For a while in our lives I have felt like we might need some counseling. Since 2008 when we experienced our first miscarriage our life has had it’s share of trials. In 2009 we had another miscarriage and we moved. We adopted Joshua in 2010 and he spent his first two months in NICU after being born prematurely. Glenn changed jobs later that summer. Then in 2011 we had Elijah. We were very thankful for him, but his pregnancy was not without stress and challenge. The pregnancy after two losses is always emotionally challenging, but then he also had some complications at the end that made it even more stressful. 2011 is a blur of taking care of two young babies who grew into toddlers. That year we began to realize Joshua had some developmental issues. We started all kinds of therapies with him to try to get him to catch up. In 2012 we began the process of adopting Kaki and we also heard for the first time from a doctor that Joshua had special needs. In 2013 we brought Kaki home and thus began an extremely difficult year of transition for her and us. In 2014 we had Luke. In 2015 we moved again and Joshua began to have a difficult time in school. In 2016 Joshua continued to struggle with anxiety and we had to take him out of school. Kaki was also struggling and then in September we lost Andrew. Also during these eight years we lost three family members who were very dear to us as well as some close friends. Needless to say it has been a trying time. So when we lost Andrew I told Glenn I felt like we really needed to pursue counseling, so we did. Last night as we told our counselor about all these things she was very understanding and expressed how we have been through such an extended period of stress and grief that we really needed to be patient and loving with ourselves.
We started to talk about what it looks like to try to care for yourself during a time like this. To be honest, I’m really not sure. I don’t think about it much. I just keep myself busy and keep on going, life demands it. We do try to make sure we go out on a date at least once a month and that we take walks as many evenings as possible. Granted we have to take Josh and Luke with us, but we have trained them not to talk to us, so that we have time to talk with one another. It really does help relieve stress. I was at a loss to come up with anything else to help care for myself. I think as moms it’s not what comes natural to us. We give, give and give some more. It’s what we expect from ourselves and I think it’s what society expects too. We aren’t supposed to need anything, we just keep on going. I know I personally don’t like to show that I don’t have it together, most of the time at least. I put alot of pressure on myself to be everything to everyone around me and put myself last on the list of things to take care of. I know in my head I should take better care of myself, but I am not sure I know how. I have been a parent for almost 13 years now and ever since I held Sam for the first time I stopped thinking about myself and started putting this other little person first. Now there are six needy persons and a husband and other friends and family who need me and I want to be there for them. But somewhere along the way I have lost the ability to know what I even need sometimes. I think polite Christianity makes mothers and women in general feel like they are selfish if they do things for themselves. I think that idea is starting to change and women have discovered they can’t do this anymore. Many women in my generation watched our moms try to do it all, hold down a career and be super mom as well as volunteer at school and church. Most of us saw our parents get divorced and saw our moms suffer for trying to do it all. We decided we wouldn’t be that way, but still we are. I think as moms we need to be needed, I do at least. I find it much easier to talk about other peoples problems rather than my own. I don’t like to open up to people, face to face at least. I know that comes from rejection and trust issues but it’s also this idea that Christian women shouldn’t have problems. And if we do we should keep them to ourselves. Everyone else is perfect, right? I am the only one who isn’t. It’s hard not to think that way. Even in this age of everyone being “real” and being more open about struggles and problems, it’s usually that they are open after the fact. After they go through something they can open up and say how hard that was ,but I survived and whatnot. However, not many people open up while going through something. They don’t say, “I am going through this thing and I’m really having a hard time”.
Anyway, so we are trying to focus on what it looks like to care for ourselves and allow others to help out. We have made some progress in allowing others to help us, especially through this loss. People have done so much to make us feel loved and we had to allow them to help, because we needed it. But there came a point when I felt like I should just get it together and take care of stuff. But that was self imposed pressure to get it together. There is not timeline for going through grief. It is not something we will ever be totally done with. We will always be the parents of children in heaven. You don’t get over that. I just have to figure out how to carry it well.
Thank you for your transparency! There’s no way you could’ve known how timely this message is for me. As I deal with feeling like I once again failed to be there for someone in need, you have reminded me that I need to figure out how to take care of me. I also need to figure out how to accept my inability to be everything to everyone. Having a need for love & support does not make us weak nor failures…Guess I need to say that to myself daily. Love you, dear friend!
The hardest thing in the world has been for me to take care of myself. When I would hear people say that, all I could think of was a bubble bath! I had NO IDEA how to take care of me! Barrie has helped me so much in finding my way in this journey. He is helping me learn that I am important too and don’t need to always put others first. As a very good friend once told me, “There is a reason they tell you to put on your own oxygen mask first
on a plane!” If you don’t, you can’t help others! It feels very selfish in the beginning, but then it’s like the clouds part and you can breathe! Love you very much.