Some Days, I Parent In Survival Mode And That's Okay

by Holly Loftin
DGLimages / iStock

Most people would describe me as very social and interactive. I am someone who on a good day thrives in an environment surrounded my friends and family. I usually bring my mom A-game (or at least I’m able to fake it really well), and I am physically and emotionally available to be an above-average wife, mom, daughter, and friend.

But not today.

Today was one of those days that can only be described as swimming down a dark hole. Days like this aren’t common, but they do happen to me more times than I’d like to admit. You know the days when you just can’t be the parent you want to be, but you can’t even pinpoint why? These are the days when you shut down from everything in the world except the things that you absolutely have to do.

Days like this are dark for me.

They swallow me up and spit me out. I’m just not myself. I don’t want to answer the phone. I don’t want to check my email. I don’t want to even think about what’s going on in the world around me. It’s just too much. All that I want to do is lie in my bed with the covers over my head and hide from the world.

I don’t exactly know what was different about today. It could be that my son woke up four times in the middle of the night last night with nightmares. Or that we have had a broken air conditioner for a week. Or the fact that I went to get my blood drawn in a torrential downpour and the iPad I brought to entertain my son died. Or that I’m having extreme anxiety about more thunderstorms in our city, and my son and I being trapped in the house for the rest of the week.

Maybe it’s a combination of those things. Or maybe it’s none of them.

It is always something in life, and as moms, we learn to accept that and thrive in the daily chaos. We rise to the occasion and are rock stars — most days. But some days, we get beat down with all the circumstances in life, and it’s not that we can’t do it anymore — it’s that we don’t want to. We just want to retreat and lie in our bed with our thoughts and recharge but we can’t. Other people depend on us.

The truth is, shit has to get done whether we are mentally up to the job or not.

Meals have to be prepared. Drinks need to be poured. Butts need to be wiped. Favorite toys need to be fished out of toilets. Urine needs to be cleaned off the floors, walls, and god knows where else. Bananas need to be peeled and sandwiches need to be cut into fourths.

The reality is that these little people need us. No matter how small each task, they cannot do it without us. So we do it, but without the heart and enthusiasm we usually have. We end up giving them a much lesser version of ourselves. And I’ve learned to be okay with it.

Thinking that a mom can be “on” every freaking day isn’t a realistic or a true depiction of motherhood, in the least. Some days are just crap, and you have to learn to take the good with the bad. It doesn’t make us flawed, it makes us human. No mom is perfect. The moms who act like they have it together every day are doing exactly that: acting.

There is no way these perfect moms can make a healthy organic, hormone-free meal when they just want to fall over, or plan mind-stimulating activities and arts and crafts when they just want to hide in the closet. And you can forget about addressing the children with calmness and patience despite wanting to explode inside.

There’s no freaking way. I call bs.

On days like today, I have learned to parent in survival mode, and I am okay not doing all the things that I usually do with my child.

I’m okay giving him soup from a can and plopping him in front of an iPad. I’m okay leaving him in his PJs all day long. I’m okay with him feeding the cat half of his grilled cheese sandwich and tracking crumbs all over the damn house. I’m okay letting him run around like a wild banshee, destroying the house room by room. I’m okay canceling playdates because I just don’t feel like interacting with anyone besides people I have to today. I’m okay asking my husband if he can leave a little early from work because I’m about to climb the fucking wall.

The truth is that moms wake up on the wrong side of the bed too. They have many less-than-desirable days. And we just need to be able to have a bad day and not feel guilty about it. Sometimes a mom just needs to be. I know tomorrow I will be better and wake up with a much better perspective.

Or maybe I won’t.

But for today, I just need to drown — a little — without being judged by others or, mostly, by myself.