shit is happening. So, he continues to smile, play with his trucks, and laugh (thank goodness), but this presents a whole new parenting challenge to me:
HOW DO YOU PARENT THROUGH SADNESS?
On a good day, it can be difficult to have the patience of a saint when you're tired and in a rush to get out the door. But when you take that same scenario and factor in an all-consuming sadness that threatens to make you cry at any given moment, how are you supposed to fake a smile then? And go through the regular routines of your day?
Well, so far, 48 hours in, I've discovered a few things.
1) It's okay to cry in front of your toddler (I think?), but try not to "ugly cry"—it will scare them, and their bottom lip will tremble. Explain, "See, Mommy gets sad sometimes too."
2) If you feel bad about crying in front of your child, cry in the dark when you're putting them to bed. They can't see you cry, yet you can still hug them close, and rock them to sleep as usual. This will be good for both of you.
3) Ask for help. Get your partner or a friend/family member to take your child for a bit so that you can be alone and have a complete emotional meltdown.
4) Eat chocolate.
Okay, maybe these aren't expert tips, but I've never claimed to be an expert. So, I'm safe.
This whole experience, though, has made me think about parents who have to parent through sadness on a greater scale—what about parents who have a sick child and other children to take care of? What about parents who struggle with depression? What about parents who are going through a divorce?
How do they parent through all of that?
Therapy? Wine? Drugs? Denial? All of the above?
I know I will be okay, and I know I will get through this sadness. Right now, it's just all-consuming and I can barely think about anything else.
Man oh man. This is a new parenting challenge and has really given me a new perspective.
Please, tell me, if you've had to put on your "happy parent hat" when you're going through a rough time—what are some things you did that you found helpful?
Over the holidays, I had fifteen glorious days off of work to relax with my family, eat too much food, chill out in my PJs, and, of course, spend some amazing quality time with my little boy. With the exception of him getting sick for a few days, we had a great holiday—we read books, played with his toy trucks, laughed, visited friends, jumped on his bed, made pancakes together (or "pantins," as he calls them), and went for cold wintery walks followed by warm cups of hot chocolate. Bliss.
Now here is the part where I pause this Norman Rockwell picture I'm creating and admit something to you.
Before my holidays began, I was kind of scared about all of this time I was going to have with my son.
Yes, that's right. I'm a horrible person, aren't I? What kind of loving mother is fearful about spending time with her son??? Yet here's the funny thing—I'm always complaining that I don't have enough time with him. I specifically never book any activities after work and try to only go out on weekends after he's gone to bed (if I go out at all). I highly value our time together and am constantly trying to figure out ways to squeeze more hours out of the day, so that I can spend more time squeezing him. So why then was I scared to have fifteen days off with him?
Well, to be honest, I think I was scared because he's a TODDLER.
He has a crazy amount of endless energy, and I'm 31-weeks pregnant. Sometimes he wants to play games that aren't very fun and I get bored "pretending" to shovel dirt into a pile. He wakes up at 5:30am, even if I stay up until 11pm (gasp!) and want to sleep in—he's wide-eyed and ready to go. And on top of all of this, I'm sort of out of practice!
When I was on mat leave for a year, we grew together. We always found a way to fill our days, and after 365 of them, I found it excruciatingly difficult to be away from him and return to work. But now? Now we are in a different routine, and some days, I'll admit it, I look forward to going to work, because it's less exhausting than chasing him around.
But you know what?
After just a couple of days at home, we easily slipped into our old routines. It fit. It felt right. I danced him to sleep for his afternoon naps again, and was there to eat lunch with him when he woke up. He was more snuggly and affectionate than ever, and really valued his mom time. I really valued my Cole time. By the end of the fifteen days, I found myself thinking, "How am I possibly going to adjust to going back to work? How am I going to pry myself away from these loving toddler hugs?" Sigh.
Tell me, how do you feel about the amount of time you spend with your children? What would your ideal work/life balance look like?
So, I don't want to say that I'm cheap, but when it comes to spending money—I don't really like to. Well, that's not entirely true. I do like spending money, I'd just prefer if it wasn't mine. Y'know what I'm saying?
Therefore, when it comes to finding clothes that will fit me during pregnancy, I don't want to want to fork over a lot of Sir Robert Bordens. Gah. Why are we SO UNCOOL as Canadians? "Fork over a lot of Benjamins" sounds wwwaaaayyyy better.
Anyway, I made a video to help you save money while you're pregnant. Or if you've had a big dinner and need to expand the waistline of your pants.