EPISODE 41: WHEN I FEEL DEFEATED
Hello there! Today, is a solo episode. Just me, talking about my feelings of defeat. We’ve all been there, am I right? Maybe you’re there right now, listening and thinking, “is this going to be another person telling me how to not feel defeated, giving me a checklist on ways cope?” Nope. None of those. I’m just here sharing my feelings on defeat, and offering my recent viewpoint on this feeling.
And if, by chance, you feel like you’ve connected in some way on what I’m sharing, I’d love for you to take one minute to rate and review this podcast. Maybe even share it with a friend. This podcast is one way that we make our voices stronger, and to connect with those that are traveling alongside us in our crazy journey of parenting. Thanks for listening.
Let’s face it, parenting is tough stuff. You can go into any bookstore or newsstand and peruse hundreds of books and magazines with “Tips on How to Be an Exemplary Parent”. Try Googling “parenting”. Have you ever tried this? Just type “parenting”. You’ll be introduced to millions of articles, studies, Amazon links, parenting blogs, you name it – everyone is trying to figure it out. Professionals are telling you the parenting style that creates the most well-adjusted children, and I even read an article recently that said for better or worse, parenting changes your child’s DNA. Think about that. It’s no wonder that we have feelings of defeat Every. Single. Day. And let’s talk about Pinterest. Have any of you tried to make these elaborate birthday cakes that have a simple 5 Steps to a Magical Creation, only to have your child ask what it is that you just created? Raise your hand…you know who you are, and I’m included.
Granted, there are days when I say to myself, and even out loud with a pat on my back, “Susan, you know what? You’re not a terrible mom. You are a downright ok-ish mom”. Did you hear that? “Ok-ish”. Why is it that we don’t allow ourselves to say that we are awesome? That we are absolutely slaying this whole parenting thing? Well, let’s talk about stress and fatigue for a hot second.
Stress and fatigue enter (and sometimes lingers) in our lives when our demands exceed the expectations and resources available to us. And let’s face it, Pinterest has not helped, and as special needs parents, we often struggle to find enough resources available to help us. It’s hard to manage a home with an increasingly amount of clutter building, a list of chores longer than the Great Wall of China, work responsibilities, holiday preparations, school functions. I’ve read blogs and watched TV shows on how to create more organization, like Tidying Up with Marie Kondo (which by the way, is she even real…is someone really THAT organized)? Something that I’ve come to realize…and just recently…is that there is no ONE cookie-cutter approach to all of it. I’m tired of trying to fit in the box that social media and TV shows tell me I need to be in in order to feel like a great mom, a worthy friend, a socially-acceptable human being. Sometimes that box just doesn’t feel right. Plus, our social norms are constantly changing, right? What Hollywood is defining as beautiful and the articles that are telling us what is right will inevitably change. For example, remember when everyone freaked out years ago trying to eliminate ALL fat from our diets. Everything on the shelves in stores turned to “Fat Free”? Now, it turns out that we actually need fat in our diets – the healthy kind, of course. I challenge you to go down that Google rabbit hole.
I tell my son all the time that we are all different, and differences aren’t bad, but beautiful. So why can’t I take these words and apply them to my own life? Why is it that I keep coming back to these socially-created definitions of perfection? It always leads me to the same abandoned house, filled with feelings of defeat. I’m so tired of it. I’m tired of even acting like I have all my stuff together…because I don’t. And I’m not afraid of admitting that to ANYONE. Maybe this is what it’s going to take to change my mindset…like a detour from the path I’ve been traveling. There will be days that are easier, and then there will be days where I feel absolutely freaked out because it’s hard, hard, hard work shaping another human being, my child, my heart, the very reason, in fact, that I feel like most days I’m still breathing.
So, let me take a look at another way of viewing the stress and feelings of defeat. What if, the whole parenting thing is not just about shaping my child, but shaping me as well? That I’m actually becoming a better woman, a better parent, just by being a parent and the challenges (and celebration) it gives. I can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve given a stink eye to someone who told me “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”. No one wants to hear that from someone else, but maybe I can tell myself that. The stretching and growing from parenting is actually a great thing. It’s a gift, a blessing, that my home needs me.
Let’s look at defeat as power. I think about the times, when I was a child, and even as an adult, where I failed. It did build strength. It did build character, and almost a stubbornness to overcome – to succeed and win. I come from a long line of STRONG women – women that didn’t take “no” for an answer, trail blazers in their time. They weren’t strong because they never failed. They became strong because they experienced defeat, more times, I’m sure, than they admitted. I’m woven from their cloth – a piece of their patchwork quilt.
Most of us cling to the idea that skill comes naturally. We’re born with it. Either we’re good, or not good, at something. Well, that’s simply not true. Even people that are born gifted have to work hard to hone their ability. We’re not born as parents. We have parents when we are born. These trials we experience are honing our ability to become better.
So, let’s all take the time to lift each other up, to give each other high fives, to smile as we’re passing by that person in the grocery store. We all have feelings of defeat, and we’re just honing our ability to become better. For ourselves and for each other.
Thanks for taking the time to listen, and for being a part of My Autism Tribe. You all are very much appreciated. See ya next week!