By the look of this photo (or maybe all of my photos lately) you might think things are easy over here. Once in a blue moon, they are! but if I have created any illusions of perfection, if you have ever thought, Well doesn’t she have it easy.. then my apologies truly. I think it’s harder for me to show up to the page at my lower moments. Easier to not say anything at all (or to share a photo of something I am celebrating) than to dwell on what’s hard or seem complainy. But I also learn over and over again, that to appear to have it all together when you don’t, (Who does?) leaves little room for others to connect deeply with you. It is a gift of connection we all miss out on.
Case in point.
Yesterday was a rough parenting day. Ben was sick with a fever so I was home all day by myself with the two boys. For a variety of reasons (exhaustion, baby who won’t sleep, four year old who gets febrile seizures) I was hitting the edges of my parenting. (aka: I was losing it) I vacillated between, What have I done? to I’m not strong enough for this… to When are these kids’ parents going to come pick them up? And then finally, utter shame at how impatient I was being with them both.
I picked up the phone. Who could I call that could just be with me right now? I tentatively dialed a new friend of mine.
Me: (pretending everything was fine) Hey! Happy New Year! How are you?
Friend: Oh my god, so busy! Such a crazy holiday, so much work, I’m just trying to regroup.
In my head: She’s too busy. Why are you bothering her? Why on earth would she want to spend the afternoon with a sick kid and a baby?
Friend: How are you doing?
Me: Well… Actually I’m having one of my lowest parenting days ever! I think I’m at the edge of my mental health. (I try to say this in as light a way as possible so she can gloss over it if she wants)
Friend: Oh no! Do you want me to come over and we can have a low day together?
This is all it took for me to burst into tears.
Me: (sputtery) Yes! That’s exactly what I want, but I was too afraid to ask.
Friend: I’m coming right over.
We had the sweetest afternoon together. In the end, we didn’t even talk about why things were hard. We were simply together and that was enough. We built a unicorn puzzle with Ben, drew and painted silly pictures, catalogued Ben’s favorite foods and chatted about everything and nothing at all. It was total bliss.
We are often isolated in our lives, but especially in our struggles and in our pain. We’re afraid to burden others with our problems so we suffer silently. We’d rather not risk being vulnerable because it feels scary… but often what we need is really simple. Like yesterday. I didn’t need much. I didn’t need a babysitter or a therapist or anyone to fix anything for me. I just needed company… I needed to know I wasn’t alone. And it turns out my friend did too.
For me, life is just sweeter when we’re in it together.