woman coming up out of the water

Coming Up for Air

If you’re a parent, you know what it’s like to feel completely overwhelmed by your situation. That feeling of being totally consumed by your role as your child’s provider and caretaker. The planner, the manager, the doer of all things.

Sometimes it happens during the newborn phase when you are mentally struck with the sheer amount of new vulnerability and responsibility that you have been gifted. Perhaps it strikes during a particularly nasty illness that has made its way through your entire household. Maybe it’s the holidays and you are trying to live up to crushingly unrealistic expectations.

Sleep regressions


Emotional Regulation Issues

We’ve all experienced a period of time where it felt like we couldn’t catch a break.

I’ve just come out of a stretch myself. Having a baby and a toddler, in addition to a mobility-limiting injury, just makes life harder. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to have them (of course you know this) and I know there are other people in much worse situations than myself, but it was all just SO MUCH.

The therapist that I’ve seen since having my son (and I highly recommend therapy for just about any human being, but especially moms) offered up the most appropriate metaphor that I have yet to come across. I felt like I was trying so hard and things still just weren’t working. She compared all this “stuff”: household chores, emotional labor, stress, hormones, interpersonal relationship issues, physical recovery, lack of sleep… to swimming.

As you try to swim, you just get bogged down and you start to feel like you are drowning in it all. Those times when all you want is to take a tiny break for your sanity and it just isn’t happening. It’s always one thing after another.

You just want to come up for a short breath of air.

That air gives you a little bit of control. It feels like there is at least a small amount of progress.

Whatever your situation: a toddler that won’t go to bed without screaming for an hour, trying to adjust to an additional child, or just feeling like you can handle the next crisis headed for you; you will get chances to come up for air. They may be minor and they may be short, but we have to take them where we can get them.

This is not a list of ways to become a “stress-free parent”. Do we really think that even exists? No, this is a reminder. It’s hard. You are not incapable or broken. You (and I and everyone else) is simply human.

If you feel the waves overtaking you, try to treat yourself with kindness. Perfect is, if not unattainable, then certainly not sustainable. Reach out to your circle. Verbalize what you are feeling. Asking for what you need will help you find those pockets of air. We all need those.

Do you have any tips for getting in those mental breaths of air? Leave a comment below.


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