Balancing What's Best for our Kids with What's Best for Us
This morning Greta went off to her first day at her new part-time job (her first real job ever). I French braided her hair, helped her decide on and outfit, and we talked through a few things.
I was also packing my bag to go to the coffee shop because I wanted to work on some assignments from my life coach. Greta wanted to know whether I would wait until she left for her job interview. “Sure, yes, of course!” I said. I started watering the plants and doing a few things to keep my busy until she was ready to go.
Then I thought, “No, I actually want to leave now. If I drink my coffee too late in the day then I can’t sleep well at night. I want to work on my assignments. She is old enough to go to her first day without me seeing her off.”
I told her I was going to leave and she said that was fine (and seemed fine about it). She sent me a photo of her when she got to the front door of her job. Giving thumbs up.
It is hard to know what to do with these decisions that come up so regularly with our kids that have chronic pain and have become more dependent on us. Our kids want us, but so often when we are always doing what we think is best for them, we lose ourselves. And is it really what is best for them?
It reminds me of when Greta was just 1 year old. She was a really bad sleeper and I was getting overwhelmed, exhausted, and walking around like a zombie every day. I finally decided that enough was enough. I needed to function like a normal human being. I wanted to be a healthy, well rested mom. The next night I didn’t tend to her when she cried at night. Nor the next, nor the next. Of course it was excruciating but thankfully, in time, I was sleeping through the night. I made sure, when our son was born, that he learned how to sleep through the night early on.
We can run ourselves ragged trying to help our kids with chronic pain. We are frantic to find the reason for their pain. We don’t want them to feel like they are alone. We feel so sorry for them. We try to make up for their pain. But it doesn’t work. It just makes us overwhelmed, exhausted, and unable to parent well.
I wish there was a handbook for each of our kids. It is always hard to know what to do in these situations. There are books that talk about the ideal way to respond but sometimes our kids are the outliers.
The only handbook, really, is to listen to our own intuition. We know our kids. And we know ourselves. What they need balanced with what we need.
We, as parents, need to be sane and balanced in order to deal with this difficult journey we are on. We need our own mental health support, our own life coaching, our own friends and coffee dates and nourishment in order to continue to have the patience and wisdom to deal with this.
Should I have stayed with Greta this morning? I could have. I don’t know if there is a wrong or a right. But I also know that I am important and need my time to reflect and nourish myself so I can weather this storm. And be an anchor for her.
It is hard for us to find time to nourish ourselves. Sometimes we need to let our kids down, in order to do it.
And in the end, it is giving them the message that it is important to take care of yourself. Instead of waiting for someone else to give you the permission to do it.
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