One of the most important aspects of holding a child involves emotions. A child will feel held when their parent is able to contain the powerful emotions of the moment. A child will feel dropped when the parent is either overwhelmed by or unresponsive to the child’s emotions.
I readily admit that I tend to drop my children when they are feeling powerful emotions. At times I feel too busy, too tired, or just plain sick of dealing with the chaos. The truth is unfortunately that in these moments I am more concerned about my own feelings than I am about my child’s. I have become overwhelmed with what is going on in me, and do not have the capacity to deal with what is happening in my child.
I just read a nice article titled Attunement Parenting The New Attachment Parenting and was reminded that my ability to contain my child’s emotions is directly correlated to how well I am taking care of myself. In other words my ability to handle my son’s anger is impacted by my ability to handle my own anger. Arriving home from work frustrated from the day significantly impacts my interactions with my children. I must do a good job of taking care of my self in order to take care of my children.
I struggle with this, I tend to give, give give, and then give out. I wear myself to the bone, attempting to be the best parent I can be, constantly striving to meet everyone of my child’s needs, never allowing my self to be distracted from the task of engaging in their lives. THIS IS EXHAUSTING!! It is not possible to be the perfect parent, it is not possible to meet every need, and it is not possible to engage at every moment.
I have learned that I need time to refuel. I am a very reflective person, and when I have neglected the time I need to slow down, and think I become short tempered, impatient, and depressed. I am thankful for the reminder that it is OK to do something that I enjoy. I am allowed to put the headphones on and listen to my favorite album. But where does one draw the line? How much parenting is enough? And is it possible to measure up?