the balance

I go through periods where I feel like I’ve got it together…my family is healthy, pets aren’t dying, work is going well, things just generally feel “right”…and then I go through periods where I feel like I’m barely holding on. I think this happened before we had kids, but it seems more pronounced in the “AK” years (after kids). If I’d started this post three hours ago it would be full of swear words but I’ve since had some alcohol and the kids have been asleep for a couple of hours so I’m a bit calmer. Plus I’m blessed to be married to a very calming man.

My family is healthy, our remaining pet is not dying, and work is going well, but I still feel like I’m barely holding on, so there is more to it than that. I feel like I haven’t had much time for me lately. Which is odd because the majority of the last seven days I’ve only had one child to take care of. But this has been brewing for a few weeks. Elliot’s recent emotional state at daycare has been hard on me — it’s got me to thinking about his personality in general, and I worry that he’s going to have a tough road ahead of him. I think his sensitivity leads to his volatility, and it can be hard to be on the receiving end of it. And I’m sure it’s tough on him too.

When I titled this post “the balance” I was thinking about the balance between finding time to spend with my family and finding time for just me, but I realize it’s also about finding a balance with Elliot. Knowing when to push him past his comfort level and when to just let him be. Knowing when to walk away from him when he’s hitting or screaming and when to fold him up in my arms and just hold him tight. Continually wondering what the “right” thing to do is, to get him past whatever hump is in his way.

I recently had a conversation with my sister and she acknowledged (after saying how much she loved Elliot) that she has always thought that Greg and I haven’t had the easiest time of it, raising our son. I have never thought of him as difficult and would never want to put that label on him, but I was surprised at how validated I felt. He has always slept well, ate well, developed normally, etc., and I never really thought about the emotional aspect of raising him. But while I felt validated, I also felt a bit thrown off, like I was on unstable footing, and I’m still feeling that. He’s still the same kid, but I find myself looking at him differently, and looking at my parenting differently. And I don’t like it. I don’t think this is happening in the moment when I’m with him, but I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting when I’m not with him, and that’s when these feelings come up.

And perhaps that why I feel like I haven’t had much time for me — I’ve been investing so much time thinking about Elliot. I don’t blame my sister for making me feel this way. I would have got there on my own, as I watch my daughter grow and continue to take life very much in stride, laughing almost all the way. It’s such a stark contrast to her brother. And it makes me worry about him.

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