“It’s just so hard, it’s constant, not just physically but emotionally and mentally.”
I muster every ounce of ‘I hear you’, with a simple nod.
In slightly more frantic tones she continues, “it isn’t that it isn’t good, it is wonderful, she is deligh…”
“Stop, you don’t need to explain.”
Three times this week I have cut my friends off mid-sentence.
Three times I have reassured women, mothers of every variety, that it is ok to have feelings of desperation AND love. I’ve tried to comfort them that feeling like you’re drowning does not minimise your emotions of gratitude and care.
Emotions are rarely exclusive.
A few days ago, I sat in my kitchen facing an assessment for Continuing Care. At the end of it I felt I had betrayed my son. I couldn’t shake off the feeling that confessing how hard life was, the many challenges we face, I was somehow not being true to the beauty and treasure of our family.
But it isn’t either or.
It isn’t hard or good.
As parents, we continually juggle our emotions.
It’s as though we are desperate never to be found holding more than one emotion at a time. We are duped into believing that feeling life is hard, tough and not what we expected, means that it is bad. That somehow it equates with not loving our children enough. But that is simply not true. You can be broken and tearful, seeped in heartache and fatigue, yet have more love and dedication than Liam Neeson in ‘Taken’.
One minute I can be found feeling limp and whimpering, next a steely voice rises within me as I’m required fight for the best for my child.
Phone calls that feel as though they land on deaf ears.
Awkward conversations with professionals.
in the quiet,
I’m left with my bundle of emotions
struggling to contain them in my oh-so-small hands.
And sadly, I think women of faith give themselves an even harder time. They have been feed the subtext that if God is in something it will be warm, fuzzy and lovely.
That good means nice.
That blessed means easy.
But I strongly believe that is a lie.
With or without faith, we can all fall down the rabbit warren of trying to live the Facebook version of our life.
Maybe it is the sainted piety of motherhood, where relentlessly giving and always putting self at the bottom of the pile is the gold standard. Or maybe the delusion of a good Christian life. We can all fall foul of believing that possessing only positive emotions and squashing all others, is the cornerstone of being a good.
I’m coming to think that half of my job as a mother is learning to hold my emotions well.
One of my first blogs focused on carrying emotions. Holding them too tight, saps me of all my energy; leaving me with nothing left. Ignore the weight of them and they surreptitiously burden me. So, I am trying to learn to ride them. Surfing the peaks and troughs that sweep my life on a daily basis.
No emotion is bad.
No emotion should be ignored.
But like an inflated balloon, it’s the emotions we try to press, minimise and squash that are most likely to blow.
Instead, if we hold them well, with time, they will slowly deflate all by themselves. A couple of thousand years ago, a Jewish man I admire (to the point of wanting my life to reflect his values), shouted from the mountain top (literally) “Blessed are the poor in spirit”.
That isn’t to say the darkness isn’t bad.
It isn’t that brokenness is easy.
But rather that in the darkest places, good can be present.
We can be blessed when we are broken, vulnerable and dependent.
That used to be hard to understand but not now. Not when I look into the beautiful eyes of my son. As much as I would like a Fairy God father to wave his magic wand and change the circumstances of our lives; I can see that through my son we are blessed. Through his vulnerability and dependence, not in spite of it.
Through our dependence on community we are blessed.
When I look back at my life, the challenging times are the ones that changed me the greatest, and for the better. Don’t get me wrong, I still long for the easiest path. I still don’t understand how this works out well for my biggest boy. But faith holds these uncertainties together.
That is why it is called faith.
I cannot explain it.
I do not have to.
And the same is true for my emotions. I do not need to explain why I feel exhausted and yet infinitely determined to love.
These photos show the best and worst of me.
You can’t have one without the other.
The tearstained, snot filled days give way to the smiling and precious moments.
But each have their own time.
Each have their day.
And maybe these emotions come hand-in-hand.
Seemingly conflicting emotions wander through my life, like long, lost friends.
The only reason I feel such deep emotions of heartache and grief is BECAUSE of my unending love.
It is BECAUSE I care with every ounce of my being. BECAUSE I am so determined to give my son the best, that I find myself ragged and in need of help.
Today is world mental health day; Let’s use this great opportunity to take care of ourselves and each other.