On a sunny Saturday morning in September, I walked with my twin five-year-old girls and their two-year-old brother to the girls’ first soccer practice. I was alone with the three kids as my husband works Saturdays and, despite the many times that I tried to tell myself I should be used to this arrangement by now, I still felt overwhelmed. This being their first practice, the girls were nervous and clung to my legs, making it difficult for me to chase after the two-year-old, who darted onto the field. I hunkered down into multi-tasking mode, trying my best to lovingly pry my girls off, run after my son, and make cheerful eye contact with the other parents I was hoping (and nervous) to get to know. We finally joined the rest of the team and the girls were having none of it; they wouldn’t let go of me despite the coaches trying their best to entice them, and only reluctantly agreed to stay on the field when I affirmed that I would stand nearby. The truth is that, of all of us that morning, I was the one that got the most soccer training. I played midfield: on offense, pushing the girls back on the field, and on defense, keeping my son on the sidelines. By the end of practice, at only 10 in the morning, I felt defeated and utterly exhausted.
Now I know that all parents have these moments of feeling overwhelmed, or that they’re failing, or moments of watching their hopes (becoming a soccer mom!) not pan out as expected. But as a child psychologist I feel as though there’s extra pressure on me to get this parenting thing “right," that for some reason, I should know better; I should have the internal resources and skills to manage their fears and my raw nerves. In reality, I’m human, endlessly tired, and sometimes the clinical skills needed are not all that simple to apply.
It wasn’t until I was running a DBT skills group that I realized one skill I had been practicing could come in handy.