I could hear my kids playing in the living room, the noise of toy firetrucks whirling, telling me that they were safely occupied. I thought to myself, Whew, I can get dressed in peace this morning. Then, I came out of my room and saw the heap of clothes in the middle of the floor — the clean clothes I had spent an hour folding the night before, the clothes that I had set on a counter where I wrongfully assumed they would be safe until I could put them away. Seeing them lumped and messy and knowing that I would have to re-fold them (because my kids are too young to do this) broke me.
I walked into the kitchen and sat in the corner, covered my face with my hands and cried big, heaving sobs, feeling sorry for myself over a load of laundry. It sounds so ridiculous now, but I bet you’ve been there, and if you haven’t, you will be one day. Maybe it won’t be over a load of laundry, but your children will do something that temporarily wallops you.
Leading up to my breaking point, I’d been enduring for weeks the whiny phase of an eighteen month old and the rebellious streak of a threenager. The background music of my life was a maddening mix of whimpers, shrieks, and nasally demands. My body was going into sensory overload from my kids clinging, pulling and prodding me twelve hours a day, and my oldest had decided to drop her nap, which meant I had absolutely no down time. While I was getting dressed that morning, I learned that my husband’s flight was delayed, and I’d be on my own for longer than I was mentally prepared. Then I saw that mountain of laundry jumbled on the floor, and I broke.
I felt defeated, and I felt exhausted. It’s already enough work to care for children without having to do chores over again. I think about the parents of kids with special needs, and I don’t know how they do it. Managing the regular stuff can be draining, let alone the scary stuff.
So, it momentarily broke me, and it’s ok if it breaks you, too. Parenting isn’t always fun, and it’s not useful to think that it should be. We’re helping these people navigate the world, and we’re forging relationships with them as we do it. That takes a lot of work for all involved, and there are going to be bumps along the way. I’m cutting myself some slack, and I hope you give yourself some, too. The benefits of raising a family far out weigh the negatives, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t need a break sometimes in order to not, well, not break.