Feeling Numb as a Parent: Ways to Keep Going in an Unsafe World

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In the span of a week, I found myself complacent in feeling numb as a parent.

First, my child had been a close contact with Covid three times in a matter of days. Three times. And each time, I just thought, “Ok, hopefully, he’s alright, he had a mask on.” We wait it out, we take a test. Life goes on.

I think about how numb I have become to this in the span of a year. This time a year ago, I would be panicking at the chance of a close contact. Now it just seems like a matter of when— not a matter of if—we’re going to get it. 

A few days later, I hear about the horrific shooting at a grocery store, targeting people who look like my family. As a white woman growing up privileged to never have to think or experience this type of targeted violence, this is horrifying.

Now that I have fallen in love with someone whose skin is darker than mine, every day I leave him at the train station and I just have to hope that he will come back from work. I have to hope that he won’t encounter someone with racist beliefs and mental health issues lacking the support they need. To hope that someone with far too much firepower and anger will not take out the man I believe is one of the most wonderful people in the world. 

And then again, a few days later, I hear of another shooting. Within an instant, families are robbed of experiencing their children growing up. The next day, I drop my child off at an open-campus school and just have to hope that he comes back to me later on.

parenting while feeling numbThis is beyond hard—it is unreal.

But the numbness that encircles my parenting is concerning. At some point, you have to embrace being numb just so that you can leave the house each day. There is no good answer as a parent, aside from all of the challenges our parents had while raising us. I know each generation has had it hard in a different way, but there are things that my generation of parents have to think about or deal with that have never been on the radar before. 

As someone who’s read extensively about parenting from a historical perspective and the diversity that exists in all cultures, nothing I have read could have prepared me for this as a parent. You can read every book about supporting your child’s development or tips for parental self-care, but none of that helps to get through the day with some of the insane things we worry about. The only way to do it is to be numb. 

It’s not good. And this is not an inspirational post proclaiming a long bath with candles will ease the mental stress and anxiety parents are facing today. But rather a look for solidarity. This is beyond hard. This is unreal.

And then we have to keep going because we don’t have a choice. We have to go to work, kids have to go to school, and people need to go to grocery stores to feed their families. We have to keep living because the world won’t stop and wait until we are ready to. There’s no pause or timeouts for us to process or heal. 

So we find a way to feel numb

For anyone dealing with numbness with an addiction, I truly hope you seek help because that is another layer of difficulty you cannot face alone. If you feel your numbness is consuming you or preventing you to get through the day, seek additional help.

But if you’re like me waking up feeling numb just to get through the day, I see you. 

2 COMMENTS

  1. They would feel even more numb if they also focused on children killed by crossfire during gang drive by shootings. In 2020, that was estimated at 1,000 — three a day, nationwide.

    Mass shootings require four or more shot/killed in one event. Do you know how many kids were killed in MASS shootings in 2020?

    Thankfully, for the numb, the media never adds drive bys annual total in any meaningful way… or anywhere near how MASS shootings are covered. Even YBLs didn’t figure in to the BLs that M.

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