Life with little people is amazing. It’s also unquestionably hard. Minutes add up to countless hours of mental overload and emotional exhaustion.
Navigating uproarious giggles that transform into inconsolable tears (while we’re still catching our breath from laughing with them) leaves our heads and hearts spinning.
Life felt more stressful than usual last week. My daughter’s tantrums had a lot to do with it, but more than our situation or my daughter’s behavior, my own mental defeat left our family treading water.
I started ignoring instead of addressing. Overlooking instead of correcting. And I let my husband become the referee of our children’s fighting.
I want to be clear and say there are times when mommas need a break.
There are also times when daddies need a break.
We are a team, and we need each other’s help so we can both keep showing up and putting in the work of creating a family.
Which is why, after a few days had passed and things were escalating, my husband and I realized we needed to talk to each other.
So we made time.
We created space for each of our feelings, perspectives, frustrations, and needs.
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I admitted to myself and to my husband that I had started to slip into the backseat of parenting when it came to helping my daughter learn how to kindly express herself.
My husband and I shared how we were both doing mentally and emotionally. I asked for his help and advice. He gave it lovingly and also listened to my suggestions. We discussed what had worked for our family in the past and what needed to change going forward.
Everyone says it’s important to communicate in marriage—to create safety and openness. I agree. Yet so often, I don’t think we realize how important it is to extend communication beyond marriage and into the rest of our family. Or maybe, we just need to be reminded.
Because communication is vital to parenting.
I need it. He needs it. Our children need it.
When my husband and I aren’t on the same page, it creates an undercurrent of tension. And that current is felt by everyone. Even as a young toddler, my daughter is highly empathetic. Her emotions wreak havoc when she senses stress. She thrives on routine and structure. My family needs cohesion.
Friends, I know how impossible it feels. I know how easy it is to slip into habits of silence, without even realizing we are. I know, in the midst of everyday life, we can’t always talk as much we would like or sometimes even at all.
But sometimes we can quiet our internal monologues by bringing intentionality and mindfulness back into the forefront. Purposefulness is an integral dynamic of a united family. Without it, communication slips away.
We have to be vigilant with our time so we aren’t defeated by the sheer volume of things that can fill it.
I felt defeated, and I set up camp in that feeling. But after being willing to sweat, bleed, and ask for help, we unearthed the stakes, rolled up the tent, and traveled to different ground. Friend, you can, too.
Life won’t always be hard in the ways it is now. It might be hard in other ways, but it might also be easier.
Our headspaces might be different. We might be better equipped or supported. Our feelings might not feel so overwhelming. Our joy might become so bright we welcome the overwhelm.
I’m learning as my daughter goes through new leaps and bounds, my own place in motherhood will, too. We’ll have new stress, new factors, and new frustrations. We’ll also have new joy, new growth, and new blessings.
When my weariness feels permanent, sometimes I just need to talk to my spouse, family, or a close friend. Having an outside perspective can be the first step in gaining new clarity and fighting defeat.
Because today, I’m in a better headspace. Today, my daughter and I are in a different place.
Whether we’re wives, mommas, or daughters; husbands, fathers, or sons . . .
We’re all learning how to express our feelings and fears so we aren’t owned by them.
We all need the freedom to appreciate what’s beautiful and recognize what’s hard.
We all want the space to ask for help when we’re ready and willing to receive it.
And when finally we’re ready, having someone who is able to close the gap and meet us where we’re at, having someone who patient enough to wait but ready enough to meet us halfway, means everything.
It did for me.
Previously published on the author’s Facebook page