Today, I was thinking about what I wanted to post tonight. I was going to post a write up about how I wanted to be amazing. Not just be amazing, but be soooo amazing that other people are thrown into a complete state of awe about my amazing-osity, and just have to remark about it. I want to be so amazing that I hear about it all the time, and I am a little bit embarrassed when people feel the need to gush over me.
That's how amazing I want to be.
Ok, I admit, I am feeling a little low. A bit under appreciated, and taken for granted. I do my best for people that really don't believe in much feedback or reinforcement. Wait, that's not fair, and it is not true. Sebastian says thank you all the time. He touches my face and brushes my hair. He tells me I am beautiful and funny. He asks me every single day "How are you feeling today, Mommy?" and "How was your sleeps last night?" But he can also be incredibly selfish and demanding and short-sighted. He is obsessive and completly focused on his own wants and needs. It is part of the disorder, and one we work on. He is also an 11 year old boy, by it's very nature a selfish beast.
Sawyer can also be loving and sweet and complimentary. When I was talking to myself about my wrinkles around my eyes the other day, she took my face in her hands and kissed my crows feet. She told me that I have magic eyes. Who can't love that?? But she too can try to run the house like a little dictator and can sometimes need to be reminded of her p's and q's. She always wants to help and to be involved, but can run low on patience alot of the time. And Geoff...well, he's just never here. When he is, he's asleep. No help there.
So, I was having myself a nice little pity party tonight. As I went about my nightly routine, dinner and homework and games and cleaning...I kept thinking about all of the lavish praise that I would love to have heaped on my head. I had a nice little fantasy going, where friend and family and even random strangers felt this uncontrollable need to pull me aside and say "Anita, I just have to tell you...I have no idea how you do what you do...I am in awe because....." The stream of imaginary compliments was endless.
I had even gone so far as to plan a blog about it. I was going to compliment myself. I was going to give myself the recognition that I (selfishly) thought at the time that I deserved. I was going to point out all those little things, the day to day things, the never ending, completely selfless, heartbreakingly enduring things that have just become a part of my daily routine. Those things that, seriously, no one but me thinks about. I was already writing it in my head.
Then it fell apart.
It started innocently enough. Sawyer is going to speech therapy (just started yesterday) and we have a bit of homework. There are some sheets, with games and puzzles and other fun things, that will help her with her end-of-word S sound. She asked if we could play, so we did.
We had gone through 3 homework sheets already, and she wanted to start on the 4th. I was starting to watch the clock, knowing we were running close on time, for baths before bed. Sebastian has snuck TV tonight when I was working overtime, so I wanted to try and cut him off, before he reached hour 4 (yeah, yeah, I know, I know. Every day's a new battle.) I told her this was enough and we were done. She got "that look". The lowered head, the glare under her bangs. Arms crossed and an ever increasing volume to her "hrrmphs!!" to let me know how displeased she is. I started to pack up the papers and little bits and she went off.
"NO!" Screams it. I stop picking up, look at her with my own mom look, shake my head. Start cleaning up again.
"NOOOO!!!" Really loud now. Seriously, she went from 0 to 100 mph, in about 5 seconds.
I know this. She doesn't do it often and most times, it's because she's tired. I also know that once she gets going, there is little that I can do to derail Supertrain Sawyer, except let her run herself down.
I tell her at this point that I don't like the way that she is talking to me. If she can't be polite and talk kindly to me, then we are truly done and that she can go to her room until she is ready to be a nice girl again. This goes nowhere, and after one more extremely loud NO yelled in my face, I scoop her up and carry her to her room. Trust me, there is no anger on my part in this. I don't like it, but I also understand what she is going through. Anger and disappointment are very hard things to control. Once they are unleashed, you can't reign them back in. She is still learning that control. I don't fault her for raging. In fact, I wish I could do it more often.
But I digress.
I take her to her room, plunk her on the bed and ask her to please stay there for a few minutes. She is crying now and screaming. I walk to the door, and shut it tight. I hear her follow me to the now shut door. The kicking starts a couple of seconds later.
