Last night and this morning I lost it, my temper that is. All my well thought out plans of staying calm in the storm that is Michael’s anxiety and fears failed. You see I forgot to use my strategies to handle my silent demon-feeling out of control. Yes, for me having control of the situation, knowing best how to advise my child and knowing which strategy to suggest to help him regulate, have always been my strong suit. I have been able to help other parents and kids with some of these tried and true strategies, so why am I failing with Michael this last little while? As his support network has increased, his anxiety has still gone up. He has so many fears. In the last blog post, he misinterpreted what making a movie really entails. Today, though he was sick with a cold and sore throat, there was no fever and he clearly looked fine after breakfast. It didn’t matter. He flat out begged to stay home telling me he could not face the day working with a cold. This is not my child. He used to go into school so happy, cooperative and willing. Now, he feels overwhelmed by the work, structure, and I am not sure what else. I’m glad he considers home his safe haven, but I felt so discouraged on days like this, like I am raising a quitter even though I know his anxiety is much bigger than him. We had a long talk and he shared with me his fears, his lack of control at school, not being able to do what he wants. I told him all kids have that, and that a cold, does not give him a time out. A fever, a more serious illness is a reason to stay home. He apologized, and he wrote down some strategies he will use for future times when he feels out of control. He agrees that he will not miss school unless he is really sick next time. I felt bad too. I was angry that he didn’t want to try school, even with the promise that if he was really sick the school would call me. I felt out of control as a Mom way before I yelled that he could not let his fears win. Afterwards I reminded him that he could always talk to Dad and I in advance and ask for help. That was what we were there for.
Today, as I yelled that he could not always do what he wanted and went to calm down in my office before making the required phone calls that totally reconstructed the day, I realized I too have issues with control. The only thing is in my case, I put my own needs on the back burner thinking that by micromanaging Michael’s behavior, his relationship with family and friends, and worrying about tackling things in the house on my own, I am in control. It turns out I am so not. The Universe is screaming to me what I have been running from for months now. I am really not in control of Michael’s reactions or how he conducts himself. Yes, when he was aggressive, Dad and I had to lay down the law of rules for everyone’s safety. There control was needed for literal survival and we had to enforce it. But even then, there was a choice. He could listen or in the worse case scenario have to live somewhere else. Now, that he has learned to manage his anger, I have to learn that it is by letting go of trying to make everything perfect, that solutions will be found for him and for me.
Exceptional Parents, are you feeling challenged now by your own anxieties and/or your child’s? Do you feel like you have no more energy left to face another hurdle? Do a mental checklist. Are you/your child sleeping and eating enough? Are you practicing self-care and taking healthy breaks from each other? Are old strategies no longer working for you and are you in need of new ones? When you have calmed down, sit with a pen and paper and look realistically at what you are feeling. Write down your strategies, and remember, it is often through pain that we grow stronger and become better versions of ourselves. We need to teach our kids that a better them will come out of facing their fears and overcoming them too. And remember, a painful situation is not happening to you, but for you, to help you grow and become stronger. Until next time.
Feeling stressed about special needs parenting? You are not alone. I have been there and lived these very words before realizing the gift of who my son is and what he has helped me realize. Besides the wonderful professionals we have worked with and continue to work with, family, friends, Mom friends in particular, make up mine and Michael’s biggest cheering section. If you want to have more information about me and my journey, check out my website http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com and my FREE E-BOOK “5 WAYS TO HANDLE EXCEPTIONAL PARENTING” at http://www.creatingexceptionalparenting.com/ebooks.