Hands Up, Who’s Struggling?

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

Click to visit the Siren Stories website and read more work by J.J. Barnes and check out her latest novels.

If we don’t talk about things, if we bottle them up because we’re afraid of looking weak or being judged, then it gets worse.  It gets harder.  The problems grow and grow until they weigh us down and we feel weaker and guiltier.

So we need to talk about them,

Parenting is hard.  It’s exhausting and stressful and worrying and draining.  There is nothing harder than knowing that every day you’re 100% responsible for the life, health, well being and future of a human being who depends on you for every last thing.  Who never asked to be born, never asked to face this life that we know can be so hard, and has no clue why they feel how they feel.

I’m afraid of looking weak, and I’m afraid of being weak.  Today I screamed.  Literally screamed like a banshee.  And I hated myself for it because I believe I should be able to cope better but with a very hungry 3 month old baby, a very dramatic and over tired 3 year old daughter, a very particular and hard to impress step son, and a time consuming career, I sometimes feel the pressure get to me.  And I lose my mind.

The never ending and uncontrollable laundry, the untidy kitchen, the toys everywhere, the food that needed cooking, the crying baby, the whinging boy, and the girl that would not get out from under my feet with her little wheely dog that I kept tripping on and BOOM. Scream.

Weakness.  I hate it.  I sort of know it’s reasonable, that nobody copes with constant pressure without occasionally flipping, but I still hate it.  The Boy, bless his heart, gave me a cuddle, held the baby, kept the kids under control, told me the mess and laundry doesn’t matter, and gave me a minute to just gain composure without giving me a second of criticism.

And I’m scared of being judged.

In the supermarket this morning Miss Rose tried her very best to make me publicly lose my mind.  She kept “helping” push the trolley, enthusiastically ramming it into people the moment I turned my back.  She kept “helping” me shop by shoveling things from the shelves into the basket.  She got herself into an over excited tizz at the check out so I was gripping her wrist to stop her from running off whilst hissing at her through gritted teeth.  I knew I was being watched as I shoved my shopping into the trolley one handed and with no order.

But then I wasn’t judged.  A friend appeared at my side and offered assistance.  Took Rose, distracted her, and returned her when I had finished loading the trolley in a far happier and calmer state.  I do not know how, but she managed, and assured me that with her three she’s totally used to it and knows how hard it can be.  A goddess.  A non judgmental, totally understanding, goddess.

Because actually we all know, don’t we?

The Boy knows it’s hard and can blow your mind, so doesn’t think I’m weak.  My friend knows that kids push you at the hardest of moments, so doesn’t judge my parenting.

We know.  We know it’s hard.  And admitting it’s hard and asking for help doesn’t mean you’re weak or a bad parent.

“It takes a village to raise a child.”

It’s a cliche but it’s true.  Historically we used to live a far more community driven existence.  We’d raise our children in a collective, when one mum was drained, there was another on hand to help.  We’d raise our children to know how to help raise children so as they aged and joined the community as adults they too could be helping hands.  We weren’t supposed to carry this all on our own.

I’ve had a bad day but there has been shining lights through the hard in the form of fellow parents who have no given me grief or judgement or criticism.  Haven’t seen my children as ferrel monsters and me as a mess of a mother.  Who have simply accepted that I’m having one of those days and given me the help I’ve needed.

We could all learn to do that.  Open up to the fact we’re struggling, talk about it so others can either help or admit they’re struggling too and make us feel less terrible about it!  Because we shouldn’t be alone.  We shouldn’t be alone coping with this life, and we shouldn’t be thinking we’re alone and nobody else finds it hard.

So, hands up.  Who has days like this?  Who is struggling?  Who is exhausted?  Who sometimes cries because it’s all too much?  Who is scared they’re failing, scared they’re weak, scared they’re the only one?

Hands up.

You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and The Boy (Jonathan McKinney) and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.

Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!

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