Growth Spurts: IDK
By Carrie Bevell Partridge
I told my husband that what I really needed to put in place of my column this month is a big question mark. Because it seems that the older I get and the longer I parent, the more I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. Or maybe it’s that I have five kids who have very different needs. Or maybe I’m just exhausted and worn out, and my brain has turned to mush. Or maybe it’s all of the above. Nevertheless, I didn’t think my publisher would appreciate a giant question mark on this page instead of words, so here are some words. Some very honest words.
Over the course of the 18 years that I’ve been a parent, I have gone through particular seasons of discouragement and doubt. It happens for various reasons and lasts anywhere from a few hours to a few months. Sometimes it’s not too hard to snap out of it and find my footing again, but other times I struggle with even wanting to snap out of it. I have battled anxiety and depression for many years; it is part of my life. It is manageable, but some days are just harder than others.
On the days when my kids’ words/actions/choices/noise levels are particularly affecting my mood, or when I can’t seem to get a few minutes to myself to regroup, or when I feel like I can’t get my house in any kind of order, or when my husband (my stability) is struggling with discouragement himself, or when I don’t feel like I’m doing anything well, or when I’m just so incredibly tired, I can easily slip into a downward spiral of despair.
Sometimes it’s tempting to let myself stay there. But I know I can’t.
I have learned over the years how to ask for help when I need it, and I know in what forms I need that help.
If you have been a parent for more than a week or two, you know how difficult, exhausting, and lonely it can be. But you also know how amazing, rewarding, and life-changing it can be. And that is precisely why we each need to know when and how to ask for help when we need it. Know what works for you and seek it out. Your life and the lives of each of your family members are much too important to neglect getting the help you need. It is not a sign of weakness to admit that you need help; it is a sign of wisdom to know when, where, and how you need help. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Thankfully, “Growth Spurts” is not an advice column; it is a column about what I am learning through being a mother. And right now I am learning that parenting is very hard and can be discouraging, but the understanding of the importance of what a parent does keeps me going.