Some days solo-parenting is tough …. and others, it’s excruciating. I simply cannot play all the roles for all the people while doing all the things.
Today was one of those days. Biz phone calls, while trying to multi task drop offs and pick ups and keeping them busy and occupied (homeschoolers over here).
This playground, that playground, the library just so I could distract them and be on the phone. Staples emergency. Errands, groceries, pick up… dinner, clean up, tidy up, bath time, play dough making, trying to sneak in some late night cuddles while watching Dancing with the Stars because I know how “checked out” I was today and I know they needed some touch time.
Knowing that late nights mean chaos. But wanting a chance to be “The fun one.” Staying up late to eat popcorn and broccoli and sherbet. Knowing it backfires every time, but wanting to take off my “responsible parent” hat for awhile and embrace reckless abandon and connectivity …
which comes at a price.
I know I’ll pay for tomorrow.
As I’m trying to put this one to bed, one of the others fell asleep while the third would not leave my room. She was overtired and wanted me to cuddle and put her to bed. So she wouldn’t leave. But she wasn’t quietly staying, either. She was so overtired she was triggered into endless crying mode – making it impossible for me to get Lincoln to bed.
I tried to explain she was just prolonging the process. But she wouldn’t hear me. Couldn’t hear me. She was too far gone into triggered mode. She could not be reasoned with.
Then Lincoln added to the escalation because he didn’t want her in his room.
And things devolved quickly.
I am only one person, I whisper to myself. I can only do so many things. It’s okay.
I grabbed her and held her close, hard – because she often needs deep pressure to reset – but even that wasn’t working. In these moments I feel so incredibly alone and lost as a mingle. I want to pass the baton; tag someone else in; or at the very least, reach out to a cohort who understands the nuances and inside jokes of our family enough to hold space for me and my frustrations while cheerleading me from the sidelines. No such luck. Fuck.
It’s me. Alone. Left to deal with these three amazingly beautiful and wonderful… intense and incredibly frustrating young people – alone. And I don’t know what to do. Because, I cannot do it all.
I don’t want to put the extra work on my 9 year old constantly. It’s a balance between teamwork and me being THE grown up and responsible one. Working together and allowing for their childhood to BE A childhood.
So I scooped her up and brought her to her room… I felt myself pulling into Momster mode. I breathed some more. I didn’t want to unleash my inner Momster.
It is hard.
But that nanosecond of pause is just enough to realize, in that moment, I have CHOICE.
To choose Momster or Mama.
To escalate or lean into the exhaustion and overwhelm and big feelings (each of ours) and communicate. And show up. Messy.
I’m done. – I say.
I’m exhausted. – I say.
I am only ONE person. – I say.
And as her tears of exhaustion and need flow, so do mine.
I’m sorry. – I say.
I’m doing the best I can. – I say.
I know today was a long, disconnected day. And I’m sorry.
I missed you too. – I say.
But I needed to work.
I’m only one person. – I say.
Tears streaming down my own face as I am unable to guide Lillian from her overwhelm to peace and rest.
I wish it were different. – I say.
I didn’t envision our family being this way. – I say.
I’m trying to do all the things. – I say.
But I’m only one person. – I say.
No, Mama. Don’t be sorry. – Layla says.
You have nothing to be sorry about. – she says.
You are trying so hard. – she says.
Everyone needs you all the time. – she says.
It must be overwhelming. – she says.
But it’s my job, sweet child.
And my honor, sweet child.
To hold you and help you and be your family.
Being your Mama is a privilege.
And I love it.
And I love you.
But I am still only one person. – I say.
My oldest leans in to hold me close. As I lean in to hold her triggered sister close. And Lincoln smushes himself in between us like a sandwich to feel the warmth of our 4-piece-pileup. To feel connected and close.
We all cry together.
I think it’s cathartic.
Because we are all overtired.
And wishing things were different.
And doing the best we can.
But we are each
Only one person.
All it takes is one person.
To recognize that moment between reaction and response … and chooses to breathe.
To hold deeply the body of a triggered, overtired body.
To lay sandwiched among those who just want to be close.
To sit in all our beautiful messiness and … without running … without hiding …. without fleeing the big stuff.
To show up, anyway.
To reach out and say “Mama, it’s okay.”
“Mama, sometimes we just have to cry.”
“Mama, It’s not your fault.”
And “Mama, We are allowed to be sad.”
“Mama, I know you’re doing the very best you can.”
Sometimes…. all it takes IS the “only one person”. To lean into the discomfort of the unknown; to brave the difficult conversations that have no real answers; to Show up. Messy. And imperfectly.
But also Vulnerably. Honestly. And Lovingly.
And hug hard.
Knowing how incredibly, unfathomably, unmistakably powerful “only one person” can be.