It had been a hard week. I was exhausted. Spent. I had nothing left to give.
I was frequently in tears but had managed to hide them from everyone. But not my crankiness. That was very evident for my 6 year old and my husband… and the fact that I had ‘lightly’ crashed into another car.
It all came to a head on a Saturday when my daughter was desperate to have Special Time with me and I just couldn’t give it to her. Not in a ‘I can’t be bothered’ kind of a way, but in a ‘I really, really can’t’ kind of a way. So we compromised and I was helping her with some craft, whilst cooking lunch and trying to tidy up the living areas (although I was doing none of them very well). Emily was whining for me to sort something out, and moaning that she was hungry. Her whining was gaining rapidly in intensity, as was my irritation and despair.
Well, I lost it. I shouted. I cried. I sobbed that I was trying to do the best that I could and to please give me some slack. The tears wouldn’t stop and I realised that I needed to take care of me. I was in no position to be parenting her effectively – I needed to have a really good cry and to be looked after by someone older than 6 years old. So I reached out to a very good friend and asked if we could meet for a chat and a cry.
Thankfully this wonderful friend said yes.
We went for a bush walk and everything I had been holding in for the past few days and weeks just poured out. I felt so safe with her that I could tell her everything that was playing on my mind – all of my irritations with my husband, my exhaustion from my 6 month old, my frustrations with my 6 year old, my disappointments, embarrassments, and indecision. Until then, everything had seemed so incredibly overwhelming that I just couldn’t think. Deciding what to have for dinner was probably the extent of what I could choose. But even that seemed too hard. My head was a mess, I couldn’t think straight and I was just plain exhausted.
My friend patiently and lovingly listened. She let me talk, cry, talk and cry some more. She didn’t interrupt me with her own anecdotes or try to console me to save me from the upset. There was no judgement or pity. She witnessed my storm raging in its full intensity and messiness. And she was there when the storm clouds evaporated and a calm descended.
Only then did we discuss my situation and only then did she offer a couple of suggestions. The raging emotions had gone and my mind was now clear to think again.
Afterwards, my body had more energy, my mind was clear and the future seemed positive and possible once again. The overwhelm was gone. I could think straight again and come up with strategies on how to help get more sleep (no staying awake looking at Facebook!), how to help my 6 year old and how to reconnect with my husband.
The relief was immense.
That evening it was baked beans on toast for dinner followed by lots of cuddles with my baby and 6 year old. I finally had the capacity again to love them and give them what they needed. The future was bright again.
Being heard by another person in all of our pain and messiness, and in turn listening to another’s confusion and overwhelm is a vital part of parenting and one that is advocated by Aware Parenting and Hand in Hand. Listening Partnerships are the cornerstone of enabling parents to deal with the needs of children. They are safe places to offload any difficult emotions and a place to get the space to clear the clutter and regain the ability to think and problem solve again.
To find out more and to book a consultation with Helena, call 0424 096 546 or send an email today.