Tuesday, May 2, 2017

When you think you're alone

Every one of us feels like we are alone as a parent.  We think our kids are alone in the way they feel, and we feel like we are the only ones fighting a particular battle.

I'm here to tell you that you aren't alone, but the longer you keep it inside, the worse it's going to feel.  As simple as sharing my child's weird tooth that was growing the wrong direction in her mouth.  I'd never heard of it, but as soon as I started talking about it, all of the sudden, everyone I knew had a kid with the same freakish tooth.  As soon as Olivia shared her anxiety, more peers shared their stories of strange fears and anxiety attacks, too.

Once we open ourselves up and share the fears and worries of parenting, we realize that we aren't alone, and that others have made it through the same struggles before us.  Hello, parent of a freshman in college, I know you know exactly how I'm feeling right now with my senior who is about to graduate - please tell me that we will all be okay.  I need to hear it.  Moms who are potty training?  You're going to get to the other side.  Sleepless nights with a newborn?  Temper tantrums?  I promise, you are going to be okay.

We tend to share when our kids are little.  We have play groups and mom's clubs and our network of mommies is strong.  As we all start to get involved in life and move and go to different schools, our network fades and we often forget that we are all still struggling.  Maybe our struggles are diverging - one friend struggles through autism, one through learning disabilities, ADHD, divorce or even death.  We find our network fading.  We begin to only post the shiny, happy pictures on Facebook, thinking that all the other people are living a perfect life, so we should pretend ours is too.

I'm here to tell you that it's time to share our struggles.  Sometimes sharing helps us, and sometimes it helps the person you shared with.  But we never know when someone opening up to us will be the safety net that we need to keep us from falling.

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