Sometimes it’s just downright hard to be a Mom.
Every child grows, matures and changes differently. There are graceful transitions and there are really hard phases that seem to last F.O.R.E.V.E.R.
But it’s in those harder transitions, like teaching your child the power of self-control and self-soothing, that really pull the depths of a mother’s, this mother’s, heartstrings.
Self-control has been a skill of Rachael’s from being very small. She seems to be wired with patience, nurturing and self-control. Her tantrum phase was almost non-existent. Words mean so much to her that she is more apt to tantrum through words (i.e. whining and defiant speech) than physically lose it.
Abi is the complete opposite. To Abi, words are effective communication, but there is also a bottled passion within her that she explodes in defiance and frustration when she is unable to communicate her emotions/needs to you or when she feels that her emotions/needs were not accepted. Mixing that deep passion and need to express herself with learning communication (which can be frustrating) and her deep need for physical forgiveness (i.e. you holding her to help her self-regulate and let go of the deep hurt) often creates a hurricane within her.
While Abi has been making GREAT strides in advancing her self-control to remain in the time-out chair during “cool down” moments. There has always been a part of Abi’s character that needs physical touch to regain self-control. Even as a young baby, she needed to feel your calm heartbeat and deep breathing to regain her own self-control. We’ve tried the “cry it out” method to no avail and only to witness her choking, coughing and in complete shaking distress in various ages/stages.
Working it out by herself just does not work for Abi. It’s just a fact. But I am hopeful with continued consistency, time and maturity she too shall learn the power of self-control and self-soothing.
But there are definitely boundaries so as not to create complete reliance on Mommy or Daddy to begin to regain her self-control. She just needs slower, simpler steps as she slowly learns self-control and advances in communication with maturity. We do a lot of helping her to learn feelings words and appropriate expression of her deep hurts. She is a child of great passion, and I adore her for that. So teaching her to control those wild passion horses is a life-lesson relearned and relearned with each stage.
And there are those really hard moments of teaching self-control in the midst of desiring the best for Abi and modeling acceptance of appropriate behavior. This is one of my hardest challenges with her. It breaks my heart to hear and witness her working herself into complete hysterics. I wish I could just learn the lesson quickly for her, but if I’ve learned anything it’s that Abi just needs time.
It’s hard when she makes the turn from disappointment and frustration to desperately trying to regain self-control. She has become her worst enemy and she is trying to communicate her want to be rescued and to regain control. It’s hard in those moments and my heart breaks for her as I do my best to stick to communicating my consistent expectations of her and the small steps to regain self-control.
It’s that “Mommy… Mommy,” as she pleas in utter exhaustion, abandoning herself willingly to attempt anything I say because she just wants the hysterics to stop. It’s the “Please… Mommy… please,” as she tries to breathe deeply and calm her hysterical diaphragm. It breaks my heart, pushing me to work past tears in my own eyes to repeat the familiar step by step instructions and give her the time she needs. I want so badly to save her from herself. But I know that I cannot physically be her self-control for the rest of her life.
Slow, slow steps forward. With much time needed and given.
In an instant of followed directions, even the slightest steps of success in self-control, my arms are out to her. She rests her head on my shoulder and her body almost instantly calms. Her breathing regulates. Her heart stops racing. All that’s left of the hurricane is a semi-radical diaphragm, reminding us both of the last forty-five minutes of hard learning.
My precious Abi… Mommy’s heart breaks for you in some lessons. I wish I could scoop you up out of the mess you have put yourself in. But it must be your will to turn from your rebellion. It must be your choice to desire obedience. I just wish it didn’t have to be so hard sometimes.
But God is teaching me the waiting, the praying and the hurting that caused the Father of the returning prodigal son to run.