Recently, I opted for a "parent time-out" by finally accepted my mom's offer to keep Lennon for a night so I could get some sleep. I say this with angst as it took me almost two weeks of a sick, teething, and exhausted child to actually accept the open invite. You see, my household was plagued with a cold, which started it's conquering wrath of my husband and I before it made it's way to our little Lenny. When she got it, she got it BAD. Her cold turned croup paired with the appearance of molars resulted in one of the most trying and difficult 14 days of my life.
To say I/we were exhausted would be a complete and utter understatement. I cried at work because someone disagreed with me, our Christmas tree fell down and we lost a bunch of special ornaments, and my husband and I were at each other's throats over the dumbest, simplest things.
So, my mom offered and offered and offered and finally on day 13, I accepted. My daughter had a great sleepover at Nona's and mom and dad got a great sleep at home. We reunited as newly relaxed, refreshed parents and Lenny got to hang with her super cool Nona. Win-win.
So, why on Earth did it take me almost two weeks to accept help? Why did I think I had to do it all by myself when I have such a strong support group just a short drive away? Why would any parent turn down a kid-free, restful night when there are thousands of parents who don't ever get that option? Aside from being crazy, it's because as parents, we think we can do it all.
While that may be true, it doesn't have to be a reality.
I spoke with a dear friend who had her third child just a few months back. She called me randomly during my rough patch and after venting about the situation she said, "Tell me something you're going through, and I'll tell you something I've done that is worse or that my kids have done that is by far worse." We laughed and she later explained in our call that, "No mother should ever mother alone; surround yourself with other women and talk to them about your problems, and the rough things you are going through. because I assure you, they are all going through the same rough things."
I try to learn something from all my parenting experiences so that I can possibly help others find a solution to a challenge, or simply offer the reassurance that my friend offered me, which is, "You are not alone in this." But I still find myself filled with guilt and feelings of failure because I had to "pawn off" my one kid when my friend over here can handle three. She asked why I hadn't reached out to her when things started to get challenging and I simply said, "Because you have three kids and I can't handle my one." Her reply, "Honey, I struggled with one for many years. You know that. You used to give me advice all the time. Do you really not remember?"
So, now I am plagued with a new question: Why is it that I am still able to offer advice to my fellow mom and dad friends, but why the hell can I not take my own advice?
You see, it's easy to console a stressed out parent and assure them everything is going to be okay when your own kid is on a well-behaved, healthy streak and you are getting 8+ hours of sleep every night. It's not so easy to offer said advice when you haven't slept in weeks and are about to lose your mind. The trick to solving this give-advice-get-advice-use-advice method is simple: accept the advice you give to others no matter the circumstance.
I have said it once and I will say it again: we are in this parenting thing together. All of us. Moms, dads, stepdads, etc. we all have one goal and that is to raise healthy, happy kids, while we ourselves remain healthy and happy. It is not a competition, it is not a race, it is not a talent show. It is a community, a support group, a system of parents who succeed, fail, and everything in between. You do not have to do this alone. Words I am now going to live by for the rest of my life.
If you take anything away from this blog, let it be this: if you see a fellow parent (friend or stranger) struggling with something, help them. If you yourself are struggling, ask for help. Take your own advice and target it towards the situation in need of a remedy. No one has to ever parent alone. If you live in an area where you have no family or close friends, let us know and we will help you find a support group. Friends do not let friends parent alone. Take it from my friend who has three kids and still smiles every day.