The other day, it was hard to be my child's mother. Sometimes your child is going through things you can't really grasp. That alone is a source of pain and discomfort for me. Love means intimate knowledge in my world, so loving my children deeply and not having a firm grasp on something going on with them is scary and makes me feel insecure in my ability to mother them well. Adding in how an episode, regression, tantrum, or altercation affects a child, their environment and adults involved creates a potentially humiliating element as well. Shame is on the table. Embarrassment comes knocking. And on a hard day, it can be tough to contain those adult dynamics within yourself so they don't spill onto your child, who is already grappling with something very challenging.
On my hard day, in the midst of everything coming to a standstill, I wrote some affirmations for myself on my phone. It was all I could reach with a little person completely covering my torso. I wrote and wrote. I needed to affirm my experience, my process, my feelings in the moment. That is part of the skill set needed to not shame your child when you are toying with opening the door to the shame and pain knocking so loudly in your heart.
I decided to share those affirmations with you. I know so many people who have struggled with their children. I've written in the past about having my child assessed and being afraid of the results. That process is revisiting us right now and I want other parents to know that you are not alone. If you find yourself in a "moment" maybe a few of these will resonate with you while all the things begin running through your mind. Here's what I wrote to combat anything in my heart that wanted to come tumbling down:
It's okay to take a break.
It's okay to be upset.
You have nothing to be embarrassed about.
It's okay to be embarrassed.
Your kid is perfect.
It's okay that your kid isn't perfect.
It's okay to resent how hard it is to be your kid's parent today.
It's okay to be jealous of parents whose kid isn't hard to parent today (resist the temptation to believe that some parents have an easy day every day. It might look like it right now but that's not real. That's Instagram talking).
It's okay to stop what you were doing and comfort yourself and your child. For as long as you both need.
It's okay to resent that the trajectory of your day just changed without your consent and without any warning.
It's okay to be exhausted.
It's okay to be sad for your child.
It's okay to be sad for yourself.
It's okay to be sad for the people who are confused, afraid or inconvenienced because of an interaction with your child.
It's okay to want to tell those people to go fuck themselves.
It's okay to want other people to "fix" your child (they can't and no one can but it's a human response to atypical behavior).
There are always more resources to support your child (not necessarily within yourself but that you can access when you have the energy to look).
Your child is trying.
You are trying.
Your child's other parent is trying (even if they handle your child differently than you do).
Your child's teacher is trying.
Your loved ones are trying.
Sometimes trying does not solve problems.
Trying looks different for everyone and sometimes people's best is not even close to what your child needs. That's okay.
It's okay to go back to the drawing board in how you approach your child and their behaviors/abilities.
It's okay for them to regress.
It's okay for you to regress in patience, tolerance and energy.
It's okay to have no knowledge of what triggers a regression.
It's okay to want to be able to explain their behavior.
It's okay that sometimes there's no explanation for their behavior no matter how hard you try to connect the dots. This means sometimes the room will turn towards you to "solve" something and you will have to shrug.
It's okay to be angry at your child.
It's okay if you don't know what to do.
It's okay that not knowing what to do is the worst way for you to feel as a parent.
It's okay to not know what the future looks like for you or for your child.
It's okay for that fact to be very unsettling for you.
This is not your fault.
This is not your child's fault.
This might be society's fault but you'll deal with that later.
Friends, you are loved. You are not alone. And neither is your child. Lean towards the pain and allow yourself to feel what you're feeling. But guide that process with these truths and any other words that may apply to your specific situation. You matter. Your child matters. And ultimately, whether the answers are found or the struggle is contained or not, love yourself, love your child and be at peace. Because your child is perfect and it's okay that your child isn't perfect. Just like you and me. Wherever they land on the bell curve, they're really no different from us, are they? Sometimes people just don't know what to do with them. So be it.