I am someone who does not like to make mistakes. Before when I would make an error in anything, a fact, a job task, whatever, I would beat myself up about it. It was all part of being a perfectionist and thinking that mistakes meant that I was not a worthy or good person. Hogwash I know. I realize now that I am a valuable human being who has lots to contribute. We all are, but I used to constantly criticize myself and think that I had to be perfect to be loved. Apparently, a lot of women learn this early on in their lives. It is not healthy, and it is not a good thing to teach our children. I truly believe a lot of this type of character is inborn or genetic. Michael is an extreme example of a worrier having autism, but I honestly think he would have had some form of anxiety regardless of his diagnosis. All I have to do is look at our family tree to see that we are a family of worriers on both sides. Now, it doesn’t mean that this is unchangeable. Through therapy, learning new tools of relaxation, and being aware of our anxiety and talking about it, both Michael and I have made great strides in learning to overcome some of our stresses and navigating through others. It is not an easy feat, but doable for sure.
So the next thing I am having to learn myself and teach Michael, is starting over when you make a mistake and learning from those mistakes. This was something I would truly feel horrible about it in the past as a young girl and later woman. Making mistakes would devastate me. Literally. I would have to build up my self-esteem piece by piece, and a little voice in my head would say, “You’d better not fail next time. You’d better succeed.” No pressure, right? 🙂 As much as I knew that voice was unrealistic, she was all I heard for years.
Then I had Michael, and I realized I was responsible for raising another human being to be the best he could be amidst his challenges. I had to get a grip on my own stuff. Michael’s anxiety is mine on speed. I worry so much about him navigating though life with that level of inner stress, but he is getting there as am I. Together we are learning about starting over. I’m even starting to see errors I have made as blessings and guideposts to show me where I really need to be going. I am doing my best to pass this on to Michael now. After all, he’s only human, and will have to learn and grow from his errors like all of us do.
Exceptional Moms, what do you teach your Exceptional Children about starting over? How do you handle your own mistakes? Are you hard on yourselves? It’s really great if you can model a positive experience for your kids about starting over. After all, we’re human beings, and we’re bound to get it wrong sometimes. If we look at life as a journey, and teach our kids to do the same, we will end up living a happier and fuller life. Until next time.