Posted by Gina Perkins, Pre-School Mommie | Posted in Gina Perkins | Posted on 09-10-2012
Tags: authentic, authenticity, friends, friendships, Gina Perkins
How many of you are sick of hearing about my bedtime struggles with DJ? Trust me, no one is more over it than me….well, I’d betcha my husband is tied for first with me. It’s the story we’ve been living for six weeks now. A three year old who basically, flat out refuses to sleep without a fight each night. To describe it as frustrating would be a gross understatement.
I have realized that while I may publicly post about this nightly challenge, I don’t often confide in my friends about just how awful it is. Part of me doesn’t want to burden them with the broken record of it all, and part of me is just too tired to talk about it. Because this has become such a huge part of our lives – you might imagine there would be some anxiety, hesitation, at the thought of a weekend getaway with other families, as that would allow them full exposure into this dark corner of our parenting world.
Saying “Yes,” and sending in the $280.00 check for our portion of the weekend rental, was anxiety-provoking. Could we get DJ on the other side of this struggle before four other families had to bear witness to it? Not likely, but we swallowed our pride nonetheless and decided that being authentic doesn’t just mean openly sharing opinions with confidence, or facing the crowd before a shower, or even losing your cool with your kid or husband in front of others – it means allowing people to see what goes on behind closed doors. It means letting it all hang out, and trusting that people will love you anyway (or trusting that you’ll be better off without them if they don’t).
Last weekend, we ventured up to Bodega Bay with four other families. There were 8 adults, and 8 kids under the age of 4, all staying in a 5 bedroom house (1 room per family) – with paper thin walls. We had an absolute blast. I mean, honestly, it couldn’t have been a better time, it couldn’t have felt easier, more natural, than it did. But – oh man, a big, big but…DJ did what she does.
On Saturday night, as I was laying in our bedroom with DJ, trying (desperately) to get her to sleep – I began getting more and more angry. I was resentful that I was locked in a room with a crazy kid and not enjoying my vacation. I heard muffled voices through the wall and wondered what I was missing out on. Each thought brought me closer to the edge. Each whine that spilled out of DJ’s little body pushed me closer and closer – and finally, I just couldn’t stop the tears. I just laid on the floor next to DJ and her princess sleeping bag, and I sobbed.
The good news was that this rattled DJ enough to make her stop her shennanigans, and finally fall asleep. The bad news was that I needed to go out and face my friends. Or did I? I considered just crawling into my bed and sleeping the night away. But, would that be authentic? The truth was, I wanted to be with my friends – with adults. So, I quickly wiped my face with my pillowcase, and made the long walk of shame toward the living room before I could change my mind. Before embarrassment could set in.
I caught a glimpse of my girlfriends huddled in the kitchen, and in that very moment, I realized just how much I needed them to see me in that state of defeat – and, I needed them to be there for me. I needed to let them in. I burst into tears again before even saying a word. They gathered around me, offering hugs, words of encouragement, chocolate chip cookies and hot tea. I was finally able to say, out loud and in the moment, “This is so hard. This is so frustrating. It’s so awful to end every single day like this. I feel like a failure every day.” Exhale. It felt like a weight was lifted – a heavy, heavy weight.
We talked for hours. We laughed. We cried. We ate. We drank. But, most importantly, we met each other right where we were at – each of us sharing our struggles, our fears, and our triumphs. It was so therapeutic, and such a gift to be able to walk out of my most difficult parenting experience and into the arms of compassionate friends. What a rare blessing.
Being a mom (or a dad), is hard work. It’s busy work. It’s demanding work. When you’re in the thick of it – like I am right now, you find less and less time for phone calls, for lunch dates, for hikes, or even for returning text messages or Facebook conversations. At the end of each day, you realize how lonely you feel, how isolated you are, and how you crave nothing more than the support of good friends. Like, real support. The kind that exists without judgement.
This weekend made me realize that real friends are the friends who don’t care how often you call because they’ll just keep calling you. They don’t wait for you to reach out to them. They hear your struggle, they feel your pain, and they push their way into your life. They push lovingly and gently – and relentlessly. They know that you’ll blow-dry your hair again one day, and that you’ll meet them for dinner at a restaurant that doesn’t have paper tablecloths again someday….but that, until that day comes, they’ll accept whatever it is that you need to do to get by. And, they’ll cheer you on every step of the way.
We cannot go down this parenting road alone. We need friends whom we can trust. We need friends who see us for who we are, in our darkest hours. They pour us a cup of tea, and they tell us how brave we are. I call them my “forever friends.” They are the friends who took almost 35 years to earn – and while not all pictured above, there are less than 2 handfuls of these amazing women….and I couldn’t feel more abundantly blessed.