Happy November, everyone! A note about our topic below, we do discuss postpartum mental health issues, and domestic violence~
The excitement for this year can seem so contagious, both to adults and children. The weather changes, the decorations, the excitement, it is palpable with school age children, toddlers, family and friends….
So what happens when you are facing a year that is unlike any before? When you want to run screaming from everyone who wishes you a happy this, or a joyous that, because the anxiety, sadness, depression, or hurdles in your life this year are almost breaking you.
Maybe this is the first year you are:
-A single parent
-A parent who has left their abusive partner
-A parent facing financial difficulties
-A parent in the throes of depression
-A parent battling postpartum anxiety or depression
Notice how all of those start with “a parent”. When that describes who you are, you don’t get to run away from these issues. You are faced with the care, love, upkeep and being a one pony show of happiness and joy for two little eyes looking at you every day. And it can be really, really hard.
Maybe before kids, you could take a day of self care, snuggle up in bed and watch Netflix all day. Maybe a night out with friends would refresh your spirit to face those demons the next day. But that was before child care issues, money issues, isolation issues all snuck up on you and nixed chance after chance to catch a break.
It can be devastatingly difficult, when every commercial, and advertisement, and music tells you that EVERYONE should be happy this time of year.
What can you do? For starters, take that load of guilt that somehow you are shaping your child’s mind to hate and dread this season. It is OK for them to see that you are human, that sometimes we struggle. Guess what, someday they will too, and if they saw mom or dad gloss over and repress all of that emotion because the calendar was on a certain month, they will feel the pressure to do the same. We want better for them, right? So, let’s step back and see how we can find a compromise.
First: Step back, clear your plate of all non-essential commitments. Some years you WILL be able to volunteer in the classroom, bake 150 cookies from scratch, coordinate the toy drive and carol around the neighborhood. This year is not that year, let someone else check those boxes while you focus on what is necessary. You will make just as many memories sliding ready-made cookies onto a baking sheet as you will tossing around flour and a rolling pin, I promise.
Second: Get helpers involved. If your relatives want to spoil your children, let them. It is less you will feel pressured to do and buy. If you need to sign up on a toy drive list, don’t feel ashamed that this year you are receiving rather than giving. There is a reason these drives exist, and it is OK to use them. When another year comes with more of a cash flow, donate an extra toy or two. If your best friend wants to take your child out for a McDonald’s dinner date, take that 90 minutes for a bath, shower and paint your toenails.
Third: Reach out for resources. The harsh reality is that for those who need it most, help can seem most elusive. PPA and PPD tells you that you are not worthy to seek help and get healing for your issues. Financial struggles tell you that you are too ashamed to ask for help. Being newly singles tells you that you somehow failed in making your relationship work, and you deserve the hardships coming your way. All of these issues thrive on lies, telling you the opposite of the truth and sabotaging your self worth. You have to summon what strength you have left, and throat-punch them out of the way to make room for light to come in. You ARE worth help, you ARE strong for leaving, you ARE deserving of financial peace. Show your babies how much you love them by taking care of the person who loves them the most, too. If it means logging onto some online forums for resources, make a date after they go to sleep to do just that. If you have appointments to make to receive financial or material help, enlist the help of a friend to watch the kids for a day. Call your doctor to schedule an appointment to…wait for it….talk about YOU! They are there for you, it is ok to say you need help.
Some years will be about survival, and that is a good lesson for children to see. There will be years where that is their reality too, and just like we teach them how to read and write, we need to teach them about this journey that is life. We all know they are worth it, and you are too <3