Tuesday, 4 October 2016

The Single-Parent Game

I'm understanding now why being a single parent is the both the greatest and the hardest thing to do. Practically speaking we're doing great, there's nothing that we aren't capable of when we put our minds to it. But mentally it is more draining than most realise. Everything falls to you and I don't just mean washing the socks, cooking the dinner, making the beds, keeping the kids clean, all of that is automatic, I'm talking about the actual raising of tiny humans... that all falls to you and do you know what? That is the most difficult part. Parenting is easy, being a GOOD parent is fucking near impossible. 

I'm coming to realise that striving to be someone who doesn't worry as much, who doesn't stress every meal time that the boys aren't eating the right things, who doesn't feel like she's done enough in a day, and who questions her choices every day isn't what being a good parent is about. Everybody stresses about those things but what I've finally learnt...the thing that's finally dawned on me...is that it's how we DEAL with those stresses that matters most. It's the hardest thing in the world to be worried about bills, an upcoming Christmas, appointments, the wealthfare of your children, the welfare of yourself (that oftens slips by the wayside), what you need to get done today, what you need to get done next week, what you need to start thinking about now in preparation for next month; it's intense and it's hard to feel like you're keeping on top of it all. But you've got to find ways to manage all these duties and chores and parental responsibilities without letting it pull you apart. Do you know that feeling when you're particularly stressed about something and your kids suddenly spill a cup of milk all over the floor and themselves, and you feel yourself snap? Then you find yourself feeling terrible for being 'that person' (cue mummy guilt)? That's what I'm talking about. I'm not saying we all need to be saints, shit happens and sometimes we lose our shit, but we can always work on how we react to the unexpected. So we break it down and we work out ways to cope with that situation so that we don't lose our marbles and take it out on others. Turning it into practical little steps takes away the anxiety and makes it manageable. Write down what you're worried about and NAME IT. If it's stress, admit to yourself that you're stressed about that particular thing, if it's guilt, let yourself admit that it's guilt, if it's anger and frustration, say that to yourself. Giving it a name acknowledges the existence of that feeling... you'd be surprised how realising what you're actually feeling makes a difference to how you can move forward. Then we work out what we can do about it, how do we take away that stress and I don't mean cover it up so it can resurface later, I mean how do we tackle it so we can equalise ourselves again. So it means you have to go into town and pick up item 'X' so you can do that job at home you've been putting off. Maybe it means picking up the phone and actually making that appointment you know you should arrange but keep pushing further down the priority list. Maybe it's pre-planning how to attack the following day so you don't end up with a repeat of today and left feeling that same yucky feeling all over again. Nothing changes unless you make it change or at least work towards making a change. Hell! Even admitting that something needs to change is a fucking brilliant start! And that's how I've decided to go about this single parenting thing so that I can be the best parent I can be (not the best parent ever of all time because they don't exist... you can only do the best you can) and in a way that eliminates my feelings of inadequacy. It helps me keep from feeling like a fish flailing around on the concrete on a hot day gasping for air and hoping someone comes to my rescue. 

There are many other chapters to this single parenting book I've yet to discover and write for myself, but I take it one page at a time and take great pride in the fact that every day I'm more self-aware is another day closer to being completely at one with who I am. 

And that's enough for me. 

How I got back in control of my anxiety

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