When your kids need more than you can give

I’m hosting a guest post today for a super strong mother having a hard time who needs to get something off her chest. I think it’s something a lot of readers can relate to…

I’ve had this title running around in my head for weeks now, but haven’t really got any further than that.

My therapy is usually writing it all out, getting the problems down, hitting publish and then getting on with life. It’s cathartic to work out how you are truly feeling as the words appear on the page – unravelling that big ball of messy wool as you type, and then getting support back from friends you know and strangers you don’t. I’ve been doing it for years now and it’s never let me down. 

But this time it’s different. This time the story isn’t really mine to tell. This time the children are too old to have their privacy invaded. And yet, here I am.

The start of secondary school brought emotional challenges. I expected the nerves but not the tears every morning, when I was already juggling too many balls. We talked out feelings and plans of action in the evenings, but the anxiety and dread came back each new day. I didn’t feel equipped to deal with it. I asked the internet and tried to employ new tactics. But when friendships are being formed in the schoolyard and your child is nervously twisting their jumper in the corner, no amount of good advice seems like enough. Suddenly I felt out of my depth.

The other children had their own life issues going on. They needed me too. The house still needed cleaning, the dinner cooking, the shopping bought, the money earned. Work stresses fought for attention from my already limited resources.

And then the sucker punch. Their Dad’s depression went into overdrive. All hands on deck.

We were lucky that he was sent to hospital. It’s a great hospital. A hospital that will hopefully make him better. But how do you explain mental illness to three kids of various ages without scaring them? How do you support their fear, anger, sadness, confusion and the pure and sudden missing of their beloved father? How do you explain that it’s not their fault? No, I promise, it’s definitely not your fault.

I stayed strong for weeks. Tired, but strong.

It’s been a month now of high-emotion, almost solo parenting, and the fuel tank is nearing empty. Each understandable tantrum. Each knock of confidence. Each anxiety filled stare that asks me where I’ll be standing after school, what time I’ll be there, will I definitely be there? Each sick kid. Each disturbed night. Each laundry load. Each dinner. Each football match across the other side of the county. Each homework meltdown. Each morning, afternoon and night pushes me closer to the edge.

I’m tearful. I’m tired. They need me and I’m not sure I have enough left to give them.

But now the words are down I can feel a little of the strength coming back to me. And of course I will dig deep and find that extra bit that needs to be given. And I’ll ask for help and maybe have that little cry I keep trying not to have.

I’ll give them as much as I can and hope that it’s enough.

And all will be well. Because it has to be.

When your kids need more than you can give - Mind the Baby

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