Wednesday, January 23, 2013


These past weeks were insanely busy, dark, cold, and honestly, my sanity has wavered.  My 9 year old daughter helped by cleaning, making cake pops, party prep, and was just my personal little minion.  She is by nature a conversationalist (more aptly does not stop chatting) and while working asked, "Mom, what is your least favorite feeling?"  I said I wasn't sure because I don't like to be sad or angry, but then I realized, that without a doubt it is stress that I hate the most. I'm sure it is mostly subconscious, but some people live to avoid conflict or intimacy or commitment or change or confrontation or work or pain or being out of control or disliked or any number of things. I fully realized that I spend all of my effort and energy to avoid being stressed.  I will work hard or live without or confront issues head on or deal with any amount of pain and avoid drama, just so that I won't feel stressed. 
She said that she doesn't like the feeling of waking up ;0).

Thankfully, not much stresses me out at this stage of my life.  Not moving or planning epic voyages or having large parties at my house (I'll admit that this last weekend's party was a lovely success but did push the limits of my sanity).  I hate money stress so we have a tight budget.  I don't like driving at night so I get rides.  I don't like deadlines so I try being proactive.  I get a little nervous talking in front of groups but if I prepare well, I'm not stressed.  I live in a constant state of preparedness so that I have very little opportunity to be stressed...   For my own wedding, if some element started to stress me out, I would just not do it or adjust it until it became non-stressful.  That mind-set has carried through the rest of my life.  Truly stressful things get dropped or adapted until manageable...

and then we did something crazy that can't be managed or adapted...

We had kids.  Kids have this static underlying state of stress.  Granted, it is fun and amazing and life changing but there is no possible way to prepare for what this is.  After I had my first, I turned to a dear friend who is about 8 years older than me and said, "Why didn't you warn me?!  Why didn't you tell me what I was getting into?!" to which she said, "Oh, I tried!! remember when I tried?"

I constantly catch myself stressing about how I could parent differently.  In the early years, I packed bags to hopefully negate anything that might befall us (but even the best prepared bag was always missing something, usually enough diapers)... 

wondering if they were napping okay or potty training or when to start school or enough play-dates and activities.  Should they know how to swim by now?  Are they too bossy?  Is my kid the bully? Are they academically on track?  Do they have any good friends?  Do they spend too much time in front of electronics?  Are they safe to walk to school?  Do they read enough?  Should everything they eat be organic?  What about flu shots?  Should I MAKE them play an instrument or participate in a sport?  Are they balanced and kind and healthy and responsible?  As they get older, there is stress to have them signed up for the right groups because if they don't play a sport at a certain level when they are young enough, they won't get to play when they are in high school and if they aren't on the honors track now, in 3rd grade, will they get into the college they want?

I have a hard time balancing the boredom with over activity.  I want them to be the best versions of themselves but can't always figure out how to accomplish that.  The simplest way would be to just make their choices and pick their friends and arrange their marriage so that I could avoid some of this stress.  They could be my own cute little muppets!  And I could make their little lives so Perfect!  

Oh GESH!!!  As I physically articulate my parenting stress, I'm instantly struck by how trivial this all is and how annoying my sub-conscious is!  That kind of anxiety is not emotionally or physically healthy!    Looking back on my early parenting stressors is laughable.  Of course the kids weren't always going to be happy.  Sometimes they were just going to scream for hours. They got potty trained-- eventually.  They are going to make short-sighted choices.  They are kids.  If playing high school sports is the highlight of my son's life, it will be a very disappointing life.  The happiest adults that I know probably didn't make it into the best colleges, some of them even dropped out / were kicked out and then maybe went back eventually.  

So this year, in our first year of middle school, I'm going to take a deep breath and take the urgency and emergency out of one of the only real stressors left in my life.  I don't want to necessarily get rid of the kids.  I can't adapt the kids (I've tried and it doesn't have favorable results).  

None of my parenting will be entirely right or dreadfully wrong, honestly, it may barely even sway the end results; It may end up being a mere watermark on the photograph of their life.  Pushing them to define their interests and focus on academia and make ALL of the best decisions doesn't guarantee Happily Ever After.  Parenting is a grave undertaking and shouldn't be flippant and light-hearted but it is not a sprint.  It is a slow paced intentional course that will have hills and valleys.  There is very little that is so urgent that it can't be resolved with lots of prayer, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness...

So Kelly, take a deep breath, calm your spirit, put down your plan for them, relax, enjoy this time, maybe take a trip to the water (in your mind) and probably put some Enya on the whole house music.  It is okay to to just let the stress go... after all, what kind of parent would you be if they didn't have ANY material for the therapist?

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