This post is for those of you who are dangling off the edge of the parenting and homeschooling cliff; you may be feeling exhausted, alone, frustrated, angry, depressed or just plain worn down by the pressures of life. The cliff feels enormous, your shoulders are aching from the over-sized backpack you are carrying… the sun is beating on your back… you are sweating, thirsty and your fingers cannot hold the weight any longer… what do you do?
Momma- I have been there! I feel your exhaustion, your aching and your disappointment. You wonder how you fell off the cliff, you may wonder if you should let go of the edge (maybe just send them all to public school?). You did not picture mothering as a never ending dance of preventing fights, spills, messes and your own emotional breakdown. You may feel completely unprepared to tackle what lies ahead. Momma, I know… in fact most of us been in that place of struggle.
We have all been there. We know what it feels like to desperately grab at whatever you can to bring some peace and order back in your life.
This past school year has been such a struggle for me, between working several jobs, parenting and homeschooling, I felt like my body and soul were absolutely spent. There was nothing left to give and it took all of my energy just to make it through each day. My body was screaming “let me rest”, “you are doing too much”, and “slow down”, but I did not listen… I felt like if I could only push a little further things would be okay. Last month I hit rock bottom and miscarried. Suddenly our plans and expectations were stopped in their tracks. I felt so broken, like my body had failed me, like I had failed as a mother even before this little one had a chance to come to us.
This was my place of dangling off the cliff.
When you are at that critical moment of decision what do you do? Do you let go or pull yourself up. What do you hold on to?
I want you to go back to that image and feeling of the mother holding onto the edge of the cliff. Connect with how you felt in that place, or maybe you are there now…
1. Remember that heavy backpack?- that momma, like many of us, was carrying so many burdens and responsibilities. Let go of what is not essential at this time in your life. You may need to cut back at work, say no when others overstep their boundaries, rethink the lessons or co-ops that are creating chaos in your family schedule. Are you adding to your backpack by buying books, toys and supplies that are a distraction instead of a real benefit to your homeschooling? Be prayerful and be honest about what you and your family really need at this time.
2. Stay grounded and remember your foundation- that momma who is dangling, has forgotten that she has some pretty strong legs and that she can use them to gain footing on this giant cliff! Go back to the basics- what are your most important goals in your mothering and homeschooling? What is your foundation?
Mine is: to love myself, my husband and my children, to be present and engaged and to be excited with them as they grow and discover new things- to support and uplift!
When I am stressed and overworked, somehow those basics fly right out the window, and I am left with a momma who is demanding, on edge and shut down emotionally! Even if we are “checking everything off the list” is it worth it if our home is full of anger and frustration? Meditate on what your foundation is- all decisions we make should lead back to that intention.
3. What are you grabbing at? In her desperation, this momma may be pulling at bits of grass or crumbling rock that are slipping away from the mountain… all while a rope is right in front of her. It may be a dirty and old rope, but it IS there. This rope is strong and has knots in it that are there to help her up. Our rope are the practices and people in our life that uplift us and support us in making it through our challenges and helping us be the best we can be.
These are our knots:
- Basic Rhythm- During times of struggle, go back to the very basics of rhythm- keep REST, MEALS and OUTDOOR TIME as steady as possible. If you need to take a break from intensive homeschool for a week, do not beat yourself up over it. Rediscover a simpler rhythm and establish order and peace in your home.
- Self Care– think back to those things you did before you had children- did you run, paint, take a bath, browse the bookstore, swim, hike, sew, go dancing? Choose one practice to incorporate back into your life- this is not fluff! It is what sustains us and keeps us fed.
- Supportive Relationships- who do you go to when life is hard and you need that boost? Think of your spouse, your family, dear friends, mentors, even an online community. Open up about your struggles and ask for help if you need it. We are all here to cheer you on! Be open to getting outside help if necessary- see a counselor, hire a mother’s helper, seek out a mentor- no one can do it all alone!
- Be positive- it can be so hard to see the purpose behind our struggles, but there is always a lesson. Facing our struggles allows us to grow, to learn more about ourselves, and helps us to better empathize with others. Allow yourself time to grieve, but also remember to look for the beauty and goodness that is still in your life!
4. Seek for Divine guidance and support- If you are stubborn like I am, there are probably times in your life that the last thing you want to do is pray. You may feel bitter or disconnected from the universe, but I know personally that those are the moments that you need that connection more than ever. Reincorporate the rituals and practices back into your life that bring you peace, clarity and guidance. Sometimes we need the power of angels, Gods, our ancestors and the very workings of the Universe to buoy us up and us reach that place of safety and rest.
For those of you hanging off the cliff, I know you can do this! You are not alone- you have the support and prayers of the Divine and the many women who have been in this place before. I have learned so much from this year of struggle. I am grateful for it, because I am a different mother and person because of it. I feel free and light- I have let go of the heavy backpack, I have my fanny pack of essentials, my feet are planted, I have my rope, and I know my purpose.