As a parent, I’ve more than once marveled how one day one of my kids (or both) could be just all out of sorts one minute and completely fine the next. Sometimes this transformation could take minutes to complete and other times much, much longer. Some phases are undoubtedly harder than others, but they are all just that.
After some tears and adjustments, whatever really, sometimes it’s nothing in particular things eventually take a turn in a more positive direction. Then, as quickly as the phase uncontentment arrived—whether it be general grumpiness, or not listening, instigating (the list of possibilities is endless)— it fades behind new developmental steps forward.
Being a parent is going through life again with a different perspective simultaneously with the your own life.
I grow up alongside my kids, scrutinizing myself along the way from fear of turning into my parents. Lately, I’ve been moodier lately, than usual—and I’m usually fairly moody. I had been for a while.
It came to a point very recently that I’ve decided to inspect what was going on with me.
To put it quite simply, this past fall kicked my ass.
I lost my best friend to terminal cancer in the end of October. It was a long, emotional road leading up to it. Every day I held out some level of hope that someday she’d just get better. I focused on helping her in any way that I could, and spent as much time with her as I could manage—which now doesn’t feel like nearly enough. I’m not sure that it’s something one can take well, but I got swallowed up by it, there is no doubt about that.
It can be difficult to find a way out of darkness. My very full life around me continued to move around me, and I busied myself with it as a way to push past the sadness.
My youngest started kindergarten in the fall, which put our family in a different phase completely. No longer having a preschooler in the house feels epically different, much more than I would have expected it to. This was a time I’d try and image when I was in the throws of diapers, playdough, and tantrums. Honestly, I miss having the little guys running around keeping me honest and full of adventures.
The fall was also when I transitioned from being a part-time freelance writer and midnight wordsmith to creative writing full time—something we had been planning for. The switch has been much more of an exercise of set discipline than I anticipated. I’m grateful to get the chance to put forty plus hours toward my career as an author. This has been my dream since childhood. I’ve been learning so much, keeping an accelerated pace, and working on multiple projects. I launched a new series, in November with the release of The Highly Capable. I’ve been posting here almost every day. I jump work blocks between getting the word of my new release out, my blog, writing two different novels, and submitting short pieces to literary magazines regularly. The truth it I love it so, so much. But it has recently dawned on me that juggling projects became my coping mechanism without me realizing until very recently.
Working helped me not feel sad.
Over time my mood started getting really shitty, my patience not good. I just wanted to do what I had to so I could get back to work. Then, I hit a wall last week. I couldn’t see what my one book was missing. My blog posts weren’t coming easy, honestly, I was just all over the place.
Little things started to build up. I was way too frustrated about the glob of toothpaste left on the counter, and so on.
It hit me.
I was so focused on not letting the sadness from my grief take me over, that I stopped enjoying everything as much I used to.
Honestly, just realizing this fact was enough to feel better.
A wall I didn’t know I put up seemed less impenetrable.
I saw what was missing in the book.
Everything just got a little brighter.
I feel a little bit more capable than I have been feeling. I thought of the developmental stages I watch the kids go through, and decided that’s what I describe it as. Which brought me to the point of thinking how hard on we are on ourselves, others, and kids to do better, to smile, to work harder, to make that turn on red because there is no sign forbidding it.
The other day I was walking my one dog, Jake. A car came flying down the road, which is a twenty-five mile per hour zone. I shouted at them to slow down. My dog started barking because I’ve scared him. As the driver who was on the cellphone came into sight, she flipped me off.
We all have imperfections, make mistakes, come up short—we all bleed and have insecurities. Everyone knows what it feels like to be sad, so maybe we should remember this fact, because I’m finding it helps.
Everything is a process. Patience and kindness make such a difference, and I’ve found the importance recently how those qualities need to be first pointed at ourselves to truly effective our environment.
We are only human.