Not Holding It Together

Years ago when my oldest daughter was in kindergarten, we endured a challenging stretch when she came home from school and melted down daily. We knew she was tired. We knew that attending school five days a week for seven hours each day was a significant jump from attending pre-school for a few hours in the morning twice a week. We knew that more was being demanded of her than ever before.

Even so, one afternoon I remember her flailing on the floor in full-blown meltdown mode, reaching my own breaking point, and demanding, "What in the world is GOING ON with you?"

That's when she said these profoundly mature words:

"I hold it together ALL DAY. When I get home I can't hold it together any more."

I understood exactly what she meant. Whether you're a kindergartner, a teenager, or an adult, there's truth behind her sentiment. Sometimes we hold it together in public as long as we can, and the only place we can safely decompress -- often in irrational, annoying, or ugly ways -- is in our own homes with those who love us the most.

Put another way, our children trust us to still love and accept them when they're the worst versions of themselves, which is beautiful, terrible, and ironic all at once. (Adults do this too. When my dear friend underwent an especially frustrating situation at work, she confessed how she unleashed that stress onto her husband, but then, after pulling it together and apologizing, joked with him, "You know, you should feel privileged because I'd only act this way with someone I entirely trust. It's proof you're in my inner circle.")

I remember her words when my children have rubbed my last nerve raw. I ask for God's intervention: "God, clearly I'm in their inner circle. You put me in this role. I need your help." I urge my children to give each other both grace and space when one of their sisters lashes out, reminding them that we often need the most love and support when we seem to deserve it the least.

And when I feel like this:

I try to remember that advice myself, knowing that I should love deeply because love covers a multitude of sins. Grace and space. Try to give this difficult person grace and space.

The people closest to us might not always be able to hold it together. We might reach our own thresholds where we can't hold it together any longer, either. But thank God that he desires to be our innermost circle, and he invites us to be entirely real and open with our thoughts and feelings when we approach him.

He can handle our worst. And even when we can't, he's capable of holding it all together.


  1. Beautifully said Robin ❤️

  2. Robin you are so full of wisdom. I find myself at the end of my patience a lot with those full blown meltdowns with my son. It's so easy to get frustrated. It's so easy to snap back. It's so much harder to say that it's a cry for help when he can't hold it together anymore. It feel personal.

    1. "It feels personal." --> You nailed it on the head with this observation, Jennifer! It DOES feel personal, painfully so!

      Solidarity, sister. We've all been there with snapping back and getting frustrated.


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