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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Mommy Meltdowns Still Happen in Middle School

We headed "Back to School" this week and with that begins a season of transition for our family.  One girl leaves for her first year of college, one girl starts Middle School and the rest of us are trying to keep our sanity as all the routines change.  It's draining emotionally and physically.

There is nothing that gets a mama into a tizzy faster than watching her child struggle.  And for this reason, it's easy to get into the mode of constantly striving to make a smooth path for our child.  I want to arrange life so that pain, struggle and disappointment are eliminated.  But these elements are the very catalysts for growth.  It's unfortunate and I wish it wasn't true, but I must accept the fact challenges create champions.

I can't make friends or schedules.  I can't do the homework or complete assignments. I can't eliminate bad days or complete the intimidating project.  So many times I'm reminded that growth often comes only through difficulty and it's supposed to be hard.  However, my go-to mode tends to be the fixer and when I'm not able to make the path clear, it's easy to have a meltdown...a little fit about what I cannot control.  It's a great example, right?

Middle School looms ahead and while I feel more prepared and less apt to be blindsided, there is still so much that I can't control.  I'm working with my middle schoolers (plural!) to empower and support.  We have set up some routines, but I'm also trying to allow for individuality and preferences.

I caught my meltdown before I spiraled into anxiety and that is progress for this mama.  Two years ago we took our first of five children to college.  This Friday, we will take another.  I'm reminding myself of how to deal with feelings of loss and avoid that meltdown. The past has taught me a few tools to use when I sense mom's on the verge of losing it:

1. Step back, breathe deeply, go for a walk or do whatever it takes to accept that this hurdle doesn't need to be handled immediately.  Usually, options present themselves that I don't think of in the first moments of learning about a problem.

2. Recognize anxiety and identify what is mine control and where my child needs to step up or branch out.  Goodness, we all tend to cling to our comfort zones.  Suggest alternative perspectives, commiserate with disappointment, but point toward positive solutions.

3. Support the one experiencing difficulty and give that child the gift of struggle.  This is what builds grit. Grit is what makes mothers great.  "It's going to take some work," and "You can do hard things," are phrases I repeat often along with, "It's worth it."

I've had to learn to accept the ups and down of life and learn to walk through anxiety with calming practices.  These tools didn't come naturally to me, but with therapy and practice, they make the stressful events so much more manageable.  I want to pass that along to my own children and step children while offering a permanent soft place to land with life deals them blows.  Have you had any mothering meltdowns lately?

Monday, August 7, 2017

It's Supposed to Be Hard

In the summer, I run before heading to my daily job.  This makes for a very early start to the day in order to arrive at my office by 8:00 am.  One day, running hard because I was pressed for time, I found myself thinking, "This is so hard."  But immediately, I remembered it supposed to be hard.  That's why I'm doing it, to push myself, burn calories, keep my heart working well, and all the other benefits that exercise brings.

So often, I want to avoid the hard things.  That's the natural state for most of us.  I crave comfort, I arrange my life around the ways that keep me ensconced in my normal and seek the path of least resistance most of the time.  Difficulty is rarely something we seek.

I can think of so many hard things that I have faced that were necessary to reach a goal.  Exercise, infertility treatments, moves, discipline, saving, staying the course, education, counseling and more are not passive, easy endeavors.  Yet the rewards make the effort so worth it!

Whatever you are facing today, don't shy away if it is hard.  Lean into the challenge and do the necessary work for growth.  You are worth the effort.  What hard thing are you facing today?  Hearing from readers makes writing so much more fun and I'd love to hear from you!

"Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope"
Romans 5:3-4