Saturday, May 7, 2011

I'm a better parent when...

I have been sick for a few months. The herbs, vitamin therapy and medication are starting to have an effect and my energy is beginning to increases. This is a very good thing, particularly since my husband suffers from chronic illness and our family depends upon me to be the parent who consistently functions. However, I have noticed that the improvement of my health has actually caused some challenges in  being the parent that I want to be. When I was exhausted, sitting on the couch for hours out of the day watching multiple episodes of "Bones" on Netflix was fine. When I was sick and doing the absolute bare minimum to get through each day my expectations for myself and everyone else were also at a bare minimum. Now that I am starting to feel better I want to get things done. I want to make up for the months of inertia, get the house cleaned up, get rid of piles and generally do everything that I haven't managed to do in the past 1.5 decades of parenthood. As my expectations increased I realized that in some ways I was a better parent when I was sick. Our life was a mess but our relationships were better. I had all kinds of time to be present for my children. I wasn't hurrying about trying to get things done and getting annoyed if they interrupted with needs or if they didn't feel the same need to get things done. When I was too tired to crochet while sitting on the couch, I was too tired to fight my body's need for rest. I rested all the time. Now that I have energy sometimes I stop paying attention to my body and try to do more than I have energy to do. As a result I get tired, frustrated, and irritable with my family.

This experience has reminded me take time to reflect when there is conflict or tension in the house so that I can figure out what is keeping me from being the parent I want to be. I find it interesting that something so wonderful as feeling healthy and having energy was having negative repercussions. As we all readjust to the most recent changes in my health, changes for the better, I'm reminded that all changes require a period of adjustment. When I stopped to think about it I realized that this is actually quite common for families. Things that are supposed to be good, that should be fun or could be positive, result in the need for a period of adjustment, turn out to be a bad fit for the family or require an adjustment of expectations or attitude on the part of the parents. When we are growing and learning as a family change is constant. We are continually adjusting to where each person is on their journey. It should not surprises us when things get out of balance.

When change happens and we are adjusting we need to remember that it is a process. We need to remember that not everyone will adjust to change in the same way or in the same amount of time. As parents we are adjusting to our children's ever growing skills and abilities at the same time they are adjusting to having those skills and abilities. We are adjusting to having a baby who now walks at the same time our baby is adjusting to being able to walk. We are adjusting to having a teenager who dates at the same time our teenager is adjusting to dating. I am adjusting to having more energy and being able to get things done at the same time as my children are adjusting to having a mom who wants to zip around and clean up the house.  Focusing on our relationships with our children, and our connection with them, can make meeting all of our various needs during times of adjustment easier.

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