Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Searching for answers

Everyone warns you about the terrible twos. Your children become monsters and life seems impossible. That's what they say. What those same people forget to tell you though is that three is a whole new ball game. My SAHM status has entered an entirely new level of challenge these past few months, and I'm finding myself extremely lost and searching for answers.

Sometimes having a Type A personality can really frustrate your life. Going with the flow feels difficult because you want to overanalyze everything. At least that's how it seems to always work with me. My sole purpose in life, my one job, is to be a mother and take care of my family. That's my job, and I have felt lately as though I'm failing miserably at this task.

Big R and I noticed that things have felt off-kilter. No one was sleeping well, and you could sense that we were all a tad bit upside down. After some thought, we realized that for about six months straight we traveled somewhere literally every two weeks. Don't get me wrong, the travels have been incredible and we have been able to see so much. But traveling can really wear you down. The routine is in a constant mode of disruption. Sleep cycles are interrupted, eating habits are askew, and expectations that you normally receive from a consistent schedule are nonexistent. No matter who you are, this can create internal unrest. We could feel it in little r for sure, and the more we thought about what was driving our sleep and moods lately, we realized that we were just as effected as our toddler - we just have a different way of expressing our stress (obviously).

Now that we have had some time to rest, we've nestled into our routines, and when that two week window passed, we all started to feel better that our schedule was staying consistent (well, hospital stays aside that is). Despite this establishment of a good routine, I was still feeling huge changes in little r's personality. I've been exhausted. On good days, I'm smiling all day long, but bad days were leaving me drained.

I have to confess that I never saw myself being a SAHM. Never did I judge anyone that chose to stay home, believe me, I know that it is a challenge. It was just something I didn't ever anticipate. As much as I adore children, especially my little r, I seem to be missing that mom-gene that desires constant play. My child is active and naptime is now nonexistent, which means from lunchtime until bedtime it's just me and little r tackling the world. Sometimes these days feel like one constant struggle making me feel as if I'm a drill sergeant constantly screaming orders. Yes, I have been feeling so lost - I hate who I am when I'm like this. No one is happy. But what have I been doing wrong? Why does being a good mother have to be so hard?

One day I decided to step back and watch little r more closely. I've known for awhile that he's a little different than other kids, but not in a medical way necessarily. I just know that his temperament is different. He's hard-headed, incredibly perceptive, super sensitive to things, and his activity level is off the charts and has been since he was an infant. Big R and I envy our friends that can place their babies on a blanket with a few toys and walk away. Even before little r started crawling at six months, we never witnessed him be still for any moment of time. There is too much to see in the world and we were not going to stop him.

After talking casually with a few friends, it dawned on me that little r might be what has been referred to as a "spirited" child. Spirited children have personality traits that make incredible adults, but they can be an exhaustive challenge as a toddler. Accepting this, I started to see things differently. It's as if I just needed an answer so that I could better understand how to be a good mother to little r. I didn't want to be a drill sergeant anymore, and I was done feeling like my life was spiraling out of control.

My friend lent a book to me called "Raising your spirited child" and I ordered a couple other books to read as well. I wanted to better understand how my child's mind works. I needed to be able to perceive his triggers and be more sensitive to how he reacts to the world. In reading about spirited children, I've also learned so many things about myself. I've realized that my temperament and personality traits don't necessarily mesh well with several of his. Not only that, but the spirited child has extreme parts of his personality that I might not understand because I don't feel the same way.

LIttle r is far more perceptive than I am. I wish often that I could see the world the way he does. He notices everything. He's very much like his father in that way. I do have an extreme energy level though. Although my mom tries to convince me I was a dream as a child, I have a feeling I was far more active than others, and I know I was certainly more active than my sister. My ability to sit still to read a book or listen to a long lecture without fidgeting is lacking, and when I do take quiet time for myself, the guilt sets in quickly. I suppose I always feel like I'm missing something or maybe just missing out, either way, I can much better relate to that side of little r's personality.

I'm hoping that educating myself a bit more about how little r's mind works and how he perceives his world will leave us less angry with each other and keep our lives in a more constant calm. I've been surprised to find out that my motherly instinct has not lead me astray in all aspects of working with little r, and I have actually handled my approach to his maniacal temperament in ways authors of these books recommend. But I have also been able to identify where I have gone wrong. It's going to be difficult to tackle these challenges because it'll be fighting my own temperament and personality traits in a way to restore order in my house. Hopefully though, we will be able to find some balance that'll make the challenges a little less exhausting.



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