Article by Wendy McCance
I wish I had been able to give my kids a “normal” family life. I wish I had found the right man to marry the first time around instead of the second time. I wish I had made it through college with more than an Associate Degree. I wish I had found a career that gave me time to have regular hours to spend with my kids. I wish my kids had been exposed to a childhood where they weren’t juggling two homes because of divorce. I wish they didn’t know what it’s like to live on very little money. I wish they didn’t have a mom who had an illness that made her constantly tired and sore.
I have great kids. They are very mature for their age. They are compassionate kids who are always friendly to those kids at school who have difficulty making friends of their own. They understand what happens when you don’t put all your effort into pursuing your dreams. They are supportive siblings and put their brother and sister’s feelings before their own.
Still, my heart breaks. I know in many ways they have learned to be survivors. They understand that they need to be their own best friend and nurture themselves. But, I see the cracks that have formed. Not one of them is interested in marriage or even dating. They have huge fears of putting their heart in someone elses hands. They will do anything they can for others yet they keep all friends at arm’s length. Getting close to a potential friend creates anxiety for them.
These are kids who have many triggers that have to be tiptoed around. I am exhausted. My brain hurts from trying to be so delicate with their feelings. Moments when I have hit the wall shock the kids and bring tears to their eyes. I never yell. When I hit the wall, I do raise my voice an octave. It’s enough to make the kids breakdown. I can’t control my feelings to the point where I am robotic. I can’t have a smile on my face 24 hrs a day. It’s not healthy or even reasonable. Yet, my kids see me as some superhuman. When I reach my limit of stress, they can’t understand what has happened. I explain that I am burnt out, yet they think there must be something else going on. That in itself makes me feel overwhelmed. I put honesty above all else and have always been straight-forward with the kids. What do you do to convince a kid that life can be exhausting and sometimes you just hit your breaking point?
I will be fine, I always am. Being in the middle of the feeling of complete burnout makes me want to curl up in bed, throw the covers over my head and hibernate for a week. Unfortunately, as a parent, that isn’t an option. Instead I will grab a cup of tea, call a friend and talk it out and then type for hours just to get all of the pent-up emotions out of my system. Yes, I do have a system for getting past the stress (thank g-d).
I worry about my kids like every parent does. I have regrets because life never goes as perfectly as you wish it would. I can only review what disappoints me and find a way to correct things so that my future is brighter for me and my family than the past I’ve come to regret.