HEALTHY DISCOMFORT

Monday, March 21, 2011

Usually I sit at my desk while I blog, but today I'm laying in bed watching Good Things Utah as I write this post. I must admit, it feels kind of nice.

Okay, now it's actually ten minutes later and I just got done putting the baby boss down for a nap in my room. So, now I'm sitting at the kitchen table typing. Oh wait...baby boss is fussing...I'll be back.

His nap is off to a rocky start. This time I'm just going to let him fuss a little, which is hard for me, but I know it's good for him to learn to comfort himself (If there are more grammatical errors than usual, blame it on the baby because I am currently distracted by his struggle to dreamland.).

Baby boss isn't the only one of my children I've made suffer today for the sake of learning coping skills.

(Okay, I confess, I just checked on the baby boss again. Guess what? He was fast asleep with his chubby little hands clasped around his fuzzy blanket. Sheesh. Chill out Jody!).

Back to topic. I promise. No more interruptions.

This morning I woke up to my alarm, but fell back asleep, which led to my daughter being too late for carpool. I got Sassafras up to get ready for school and told her she was going to be late. She got tears in her eyes and said, "If I'm going to be late, I don't want to go to school at all. My teacher gets mad if you're late." I proceeded to tell her she's not aloud to miss school unless she's sick. She then told me she had a stuffy nose and a sore throat. She was a little stuffy, but fine. I could tell she couldn't verbalize why she wanted to stay home. She just did.

I loaded the kids in the car and pulled up to the school. She got out of the car, turned around and said, "Mommy, will you go in with me?" I really wanted to, but I said, "You can do it. You know what to do. I love you." With resignation she walked to the school entrance.

I pulled forward a little to a part of the school building that has a hallway of windows. I could watch Sassafras walk to her class. She looked out and we waved to each other. I knew she would be okay.

This sequence of events may seem insignificant to you, but it caused me to reflect on how I was at Sassafras's age. In some ways, we are very similar.

Like Sassafras, on most days I liked school. But, if something out of the ordinary happened, like being late, I worried. I had a lot of days when I just wanted to stay in the comforts of home. Once I got to school I was fine, but I would internally fret until I got there.

Her sweet face makes it hard to say no.
That's why, though I wanted to just snuggle Sassafras and keep her home, I made her go to school and walk herself in. I don't want to support her insecurities.

You see, I think I had anxiety starting in childhood so I find myself dissecting my daughter's behavior for signs of it. I compare how I was at her age and how she is now.

For example, she has always had problems falling asleep. Every night is a struggle for her to shut off her brain and relax. She has to write in her journal, draw, or read until she's tired. If she doesn't she will lay in bed for an hour or two wide awake. Though I didn't have a problem falling asleep at home growing up, there were very few friend's homes I would sleep over at because my mind would stay awake all night long. Seriously, all night.

Sassafras also frets over a lot of the same things I did when I was young. She has to know exactly when and where I'm going to pick her up from school. The exact spot. And if I'm a little late, she worries.

I may be a little paranoid and put too much emphasis on behavior that really is normal, but I make sure I do this in my head. I don't ever share with her my concern over her worries. I just make sure I parent in a way that fosters independence and confidence.

I admit to picking her up a little late on purpose sometimes. I also pick her up in a slightly different place than I say I will just to teach her that everything ends up okay when things don't go according to plan. I think it's helped her. She worries a lot less than she used to.

It was good that I was the fourth child in my family. My parents were too busy to coddle me every time I worried. Still, my mom is a softy and would occasionally let me stay home just to have a break. I too have let Sassafras have a day home before. We all need a break sometimes don't we?

I guess today I felt it was more important to make Maribelle push herself. It's an important lesson to learn. Do what you are supposed to do even if you don't feel like it. And, heaven forbid, she does inherit some of my depression and/or anxiety genetics, she will definitely need that lesson even more.

Here's to each of us pushing ourselves a little extra today. Personally, I'm going to tackle this mountain of documents I need to file, not drink any more diet coke for the rest of the day (I'm currently drinking some.), and eat zero sweet treats. Wish me luck!
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4 comments:

  1. I am so glad, you are getting things done today... I think I am going to drive to town to grab that coke you told me too. Cause I looked at my house and I think we both cried a little. My kids will be locked outside and forced to play. While I... Well... Try to get something done. I think you are doing great teaching her these little life lessons. You are a wise mommy.

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  2. You're a great mom! I love how honest you are. I know how you feel about keeping them home. I never thought so hard about all of that. I think we all try to do the best we can for our kids and I just hope one day they realize that even though we weren't perfect, we were certainly doing the best with what we knew.

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  3. Fantastic post! You did the right thing-Great mommying! I believe tough love is imperative to a child's positive development, I also believe it is way tougher on us as parents to impart that tough love. It's terribly difficult to resist the urge and those moments hurt and tear at your heart strings. But later, you and they reap the benefits. Reminds me of a post I wrote about 'natural consequences' for kids.

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  4. Do you remember being in 4th grade, and you didn't want a certain teacher because you didn't know her? (Mrs. Viel)You really fought on that one. I was oh so tempted to try to change teachers, but I knew she was a great teacher, and you'd tough it out until you got used to her. She turned out to be your favorite, and when she died of breast cancer a few years later, you missed her.

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