We’re one week into the holidays and we’ve done, not very much at all. Not because we’re out of ideas, or any similar reason, but by choice. I knew, when the end of term finally came around, we all needed some serious time out.
I am very conscious that my kids, and me, have down time. Hours in the day (as many as we need) to do what we want, at the speed we want without any restrictions or to-do lists. I am the type of person who places herself under stress. Stress is always in my life, probably (read almost always) self inflicted, but there none the less. My husband, the *EXACT* opposite of me, tells me I’m highly strung, a stress bag, going to die of a heart attack before I’m 50 (which is always nice to hear) but he’s right. Things that should really be stress free, are normally the most stress inducing for me.
I always talk about ways I will try and reduce the levels of stress in my life, or if not the levels, the way I react to them. Yoga, pilates, reducing caffeine, more holidays, less events, but it usually ends up being just that, talk.
Being the parent of a teenager is a million times harder than I ever imagined it would be. Boundaries being broken, rules being re-written, emotions are all over the place, and arguments happen daily. Coupled with a 7 year old son that, like a puppy, needs constant exercise and entertainment to maintain equilibrium in the house, an exhaustive job search (which is finally over) and just general life, shit, its been, stressful. I find myself shouldering everyones stress for them. Thinking, somehow, by feeling it for them, they won’t have to. Which is ridiculous, it doesn’t take away from them and it adds to mine.
School has taken it out of my babes these last few months, SATs for my 7 year old, end of term exams for my 13 year old. And despite knowing that these results make no difference to how amazing my children are, the worries that they will struggle, worry themselves, feel under pressure, panic – all weighed on me. The responsibility of bringing up two children is huge and it often keeps me awake at night, along with a million other conversations I have with myself while the rest of the world is sleeping. There is an idea that I have more sleep than most, because I don’t wake as early as the rest of the world, but when you don’t fall asleep until 3am most mornings, it equals out. That quiet time when you’re resting your brain is when mine is going full throttle. My brain is honestly so knackered, I could hide for a week!
On top of the stress is the guilt. All mothers feel it. You want desperately to have a few days off from your kids, just to have the chance to switch off, but then you feel guilty for wanting it. Babysitters are almost impossible to find, being the stress-head that I am, there are few people I trust with my kids, then there is the constant worry that they’ll misbehave, or something equally not important. There are so many people quick to judge a child. Still stuck in the age where kids were seen and not heard. I want my kids to be heard, I want them to be confident enough to argue back, stand their ground, know their own minds. Those who don’t like that, can quite frankly, mind their own business.
Then there is injustice. I cannot bear someone being unfair, or unrealistic, it presses down on me until I explode with anger and all the emotions flood out in a mess of words and noise. I try very hard to make sure my children are treated equally, as far as the differences in their ages allow, so to see people not do the same, to be blinded by their own desire rather than what is fair, another thing to keep me awake at night. Again, taking the weight of other peoples lives on myself, which, in the end, only damages me.
These levels can’t be maintained. I know they’re the reason I don’t sleep that well, I think they’re part of the reason I struggle to lose weight, either through emotional eating (read: stress eating!) or because of the effects of cortisol on the body. Then there is the basic fact that stress changes nothing in the end. Except maybe your own personal happiness.
Of course, there are happy times, moments of pure hysterical laughter, times when I want to bottle that exact moment and relive it over and over again, which outweigh any negative nonsense that might pop up.
I won’t be a parent to a teenage girl for long, my son won’t need my full attention in a few years, so for all the bad times, I want to cherish every single second with them, in all their stroppy, hyperactive glory.