The Long & Glorious Days of Parenthood

March 12, 2021

You Are Not Alone

By Guest Writer: Robin Jean

HC: Hey Robin! I would love if you can give the readers a little background on your life and what you do!

RJ: Hi! I am a mommy, a sister, a daughter and a friend. I have a passion for helping other humans find their gut joy using real food and movement a catalyst. I have my certification as a holistic health coach and will be obtaining my yoga teacher training this spring. Small talk makes me itch and I am a Yankee at heart. I was born and raised in Jersey before traveling with the Navy as a medic and have found myself as a single mama of four right here in our little coastal town of Port Royal. I currently work in the hospice field doing education with our community and families to get them the support and quality of life they deserve. It’s not where I thought I would land if I were in charge of writing the book that is my life, but its been better than anything I could have come with on my own. I joke that I free range my children, but I would say we are immensely held by a safe and supportive community where everyone knows everyone and the front porch is always open.

HC: This is a real talk category post. Real talk, I am tired almost all of the time. I know this is a shared concern for most people. How would you suggest a parent keep up the energy of everyday demands in the home?

RJ: Hire a nanny, a personal chef and chauffeur! Or if you are like me and can’t afford these things embrace the chaos. I used to stand on my “it’s a balancing act” box. However, the beautiful battlefield of parenting four tiny humans as a working single mom is teaching me it’s NOT. It’s not about balance, because your attention will be have to be directed at different things in different seasons. Something is always going to get the short end of stick. Having an honest discussion with yourself about what REALLY matters right now and then focusing on whatever actions will support that is like taking off a heavy backpack. We can’t be all the things to all the people all the time. Learn how to set boundaries, embrace saying no, allow the kids to give (a little) input and come up with a family value system and only allow what supports them in each season. We only have so many hours in a day and if we allow guilt to consume us over all the things we couldn’t accomplish then the things we are putting our energy into will suffer immensely. No one wants a mommy who is thinking about a work deadline while trying to be present while reading bedtime stories. Release what you cant control in that moment and let yourself be fully present. Showing up wherever our feet may be in that moment is making all the difference for us, and it’s still something I am working on being better at each day. 

HC: I feel like everyone kind of accepted the new traditional roles in society. Kids go to school, parents both go to work, after-school activities, etc. COVID-19 changed things for everyone. Some parents have lost work, some are having to adjust to working from home and don’t like it, some just don’t feel like natural parents. Do you have anything to say to these parents? 

RJ: It’s much easier to ride the tide than fight against it,  and you are not the only one. I have had tremendous amounts of guilt over the past year as I am working from home or unavailable to the kids to help with virtual school during the day because I am working. I would try to do it all at once and found that absolutely nothing got completed with any quality end results. Creating the most structure that you can with what you have is lifesaving. I have reached out to their teachers and just have been honest about when I can be available to assist them, I have been blessed beyond all belief with the company I work with, I have been been able to move my day around and work from home some days to accommodate. I know I am extremely privileged in this as so many do not have this luxury. I think just being honest and chunking your day is immensely helpful. 

HC: I am personally really lucky with a partner that will step in and help if I need it. Not everyone has that, for various reasons. What would you say to the parent that may feel alone in life and in their parenting journey?

RJ: Oh my goodness, ask for help! This is something I struggled with forever. As women sometimes we want to be independent and be able to always “just handle it”. I have a personal conviction that we were created to be in community, we were never meant to do this life alone. Whatever that looks like and for me it’s so non-traditional. I do not have a husband who can rotate duties, but I do have friends, neighbors and family that are more than willing to jump in. It can feel like a gut punch to have to ask for help sometimes but it really does take a village. You are not weak if you have to ask for help, you are human and we ALL need it. 

HC: I know often, parents don’t give themselves permission to have any kind of a life since the demands of parenting can feel pretty constant. How should we embrace our own individual selves without the guilt of taking any time away from our loved ones?

