I’m not always on top of my parenting game when it’s just the three of us.
During a particularly dark bout with depression, I dreaded my husband’s 24 hour shifts at the fire department. In addition to fearing the normal things (like giant fires and impending doom), my anxiety spun off on worst case scenarios about the house, the boys, the dog, the world.
And it’s true, as many fire spouses will tell you, that all “bad” things happen when he’s at work: I lock myself and the boys out of the house in 27 degree weather right before dentist appointments. The dog runs away. Kids throw up. Bad news about family arrives. The car battery dies. I always have therapy on a shift day.
It’s the way it works.
And for a long time, I didn’t feel capable enough to handle any of that on my own. I’d panic the moment something started to go awry, and the rest of the day would snowball away, smashing everything in its path. If we ran a few minutes late for school, the whole day counted as a loss. The boys argued? I was the worst mom on the planet. I muffed dinner? End times. Everything became very black and white during this time; if it didn’t look like a perfect win, everything was a total fail.
I’m pleased to announce I’m no longer in that bout of depression.
I can currently see shades of gray, different variations in color, and the beauty in imperfection. It felt as though this journey might never end, but here we are. And oh, I’ll take it over the other version any day.
This afternoon didn’t quite go as planned. BigBrother’s homework load surpassed any other amount during this school year—or any school year. He required help, and I managed to give it while paying attention to LittleBrother’s impromptu science lab and cooking dinner. All at the same time.
I did text my husband a message full of gloom and doom at one point because I goofed on a dinner process, but I decided shaking myself out of the funk seemed like a better idea than dwelling on it and counting the day as ruined. Eventually BigBrother finished all of his homework and the three of us lounged in the living room, reading books, telling jokes, and relaxing. I had more plans, but they don’t seem to matter now.
At bedtime, BigBrother thanked me for helping him get through his homework. We talked about a few things—school, work, anxiety, puberty, water line breaks, Star Wars—and then he set off to read while I finished up some of my tasks. Despite the fact that my husband had to come home and jump the car this morning, I count today as a win for the three of us. We did what we had to do and we enjoyed each other.
Letting go of perfectionism still might take me my whole life, but I sure like the days when I get it right.