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A Defeated Moment…And That’s Okay

A Defeated Moment

My husband, 22 month-old daughter and I were on our way home from an annual family reunion in upstate New York when I allowed a moment of defeat to truly and completely wash over me.

The reunion was actually great … we only see this part of my husband’s family about once a year and we always have a blast. The ride up was four hours and my daughter totally aced it. I felt confident and relaxed as we sailed through the weekend reintroducing ourselves to relatives, catching up and playing family show and tell. We spent the night at a local hotel, had brunch the next morning and then said our goodbyes and hit the road, promising to stay in touch more this year.

As we started the drive down the freeway, I noticed for the first time that day my swollen, burning throat and achy sinuses. Uh-oh, this can’t be good. And then, my daughter decided this was the perfect opportunity to test every limit and boundary we had ever set … knowing that no real timeout can ever really be given while in a carseat (if any of you out there have suggestions on this, I am ALL ears). This test included, but was not limited to, the following: screaming, yelling, throwing things, hitting, pushing, discovering new octaves in her voice, and seeing how much she could sound like she was crying without actually crying.

With my husband driving and paying attention to the road, I was left on my own to duck, cover and address these grenades being thrown my way. After the stockpile of toys and books were a wash, I turned to food and drink — that too failed as we had just eaten (it was a long shot, but I figured it was worth a try). So here I sat, shotgun in my car, supposedly the good seat but it felt like the seat of failure. My daughter’s antics continued, and I decided to let her tests run their course. What was the difference anyway? I listened to her misery, sank into my cold and let my mind wander to everything I needed to address when I got home, and what I had to accomplish for the upcoming week. And that was it.

I was done, finished, toast. I wanted to fix my daughter’s mood and feel good myself, and know that I would get everything I needed to done. I wanted to be the stellar mom, the mom that pushes through it and comes out triumphant. I had been holding on to that idea so tightly, and feeling it slip further and further through my fingers until I finally decided to let it go. I sank into the fact that in that moment, I was completely and utterly overwhelmed and had no idea what to do and for that instant, and didn’t care anymore. I felt truly and completely defeated, through and through. The circumstances won and in that moment, I gave up and into it, and I was okay with that.

And that’s when I heard Tom Petty come on the radio singing “I Won’t Back Down,” and the man had a point. I listened and smiled and thought of course. Of course I would hear this song right at this moment, when I thought I was past the point of no return. Ah Tom, I rocked with you through high school and college and it looks like you’re still influencing me as a mom. I wouldn’t have guessed it, but I hear you loud and clear all the same. It’s funny how a little piece of music in the background could have pierced through me like my own personal megaphone message, but that’s exactly what happened. It was like he was speaking to me.

Now of course I still felt like garbage and my girl was still very, very cranky and the week ahead still loomed, but it all just seemed lighter, possible, doable. And here’s the thing I realized: I would not have been able to get to that point, that yes I can point, if I had not truly given up just moments ago and allowed myself to really feel all the stress and anxiety I had been trying to fight off. By succumbing to what I was truly feeling for just a few moments (like I was completely tapped out), I stopped fighting. And when I was calm and not fighting, I heard Tom’s message in that song: Get back up and keep going. He said it loud and clear, and I got it.

Maybe some of you think that this is a little hokey, and I understand that. As I sit here writing about it in retrospect, it could certainly appear that way. But in the four hour car ride under the circumstances referenced above (did I mention there was traffic too?!) it didn’t feel hokey. It felt very real, then very scary, and then okay and doable. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Here’s what I’ve learned from that experience: sometimes giving in and giving up in that moment of absolute stress and frustration is okay, because it makes getting up and moving on easier. I sometimes fight so hard to keep going that I only make the situation worse. If it’s true that what you resist persists, sounds like I should give in more often because “Hey Baby, there ain’t no easy way out.”
Author: Amy

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