Mothering Through Crisis by Anonymous

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.

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8 comments

  1. There are blogs about those things out there… you just have to know where to go. Everybody has different reasons to blog — some blog because they’ve come up with wonderful parenting methods and want to share them. Some blog to help take a burden off of them.

    If the blogs are too public, people may also find it hard to blog about such personal topics. But they’ll always talk about them – to the right people, people that are close to them.

  2. Thank you for this thought provoking post. I don’t know how we suffer
    Through our challenges
    It is food for thought
    A

  3. I definitely agree. I think the writer should start a blog.

  4. Another Anonymous Mom

    I was reminded of the painful and stressful periods in my life, as I read what you wrote. I also found functioning and nurturing my kids difficult when I was so in need myself. Emuna and davenning were unquestionably helpful, since the One who brings us these situations is also strong enough to carry us through them and really knows what we are going through.
    In addition, I found it helpful to appreciate every moment (no matter how fleeting) I was able to nurture my kids and not run away into myself.
    Also, I found it helpful to have a few friends check on me – with just a word or a look as we went about our daily business.
    When others would talk about normal stuff I had to stay silent since I just wasn’t in the same place. It was hard not to be jealous of all they had. I had no choice but to keep going in the situation Hashem gave me, putting one foot in front of the other.
    Accept all the support possible – technical or emotional.
    It’s true that people have limited strength for other people’s problems. Try to find resources that will give you strength.

  5. So true. Thanks for writting this. Try to keep in mind also that you are your childrens stability and world.They need you to be functioning and there for them. Not easy when one is in so much pain, but it helps you get up in the morning…..May we all see the time soon when Hashem will heal our broken hearts.

  6. A Mami who went through a hard time

    I did not want my pain to affect my (at the time) two year old in anyway. It wasnt a decision I made, it was a survival instinct that kicked in. I knew that in a heartbeat I could fall into a deep depression and potentially put my baby at risk of not having a mother around (for whos to know how long since once you fall theres no guranteed time on getting back up). Bottling it up during the day meant my husband would be woken up to my uncontrollable crying at 3am many times. Thinking back to it now, I have no idea where that strength came from to get through each day. I found out I would be delivering a still born and after the initial crying and shock, I told the doctors I would have to put it off for two days so that I could be at my sons birthday party. The few people that knew what was going on dropped everything to be at my side. I gave specific instructions to not have my stomach in the pictures and soldiered through.

    I also searched everywhere to see if someone, anyone could tell me how they got through their difficult time. What I am wondering now though, after reading this post, is if what we are looking for in that moment of deep sadness and pain the impossible? We just want someone, something to say anything that will make it all better and make it hurt less. But the reality is, nothing is going to do that. Pain takes time and while it helps knowing you are not alone when reading these blogs, its not what we are really looking for. We are really searching for a cure; a cure to make the pain go away and answer to our questions. HKBH made clear for us the cure to some things and for other things decided it would be a life long search for it. Atleast thats how I feel looking at it from the perspective of two years down the road. The hurt is still very much alive in me, I just deal with it much better now since life went on w/or w/out me.

    • I have no answers to your questions. They are excellent and important questions and you’re right, not enough is said or written about this subject.
      I agree with those who said that family and good friends really got me through.

      I run an online support group for Jewish moms who have lost pregnancies and/or infants. Most of us are Orthodox and most of us are located in Israel, but we are not exclusive. If you need support, we are here.
      If anyone reading this would like to join (or just to talk about their loss), please contact me at NetanyaH@gmail.com

  7. BH
    i think the woman who composed this post showed such remarkable selflessness, in that she refrained from speaking of her own personal tragedy
    i am certain that anyone who has been through anything similar, found some sort of consolation and sisterhood in her words, and thank her for making the effort to write such a post though it was probably very emotionally painful to do so. whether she herself will initiate such a blog, or if someone else will Bsd be inspired to do so through her words, time will tell… in the meanwhile i pray we were all reminded by her post that not only should we not judge others harshly, we should also really make a genuine effort to see beyond brave smiles and reach out….

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