“Mommy, for doing good work on your blog you get a tattoo. Can I give you a tattoo?”
I couldn’t help but love at Michael rewarding me for good work, something I usually do for him, either with a tattoo (a children’s one, of course), or else a trip to the park, his favorite shopping center, an extra bedtime story or whatever to show him I am proud of him. Now I found it so telling and funny that he would do the same for me. But this was great. He was engaging in more imitation, and with the second question where he asked me if I would like the tattoo, he was slowly developing “theory of mind”, where he was learning how to take my perspective and see what I wanted to do. It’s been a fun time lately of Michael doing this, asking me if I’m alright. Even when he thinks I’m angry, he will ask why and we’ll talk about it. He is opening up in more ways and I love it, though there are times that the questions can be exhausting. Still, he is asking them. This is every parent’s dream, particularly an Exceptional Mom who thought her son may not ever ask those kinds of questions.
Michael got me thinking also about how I reward myself lately for good work. I am getting better at doing this, at saying to myself that yes, you deserve a night off, you deserve to read for pleasure, to have glass or two of wine after a hard day, you deserve to write, you deserve to go out with friends or to writers meetings, or to go to rest or go to bed early if you need it. I have finally, after forty some odd years learned how to truly reward myself and not feel guilty. There are still tiny twinges of what I call “mommy guilt” when I do something for myself. The nagging voice is quickly and calmly silenced though, when I remind her of all I can be when I have my rewards or breaks; happy, focused, rested, calm, whole as a person so that I can be an amazing wife, mom and individual. I did lots of work on myself over the years, particularly during my last burnout when I saw what needed to change. Being a superwoman is totally different from giving yourself a break when your body and mind need it. I did not think I deserved breaks, particularly as my child has greater needs. But then I realized that same child was showing me, God was showing me through him, that I needed to prioritize rewards for myself much more. All parents do. It’s the best way we can parent from our gut and soul and truly show our children how to be authentic and true to themselves. This will help them be realistic in what they could demand of themselves.
Exceptional Parents, how do you reward yourself? How do you tell yourself “good job” for the good work you do 24/7 for your Exceptional Children? Remember, if you model rewards for them by being good to you, it goes a long way to bringing wholeness and happiness into your family. So figure out what you need to do to feel truly alive; exercise, meditation, time alone, time with friends, a new hobby, and go for it. Your Exceptional Child and you will both thrive for it. Until next time.