A few weeks ago my life started imploding. Three major events that directly impacted our family happened within the span of 2 weeks. Some of these are things that I never would have imagined happening. One of our very close family members had a frightening health diagnosis that we are all in shock about. Other family members who we are very close to told us they are going through a huge life change that will impact our whole family. In addition, extremely stressful restructuring changes at work have taken a heavy toll on us.
While these are things that can happen any time, the fact that they are all happening at once makes it feel so much more jarring. Every morning for the past 2 weeks I have woken up, and within 5 seconds, the reality of all of those changes hits me afresh. With all of those events happening at once, it has been so tempting to pull the covers back over my head and stay there. I feel so completely out of control of all those events and how they are impacting countless people.
But then I know its time to get the kids up and get the day started and get ready for work. How do I stay a constant and strong mother for my kids when there are such huge, unexpected changes happening in so many areas of life all at the same time?
As I started trying to process each separate event, as well as how some of those events were going to impact each other, I remembered that about 18 years ago, the same thing happened. Four huge events happened to our family simultaneously. Two family members died, there was a huge divorce, and major family job upheaval. Here is the difference: eighteen years ago I wasn’t a parent. I was extremely sad when all these events happened, but I didn’t have to take care of anyone else. I was barely an adult, and I went to a counselor to talk about it. This time around, there are beautiful carefree children who need me to be consistent, loving, and strong.
This is what I am doing this time around. Every day I am asking myself to be intentionally present to my kids, to be solid even when the ground beneath me doesn’t feel that way.
- Accept help when people offer it. If people offer to help with the kids, bring a meal by, or anything else, let them. Then when you see another mom in crisis, be there for her.
- Continue to take care of yourself. Exercising becomes even more important than usual when it feels like everything is falling apart.
- Find joy in time with your kids in the mundane and regular tasks. I am reminding myself to cherish the bath times, the story times, even the exhausted times.
- Sleep when you can. It’ll be easier to get through the craziness with more rest.
- Notice and be thankful for the people who reach out to you. Friends who know what is going on who text to check on me mean so much!
- Seek help if you need it. If your life is changing in too many ways at once, or if it just feels like too much, see a counselor.
- Carve out time with friends. Just going out to have fun will bring some sense of normalcy to all of the changes. Plus, it’ll be easier to deal with the challenges when you have the balance of fun time. Recharge your soul!
- Lean into your spouse, and let him lean into you. Know that you will probably process a crisis differently, but be there for each other as the number one safe person to voice your thoughts and feelings about what is happening.
- Know that the crisis isn’t going to last forever. It is a season, and there will be another, hopefully better season ahead very soon.
- Step away from the crisis when you can. Your mind needs to be able to spend time and energy on other things if at all possible.
- If you’re a praying person, pray.
- Be a loving, reassuring presence for your children. Keep as many things consistent as possible so their world feels stable.
Although in some of these situations we can’t control what will happen, we can control how we respond. Reaching out to others who are impacted by the same crisis reminds us that we aren’t alone. Finding things and people to be grateful for in the midst of a crisis changes the whole perspective of the experience.