Yesterday I wrote a Facebook post about how parenting is hard, and I asked people to compliment a parent even if the only compliment you could come up with was about their shoes. Because who doesn’t love shoes?
I made sure to note that I was not having a hard time parenting at that exact moment. I don’t want to belabor my own difficulties and I was truly in a good space.
Today I’m OK but by 9am I felt like going back to bed. I woke up a few times last night with a pain in my breast. Which means I probably pulled a muscle in my chest or that I’m subconsciously worried because at age 45 I hear about new cancer diagnoses way too often. So I throw myself out of bed and take a shower and make the coffee and sit on the couch and drink the coffee and try to simmer an almost life-long fear of cancer. Because, you know, I have to wake the kids up for school.
And I wake the kids up for school. The tween has decided she is sick as soon as she opens her eyes to look at me. The teen doesn’t move. I enlist the husband’s help with the teen. I ask the tween to go through the motions of the morning before we decide if she needs to stay home.
And the details are minute and boring, but the next 45 minutes were full of what to do. A thermometer. No temp. The husband thinking it’s something else. The tween saying no. Me noting that she felt sick after school yesterday and rebounded, recalling she was worried about a science test yesterday and on Monday she was worried about not getting math and possibly needing to repeat 4th grade. The teen turning into her chipper self after almost not making it out of bed. (Aside: how does she do that? I want some of that.)
After we decide the tween should try school this morning, she tells me about her teacher telling some kids (not her) that 4th grade may be repeated if they don’t write proper headings on their papers. We have her place of worry. The tween repeated kindergarten and even though I reassured her two days ago that she won’t be repeating 4th grade, well, a science test on the parts of the human body that she might fail today, surely I’m wrong and she will have to repeat 4th grade.
My sensitive tween makes me remember my sensitive days in late elementary school. Going home early because my stomach ached with worry. The parties I wasn’t invited to. The girl who slapped me. Being taunted for being smart. The comfort of home. The warm TV, the meal I got to eat in front of it, the books I read that took me far away from my achy stomach.
Oh, if we could all wrap ourselves up in the comforts of home, the ills just outside the front door dissipate and almost disappear.
But the trick is that we have to step through that front door and face those fears so we realize we aren’t repeating 4th grade. The science test score doesn’t matter. Love does. The girl who slapped you in 5th grade makes really good copy now. My sensitive soul is good at wrapping my girl up in the love she needs. My husband’s can-do attitude gets the kids out the front door in the morning.
And I’m sitting here piling through my emotions recalling an email I read while drinking that morning coffee. In it, Meghan Leahy wrote:
“When emotions don’t move, they can become toxic. Aggression. Depression. Anxiety. Numbing out.
Big emotions in our children are messy, often inconvenient, and sometimes scary.
But they are normal. They are needed. They are human.
Here’s a mantra: All emotions are welcome in this family.”
My emotions are moving right now, finding a place on the page. I put them here knowing that giving them to you is just what I do. In case you need these words. Watching my tween wave goodbye and knowing she was really OK, well, that’s a long day’s work all done by 8:15 in the morning. My Facebook post yesterday was right. Parenting is hard work. And my shoes look good.