I had planned to take you through a tour at the Celebration Stem Cell Centre for today's post. I had to change my plans to go due to family illness, which brings me to today’s topic: Parent Fail. This is not about pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding…it’s about what sometimes happens as these infants grow up and away from us.
“Fail” is such a strong word for me. In my generation, an “F” grade was a “Fail” – it was the ultimate sign of incompetence. So when I say I feel like a failure as a parent, it is a harsh criticism.
I had what I would call a Parent Fail this week. I felt completely helpless in the situation we found ourselves in. I did the “woulda – coulda – shoulda” routine until I worked myself up into a panic attack.
The panic attack was a result of two conflicting choices…
1.) I could leave our four-month old baby for the length of time of a trip to the emergency room; I have left her in someone else’s care (maybe) twice since she was born.
2.) I could leave the care decisions for our four-year old who has already had a life-or-death episode to another friend or family member and stay home with our baby and other children.
Thank goodness, we ended up figuring out a workable solution. In situations like this, I am so very thankful for our Bradley® training. Abdominal breathing, focusing outside of the pain, being in the moment, never leave your child without an advocate, call an assistant coach, surrender…
The first thing any parent can do is to remember to breathe. You are okay – and by the grace of God, your children will be okay. They need you at your best to advocate for them, so just breathe. Deep abdominal breathes as the emotion passes.
The next step for me was to focus outside the pain I was feeling. Mine was a physical stressor caused by emotional insecurity – was I going to make the right decision? What would happen if ---? If ---? If ---? I had to stop and remember that our child was counting on me, and that had to be bigger than the disappointment in myself for the time being.
After that, I called in for back up since my Coach was unavailable. We always recommend our students find a back-up coach for labor, because literally, you just never know what is going to happen until you are on the other side. In parenting just as in birth, they offer a fresh perspective or other ideas you haven’t considered yet, and important to me, they can calm me down. My assistant coach can always be counted on to have a cool head and offer logical solutions.
Once I brought myself back from the edge, I had to choose to be in the moment. I stopped myself from making the problem larger than it was by deciding what was right for just now, for this child. Not tomorrow, or the ripple effect to our other children, or what to do for next week…just now. With the help of my assistant coach who just listened, asked questions and offered solutions, we decided upon a course of action. It was not something that solved all our concerns…just the immediate question of staying or going to the hospital.
As parents, we are the only ones who have the final responsibility for the choices that affect our children. Ultimately, my decision was to leave the baby and go with our son. I had milk in the freezer and although we had never been separated so long, she didn’t need me to advocate for her the way our son did. There are so many moving parts in the hospital; I am his comfort, his safe place – it was the right thing to do. Once we were there, I had to answer for his medical history and stay with him so he wasn’t alone or scared. It is my duty as a parent to ask all the questions that need to be asked to ensure we are getting the best care possible for him.
Very little makes me sadder than seeing unaccompanied children on the way to or from a procedure; we did see a little girl being moved by herself in a wheelchair as we were on our way to the x-ray room in a wheelchair. With all the cruel acts against children being reported in the news, I hope never to be in a position where I can’t accompany a child anywhere they need to be.
The hardest hurdle for me in birth has always been Surrender. I find it also applies in my parenting. I had to get over myself and admit that our challenge was bigger than what I could handle alone – it was time to call for help. Once the calls went out, I had to decide to trust other people with the care of our other children so that I could comfort and care for the child that really needed me. I had to surrender and allow other people into my family unit and receive the gift of their help.
I hope this post will encourage you to rely on your Bradley® training beyond your baby’s birth-day. My belief to trust my instincts definitely allows me the opportunity to turn my Parent Fails around. When I take a breath and consider my options, my choices are purposeful and yield good results. Bruss and I often comment that our time as students is the gift that keeps on giving – I wish the same holds true for you.
Have you had a "parent fail"? How did you handle the situation?
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March 5, 2012 to May 21, 2012
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