“Remember why you came and while you’re alive to experience the warmth before you go”
– Incubus “The Warmth”
I struggle on most days with my responsibilities at home. Parenthood is very difficult for me and something I feel like I’m getting worse at with each passing day. There are times when I get unreasonably irritable, times when my frustration doesn’t match the occasion.
For what it is worth, no one really helps me with it. There isn’t a single person in my life trying to help me be a better parent, or even help me ease the difficulties of it. Now, that isn’t to say people don’t help out, even a lot. We get a ton of support in terms of daily babysitting or even if we have something we want or need to do. Our children are always welcome and in good hands and we have a lot of options. But what I am talking about is not that type of help. I don’t mean take the kids off my hands for some time help. I mean emotional support. I mean clearing my head kind of support. I mean relieving stress and learning to avoid it kind of support.
There just isn’t anyone out there doing that. To be perfectly honest, my wife isn’t even doing that, and I’m not doing it for her, either. We are each on our own island with this stuff.
And that is honestly how I feel all the time. I feel like I am on an island trying to survive. I haven’t even formulated an escape plan yet because I’m still trying to figure out how to make it through each day.
The stress of it all is very often overwhelming for me. I am having a difficult time with it. I don’t know how to deal with it properly and I feel like there is only so much longer I can go before it all comes to a head. I don’t know what that means or what that will look like, exactly, but I feel like it is coming, and quickly.
On most days I am awoken into a stressful situation. My daughter is screaming for some reason, or my wife is waking me up to help with something, or something is going wrong generally. That is how I wake up a good deal of my mornings. And most days I am stressed as I leave for work, and most days I am stressed almost immediately upon coming home. And on most days that stress stays very high until I go to bed, or the kids go to bed at least and then I’m winding down, hopefully.
The amount of problems that can arise over basically nothing ever going wrong is staggering! I don’t remember the last day I saw my kids where I didn’t have to raise my voice or be very stern or have to deal with screaming and crying and being upset. It is just every day. And any one day is hardly ever particularly bad (although that does happen from time to time), but it is just the accumulation of days and weeks and months without cessation and knowing that it won’t subside for years to come, it is just too much for me.
I have come to understand why so many people are obsessed with work, or head to the bar for a couple drinks before they go home. It is just so much easier than going home. It is difficult to go home sometimes, more than anyone has ever honestly told me before.
When I am home, I’m just trying to make it to bed with as few meltdowns as possible. That might lead you to believe that I just do anything to appease my kids, but for those of you who know me, you probably know that fighting is far less stressful for me than giving in to someone. So there is a delicate balance between keeping calm and good parenting.
The old axiom is “kids are a lot of work, but completely worth it”, and it is true that I have never experienced the emotions I can experience with my kids. They are almost impossible to describe, just such a departure from the emotional spectrum I experienced before I had kids. But I find that notion, that it is all worth it, that is easy to feel in retrospect, and easy to peer into the future and hope for that, but often difficult in the moment.
Dealing with the present, being ‘in the moment’, has never been a strength of mine. I have found this to be true of depressed and anxious people generally. It is cliché to say that people like me focus on the problematic past and worry about an uncertain future, so I am not trying to say that. I mean that I tend to be skeptical of the present, doubt its validity, regulate the extremes of my mood as best I can, analyze and assess in real time, focus a lot of attention on presenting an image of myself that probably isn’t true.
None of this is to say that I never enjoy my kids in the moments as they happen. Of course I do. I’m just saying that I’m not particularly good at that, and because of that I probably get overwhelmed by stress more than I should.
The goal I should have would be to enjoy the warm glow my kids give off as often as possible, even try to enjoy the frustrating parts, the difficult parts, the trying parts. I came to this point in my life for a reason, and it won’t be long before I’m gone.