Sometimes parenting feels like the worst gig on earth. There are times I want to explode or implode, or do something dramatic that makes the kids stop and stare, aghast at their mother. Something that makes them stop their whitewash of me. A way of pressing pause on the overload. A way of reminding them that I am but one person, and I can be broken.
They’re a lot, my kids. They’re pretty full on. Occasionally they realise they need to tone it down a bit to save my sanity. But mostly they don’t. Mostly they do exactly as the whim takes them. And there are times when, as a result, I get overloaded and unable to get a proper handle on what any of them are up to. Which equates to lots of half questions, half consequences, half explanations, half conversations. And nothing terribly substantial at all.
And when I’m deep in this pit and I feel all alone, I turn to my metaphysical support team. A team who can be conjoured up at a moments notice. Who can be adapted depending on my need. Because they live in my head. They’re available to me on tap. As needed. Without limitations. How incredible is that?
Sound weird? Let me try and explain:
Two of my current favourites are the big faceless man (which is a lot less creepy, and a lot more comforting than it may sound) who provides me with the support my husband gives me when he’s on his husbanding A-game. And the girlfriend-who-gets-it: who’s been there, done that, got the t-shirt and wholeheartedly and absolutely knows my pain.
The faceless man has strong arms. He towers over me in a good way. He holds me. He has a broad chest I can lean into, and bury my head into if it all feels too much. When it’s all kicking off in my physical world, I imagine I’m being held. And while I’m being held, I am safe. I am peaceful. I unfurl slightly inside. My breathing regulates again. I can sink into the comfort.
Before it all starts sounding a teensy bit Mills & Boon, let me introduce the girlfriend-who-gets-it. She is with me on the most challenging of school runs. She holds my hand, and walks by my side. Not saying or doing anything, but being there, in solidarity. Because (as her name suggests) she gets it. And if it’s really bad, she puts a comforting arm around my shoulder. And, as I can with the faceless man, I can lean into her. She reminds me again, I’m not alone. Not really. Even when my physical support team are unavailable and busy going about their own days, my metaphysical support team can be there. Can walk with me. Can ease the pain by their very real, yet wholly imaginary presence.
The faceless man and the girlfriend-who-gets-it are my companions in these most lonely of moments. I turn to them when it feels like I am as all alone as it’s possible to be in the company of three other (small) humans. I seek them out at my lowest ebb. They are there when I have forgotten that everyone feels this way sometimes. That every parent has dark unmanageable moments when you know you’ve reached some kind of natural limit – but despite this – you’re going to have to dig deeper than you thought possible. That the provocation is going to keep coming at you. The screams, the protests, the sibling discord…..
If it wasn’t for the faceless man and the girlfriend-who-gets-it, there are times when I fear there’d be nothing of me left. Nothing but an empty husk of a human, rocking quietly, uselessly. Drained of everything I once had.
My metaphysical support team remind me of something that the thinking part of my brain is unable to remember in these desperate moments, but the feeling part of my brain does know for sure – that comfort, peace and calm is available to me in any given moment. Which, when I stop and think about it, gives me the most profound feeling of hope.
If your lens on life is a religious one – then I imagine this feeling might be something prayerful. For me, it’s the way I draw deep on my own resources. By turning the peace hidden somewhere in the depths of my soul into something humanoid, I am able to access it, in a way I wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
Mercifully, these challenging moments are usually brief. They’re often transitory. Intense and desperate yes, but temporary. I am lucky to have responsive husband, and a bevy of physical folks I could, and would, call on if I needed to. But the moments that require me to scramble my metaphysical support team – they are rarely predictable. They are rarely moments I can plan for, or anticipate. They happen suddenly. And without warning. They occur when I’m least prepared. Sneak up on me, and take me by surprise. And so, when I’m blindsided, I turn to my faceless man, and my hand holding, shoulder squeezing girlfriend-who-gets-it.
And together, they stop me imploding or exploding. They stop me turning into an empty rocking husk of a woman. They are my companions until the moment passes – usually as quickly and as unexpectedly as it arrived.