RJ: Taking care of yourself so you can continue to show up for your children is SO the opposite of selfish. I struggled with this so much when my kids were really little. If I went to the gym or to the grocery store without them I thought for sure they would end up in therapy. The truth is when you become a mom, you do not stop being you. Although most of us pack ourselves up in a little box and put it in storage to collect dust and take on the daily load of being a mom as if it couldn’t co-exist without our own identity.  Your babies love seeing you being you. They love seeing you love yourself, they are learning how to care for themselves from watching you. If you run around ragged and burnt out they will do the same when it’s their turn to raise tiny humans. I feel so many think self-care just means mimosas and face masks and who knows maybe that’s what it is for you. Self-care is how you fill your cup so you can continue to pour out. Sometimes for me its going for a run or putting the kids to bed early so I can read quietly. Sometimes it’s ordering take out so I don’t have to cook and clean the kitchen because I am so tired I couldn’t even sing the alphabet if they wanted me to and letting the kids be babysat by Netflix so you can just stare into space and not have to think about anything for an hour after working and shuffling them around. My kids bring me immense joy, and so does a quiet cup of coffee and my journal before they wake up. Decide what will bring you peace and allow you to show up fully for them and commit to yourself. 

HC: What are some things that you think get in the way of our happiness? What do you think we can we plan for to make us most successful in every facet of our daily lives?

RJ: Simple as it sounds…eat real food, move your body, drink lots of water and for love of God SLEEP. I feel like we overcomplicate everything. Implementing basic routines and healthy habits for us AND our little is highly underestimated. And for the love of all that is holy, stop comparing yourself to other moms. Comparison is a joy thief and what other people think of you is none of your business. Just show up and do your best. Whatever your best is in that moment. The expectations of others can steal our happiness and it shouldn’t ever be up for grabs!  Also, getting therapy or counseling is not being weak. If you are a human being living on planet earth… therapy is most likely a must. We neglect mental health because we “cant see it”. However, if you had a broken bone, breathing issues or a heart problem you would see a doctor to get regulated. The brain is ALSO an organ. Also it controls the rest, so take care of it or you will be no good to take care of anyone else. 

HC: A lot of this so far has been about the parent. What about the kids? Truly all we want is for them to live their best lives and to be as happy as they can. What things do you do in your family to make them their happiest?

I actually have a different opinion on happiness. I believe it’s a choice. Our family has gone through hell and high water. We have been dirt poor and we have been in the land of plenty. We have been in a place where they were actually not physically safe and they have been coddled and in a safe haven. My kids have found happiness and misery at both ends of the spectrum. I believe that happiness is a choice. As a parent your job is to provide safety, food, shelter and maybe fun birthday parties every once in while. I feel as parents it’s our duty to allow them to choose happiness. Last week my daughter told me she doesn’t feel safe when she comes downstairs in the morning if I am not already up and having my quiet time, this is something that rocked me. I have made it my priority to ensure I am up and in my chair so she can have that security. These are the things we can control. We can’t control if they do not want to choose joy while completing their tasks such as homework and chores, these are things we must allow them to “suffer” to build character and discipline. Life is going to hit them in the face hard and it’s our responsibility to prepare them to find the joy in all circumstances. Allowing them to find creative outlets, encouraging them to do hard things and being there to encourage them and also to catch them when they fall I feel results in growth and ultimately joy. 

HC: What are some activities that you think can bring the family closer together and take some of the pressures of life off of?

This is something that I put down as a goal for this year, to do more things to bring us closer together. Our outlet has always been travel however this year didn’t allow that! I have put family game night back on the board and as they get older I allow them to invite a friend. Just listen to them, it has knocked me off my feet how just putting down everything and looking at them when they want to tell me about how they feel or what makes them upset will do to boost them. We have started to cook more together, to just be present in the same room. As silly as it sounds making it a MUST to sit at the same table to have dinner makes all the difference, even if they argue and won’t eat their vegetables. We have also started something they call a “special ride”. I have four children and we rotate. This “ride” is sometimes a car drive to get ice cream or a walk to the beach. It’s one-on-one time with each of them, it reminds them that they are important, that they are heard and seen, that I will stop everything to give them all of me. They just want to feel seen and to be heard. Just like we do.

Thank you so much Robin! <3

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