Sunday, April 08, 2012

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato

I can't believe I left two weeks go by without blogging...

I've been a bit like a circus clown over the last few months, spinning

plates. Being a working Mum with three kids is always going to hectic
and normally I relish the busyness of my life but recently the plates have
started to fall.

We all have lives that are made up of good times and challenges
and I know that what I'm going through is not worthy of any more
sympathy or support than any one of you out there. I know many of you
have faced challenges I cant even begin to imagine. What I'd love to
know is do any of you have any practical advice on how to keep things
together when life is trying to unravel?

I felt like I had found a good balance of being a good mum, a wife, a
nurse, and a good sister and daughter too. But since one of my parents
in Ireland became unwell I have struggled to be all to everyone.
Living 10,000 miles away from my birth home my ability to provide
practical support to my parents and sister is a challenge. I can't
batch cook food for their freezer. I can't step in to visit the
hospital giving someone else a much needed break. I can ring daily
send cards weekly and send little gifts occasionally to lift spirits
but it just never seems enough. I carry a knot of anxiety in my
stomach and tears never seem far from my eyes.

I am unable to blog about most of what I'm going through because I
know that this blog is read occasionally by family in Ireland and
also by family friends. I have to be respectful of their privacy and
have been asked to remove information in the past out of concern that
it would cause upset. I really hope that what I am writing here today 
isn't going to upset them . I hope they won't ask me to remove it. 
I just truly am reaching out for some support and advice from a larger 
group of friends than just those in my day to day life. 

This is not a situation that will resolve in the coming weeks. I'm
looking at a situation that will continue into the long term future. I
will be traveling to Ireland at some point in the coming weeks/months
to spend a week trying to make up for all that I cannot do from afar.
It seems a pathetically small gesture when I compare it to the life
other family members live day in day out without respite.

Even now I can see the effect that all this is having on my family. I've
been on the phone in the evenings where I used to be cuddling next to
my kids on the sofa. The call may only be half an hour but I feel
distracted and disconnected and I know I find it hard to go back to
being "Mum" again. I'm a bit snappy and less tolerant of the silliness
that three energetic kids get up to. I've missed tucking them into bed
and kissing them goodnight some evenings. They are not babies and they
have their very capable Dad to care for them too but I am their Mum
and I'd like to think that they will never be too old for a goodnight
chat and hug. All this at a time where Byron is working hard on a new 
business venture and I am supposed to be helping him in the evenings 
with paperwork and moral support. Somebody clone me please!

I'm not running such an efficient ship here at home. I start jobs but
don't finish them. I leave things to the last minute and feel like I'm
chasing my tail. My GP this week looked me in the eye and asked me if
I feel depressed. Really looked me in the eye. I answered an honest
no. I can still find happy moments in my week I just have to make more
of an effort to stop and appreciate them. Whatever the struggles I am
going through it will never compare to how hard life is for everyone
in Dublin. They get no escape from their problems. They can't immerse
themselves in the giggles of kids or the distraction of a holiday.

I have some really wonderful friends and they have reached out and 
offered so much support but I worry that I am sounding like a stuck 
record. That I will wear people down by talking about my problems to 
them over and over. Especially with no ending in sight. So I bury things 
deeper and deeper and hope that they will go away. Even typing this I
know this is not a good solution.

So how can I be a pillar of support to family on the other side of the
world who are going through devastating changes?
How do I get rid of this knot of guilt that sits in my stomach?
I don't want to wake up ten years from now feeling that I neglected
my parents and siblings at a time they needed me most.
But equally I don't want to find my three kids have grown up and
left home and feel as though I didn't cherish every moment of
being their mum?

How do you juggle all that life throws at you without losing yourself
in the process?

8 comments - click here to leave your comment:

  1. I know you're torn and have so much on your plate right now. Please don't worry that you're sounding like a stuck record, your friends are here for you for the long haul. When you need anything, practical or otherwise, we are here. Don't be afraid to ask for help, even if it's for something which is seemingly trivial.

    Make sure you eat a lot of chocolate today - a short term solution but worth a try for today xx

  2. I will try to put more time into a "fuller" response, but just a few things that come to mind when reading this...

    I know that God only gives me enough grace for today. If I concern myself with "how am I going to make it through another week of this craziness, sadness, etc." I will exhaust myself over what hasn't happened yet, or might never happen.

    I tend to get overwhelmed a lot since my big "trial" and have to remind myself to stay in the moment.

    If you have a time at night when you usually call your family, make sure you tell your children why you are on the phone and how we are called to respect your elders and care for parents and that you are doing what God has called you to do, in addition to caring for them.

