I didn’t feel well yesterday. We are on vacation and I seriously didn’t feel well.
I think I have a predisposition to protect my kids. Maybe every parent does. I look back at my childhood and what I’ve experienced, and I want to keep my kids away from all of that and keep all of that away from them. I know it’s not possible to shield them entirely from pain and suffering, but I still want to.
I also want to shield them from having to be uber-responsible, especially uber-responsible for me. I don’t want them to have to take care of me. Not at all. I was given too much responsibility at way too young an age, and I felt and acted responsible for my mother, whether or not I actually had to be. It’s something I don’t want to pass on.
So often when I don’t feel well, I try to soldier through and hide it from my kids. Especially on vacation, I want them to have a great day and be unencumbered by me. I want to support them and take care of them and make them laugh, not slow them down or force them to focus on me instead. But sometimes that’s not the best choice.
Sometimes, like yesterday, it’s alright (and probably best) to be real. To be how I feel. To let them know that there are times when parents need to slow down too. When I need to slow down.
I’ve been told that it’s really okay to let them care for me, as long as it’s not perpetual or constant. It’s okay to say, “Hey, Mommy has a headache. Would you rub my head?” Or just, “Hey, go on without me. I need to sit down for a minute.”
I wish I could always be the wonderful, loving, helping, feeling good mommy that I want to be. But that’s not possible. Or true. I wish I could protect my children from every sort of angst and suffering, but that’s not possible or true either. I stepped into Al-Anon years ago with the hope and plan that “the disease stops here.” And when I see them suffer and face challenges, I worry that I haven’t done that. That I’ve passed on more bad that I wanted to. My daughter often reminds me that it’s not possible – or even desirable – to shield them from everything. And that I have, indeed, stopped the disease. Even if they struggle at times. First of all, everyone has struggles in life. And that doesn’t mean they’re struggling with the same things. Still, it can be difficult to watch.
But maybe it’s okay to let them see me stumble at times. Maybe it will help them to be aware that life has stumbles. Maybe it’s okay to let them take care of me – to let my daughter hold my hand because it makes me feel better, to let my son kiss my eyes with love and concern. Maybe it’s okay to let them put me first for a few minutes. Maybe it’s okay to lean on my kids.
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