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 I feel shaken, sad, and withdrawn.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?