    Maybe during that time that you are on the phone they could draw pictures, write a letter or devote that time to doing something for someone who could use some cheering up...perhaps your parent, or a friend of theirs, a neighbor, or the like. Everyone will benefit from that special time.

    Maybe too you could try to say "no" more often if you are committing yourself to things that are not necessary at this time in your life.

    Buy things instead of making homemade if it saves time (a cake or a pizza for example), use paper instead of glass plates if it means you don't have to do the dishes...or whatever works for your family.

    You are setting a wonderful example for your children as they see you care for your family from afar. Those phone calls tell your children that your family is very special to you.

    God has placed you where you are living. Try not to spend time feeling badly about not being closer. It sounds like you are doing a wonderful job from where you are and that is ok. You don't have to beat yourself up because you aren't always going to be physically present.

    Praying is effective. "The prayers of a righteous man avails much" James 5:16

    I also have found on some of my darkest days that listening to worship and praise music lifts my spirits and helps me focus on the eternal and not on my present circumstances.

    Praying for you, dear friend.
    With Hope,

  3. Your experience is a personal one and will always be different from everyone else, even if the circumstances are similar. You do what you can when you can..and you do it without guilt. I'm sure your family understands you are limited. If you haven't clued the kids in as to what's going on and how you feel about it, do it. It helps them understand why you may be distracted at times...why you may be sad. And be sure to take a few minutes to feel....take care of youreself emotionally as well. My thoughts are with you my friend.

  4. Awww Gina. I've found through some of my darkest and most challenging times (and you're right, our challenges are all a matter of perspective), that it's important, critical even, not to always have to be everything to everyone. We are all weak and frail at times, and it's ok to let your children, husband and friends know that. Cry, ask for help, talk to them and tell them how you feel. They won't know the extent of your helplessness unless you choose not to hide it. I know it's hard. We get used to feeling like we need to be strong mums, wives and friends, however we do teach our kids coping skills when they see us needing and asking for help...they learn that it's ok for them to ask for it too. And as one of your other comments mentioned, they see that you love and care for your parents and sister.

    I speak from experience that it's very difficult not to feel guilty about moving to the other side of the world. Your kids and husband do (and will) appreciate the life they have been given here. Remember that always.

    Practically speaking (that was the philosophical part above), I found that letting the plates drop sometimes (ie saying no to volunteering to do things, letting the kids have toasted sandwiches for dinner occasionally, etc) combined with some time for peace inside was the combination that worked. For me it was just a chance to go inside my head and have that self talk time through yoga, meditation,a walk, even praying. Finding your peace is a critical coping skill....and there are some really good psychologists with a whole tool bag to help you learn how to do that. It doesn't mean you're weak, it just means that you love yourself and family enough to find the best way to get through each day.

    Have a wonderful Easter, and pray God bless that this is the rebirth of a Gina who finds her peace.

    PS you know we're always happy to have extra time with your kids.....please ask when you need a break for yourself or you & Byron. Xo

  5. I'd be open with your children about how you are torn and how your heart aches and why you want to be both emotionally present, and in two places at the same time. Go easy on yourself if you can. You're modeling love to them and if you share it, you'll be giving them an opportunity to learn more about what love sometimes asks that we give, and how we answer.

  6. Oh Gina, you gorgeous girl. I am so sorry to read this. You are under a debilitating pressure load at the moment.

    I hope you are in close contact with your GP and keep them fully in the loop. Looking after yourself has to be of paramount importance to you at the moment, not something you shove down the list of priorities. Then you can be there for everyone, in the best capacity you can present. That's all you can do, Sweetheart. There are limits on the amount of support you can provide from afar.

    Sending you a huge ♥ tonight. J x

  7. It is a difficult situation to deal with near and far a parent with an illness. I know that being nearer may mean that you can offer that hug or that moment to offer them a break and it is hard that you can't be there to do it but you are doing as much as you can. They know that you love and care for them Gina and that if you lived closer you could do more I'm sure that they understand. Trying to find the balance is hard and I'm not sure if there really is a balance, I think there are times when things tip one way a little more than the other and I'm sure that your family understands that right at this moment just a little more of your time is needed to help your family. Maybe you could ring your family later so you can have those night time cuddles with your children but always keep that communication up it's so important to get things out and not keep them bottled up. Take care of yourself Gina, you are very important too. Hugs Catherine. xx

  8. Praying for you Gina~ I know it must be so very hard to be so very far away. Hugs my friend~