I Am Beyond Grateful For My Kids, But I Am Still Breaking

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“I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what happens when a mom ‘breaks.’

It’s something we don’t really talk about as a society.

Moms are unsung heroes that are just expected to show up. Show up literally everywhere.

That middle of the day school thing – mom will be there.

Practice – there’s mom.

Playdates – mom has it.

Moms are just expected to do.

To do literally everything.

Moms are society’s heroes that balance 7,464 balls at any given time without dropping a single one.

This idea of breaking has been breaking through and presenting itself everywhere lately.

We didn’t build a leprechaun trap this year. Instead, I stayed up until midnight creating shamrock patterned arrows from the upstairs bedrooms leading downstairs into the kitchen. Where my two younger kids would find letters from the leprechaun and money.

My kids were less than impressed. One wanted a leprechaun trap. One wanted a toy.

I thought to myself, why do I even bother?

I’m a single mom of 3. One special needs.

I have my kids 24/7, 365 days a year.

My situation is ‘unique’ and undoubtedly influences a lot.

But, I think everyone has unique struggles and a unique breaking point.

As for me, I overcompensate for their dad not being well enough to be in their life.

I overcompensate for the incredibly unfair and imbalanced amount of time each child gets with me based on the needs of that moment.

I overcompensate for my having to work all the time.

I overcompensate for everything.

And, in the meantime, I have created kids who don’t seem to appreciate anything.

Okay. Breathe. This is fixable. Right?

I think to myself don’t break. I can fix this. I mentally add it to this list of (to do) that constantly grows and never ends.

This breaking feeling comes and goes through the days and weeks and months.

It’s there every morning when it takes 3 hours to get everyone awake and dressed and where they need to be.

It’s there when I waste precious time in traffic.

It’s there when I pick everyone up after work and everyone is complaining. This one is mad about school. This one is mad about a friend. This one is just mad throwing a shoe clear across the car.

It’s chaos. And loud. And defeating.

The breaking feeling is there when my middle refuses to do his homework and we sit at the table and fight for an hour. All while knowing that we’re never getting to bed tonight.

It’s there when my 4-year old doesn’t want to put shoes on. Or take a bath. Or do anything that I ask.  Because she’s fierce and independent, and as stubborn as they come.

Please just cooperate for today. Please. I beg.

Just breathe. Don’t break.

There’s this outward appearance of perfection. Of perseverance. Of ‘doing life so well.’

I unintentionally hide the breaking and broken so so so well.

‘You should be grateful…’

And, I am.

I am beyond grateful that I have 3 (mostly) healthy children.

I am beyond grateful that every night I get to climb between my two youngest and fall asleep surrounded by love.

I am beyond grateful that my mom is amazing and has to do so much more than any grandparent should ever have to do. All because of the inability of the other parent in this situation. I couldn’t live life without my mom.

I am beyond grateful that my sister is my best friend and tries anything in her power to help me. That when my payday calculations are off, my sister never hesitates to lend me money ‘until payday.’ My sister makes things in my children’s life possible that I just couldn’t do. Dance classes, trips, and adventures. Most are possible due to my sister.

I am grateful that I have THE best friends. They do drop-offs and pick-ups to and from school and allow me to sit in my office for the required number of hours a day. They directly are the reason I am employed. I am so beyond grateful.

I have a beautiful home. A working car. Clothes. Shelter. Food. I AM grateful. I’m so blessed.

On the flip side, I have to work 3 jobs to keep this life floating. I’m tired. I’m broken. I’m breaking.

I want to run my phone over.

I want to run away.

I need a break.

You can be grateful and still breaking.

Self-care is the answer everyone throws at you.

Is self-care showering after the kids go to sleep?

Or going to work and sitting in my cube where I’m met with deafening silence and unlimited time to analyze my life choices.

The regret.

Oh, the regrets.

You see, I’m literally drowning.

We have something every single night like most families.

Tutoring, therapy, baseball, dance… the list never ends.

We spend most of our life in the car.

It’s a race to get them to bed on time so they’re not cranky for school the next day.

Everything is a race.

The clock has to be on a different gravitational pull. I swear.

I have no idea how time passes so quickly.

Adding ‘self-care’ to my list would surely just be another weight tied to my ankle pulling me further down into the water.

What happens when a mom breaks?

I still don’t have the answer.

There are a lot of people depending on a mom.

If these past few years have taught us anything, it’s that we don’t really have plans for what happens when archaic established systems collapse.

Mom breaking is certainly an established system collapsing.

As for me and as for now – I’ll write. And sing in the car. And cry in the shower.

I’ll remember that this time period of parenting is such a small part of a lifetime. I will genuinely try to remember that.

And, I’ll breathe. And, try to not break.”

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jacqueline Waxman. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more from Jacqueline:

‘He’s out of control. You didn’t discipline him and now it’s too late.’ I bought into what everyone else was saying.’: Mom urges ‘special needs behavior cannot be fixed with traditional discipline’

‘You’re the parent who tries everything and gets nowhere, but still doesn’t give up.’: Woman pens ode to parents of children battling mental illness

‘You asked me this morning, on your birthday, ‘Why did those people blow up New York?’ I was unprepared for this moment.’: Mom shares open letter to 9/11 baby

‘The school district took the very blunt stance, ‘It’s my way or the highway.’ Special education is under attack with little pushback.’: Special needs mom urges ‘we must draw a line in the sand’

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