I'm about to be the brand of honest that makes people uncomfortable.
Friend, it starts and ends with these two pictures.
These pictures were taken just days apart but some days as an extreme parent, this dramatic juxtaposition could be mere minutes from each other.
The picture on the left is why nothing got accomplished today. The one on the right is my feeble attempt at smiling through a lot of weighty emotions.
Today, I smiled through child drop-offs and packing lunches.
Then I went home, put on my grandma's old sweater, and didn't get out of bed for the next six hours except for the bathroom.
My bed-ridden morning was in part caused by it being my turn with the stomach bug, but also due to my having alllllllll the feelings.
See, my grandma's sweater is where I go to feel things.
Because usually, friend, I numb.
I make a choice--consciously or subconsciously--not to feel.
Because if I did, that's all I'd accomplish.
Crying over behaviors.
Sulking over medical bills.
Yelling about IEPs.
Spiraling because of debt.
Grieving over how I'd pictured this part of parenthood.
Drowning in my own anxiety.
Comparing myself to other moms who OBVIOUSLY have their S-H together.
Wallowing in my unmatched ineptness at navigating explosive behaviors with the tender-hearted kid who emerges after the dust settles.
Attempting to understand but floundering in exhaustion from hypervigilence and what is likely PTSD.
So I numb.
I used to do it with food.
For a while I did it with exercise and diet pills. (College is weird.)
Then I turned to overworking myself.
Now, as my husband says, I "Take my feelings out on the kitchen," meaning I get all 'Monica' in cleaning mode.
No matter the method, the result is the same.
I. Numb. Out.
Because raising an extreme child requires you to always be "on"--where you can't ever really sleep or rest or relax or breathe because you are constantly afraid-- of their meds of their doctors of their teachers of their friends (or lack thereof) of other parents of random Karens of their safety from themselves of the safety of others around them of your home of yourself of absolute crushing debt...
This is raw and uncomfortable and...HONEST.
I spend most of my time wearing a mask.
The happy mom mask, the fierce advocate mask, the master insurance negotiator mask, the snack wielding parent at practice mask...
But if I dropped all that, I'd be wearing my grandma's sweater, laying in bed, surrounded by Netflix, a Route 44 ice water from Sonic, and a sh*t ton of broken dreams.
And someone HAS to start saying these things out loud.
So, here it is.
I love my kids and would go full out crazy town to defend them, but being an extreme parent sometimes feels like it's killing me.
And that's okay, friend.
If you are feeling this now or felt it 20 years ago, you are in good company.
And maybe you aren't willing to start speaking your truth out loud yet.
That's okay, too.
I know most people don't 'get it'.
Just make sure you are aligned with a friend, a therapist, a church, a group...SOMEONE who hears you. Really HEARS you.