Michael has been sick now with a bad sinus cold for the last two weeks. Being a physically healthy child, it has not slowed him down too much. He is still able, (and has energy), to participate in his daily vacation and camp activities, but towards the end of the day the body aches, sore throat and general cold symptoms start to bother him more. That’s when I have been trying to do extra cuddling, chamomille tea with honey, and invoking rest time with reading or watching videos. Yesterday, after a short trip to the park after camp, (not a good idea), he had a temper tantrum about something very trivial. That’s when I realized he had overdone it. Camp, for now, is enough for him, whether he thinks so or not. Being a very active boy he is not used to slowing down. This has made this longer than normal cold harder on him, and subsequently, on me. I also am battling said cold, so my energy and patience are low too. Suffice it to say when he slapped me on the arm yesterday, I got more upset than I normally would. I told him to leave me alone. I needed a Mommy time out. He went to his room, and I took the five minutes to calm down while I prepared supper. Mommy multi-tasking! 🙂 Fortunately it worked for both of us. After that, he apologized and then went to lie down and watch a Christmas video (he does this every summer), while I made him tea and gave him some medicine for his throat. Bedtime went well, and this morning he was a little better, though still annoyed that the cold has not gone away.
Seeing Michael struggle with being sick, becoming more aggressive and demanding one minute, then weepy and clingy the next, shows me a reflection of myself to some degree when I am sick. No, I am not aggressive or weepy, but I do feel weak and lost, like I need my Mommy to make me chicken soup and tea. Sigh. There should be a rule against parents, particularly mothers, getting sick at the same time as their kids. It’s not easy or fair on either child or parent, who are both at a disadvantage. The only good thing to come out of all this, and I’m trying to see the silver lining in the cloud, is that Michael, as usual, is challenging me to see my own frailties, my own negative reactions that make tough situations worse, and he is helping me reign in my aggressive or negative emotions. He is helping me build resilience and strength in the face of sickness, both physical and mental, and learning when I need to have space so I could teach him to ask for that.
I am learning to notice when my temper flares, and insisting on Mommy time outs, where I do deep breathing while counting down from whatever number I need to to calm down. As a result, I am able to show that healthy model to Michael now. Call it Exceptional Mom Anger Management 101. 🙂 But all jokes aside, this is a positive opportunity for both of us to emerge stronger and more capable of handling life’s unexpected things, like viruses, which sometimes can knock the wind out of us.
What strengths and skills have you Exceptional Moms encountered in the face of your children’s or your own personal hardships? What do you still have to learn? There’s no shame in being a student and telling your child that. So long as you provide a healthy model for both of you to learn from your past. The wise ones learn from their mistakes, and then model that healthy example of dealing calmly and in the moment with their stress. Until next time.