Parenting GriefJun 21, 2023
Alongside the love and joy...
Hidden amidst the frustration and exhaustion...
Marginalized and often shamed...
...lives an unexpected companion on our parenting journey: Grief.
Few acknowledge the reality of grief in the parenting journey. And some parents do not pass through this incredibly painful (and ultimately transformative) gauntlet. For some parents, their image of how it would be matches up well enough with the reality. The strategies work. The child "obeys." The teachers gush. The birthday party invites flow in. For some parents, the idea of grief in the parenting life feels foreign and odd.
You are not that parent.
You know that there is a well of raw emotion that swells, choking you with intensity until you can hardly breathe. That demands attention, often at the most inconvenient moments. Beneath a veneer of acceptance lives the grief, bubbly like lava, searing, threatening to change everything.
We traverse the realm of denial, initially resisting the notion that our dreams and expectations might not align with reality.
The diagnosis can't be real.
If we just tried harder, it would all be ok.
This is our fault.
Anger surges forth as we grapple with the challenges and adjustments demanded by our challenging and painful experience parenthood.
We rage, alone in our kitchens, as if yelling at our kids might solve it all.
Bargaining emerges as we seek alternative paths and yearn for a different outcome. We desperately try therapies and parenting strategies, clinging to them like a lifeboat. We walk on eggshells, appeasing our child in every way. If I can just do everything right, it will all be ok.
Sadness envelops us as we acknowledge the losses we've endured, mourning the old dreams we must release. We cry all the time, hot tears leaking out when we hope our kids won't notice. Something is cracking and crumbling. Something is coming undone. It feels like terror -- with a tremor of freedom.
And finally, acceptance dawns. What if we are good enough, just as we are? What if we do not have to keep up or perform? What if the whole system is rigged for us to fail?
We get to shed what holds us back and build a new world, a new self, fresh dreams,
And our precious, system-breaking children? These wondrous humans, given to us to love? What if they are more than good enough -- what if they are gifts on our journey, breaking our bindings and setting us free?
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