Over the years I’ve written a number of posts about how painful the holidays can be for those who want nothing more than to be parents. This time of year is really just a slew of reminders about that one overwhelming thing that you feel is missing from your life. Afterall the biggest focus of the holiday season is family time: family traditions, Santa coming to bring children gifts, or just the fact that Mary (a virgin) got pregnant. Today I wanted to post something a little different for all of you who are preparing yourselves for what’s to come over the next few days and talk about self care…
First and foremost – you don’t owe anyone anything. If it’s just too hard – take care of you – go home. It can be so easy to feel like you have to be present. That you have to be in attendance. Sometimes this is self-inflicted, sometimes it’s outside pressure. Regardless of why – just know that it’s not your job to take care of everyone else and it’s not selfish for you to need to take care of yourself. So cut out early or skip the event entirely – go home, pamper yourself, eat your favorite meal and/or watch your favorite movie. Do those things that make you happy. It’s not selfish to take care of yourself. I’m going to say that again for the people who need to hear it – IT’S NOT SELFISH TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!
I think the next hard thing to cope with can be dealing with intrusive questions or hurtful remarks from family. The best way to handle this is to come up with how you want to answer those questions or remarks in advance. It stinks that this is even necessary but we all know there’s that one aunt who thinks she has the “answer” to your problem or that grandma who just doesn’t understand because she popped out her six children like clockwork. Deciding in advance how much you want to share or how you’re going to respond to painful commentary can prevent you from feeling quite so blindsided and make handling the response easier. It could be as simple as informing people that “when we have an update, we’ll let you know” or “it’s complicated” and change the subject.
In that same vein – make sure you have someone you can reach out to when you need it. Maybe it’s just your spouse but maybe it’s a super close friend, a support group, a sister, or a cousin who’s been through it too. There are going to be times that someone says something that STINGS and you’re going to need that other person to talk to about it. Whether it’s to vent or cry or just say it outloud and have someone confirm that that was a horrible thing to say – having that extra support during something challenging is really important.
It can be so hard to not focus on that little one who’s not here or to stop thinking about what’s coming next in your journey. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t still find ways to find joy and fun. Enjoy an amazingly delicious meal. Create new traditions for yourself and your husband. Plan a special trip or outing. Do something for others who are hurting or need. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive – just find little pockets of happy for yourself.
Finally give yourself some grace. I think sometimes we are so hard on ourselves and expect so much of ourselves. Give yourself room to breathe. Give yourself permission to be not okay. Give yourself the freedom to find happiness. Give yourself grace to not be perfect all the time. This journey is so stinkin’ hard! And we all cope with it how we can, the best we can. It gets better… it just takes time.
And if you have no one to reach out to for support over the holidays. I’m here! I’m happy to be that person for you.