Parents, we need to take care of EACH OTHER!
Parents, we need to take care of each other, check in and pitch in. I can’t tell you how many toilets I have cleaned that weren’t mine, laundry I have folded that wasn’t mine, meals cooked, bought or scratched together that I wasn’t going to eat. Sometimes it was on the fly responding to a friend who needed a chat with a pizza for their dinner, and hands ready to help. Sometimes it was let me draw you a bath.
“DON’T clean for me” became my mantra to my parent friends. I don’t care about 2 day old dried food on your high chair, if it bugs you, let me clean it and go take a shower.
I was luckier than almost everyone I knew when my kids were little. See, I was the lady who had easy babies and “reasonable” toddlers. I got this. My babies slept and cooed all day. It didn’t mean I was a better mom, it was genetics. But I also knew that it wasn’t like that for a lot of my peers. More than once I was met by a parent and baby with tear stained faces.
I saw my own mom get overwhelmed and exhausted when I was 16 and 17 when she had to two more, I saw her anxious tiredness, the overwhelm and exhaustion creep in, I learned from her.
So with 2 under 2.5 I was getting sleep, getting my stuff done, working from home, so many of my peers were having transitions, not enough time, not enough food, money, resources, sunshine…. Recognizing that my getting it done didn’t make me special or better, it made me the friend that people remember cleaning up, combing their hair, cooking, getting sick kid diarrhea all over my shirt and not stressing. We have to recognize each other and realize we are what we bring to the table and give to each other. We need to remove dominance or betterness from the conversation.
I watched so many parents lose themselves, time overwhelms, exhaustion make decisions and essentially start to dissolve under the strain.
I was the friend people got mad at. “You make it look easy” “You have the perfect marriage” “You have….” I just had to love them harder, know that it wasn’t about me, it was about stress, strain, isolation, fear, societal pressure to be perfect wonder parents. Don’t get me wrong, I drowned more than once under an avalanche of laundry, dirty dishes, weeds taking over my yard.
So, don’t give up.
Encourage each other.
Bring a treat.
Embrace the mess. Don’t ever let the fear of unfolded laundry let them keep you away. Offer to help. Give breaks, kindness, love, compassion, joy and peace.
Offer to watch the kids for two hours. Even if you have unhappy little ones for two hours it’s okay. Parents can get a lot of revitalization done in two hours.
Offer to swap houses if you live close by and offer up a bed for a 2 hour nap.
Have dosh? Book your friend a massage and offer to do child care. Give them a gift of take out delivered.
Offer to bring over dinner for them.
Offer with no strings. Just be kind to be kind.
Some of these people I don’t even know anymore, moved on drifted apart, and that’s okay. These aren’t scores we keep. These are moments we connect and make a difference for each other.
Sometimes it was someone I knew I wouldn’t be lifelong friends with, but it didn’t hurt me to chat, fold clothes, bring a lasagna over.
The investment is in our world.
Don’t get me wrong, I had friends lift me high more than once. Make my day better, help me along the way, just in different ways. To them I send all my love.
This is a personal note from Birth Arts International’s director, Demetria Clark.