Learning to deal with the silence after the storm of parenting is unsettling and serene at the same time.
I admit that there were moments that I wish I never entered the realm of parenting but yet, there I was in the midst of raising a child. Poopy diapers, temper tantrums and the broody teenage years. These are all stages of child rearing that we are familiar with. I can’t say it was easy and yet, these events shaped me to be a better person. Not in the sense that better means we are justified to gloat about the passage of parenting or that I am better than say my non children ridden friends. It’s just different and it gives you a different perspective about life.
For example, you give up that notion that your time is your own. I don’t buy this, you make your own time within the confines of raising your kid. That my friend, is a lie. You give it up. Or in other words, you make peace with it. You resolve that you are now a parent and in some sense, you resent the lack of time and space you now have.
My daughter is 18 yrs old now. And she has almost left the nest. By almost I mean, she has decided that I am the most selfish person on earth and has decided to live elsewhere. Ok, then. Your call, my friend. You have a job and able to support yourself. Please, by no means, am I keeping you hostage. Go find your way into the world.
Let me backtrack the story.
The last 7 years has been hell. HELL. Teenage angst with an eating disorder can test the parenting waters. Nothing comes smooth and easy with this mix. Everything I believed in was tested and the only way I could save my sanity was to write about it and communicate with others who had their own sanity tested. Between rounds of inpatient treatment, hospitalization and endless nights of worry, it becomes child rearing again. You question what went wrong and how and when there is the other side. You question your sanity. You go with your gut feelings. You listen to your dreams.
Any mental illness, eating disorder, depression, anxiety will test the boundaries of parents and those placed in the caregiver role. It will push your boundaries of comfort until you are left with nothing but an empty husk. You will be changed by this experience.
Yes, the experience will also change the person who is going through this. I am however talking about the caregivers, the parents, the guardians that are tasked with making sure their loved one does not perish. That is what we as parents and guardians signed up to do, whether we know it or not.
Something changed in me. I became battled hardened and calloused. This changes and tests your marriage. Any relationship.
Somewhere between her own recovery and me dealing with my own physical limitations, I became quietly aware of everything. I quieted the mind and became introspective. And in doing so, I started checking in with my own feelings. I started to understand that life begins with self and self care is an important piece to allowing your child to grow and learn to “adult”.
All the therapy sessions, self help books, yelling into the black of night, you find yourself and you become a different person. No longer the hopeful and bright eyed youthful parent of my early 30’s and no longer the weary, battle worn parent of my mid forties.
This is not what I signed up for, I tell myself. This is not for the weak of heart.
So why do I write about this. Why do I open my heart and expose the hurt? The white of my bones?
Because through writing comes a sense of catharsis and through that is my sense of finding myself again.
Making sense of the craziness that I went through the last 7 years and come out on the other end functioning. How do we do that? Come out on the other end functioning back in society, back in life before and after the hell you just went through.
No self help book is going to give you step by step instructions. No guarantee in life. Just like in parenting. Nothing is set in stone. You freaking make it up as you go along and hope for the best with what you got.
Oh and btw, I am putting together a meet up for parents of almost empty nesters….there will be wine (whine) involved.