There was a post going around a while ago on how having or being a stay at home parent isn’t a luxury and I agree: the word you’re looking for there is privilege.
To even be a part of that conversation presumes the privilege of having a two-parent household to begin with. Having a spouse is another example of a privilege that is not a luxury, and one some in our country only very recently have. It’s common knowledge that marriages take work, and it’s a wonder parenting isn’t accepted in the same way. Parenting is hard. For everyone. Parenting is not a competition; it’s a free-for-all mad dash of boogers, sleepless nights, peanut butter and jelly, tender, fleeting moments, questions and insights flanked with the most raging frustration and the most abounding love we’ll ever know. And then that part is over- sometimes far before we’re ready.
When I woke up 127 weeks ago, trying to find the best way to parent was (one of) my struggle(s), too. Well, it still is, but after losing Patrick, sometimes my struggle is to stay on the planet with my head and heart and not get lost clouds of numbness and disassociation because of the absolute unfairness of it all. It wasn’t a luxury to wipe his nose and stay up when he didn’t feel well at night, but oh, how I long for that privilege. From a post-SUDC perspective, having a child at all is a privilege (as is making the choice not to be a parent), no matter how you decide they are raised. Many spend thousands upon thousands of dollars just to have a shot at getting pregnant, while others choose abortion and both are personal choices- even having those choices to make is a privilege in itself.
Wanting respect for my choices means I (must) give it to other parents, which is why I don’t have a specific “way” of parenting I tout. (Although I am against harming children in any way, which means I don’t spank or circumcise, but let’s leave those topics for another time, shall we?) I have been a zillion different mothers in the last thirteen years, and been in fifteen gazillion (give or take a few) different situations. In order to accept (and sometimes learn to forgive) myself and look at the facts in order to improve, I have to view other parents with the same compassionate eyes I give my old self: I didn’t know better, I never thought I’d be in that situation, it was just one time, I didn’t think that would happen, whatever. I have younger sisters I’ve grown accustomed to watching develop as humans, and it’s having cultivated that thought process through watching and helping them along that I am able to put it into practice with myself, and then others.
I chose the name “progressive” based on the meaning continuous improvement, not because of any political leaning or particular stance: I just want to keep getting better, and help others know that they’re not alone in wanting the best life possible for themselves and their children and in struggling every damn day to not only find out which path to choose, but to walk it.
Let me take a minute to tell you something, because it’s imperative you not continue your day without knowing this:
YOU ARE A MOTHAFLIPPIN’ ROCK STAR.
I am SO proud and so grateful for the world you’re building for our children to grow up in. Thank you. Thank you so much for how hard you’ve been trying, for those times you didn’t repeat your own harmful patterns, for letting the mess go so your kids can play and you can grab a few minutes of sanity. (Self care is important!) Yes, I know there are million things flooding your mind that you’re not proud of, but you tell that shame monster to shut the absolute gollygoshdarn fuck up for a damn minute while you listen to me: you have created/are raising life. That is AMAZING. That is a privilege.
Through all your struggles, you are right here now, on your computer or phone, somehow having gotten to this post so that I can tell you that even when you don’t feel validated, appreciated, loved or enough– you are. Perfect is a ridiculous, maddening concept to strive for and normal is just a setting on the dryer. Progress in accepting your (children’s) human limits and needs and seeking/providing empathy and education is far, far more valuable not only in your heart and home, but to the world we are creating together as a whole.
I can tell you the most valuable thing my grandmother (on my dad’s side, which means she’s lost a son, too) has repeated since I was small and is never more true than from a post-SUDC standpoint:
This too, shall pass.
For better or worse, the sleepless nights and adorable barnacle part gives way to tantrums and tiny tornado-ness, then the scraped knees and loose teeth, mood swings and growth spurts, then, if you’ve the privilege to have gotten that far, our children are adults and move out and sometimes away. If we’re lucky and we’ve done our jobs right, they’ll come back to visit as healthy, well-rounded, intelligent, functional, compassionate individuals and thank us for taking care of ourselves and of them in the most loving way possible, realizing what a privilege we have to be able to do it at all.
For more information on SUDC, click here.