I was up feeding Miss Seven Weeks the other night, scrolling through my Facebook news feed with one hand, when suddenly I saw the posts flooding in. “Did you feel that?” “That was a big one!” “Is everyone okay?” Another earthquake had hit New Zealand – and over the hours that unfolded, a series of aftershocks followed. More than 400 aftershocks, at the time I wrote this letter.
It takes time to process when a traumatic event like an earthquake occurs. Time to come down from a state of high alert. Time to relax and start trusting the world again. Time to clean up. Time to get back into a routine. Or into a new state of normal, whatever that looks like. For parents, it’s especially challenging, because we feel we have to set aside our own feelings of shock, fear, concern, and terror in order to be calm, collected, strong, and reassuring to our children.
So for mums and dads, the aftershocks might not hit for a while. Days, weeks, sometimes months. It’s like we don’t have time to be upset, because the children are upset enough for everyone. And they’re vocal about it – they let everyone know. They cry, scream, crawl into our beds in the middle of the night sobbing. And we have to put on a façade of serenity and comfort whether we feel that way or not, wrap our arms around them, and tell them that everything is going to be okay.
But the thing is, the aftershocks will hit you eventually. Sometimes when you least expect it. When you’re already tired or vulnerable or sick and you don’t have the energy to keep up the wall of strength that you’re projecting to the world, they hit. And you might be the one reduced to tears, screams, and hiding in your bed sobbing.
So when those aftershocks hit you, mums and dads, remember this: You are not alone. And you deserve kindness. You deserve to feel safe, and secure, and loved. You deserve strong and comforting arms wrapped around you, too, telling you that everything is going to be okay.
Please be kind to yourselves, just as you are kind to your children. Treat yourselves with compassion. Give yourselves time to process, and to grieve, and to get into that new state of normal. It’s okay if it takes time. We’re in this together, aftershocks and all.
Take care this week.