We’ve all heard the old saying “My kids make me crazy.” But isn’t it also true that kids keep us mentally sound?
I’ve been a parent for 12 years, and this is the most important thing I’ve learned: A parent simply can’t shut down, lose it, and ignore her kids. She must hold it together for them.
It was a cold day last January when Kathy, my neighbor, and her daughter were moving out of their house. Kathy had asked her friends to help her because she couldn’t afford the cost of a moving company. So I arrived at 8:00 A.M. to load boxes onto a rented truck.
My neighbor was in the middle of a tragedy. Her husband had taken an overdose in an attempt to kill himself and was in the psych ward. The bank was foreclosing on her house. To top it off, her husband had been in the middle of an affair with a younger, thinner woman.
I went into the house and grabbed a box in the kitchen of Rubbermaid products and carried it to the truck. I wasn’t alone. Kathy had a lot of friends, and they were all pitching in to help her. There were about eight or nine people aiding her in the move.
I went into the bedroom and grabbed a box of linens. There on the little table was a piece of cold pizza and a beer. I yelled, “Who’s drinking beer for breakfast?” Now, in hindsight, I know it was a crass thing to say, but I wasn’t thinking. My obnoxious question simply popped out of my mouth as these things sometimes do. My neighbor didn’t say, “Me. I’m having the beer.” Instead she glared at me when I went back in the kitchen to retrieve a box of Pampered Chef products.
To make up for my inconsiderate question, I shamelessly flattered her. “You are really handling this well,” I said. “How are you doing it?”
She stopped packing her silverware and said, “Louise. If I didn’t have Louise, I would be insane.” Kathy was holding it together for her daughter.
Yes, your kids can keep you sane. They give you a focus. You’ve got to feed them, dress them, take them to school. Move them into a new house when their father has lost his mind. They take you out of your own brain and allow you to think of something (and someone) other than yourself.
Another way your kids keep you sane is when they’re old enough to comfort you when you’re in the midst of a crisis.
Recently, my son’s father went out of town for ten days. He’s cruising on the Snake River with his mother, sister and brother-in-law. Let me just say, life without my husband has been very hard. Without him, I’ve had to do everything: all the cooking, the shopping, the homework, the driving to appointments and games, the disciplining… everything. I now know what it’s like to be a single mother. It’s hell.
Well, this morning, I was sitting on the couch while Tommy was eating his cereal at the coffee table. I was so tired and spent that I was weeping. And I was a little crazy. (The straw that “broke my back” was last night’s geography homework. The assignment was to use latitude and longitude lines and then find the country which they delineated. But all we had was a globe. The task would have been much simpler with a flat, paper atlas. Trying to be precise was a losing battle, and as I was a perfectionist, the defeating activity had brought me to near despair.)
“Don’t worry mommy. It’s going to be OK,” Tommy said.
And with this comment from him, I felt instantly better. My child was empathetic, and he was helping me. He was assisting me in keeping my sanity in his father’s absence.
Yes, your kids keep you sane in this second way. They’re “cool” to you when you need it most.
So whether we’re holding it together for them, or they are holding it together for us, children help keep our insanity at bay.
It’s the circle of life. We’re there for our kids in the beginning of their lives, and they’re there for us when we all get a little older.
Yes, God knows our children can make us insane, but isn’t it nice to consider how they keep us from our insanity once in a while?