5 Ways to Cope When Parenting Feels Like Drowning
I can hardly breathe. I'm trying to keep my cool, but I feel my fingers crunch into fists.
I beg my son, "Equis, please get off the floor."
My nose turns redder than his, and I'm not even crying. Yet.
"No, Mommy! Noooo!" Equis screams, planting his face against our apartment's linoleum tiles.
Heat creeps up my neck
and flushes into my cheeks.
"Equis, no more Kindle. It's time to--GASP!" He kicks me right in the throat. This time, my tears come.
Sometimes, parenting feels like drowning.
I love my son. I'm in awe of his growth, and I appreciate the wisdom he's shown me.
There are times, though, when I just can't physically, mentally and emotionally deal with his antics.
I suffer from depression and don't cope well with life stressors.
Add that to Equis' speech delay and hearing loss, which complicates communication with him, I often feel overwhelmed by frustration.
As a stay-at-home mom to a 2.5 year old with special needs who has an unending desire to sit on my lap (or lean on my chest or bounce on my knee), to disobey my commands and to throw temper tantrums, I find these experiences becoming all too frequent.
There are times when Equis is so upset by my need for space or our inability to understand one another, he resorts to screaming and crying, and I can't help but do the same.
I've been trying to focus on the positive in life, but in the midst of a full-on toddler tantrum, everything negative about motherhood seems to flow into my head at the same time:
- "I'm a terrible mom."
- "I can't do this."
- "I need some time alone…RIGHT NOW."
- "I just want a kidless date night already."
- "This is why people think I should've gotten an abortion."
- "How am I supposed to deal with this kid and do laundry and do dishes and cook all at the same time?"
Thankfully, I'm starting to realize I'm not alone in these feelings.
As I read through the blog posts linked to Shell's Pour Your Heart Out at Things I Can't Say a couple of days ago, I found that countless mothers are experiencing Mommy Guilt, Anger and Sadness.
These moms offered up their own ways of coping with such mom woes, and I couldn't be more grateful to them for sharing their experiences with me.
Here are Five Ways Women Cope with Mom Woes:
1. Writing About Motherhood's Challenges.
I respect writing because it has therapeutic powers. Blogging publicly also gives mothers opportunities for adult interaction and support. Each of the moms I quote here took time to write about their experiences in order to express their feelings and to connect with others who can relate, and I appreciate them for that.
I especially like what AJ says in "Dear Mom Who Feels Like She is Failing:" I think we need to realize something as wives and mothers and friends: We are ALL failing, some in small ways, some in big ways. It's just life. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! We are all struggling."
JD of Honest Mom cracked me up with her "'Bad Mom'" avatars in her post, "In Which I Make Goofy Confessions for All of Facebook to Read."
Her transparency and ability to laugh about the difficulties of being a mom made me feel better about the things I do to have a much-needed break from my son (like also hiding in the bathroom to play on my phone or letting him watch more TV than he probably should).
3. Focusing On the Positive: An Attitude of Gratitude.
Paula admits, in "I'm Tired of Playing," that "The 'cute' little rhyming songs and books get nauseating after a few dozen times. It can all be so tiring." But then she pledges, "[I have] to say to myself I don't like playing this…but I love my little boy more than I hate playing trains. And so..I attempt to build another train track, while singing a song about a tractor, and I watch his smile light up the room."
Paula reminds me that I need to think more about the benefits of and reasoning behind my sacrifices than just complain about them. Sometimes, the best cure to the feeling of drowning in parenting is to change my negative attitude to an attitude of gratitude.
In "An Almost Perfect Mom," Steph writes, "I have come to the realization lately that I just can not do it all. It’s impossible. I can’t be 100% mom, 100% wife, 100% business woman, and 100% me. Mathematically, it doesn’t add it. I am horrible at math and even I can figure that one out."
Posted next to this declaration is a photo of a fortune cookie's message--"You cannot be anything if you want to be everything."
Deanna sums this thought up well in "Failure?": when the laundry piles up, the clutter reappears and another day without exercise passes, "I Need to Remember: I may not be perfect, but I am not a failure. I am not the best, but I am doing MY best."
These women remind me it's okay to not be perfect.
5. Battling Mommy Guilt by Remembering They're Not Just Moms.
Another coping strategy is to talk some sense in ourselves. We have to remember that we are actual people outside of our roles as mothers.
Kristy writes in "PYHO: Mommy Guilt," how frustrating it can be that her daughter is "very attached" to her, but she ends the post with this assertion: "Mommy needs time alone, too. It’s important for my sanity, and that in turn makes it important for our family. (if mamma ain’t happy, right?)"
As for me, knowing other mothers are feeling similarly to me helps. A lot.
In order to cope, I'm going to keep writing about my frustrations and the challenges I face as a mom and also start a family gratitude jar to promote positive thinking.
Maybe in this way, I can stop shaming myself for just being human.
Do you ever feel like you're drowning when it comes to parenting?
What do you do to cope with Mommy Guilt?
Cross-posted from http://www.xiomaramaldonado.com/1/post/2013/02/5-ways-to-cope-when-parenting-feels-like-drowning.html