Monday, August 13, 2012

bad mommy

The other day a dear friend posted a status update on Facebook about a mother and how she was talking/treating her children. It kind of hit a soft spot with me because I struggle at times to feel on top of the world and like I'm really getting this whole mothering thing and then other times I fail miserably. I guess I realized I could have been that mom. As soon as I read this friend's comment I thought back to my most recent moment of bad mommy experiences.

Recently, we invested in family bikes. I love riding around and we felt like it was a positive and realistic family activity with G's limitations and age. We have loved them. R has started biking to work and is determined to become a one-car family. I don't know about it. We'll see how he does during the long rainy winter. 

G and I have been riding around to our neighborhood parks and down on the river paths. It is so refreshing and fun! Two weeks ago we went on a ride that lasted a couple hours as we made a few different stops to play. It was fun, but by the end I was done. On our last stop I let him wade in the river with his shoes on. He wanted to so bad, but we hadn't come prepared and there was glass on the ground so I sacrificed his sneakers and let him wear them in the water. It was that good of a day that pretty much anything was okay because we were living it up! I think much of it was tied to this idealistic summer, the unforgettable summer I always dream of having each year, kind of like when it turns from summer to fall and you want to soak up those fleeting fall days and nights (only in Eugene its pretty much like fall during the summer so you get 4 months of fall weather!)

With each stop on our ride leaving and moving on became a little bit harder. Maybe each stop was just a little more fun for G and a little more exhausting for me, I don't know. We have our routine, our bag of tricks, that we use EVERY TIME + EVERYWHERE we go. It gets old, but at least with time and on most occasions he responds well. We give a few different warnings, sometimes one when we first get there if it is going to be a shorter than normal trip or different in any way, but always there is the "five more minutes then all done park," the "two more minutes then all done" and the "zero more minutes park". Even after those warnings our dialogue consists of "bye bye park" or "we'll come back soon" or "see you later park" or all of the above. This is not just isolated to parks, it includes any place that G loves or doesn't love for that matter (although the dialogue in the end would be more praiseworthy because he endured something he didn't want to so "Good job G! You did great! Thanks for waiting and being mommy's helper!" Something along those lines). None of this is innate within me. It was all taught by amazing intervention specialists who we would be lost without. Sometimes I forget the techniques and our days aren't as smooth or sometimes I let my frustration and temper get the best of me. 

Well sadly our picturesque day turned into a most unfortunate one. Getting back into the bike seat after wading in the river proved to be challenging! He did not want to end such a fun stop, but dinner time was approaching and I was ready to head on home. This was the farthest we had biked together and he had not napped that day. Eventually I was able to get him in the seat but it took running back after him as he escaped back into the river and carrying him to the bike up the hill, him crying and begging to stay. Typical toddler stuff probably. We finally got going again and he calmed down. I am sure I made many promises of returning, in fact, I recall saying we'd go get dad from work and come back. Oops I lied! We will go back someday, with dad so there are two of us to handle him. 

On the way back we had to pass "waterfall" outside of PF Chang's restaurant. Just a few days prior we stopped on a family bike ride and let G get out to walk around it and do his waterfall thing. He has a thing he does, the turning of the head, the angles, the sounds. I don't quite get it but someday I hope he can explain it. Well, today I didn't want to stop, however, G has this way of once he has done something a certain way he does it the same way every time and expects routines. Its good when you can control circumstances or when we want routines, but I don't want to have to stop and get him out of the bike seat for 5 minutes every time we pass "waterfall". I decided we could stop and admire it from our bike, but that wasn't good enough. When I informed him it was time to go he lost it. Kicking and screaming with all his might, I decided to ride on and ignore the behavior. It was very hard to ignore with him kicking my legs and back and the bike's balance becoming an issue. after 500 feet or so I abruptly stopped the bike and turned around. I regret what happened next and believe that it will forever be ingrained in my mind. I pointed my finger at him and told him he'd better stop. It didn't work and neither did my yelling and threats. In my frustration I resorted to what I would deem one of my most low points as a mother and human being. I wrapped my hand around his leg and dug my nails into his skin like I used to do to my sisters when we would fight as teenagers. It was cruel and it hurt him. I could see it in his eyes. It was one time in my life that I wished we hadn't gazed into each others eyes. It was horrifying. He seemed to submit to me in a terrifying way. What had I done? It is hard to admit this to the general mass, especially family and friends. My husband tried to console me telling me I'm doing my best or something, but is that really my best? I had hurt him. I had seen pain in his eyes. I knew it wasn't my best and I was horrified. 

Fast forward five days later and we went on a ride that passed by that same "waterfall". It is becoming such a common occurrence that any thought of succumbing to his desire is not realistic and my hope is that eventually he will accept that sometimes we stop and sometimes we don't. That has been the case with other obsessions usually the tantrums are done in a car where he can kick and scream and it doesn't physically involve me. Well, this ride five days later, I am happy to report went much better. I told him before we got to it that we would not stop on the way past but on our way back we would stop and look at it from the bike. He didn't get it but it is at least being vocalized. On the way back he knew we got to stop but the bike part he didn't get or didn't agree with. I walked him around the waterfall on the bike and then we said our goodbyes. He was upset. I remembered my tools this time and told him it sounded like he felt sad. I've been trying to help him realize what his emotions are and use words instead of scream. It didn't stop but he knew that kicking me wouldn't result in more waterfall so off we rode and singing a song to distract finally ended the tantrum once we made it through a couple of stoplights. 

Will he remember that day? I sure hope not for his sake and for mine. I want to help him to learn to remember the good and forget the bad. Somehow, some way I have to get to this point myself. Regardless, I will remember it (the bad) and hope to NEVER repeat it again. Needless to say I have become more consistent about seeking God's help to be more compassionate in those hard moments, something I had slacked at more recently. I wonder how I will look back on this time of our life together. I know there have been challenges, but it has been very rewarding too. My abilities as a mother have been stretched and I have been able to sacrifice and do more for G than I could have imagined. I have much more to learn though. Thankfully, despite my inadequacies and failings, the Lord has been there with us along the way and is taking sweet G into His hands and many miracles continue to happen. Goals that were established a few months ago are already accomplished. Hopefully the same can be said for me.

1 comment:

  1. I really appreciated this post, thank you. I used to nanny for a family with an autistic child and there were some very hard moments and very long days! (And I went home at the end of them!) But I think you are way more patient and long suffering than you give yourself credit for. You are a wonderful, devoted mother and I hope you know that! The details of what makes everyday life work for our children are good to record and remember, and clearly you are doing a fantastic job.