After about 5 good blows to the door, I head back in. She is fuming. I try and talk to her, to get her to think through the cause and effect of what happened. We were playing. Mommy stopped the game. Mommy made Sawyer go to her room. What happened that made that happen? I can see her thinking, but no way, no how is she giving up the goods. She hauls her foot back to kick the door again. Instead, she boots the cat that was twining it's way between her feet.
Right away, her face goes white. The switch from anger to fear is immediate. She darts a look at me and immediately hangs her head, embarrassed and afraid of my reaction. I do raise my voice because I want this to imprint on her, to be a lesson she remembers.
I talk to her about bullies, and how bullies lash out to hurt other people when they are angry. She knows about bullies from school talks and from conversations with me. She doesn't like them. They are the ulitmate bad guys to her right now. I tell her that I know it was an accident, but when you get that angry, it becomes much too easy to hurt someone else, either with your hands or feet or even your words.
But she isn't ready to listen. She is embarrassed, but the anger is still there, and it's starting to muffle my message. I decide to leave her to herself again, to think. I shut the door.
I gather Sebastian up and get him moving on his evening clean ups. I tidy the kitchen and living room. I am just heading back upstairs with laundry, when I hear her voice through her door. She is talking to herself, loudly and determinedly.
I squat by her door to listen.
"I don't like Mommy. I always don't like her. She is mean. She is soooo mean. And rude. Mean and rude. I don't like Mommy at all today or always".
At first I smile a little. The drama queen is in full swing. I sit on the floor to see if anything else comes up in the conversation with herself. The dog, who still loves me, lays his head in my lap. The cats come close and snuggle. We all listen to her rant and rave and rage behind her closed door.
The message stays the same. But it continues. Sometimes she cries with the force of her words and the feelings behind it. One time, she says she only likes Daddy. I think that was the point that I realized that I had stopped smiling and started crying.
Oh, she broke my heart.
It is silly to say it. She's 4. I know that she really doesn't mean the words. But then, again, she does. She does mean them. At that exact moment, with the feeling and emotion that is wrapped in her little body, she means every single bit of it. I know she will love me tomorrow. I know that she loves me now. But she also thinks that I am the worst thing in her life right now. It was a hard pill to swallow.
So now, I have a choice. What do I do? Do I kick in the door and tell her that I am none too fond of her either? No, no way.
Do I ignore it, and pretend I didn't hear it? Chalk it up to a 4 year old temper tantrum and leave it be?
Do I turn this into a lecture and a lesson? Reinforce that "words can hurt" message that I just delivered?
What to do?
I decided to just talk to her. And just before I knocked on that door, I realized how truly un-amazing I was. How greedy and selfish and self-absorbed. And I was ashamed.
I knocked and she answered. All I said was "Sawyer, I could hear what you were saying." And she shut the door. Slowly. No slam.
I stayed there, and waited. After a minute, she opened the door again. Just looked at me. And I looked at her. She tried to smile and look away and play with the cats. I didn't say anything. Just waited.
Eventually she took a step out. I asked her how she thought I was feeling right then. Was I mad? Was I happy?
"Sad". So soft. Just a whisper really.
"Do you know why?"
"Because I said mean things."
"No, Sawyer. It's because I think that my little girl doesn't like me, and it breaks my heart." I can barely get it out, through the tears.
Before I finish the sentence, she throws herself across the hall and wraps her whole body around me. She and I both cry, together, I can feel her shake. This is real, raw.
Finally, I pull back and she kisses my cheek. She doesn't say sorry. She asks if I want to watch TV with her. I said no, that I was tired. She comes back and hugs me hard again, and stays that way for a long time. Finally, I pat her, and say it's time to get ready for bed. She does so, without arguement.
Did I handle that right? I have no idea. All I can say is that it was honest. Hopefully that's good enough.
So, I'm not amazing. I'm barely getting by. Right now, I am happy with "good enough".
Rosie N. Grey
The N stands for "no parades and parties here. Just another regular day."