Today my friend Ellie at One Crafty Mother has raised a challenge which I cannot ignore. In case you haven’t come across Ellie or her blog let me just say she’s inspiring to say the least and when she puts a call out I know it’s going to benefit me to respond.
Here’s the challenge:
I want you to think of a moment, or period in your life (maybe it’s still happening – even better) where you were feeling shame and vulnerability. There is a difference between shame and guilt – just to clarify – shame is feeling badly about who you are, guilt is feeling badly for something you’ve done. Vulnerability is that feeling we have when we’ve placed too much power in the opinions of others (oh, if they only knew how _______ I am) and shame and vulnerability feed off each other in very toxic ways.
Once you’ve identified a time when you have (or are) experiencing shame and vulnerability (almost always accompanied by their evil cousin fear) – I want you to write about it. Tell the truth, every part of it, especially the little nuggets of shame, fear or guilt you’ve mentally edited out because thinking about them makes you feel small.
This summer seems to have been one of change for our 8-year-old, there has been a dynamic shift in her that somehow occurred so swiftly and silently I missed it. She has suddenly become unable to deal with any kind of frustration, she immediately flys into a rage such as I’ve never seen. This has been happening at every impasse for over a month now and until now I thought I had a hold on it….by controlling situations I thought I could avoid her being frustrated and help with her anger management.
Every morning I know I must have things in order; Sydney’s chosen clothing is laid out the night before, lunches are made, school bags are packed up with homework and permission forms are signed and ready to go. Heaven help us all if something creates a hitch in the morning routine, I cannot cope with the fallout of her rage first thing in the morning.
This morning I lazily raise my eyelids halfway to glance at the clock after a horrible night of broken sleep, hoping I have a few more snooze worthy minutes before the alarm would sound. As my gaze settles upon the blue neon digits awareness seeps through my body like a blood chilling anesthetic. Fear instantly overtakes me as my muscles tighten and my brain begins to race, fighting to understand what these numbers mean to me.
How is this possible, what the HELL????
As my rate of breathing increases, I raise my achy body from the bed as quickly as I can. My mind fights to ignore the chronic pain I wake with daily as I try to move as quickly as possible down the hall to the girls bedrooms.
Oh Lord please let this be an easy morning, please God just let her wake in a happy mood. I pray as I enter into the unknown which is my lovely, funny, amazingly over-sensitive daughters bedroom.
How could I allow this to happen, I’m a horrible Mother…..I dropped the ball again and slept through the alarm, Brad will be home from work soon and that’s going to set her off….
“Sydney, Syd lovey it’s time to get up” I say gently to her as I gently stroke her messy hair, careful not to rush this waking moment. Her eyelids flutter revealing her beautiful sleep fogged eyes which take a moment to come awake. In the next second I realize her mood as she growls at me and rolls over to face the wall mumbling something about me going away.
Moving along to the next bedroom I call out in my fake, happy Mom voice “Come along ladies, time to get up for school.”
Twenty minutes, I only have twenty minutes to get them ready….my anxiety is building, must get it down…oh I’m not built for this…other Mom’s do it with more than 2 kids, I SUCK! I begin to make myself yawn in an effort to calm myself…
Finding my second daughter already up out of her bed enjoying a HUGE morning stretch I begin to smile, she sees me and I’m greeted with her sunshine and lollipops attitude. Forcing myself to ignore the griping coming from #1’s bedroom, I slow down for a moment to receive a hug and to whisper to her that we’re running late, could she get herself in the bathroom and get moving quickly for mama?
Thankfully she’s in a fine mood and agrees but that still leaves the other one, my first born baby who saddens me with each horrible name she’s yelling at me from under her covers. I take a breath and enter her kingdom of animosity, preparing for the battle which will surely ensue hoping my armor can handle it all today.
“Ok Sydney here’s the deal, it’s after 8 now and we’ve got to get moving. You won’t have time to watch TV this morning. I’m going to make you some raisin toast. Please get up and get dressed.”
“WHATTTTTT oh you’re so MEAN, NO! NO! I’m not going to school then! I want a new family! It’s not FAIR!”
Her rage is instant and palpable, it feels like the walls are shaking. My hands are trembling as I take a huge deep breath and turn down the hall ignoring the urge to either hug her or discipline her. There’s not point trying to do anything now, I don’t have TIME for this!!!
