It's the little things, really.
Singing loudly to a song on the radio.
Giving in to "just one more snuggle" before bedtime.
Getting weighed at the doctor's office and not freaking out.
Going to lunch with coworkers.
Being able to step in and help someone else.
Teaching dance and watching your tiny dancers improve.
Talking to a friend on the phone.
Full on belly laughing while watching The Office for the hundredth time.
Hearing the words "I love you" without prompting from your children.
Getting a surprise visit from your sister and her kids.
Being invited over to dinner at someone's house.
All of the little things add up and they become quite big.
I'm feeling all of that this week.
The kids have been adjusting to the new co-parenting schedule and it was touch and go there for a while. The changes seemed small to me but when it includes different people dropping them off or picking them up at school, it feels huge to the kids. I lamented to my mom a week ago how hard it is to parent without yelling or losing my mind but that I truly believe that is what my kids need from me so I'm working hard at it---BUT IT'S SO DANG HARD! The kids had both been on a streak of disrespectful behavior. I heard phrases like "I hate you", "Shut up", and "I don't care" more than I've ever heard out of their mouths before.
In fact, I can count on one hand how many times I remember the phrase "I hate you" coming out of either of their mouths.
It lasted almost a full week and I was feeling extremely defeated. I know they're struggling to feel stability. I know they react like this when they're scared.
But it still hurts.
I was nervous for the weekend because I didn't want it to keep getting harder.
Each time my children had lashed out, I had reacted with compassion---although sometimes I was faking that compassion and holding back hurt feelings and anger.
But as the weekend rolled in, there seemed to be a calmness in our home.
We spent a lot of time together doing some of our favorite things:
Watching National Geographic movies on elephants, white wolves, gorillas, and polar bears.
Playing games together.
Turning cleaning into various different races and games.
Going to the movies.
Separate date nights with each of them.
It was probably the best long weekend we've had. Ever.
And as the week progressed, it started to feel a little bit more normal in our home and less hostile.
But the growing pains are still there. On Wednesday, there was a mix-up and Hayley was almost an hour late for dance which resulted in meltdowns throughout the next 3 hours of dance. I went and got her favorite snacks and let her teachers know what was going on and everyone was patient with her. Oh how grateful I am to her teachers for understanding. In fact, one of them took her out in the hall and braided her hair and talked her through her emotions before taking her back to her class. I will forever be grateful to Miss Melissa for doing that for my girly, knowing they have competition in a week but making sure Hayley's feelings were a priority.
The fact of the matter is, none of this stuff is their fault. The kids didn't choose divorce or co-parenting or schedule changes. They don't choose who picks them up or whether they're dropped off at the correct times with the correct things they need for dance or play practice.
Co-parenting is often messy at it's best.
But I am so thankful that my lingering anxiety hits hardest when the kids are gone. And I'm so thankful that they're not gone from my side often. And I'm so thankful that I have friends and family and therapy to help me through the times when they are gone.
Because it makes it so that I can enjoy those times that they are with me. And I'm learning to practice self-care when they are gone.
And all of those little things that make me happy are truly not little.
They build me up and remind me that life is so beautiful. They remind me that there are always multiple things to be thankful for.
And most importantly, they remind me that my Heavenly Father knows me personally and is looking out for me.
I'll get through this rough patch of anxiety because I have support. And my children have support. And those things mean the world to me and remind me just how blessed we are.