Sometimes I Want to Give up on Parenting

Coral Gables Counseling Center - Wednesday, July 26, 2017
By Lina Acosta Sandaal

The wind is blowing my hat towards my cheek, and I can hear my children laughing with their daddy. It is an absolutely breathtaking day on Miami Beach, and I feel like crying. My mind is flooded with negative thoughts: I’m a bad mom because I won’t play with them in the water and my children’s memories of fun times will always include mom on the sideline watching them, a serious look on her face. It is always painful to sit in a happy place full of remorse and regret. I know this is universal for most of us as parents.

Regret and remorse usually accompanies responsibility and responsibility tells us how things need to be, how they “should be.” In this moment on the beach responsibility and a head full of child development research was telling me to join in and “play with my family.” Then, regret stated, “you should have never come with them if you are miserable at the beach” and remorse followed with, “why in the world did you ever have children?”

This last dark thought is part of a response to the responsibility I feel as a parent. Often, when responsibility feels overwhelming, we attempt to avoid it. I avoid it by wishing I’d never made the choice to become a parent in the first place. Others may avoid it with work, the phone, food or darker elements like alcohol or drugs. So what to do, how to stop, meditate, and reset the moment and accept that with being a parent comes responsibility? Here are a few steps that may be able to get these moments back into gear.

  1. Take no action. In the midst of these negative thoughts sit with them and observe them. Imagine your mind is the sky and the clouds are the thoughts–look, listen and be still as those thoughts pass through you. Often when our head is full of negativity, we demand the kids to clean up or be quiet. We fight with our spouses about how they are speaking or sometimes even chewing. In these moments of dark thoughts, sit and do nothing.
  2. Check in with your expectations of the moment. Are they realistic? Are they who you really are as a person? I don’t like the beach. I especially hate the sand. I have to be kind with myself and accept that just by coming to the beach with my family I am sacrificing and putting them first.
  3. Ask for help. You can actually do that without even speaking. Find one of your family members and give them a hug. Kiss your spouse instead of lashing out. Take a selfie and post that you’re feeling crazy and wait for the love of your friends to come in with likes and comments. Call/text someone who you know will understand and tell them what your thoughts are doing to you.
  4. Remember that “this too shall pass.” Parenting is a constant juxtaposition between happiness/pain, excitement/fear, accomplishments/failures and sometimes we have to wait for each of these moments to pass.

Finally, be kind to yourself. It is incredibly difficult as a human being to feel the pressure of keeping another human alive and safe while also trying to fulfill our own hopes and wishes.

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