Managing Anxiety About The Future- Michael’s Lesson To Me

The other day I had another one of those major eye opening moments with Michael. We were sitting on the couch talking about his day and things he was worried about. All of a sudden he turned to me;

“Mommy, I don’t like to look at those baby pictures of me in the hallway. That’s why when I was mad I knocked one of them off the wall a few weeks ago.”

He hasn’t done this in awhile. It happened twice. The last time was when he was in the middle of a meltdown.  He stormed down the hallway to his room and knocked down a picture on the wall of himself from four years ago. He cleaned up the mess and we replaced the frame with money from his piggy bank. It was a Dollar store frame so this was possible. He hasn’t done it since and was truly sorry. Still, this is the first time he was talking about it after the fact. I listened with interest.

“Why don’t you like looking at those pictures of yourself?” I was curious.

Without hesitation he answered. “I don’t like getting older. I’m scared that I’m not a baby anymore. Those pictures were from when I was at school playing all day. Now I have to learn to read and write and do math. It’s work and I don’t like it. I’m scared to grow up Mommy.”

I felt amazed and heartbroken all at the same time. Poor kid. I always thought those pictures and whatever else he chose in meltdown mode to knock down or destroy, was random. I had no idea that it was deliberate and reflected his increasing anxiety at coping with growing up. I was also so proud of him and impressed at his insight. He figured out how to put his fears into words and explain it to me. Wow.

“Oh honey. It’s ok. We’re all scared sometimes. It’s normal to be worried about things. I worry too. That’s why I meditate and do yoga. It’s also why I write and pray. It helps me stay calm and positive. But Daddy and I are here to help you learn how to handle your feelings when you’re scared. Yes, school means more work as you get older, but this work will help you learn new things, get a job one day, drive a car, be independent. These are good things about growing up.”

“I love you. You’re the best Mommy in the whole world.”

We hug and I have new insight into Michael’s complex brain. What he has revealed is fear of the future, something we all grapple with. It was courageous of him to share it with me. And, as usual, I feel privileged that he did, and am glad my words comforted him. I may not have tantrums knocking pictures off walls, but I have stormed out of rooms slamming doors. What it boils down to in the end is feeling out of control with our emotions in the present and our worries about the future. How do we cope in a healthy way? And if we don’t, how can we change our coping mechanisms?

Exceptional Moms, what insight have you had into your Exceptional Children’s anxiety about the future? How did you advise them to cope? It’s amazing what goes on inside all of us, exceptional or not, and how sharing these feelings can bring insight to everyone. I hope today that you and your children can find ways to grow from the anxious and fearful moments you both have, into more content and confident human beings. That is the best way to enjoy life to its fullest. Until next time.

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