Mothering Through Crisis by Anonymous
I just received this important post from an old friend who recently endured a devastating loss. May Hashem bless her and her family from now on with only happy occasions and good news.
I was a typical mom of three young children when a crisis rocked my world and changed everything.
Sure, I could tell you about the crisis but that would defeat my purpose.
The point of this article is not to say “Woe is me – can you believe what happened to me.” The point is that parents face situations that could cause the best of us to break down. To shut down. To take to our beds. To the bottle. To anywhere to deal with the pain. But we don’t. We can’t. Why? We are parents and we need to soldier on. We cry out in pain while we run to Target to buy our kids what they need for camp. We make their lunches. We plan their birthdays. We read them books and help with homework. We nurse our babies and we hold them during their throat cultures. We go to shul and smile. But the question I am asking myself now—now after I’m starting to come through the tunnel and out the other side of grief to my new reality—is “How?”
In this age of uber parenting, we read books on baby care, discipline, food preparation, nursing, getting them into schools, special needs. And we read books about how to help them through the situations in their lives. But I’ve never read an article in a parenting book, magazine, or blog about how to be that uber-parent (or even just a decent one) while you’re going through the worst thing ever. Maybe there is no right way. There probably are no answers.
I felt the absence of awareness that sometimes a parent is facing a situation more serious than teething. More encompassing than planning the PTA bake sale. More stressful than cooking for the holidays. More distracting than looking for a new job. More painful than coordinating what feels like a million meals for new mothers. This is not to deprecate these worthy tasks. Believe me, all I wanted was to have those items on my to do list and those only.
I’m sure this is age old. We all have our personal burdens to bear at different times in our lives. Perhaps some more than others. But I wish that the parenting magazines and the school newsletters and the mommy blogs would talk more about them. Not to make us cry. But to make us aware.
To make us aware that that mom running the bake sale might have just come from her father’s chemo session. That the mom sitting next to us in a kids program at shul might have just learned of her husband’s shocking, long-time infidelity. That the mom you email to send in her PTA dues has a dying husband. That the mom in the carpool line has a baby in the backseat who is about to have the first of many serious surgeries. That that mom you know from work is in foreclosure with few housing options. Or that the mom hosting a super fun mom’s night is experiencing a miscarriage. These things happen. And from what I’ve seen lately, happen often.
I don’t begrudge those not facing these challenges their comfort. But when you’re in the thick of it, it’s so easy to feel alone. There’s nothing in the breastfeeding book about how to wean while you’re going through a painful divorce. And nothing in the attachment parenting blogs about how to be involved in your kid’s school when you’re practically living in a loved one’s hospital room. And absolutely nothing in the parenting magazines about how to get down on the floor and play with your child when you’re world feels like it’s crashing down around you.
Yes, these are downers. Yes, thinking about these issues can be painful. And yes, sometimes, often, things get better. Or different. I guess I’d love for us to be inspired us in the face of crisis. I’d love for there to be awareness that things aren’t always simple. And most of all, I’d love, more than anything else, to know how to parent and be inspired to parent while we face non-parenting related yet all encompassing challenges.