Sunday, November 1, 2009
My meltdown on Saturday has been building for a while, I think. And it wasn't anything terribly dramatic. There was a straw, the camel's back broke, and I just had to let a bunch of crap go. Jeff was by my side, saying the right things, giving me my time. Bear with me as I babble. My words might not be as precise and clear as I'd like but I"m hoping my meaning comes through. Yesterday, after several weeks of spotty participation and declarations of no longer wanting to dance- either in class or not, Teagan decided to stop going to dance class. That was the straw. Not because she wants to stop. I support that. I see no purpose in Mom and Dad spending the money each month for an activity that my child doesn't fully want to participate in. This isn't a team sport when someone is relying on her. This isn't play practice where she has a role to be there for. This is a for-fun activity and, for whatever reason, it stopped being fun. She doesn't ever want to dance. I think it's a self-consciousness thing. She's becoming aware of people watching her when she dances. She'll get over it. She may even just take the next month off and then go back. We'll see. But here's the part that was that straw... "for whatever reason." I don't know how to make my child happy, how to meet her needs. Anymore. I used to be the master and now I flounder. Sure, I could just let her have her way constantly. I'm sure I could just let her eat candy and drink root beer and stay up all night and never touch a vegetable and never brush her hair and so on and she'd be thrilled. But obviously that isn't good mothering. Jeff and I really do allow the kids a lot of freedom but we have a lot of expectations, too, I guess. When Teagan was a baby, she was demanding. She nursed frequently and urgently. She cried a lot. She needed to be in constant contact with me. With me specifically. Daddy or Grandma would do for a few minutes but she'd be looking for mom after that. Part of it, I know, was a first time mom thing. I'm certain there was some degree of my own paranoia and concern in regards to anyone else being able to take care of her in my absence. You can imagine how hard it was for me to go back to work when I had this baby that needed me, wanted me, all the time. I had this instinct... I knew what she wanted. I could predict when she would start crying, I knew exactly how to soothe her. There was a connection that I can't quite put into words. But that is gone. I don't know when it happened. Maybe when Zach was born. Maybe when she got older and has been working to separate from me/us. But that's what hit me on Saturday after she decided she didn't want to do dance class anymore. I don't know her in that special, intimate way anymore. That special connection isn't as strong as it used to be. She can now knock me off my feet with her little independent choices. And of course, once the gates are cracked open... the flood comes forth. So I cried a little on our drive home. Jeff was very understanding and supportive and loving. He understood and he was totally there for me. We got home and I put Zach down for a nap and came out to the living room and something- I forget what now- opened that gate a little more and I excused myself to my bedroom for a good cry. And it was a good cry. A needed cry. A releasing cry. There was sadness, anger, frustration. Then I decided to do something about it. My focus immediately turned to the awful condition of my home- it's one of my many sources of frustration and overwhelm-ed-ness. I went through and cleaned out a bunch of toys the kids don't play with or have outgrown. Filled a trash bag. Jeff took Teagan out for an errand and I cleaned up her room. I straightened up toys in the living room, cleaned off a good portion of the couch. It's not much different than it was when I started. It takes mere seconds for children to destroy my work. But I felt better while doing it. So that was my meltdown. I'm still working through this shift in my relationship with my daughter. Jeff is doing really well and I feel like I am often following his lead these days. I have a lot to learn from him. He's such a good dad. Even when Teagan is in full on meltdown and he is getting more and more frustrated, he keeps his cool with her. He uses words and language that she understands and is able to really just be more in tune with her. It was my turn and now it is his.