Parenting… the dictionary says it is simply the rearing of children. I don’t need to tell any of you that this definition could do with some tweaking. But I did find it interesting that the pronunciation is “pair-uh n-ting”… and most days that is with a capital UH!
Who would have ever thought that this simple task of rearing children would induce so much stress in our lives? I mean really, stuff that never was, and frankly never should be, an issue can send us into a tail spin and completely lose our cool. Stress levels can peak as early as 6am and it’s on those days you have a healthy level of fear for the day that is ahead of you. After all, it can go up or down from here… and I don’t always like my odds that the day just magically turns itself around.
The stress comes in many forms. There is the “I don’t have time for this shit stress”. That usually includes an explosion poo nappy as you’re attempting to fly out the door for an appointment you’re already late for. Watching a tantrum unfold as one toddler refuses to share the truck with his sibling and you dash back and forth between hanging the washing and giving them both a stern talking to. There is the “Would someone seriously cut me some slack stress”. That’s reserved for those days when it all literally goes to shit. The kids are in fine form, you bust a tyre on your pram, you walk through an enormous poo so kindly left on the footpath by your considerate neighbour and then you check the mail to discover bills or even worse a fine. There is also the “How on earth am I ever going to get everything done stress?” There are piles of unfolded clothes accumulating on your laundry bench, bedroom floor and wherever else you can “hide” it so no visitors will catch a glimpse. You’ve been meaning to clean the bathroom for weeks and keep reverting to a baby wipe once over to make do. Your list of to dos at the shop and errand running is longer than ever. You’re under the pump at work and probably need to work back or bring stuff home with you… if only you had the time to complete a task. To top it off, you need to bake a cake and do food prep for the kid’s party this weekend. There is also the “God I need something or me stress”. This usually comes at the end of all the other stresses, it’s your breaking point when mumma hits her wall. You’re desperate for school holidays to be over, praying your hubby can swindle a day off this week and reasoning with yourself why all “good” mums feel this way, like all the time, don’t they? You need a time out, a massage, a drink (hell, many!), a dinner date, underwear that fits and doesn’t sag… in fact it would all probably be okay if you just had some peace and quiet.
We try stress management, we meditate, we talk calmly (through those gritted teeth), we have girly time, we buy those larger sized wine glasses so it is still only technically one glass. We scramble, we hope and we pray that things will calm down, that we will get our act together and find a way to balance the stress with the good stuff in our parenting lives. Trouble is, our kids don’t make the same effort. They don’t get it, and nor should they. Their job is to explore the world, their emotions and boundaries in life. When they are small they have no concept of stress and when they are older, they could care less whether you are stressed or not. It’s a no win situation.
It does sound all doom and gloom, like what hope do we have at not being total stress heads and just reminiscing about the good old days when life seemed so much more simple and less chaotic. But there is hope. My hope came in this way - I’ve given up fighting it. I spent so much time stressing about the stress, fighting the fact that this wasn’t me and this isn’t how I want to parent. But I’ve realised, that the stress and the angry mummy, well she comes as part of this parenting gig. That’s just how it is. So I either roll with it or I spend more time resisting it and getting… yep you guessed it, more stressed.
So I will continue with my meditation, my "relaxing" walks with a 40kg child loaded pram or my mindless visits to the play centre because they may not cure all, but they sure do help. And being a mumma is never going to be all roses… those little buggers have got plenty of thorns too and I know I’m destined to get jabbed by them once in a while.
So for now, I accept. I invite acceptance of the madness, the chaos and ultimately the stress. I accept that yes elements of my personality have changed, but that’s my coping mechanism. I accept that things now with a family will never be like they were pre-family. I accept that it won’t be like this forever and that each day I will become stronger for dealing with it.
I don’t have to like the stress to be able to accept it, I just have to be willing to stop the fight. To stop the resistance against something that goes hand in hand with guiding my children through life. Some days it may seem like there are more of those UH moments… but that is why some days my kids get given their dessert before dinner, just so I can cope... oh and of course, that glorious over sized wine glass.