Am I right?!?!?
Oh boy. People talk about January blahs but I think February is the harder month. It was so cold for so long and we were so sick for so long.
So much of this month felt like we were barely surviving. Every week someone new was sick and up in the night. The Advil and screen time were flowing in this house. Thankfully it was Olympic viewing instead of Paw Patrol.
It turns out that I really should never be a nurse. I don’t have the endless patience and compassion and understanding to help people when they’re at their worst. I have my strengths but nurses are special people and if you know one....you should hug them more often.
I have felt pushed to my emotional and mental limits this month. Drained and without very much knowledge of how to fill up the proverbial tank. Often overwhelmed by the constant demands and being hemmed in by constant sickness. Whatever it is I had to offer never quite felt like enough. And that wears me down.
A dear friend of mine refers to this stage in life as “the fish bowl”. It’s such a perfect description. I am trying to create a nurturing environment for everyone to grow and develop. And every day someone actually stands at our front window watching the world go by, just like a fish. We have all the necessities in our little fishbowl but it can feel isolating too. Safe for those that need to be sheltered but isolating. This hard work of caring for little people can make a parent wonder if they will ever have contact with that outside world again.
February felt like a very small fishbowl.
I’m not trying to complain. I guess I am a little bit. This is just the reality of having little kids. But sometimes it helps to have someone else articulate it, to know you aren’t alone. Somehow it’s nice to know that others are being pushed to the complete edge of themselves- stretched and pulled and challenged. That there are others who are wearing an ear plug while making supper just to survive the noise. Or someone else out there is refusing to contemplate life until a half hour after a cup of coffee just to not get overwhelmed by the insanity. Other people do this right?!?! Right?!?!
Sometimes it’s just hard. Sometimes it’s brutal.
And I feel like I should include that it’s also great. The little hands reaching up to hold mine and the snuggles and the learning to read and watching them play together and laughing together. And all these things are real.
But sometimes it’s really hard.
I texted my fishbowl friend a “tell me I’m going to make it!” text this week. We all need those people. People who live on the outside, people who are ahead of us, whose kids have grown. Sometimes I think we should just be paired up with someone ahead of us because they can provide so much perspective. I have been deeply blessed by those ahead of me.
And when I asked my friend if it was possible to even thrive in this time she said, “I had to recalibrate my thinking and consider surviving a success.” There’s no explaining away that this stage is hard. Sometimes we just need to recalibrate our thinking to the reality of what this stage is. Surviving is success. A tidy house or clean sink or orderly bathrooms are not the notches in our belts. There is just one big notch- “is everyone still alive and did everyone get fed?” I needed to hear this. I needed to be given permission to relieve some of the pressure that can pile up. I had been overburdening myself.
And in all this survival, the reality is that in order to have a deep relationship with my children this is what it takes. And honestly, I wish there was another way but there just isn’t.
It takes sacrifice and being with them at their worst. Holding their hair back when they throw up and getting up with them in the night and trying not to loose my temper when they wake me up to tell me their feet are hot. Making space so they know they can come and get us in the night in the hopes that when they are older they still feel like they can call us in the night. This is what it takes to create that base on which the teenage years will pull and when they appropriately leave their family, it’s the base to which they will return.
Or atleast I hope so. It’s what I’m banking on. It’s what is getting me through February.
So my tip for surviving February or this stage
1) remember the fishbowl stage is a stage.
2) find someone who doesn’t mind receiving the “am I going to survive this?” texts or phone calls.
3) recalibrate your thinking to the reality of this season.
4) remember you are building an important bond with your kids by simply being there with them in these times.
5) on the days when that beginning-to-be-warm sunshine peeks out - stand outside for 5 minutes with your eyes closed and arms open.
6) buy yourself some cheap fresh flowers.