Entering the kitchen I make them a quick breakfast on auto-pilot, paste on a smile for my younger daughter as I serve her while ignoring the racket from the far end of the house. Please let her be getting dressed….she’ll never have time to get her hair done, brush her hair and eat now.
My husband arrives home from a night at work and his loving greeting is interrupted by stomping feet heading into the bathroom. My hand whips into the air as I visibly stop him from saying a word “Let’s just get through this please.” I state in a firm, tense voice above the recriminations coming from the bathroom.
Placing Sydney’s toast on paper towel I give my youngest a kiss and a hug and guide her out the door instructing her and my husband to go ahead, I’ll have Sydney out in a few minutes. Ten minutes left until the bell rings, that gives me 5 minutes to get her into some sort of a good mood and out the door….
Weighing the odds I know I’m fighting an uphill battle but can’t face the defeat I already feel deep in my bones. As she stomps into the room with half brushed hair, wearing the shirt she had on the day before and pants which are going to be much too warm for the forecast my last vestige of patience slips further.
I bite my tongue and step gingerly towards her with that oh so bright smile on my face, hoping to catch a glimpse of the girl I KNOW is in there. The loving, generous child who strokes my hair when I’m sick, the one whose giggles make my soul sing…..hoping with my whole being that she’ll show her face.
She snatches her breakfast from my hand, grabs her backpack and slams the door on her way out, leaving me with parting shots which hit my heart like darts.
Staring at the door I’m breathing deeply, glad to have it finshed…when the internal dialogue begins. The self-deprecating internal chatter which wrecks my facade of capability. And of course I do what every good, caring Mom does at this point…..go get a coffee and google “coping with rage in children”.
This is an example of a not-so pretty moment in my life, unfortunately as you can see I’m still a selfish person…my inner dialogue is often more focused upon life’s demands and my own feelings rather than my child’s turmoil but it’s a work in progress and I realize I’m still learning.
Thank you to Ellie for the challenge, I hope many of my readers and friends will link up!
Oh yes, it can be quite difficult learning to understand our children and their various mood changes…especially when they’re turning a new chapter in their young lives and seem to be stuck in a particular mind set! Most parents can relate I’m sure lol ;)
Elizabeth L says
I think feelings like that are just all too normal and definitely not something to be ashamed of! I get similar feelings around nap time because I just know she is going to have a breakdown and it just makes me tense up completely.
Mom Off Meth says
You didn’t as for an opinion, BUT, your inner dialogue should always be on your own needs first. We take care of ourselves to save our kids. So I don’t see you as selfish at all. You could have reacted horribly, as many parents do. You handled that like a champ. Life happens, we sleep through alarms, our kids get uncomfortable. All in a day. It is okay for her to go through a crabby time. Just wait until she is 14.
Mom Off Meth says
That should read “you didn’t ASK for an opinion.” Sorry!
Oh, how I can relate to this post, as you know.
One of the things I struggle with the most is that I know that by getting everything organized, ready, etc. to avoid the meltdown in the morning I’m not helping me learn to deal with her outbursts/anxiety and I’m not helping her learn that the world won’t end if things don’t go exactly as planned.
But I do it anyway, because seeing her angry/anxious/upset just does me in.
I realize that I’m making it all about me, but maybe i have to, at least at first, in order to change, you know?
Thanks for your gorgeous honesty.
Ugh! Mornings suck. I feel for you. You are not a bad mom. She will come home from school and love you :) My over sensitive son has bad mornings and feels bad when he comes home. Hugs
This sounds like my eldest when he was in sixth-seventh grade. Every school day was a battle. But, by the end of vacation weeks, he was ‘fit to live with’ again. Just want to throw out there that perhaps the anger has something to do with a situation at school?
Oh my goodness…this sounds like my oldest daughter. Most of the time she detests me, and then she wants something and I am Mommy. This parenthood thing is difficult and unpredictable.
I can relate to your entire post, every morning for the most part is a struggle for us and it’s my oldest sensitive daughter too – only she’s only 5. Hang in there, we punish ourselves more than we should. Remember the hugs and snuggles (once it’s over) it helps : )