Today was one of those chaotic parenting days. You know the kind—one crazy issue after another. You get pulled in too many directions and there’s barely room to breathe between the onslaught of life’s challenges. Days like these can make you feel as if your world is conspiring against you.
The chaos reminded me of a similar day, years ago when my kids were very young. While I was on the phone attempting to sort out a health insurance issue, my two youngest busily bathed their Barbies in the bathroom sink. I watched them play, phone to my ear while a gentle melody accompanied my wait on hold. The soothing music wasn’t soothing my concern over a huge bill that insurance should have covered. Eventually, a representative came on the line and I needed to write down some information. I went to the table where the paperwork was scattered and made notes about the problem. Without clarifying if the bill would be covered, the rep said they would need to call me back. Stressed and dissatisfied with this news, I went to check on the girls.
Squish. A sopping rug greeted my bare feet. Surprise! The faucet was on full force and water flowed freely over the sink and countertop, cascaded down the cabinet and was pooling on the floor. During my brief absence the girls had plugged the sink’s overflow with tissues.
Barbie wanted a waterfall.
I tried not to yell. Although the girls knew that water outside of the tub or sink was a no-no, they didn’t understand the damaging consequences. But for Pete’s sake! Of course I blamed myself. I was paying dearly for those precious few minutes on the phone.
Self-berating bounced around my skull while I set about securing the scene.
I don’t remember what it was I went down to the basement to retrieve because I was staggered by another surprise. A steady stream of water was pouring through the track of the suspended ceiling onto the recently carpeted floor. Fantastic. I was running out of towels.
Minutes later, in the midst of trying to stop further damage, the phone rang. Thinking the insurance company was calling back with a resolution to the billing issue, I answered.
It wasn’t the insurance company.
A teacher at my son’s school was on the line. Apparently my kindergartner was in trouble for swinging his backpack around at recess. Apparently it was threatening. The school requested my presence to discuss this issue–could I come in at the end of the school day? Surveying my soggy world, I didn’t know how to answer. Which issue was the bigger problem? And how long would it take to clean up this mess? Exasperated, I fully expected to implode.
Now my kids are young adults and although they aren’t flooding bathrooms or pretending to be some kind of evolving Pokémon there are occasionally days where troubles seem to rain down in abundance. Troubles that require my assistance.
The energy seems to magnetically attract other challenges. The printer goes on the fritz. The dog throws up. An email announces a major change to a project. Frustration builds. T minus 5 til implosion.
Hard-earned parental survival skills kick in.
Time to center. To breathe. Employ perspective–the world is not, in fact, ending. Then prioritize and tackle the invaders of peace and order one at a time. Sure, this often means I start on one issue while waiting for a response on another. Texts and emails fly back and forth. But the priority line-up helps keep focus on the most pressing issues.
At the end of such days I think of all the non-career related roles I’d filled. Adviser, teacher, tech support, financial planner, coordinator, therapist. No wonder I’m so tired!
But I’m also thankful. These occasional stressful, chaotic parenting days mean that I’m still an important part of my adult kids’ lives, and that they value my input–blessings some parents yearn for.
I’m also thankful that Barbie is safely secured in the attic.
What have been your crazy, chaotic adventures in parenting? How do you cope with stress-filled days? Let me know below!
Facing an emptying nest? Me too! Read my story here.