So I’ve started seeing a family therapist, finally, and there has been plenty to talk about – mostly about parenting. I haven’t really started to process the whole “what should we do with our lives” question that is constantly simmering in the back of my mind.

The main thing she said to me is that I need to forgive myself for failing to live up to my own expectations and sense of self-identity. Say “yes” to the past, and the now, and the future. Think of everything that I chose, that I did, that I felt, that I thought, and know that it is ok.

I feel like I don’t really know how to do that, but I do know that this enormous feeling of GUILT for trying to obtain a degree while parenting, and the enormous sense of failure for not doing either as well as I think I should have, is devastating. It eats away at me and I think it colors a lot of my emotional interactions with my daughter, even now.

 

I also bought Ask Moxie’s book of 32 truths about parenting, that has been fabulous. The book is an expanded version of her blog series on the same topic, which is also good, but there are some great quotes in the book that I didn’t see on the blog. Here are some gems though:

# 28: “I believe that a lot of parents are carrying around some trauma from our children’s younger years, and may still be immersed in that trauma.”

# 4: “…the truth is that we’re tired and stressed and sometimes lonely. We’re doing too much, because we have to. And sometimes because in order to do the things that we love, we have to add them on to all the stuff that just has to get done. And it doesn’t mean there’s anything particularly valiant or morally superior or even extra-strength about us. It just means we’re making it, one day at a time.”

I think the most helpful thing she said was that I am the best parent for my kids. Otherwise (I’m paraphrasing) we’d find the most Ma Ingalls women in the country and give them all the kids  to raise. (I admit that I’ve often thought that would be a good idea, actually.) But they need ME. With all my faults and flaws. They need me to be present, engaged, attentive… just me. And I will fuck up, and I can ask for forgiveness.

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5 Responses to “”

  1. Angela Says:

    I Have walked this path too.

  2. happygoluckytireegal Says:

    That’s a lot you are worrying about and processing:( good to hear from you, though. Are you seeing a family therapist with the goal of bringing in the rest of the family ( or your husband at least) to therapy or us it just that she’s called a family therapist because she specializes in family dynamics? We just started getting family therapy at a bit for profit child development center – started because of Isobel’s anxiety but we are just beginning and it’s not just about her.
    I do feel like a failure when I compare myself up my schoolmates but I try not to think of that too often. I hope you get some clarity or at least forgive yourself:)

    • Elizabeth Says:

      Well, I think yes? The impetus for seeking out the therapist was a strong recommendation from the school because they have been baffled by some of Illyria’s emotional responses to things. I got to know this therapist through workshops she facilitated for some of our staff and partners, and her training is as a family therapist specifically. But, she has strongly affirmed my starting with working on my own issues. She’s coached me a lot on stuff like setting boundaries (especially with Oz), and helping Illyria manage her anxiety. But one of her recommendations, that is bearing fruit in practice, is that dealing with my own anxieties goes a LONG way to helping both kids feel centered and stable. So then it’s tricky not to beat myself up for transmitting my anxieties and insecurities to them… but on the plus side I’m taking active steps to deal with all this stuff while they’re still little – stuff my own mother didn’t start to deal with until I was in my late 20s. I guess it’s never too late… but it’s never to early either, eh?

      Give yourself the grace you would offer a dearly loved friend… she might mess up, but you’d still think of her as a good person worthy of love!

      • happygoluckytireegal Says:

        Thanks! I’ll be eagerly awaiting updates! Our therapy is going well although it’s more like chatting and playing side by side for now but from how the therapist is responding to us I feel like it’s early days but good days ahead.

  3. Rachel Says:

    Oh Elizabeth, I’m so sorry. Kids are resilient, you love your children fiercely. I really hope the therapy is helping even if it is just bringing peace to you. Hugs!

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