The parenting conundrum

Often on my drive home from work I have conversations with myself.

Sometimes, I literally talk to myself out loud. Myself and I discuss they day’s events, ponder the meaning of life, and compliment one another on the superb job we are doing at surviving.

Other times, I speak, answering questions as if I am being interviewed by People magazine or one of the hosts on the Today show.

And on many occasions, I talk to my angel in Heaven. Though I only get answers in visions of rainbows or the next door neighbors’ swings, I know he is always listening.

Today as I drove home after a very long day trying to catch up, follow up, and keep up with daily and long-term tasks I ignored while on vacation, I began one of those conversations.

In my head, I was being interviewed and the questions ranged from, who is your celebrity girl crush? to what is the toughest thing about parenting?

The girl crush is a tie right now between Halsey (because she’s a bad-ass and I kinda wanna be her) and Jennifer Garner (because she is an elegant but relatable mom-extraordinaire).

But that whole parenting question is so loaded. One would think, with my history, that the toughest thing about parenting would be losing a child. Obviously, it’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever experienced and have to live and cope with every minute of every day.

But even tougher, I think, is the polarizing impossibility that parenting requires being both selfish and selfless, simultaneously.

As a parent, you rarely get to be selfish. From infancy on, your life is consumed by another human being. They come first, because they are totally reliant on you.

After parenting a chronically ill child, I really couldn’t be selfish. I gave up my career, sacrificed leisure time, and probably wasn’t the best wife, daughter, sister, or friend in those years. It wasn’t about me. It was about him.

And now, with a son in Heaven and a son on Earth, I find being selfish is an absolute necessity. Because if I don’t function, life will not stand still. My son will continue to grow, and my angel will still be gone. And if I’m in the overdrive momentum of motherhood, or frozen solid in grief, I have to figure out what I need to make sure those depending on me are ok.

Another grief paradox. Being selfless and selfish all at the same time.

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