When doing nothing is the answer

Why bother?

Because right now, there is someone

out there with a wound

in the exact shape of your words.

***

I saved this image to the desktop of my computer because it’s getting to the point over here where I don’t have the desire to write. Why add my voice to the already-crowded chaos of things happening on the internet? What more is there to say or to add?

The exhaustion of these past few years is taking a toll, and I’ve done everything I can think of to avoid writing. I’ve organized closets, vacuumed cobwebs from the highest corners of our ceilings, picked up paint flakes that my middle child peeled from the inside of his closet, and stared into space for countless hours.

People who aren’t writers don’t understand this. My therapist, who is a therapist, tells me to write. “You’ve put this off long enough, Harmony.” I don’t know – have I? There are still so many completely random tasks I’ve yet to consider doing. Maybe first I ought to sand down the frames of a pair of stained glass windows I bought at an estate sale last summer. I’ll start after that.

***

They tell me it is not my job to take away my child’s pain. Growth comes from overcoming difficulty, and if there isn’t difficulty, then there isn’t growth.

I dislike this tremendously.

I see other parents working to remove their child’s pain. Why can’t I do it, too? I want to rush ahead, clearing a path free from obstacles and difficulties, sweeping sticks and pebbles to the side so that each of my three children could walk barefoot if they so desired.

That is how I show my love: by doing. It suited me in early marriage and parenthood, when there were so many tasks to complete. I showed my love for these people all damn day and half of the time they didn’t even realize it, but I sure did work my ass off doing all of the things. And even though I was resentful as hell and rocketing towards a mental breakdown, I never felt like I was struggling to do nothing.

Doing nothing wasn’t even on my radar.

Over the past few years, mostly through working in therapy and in the rooms of recovery, I’ve learned that sometimes there is nothing to do. Like, DOING NOTHING is very surprisingly often the right thing to do. Talk about a mind fuck for an uptight control freak who overcompensates for what she lacks by doing. This is why I also hate doing recovery work, because this shit infuriates and confounds me.

Right now, I’m navigating a really difficult time in parenting where my job is to sit and quietly listen. There is no shouting across the house. There is no broadcasting “DO YOUR HOMEWORK!” on the Google Home Device. Shouting either falls on Asher’s deaf ears or stresses him out and he ends up in a ball on the floor. He needs me to walk to wherever he is, get down on his level, and ask him in a normal-to-quiet tone to brush his teeth. Then he might need me to say it again once he stands up, because by then he has forgotten what it was that I asked him to do (attention deficit disorder).

Then he will walk into the bathroom, begin counting flooring tiles, and forget again what he was supposed to be doing (obsessive compulsive disorder). By then I’ve usually gone back to the kitchen and it’s 45 minutes later before I find him, still in the bathroom counting, teeth un-brushed.

The deal with Asher is, he is who he is and I am the one who needs to adjust and figure out how to best reach him. He doesn’t respond to the things that work with his older brother, so it’s like re-learning how to parent a 10-year-old all over again. He requires a finesse that I don’t come by naturally, and sometimes, I have to sit on my hands to keep myself from JUST TAKING OVER AND DOING IT FOR HIM, MY GOD. Thankfully I married a man with finesse and patience, and he’s great at taking over when I hit a wall.

I often feel sorry for myself when I’m drowning in the midst of meeting my kids where they are, until something snaps me out of it and I realize how fucking lucky I am to get a front row seat to see these people grow into themselves.

Full stop.

Forcing myself to quietly sit next to my 5th grader while he picks a pencil apart instead of finishing the last few questions on his homework assignment is an exercise in self control I otherwise wouldn’t have. Digging deep and keeping my mouth shut when my kids make choices I know aren’t in their best interest is hard as fuck, but it’s the best thing I can do for them as their mother despite the level of discomfort it causes ME.

Motherhood, from beginning to end, is an exercise in growth. The kids are growing — anyone can see that. But so am I, in ways I didn’t even realize.

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3 thoughts on “When doing nothing is the answer

  1. You have a gift. You are a light. Please be a giver of your gifts. I don’t even have children of my own and I always click on ! Why would you turn of your light?

    Like

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