Monday, June 14, 2010

This Was A Hard One for Me to Write...

In yesterday's post I mentioned how much I loved Bible school last week, but I'd be lying if I didn't tell you the whole truth. It was a tough week. And not just because of the long hours.

Last week was tough on Punkin too. We all stayed up late on vacation, the kids often going to bed around 10:00 or later when they are accustomed to being in the bed by 8:00. Then we jumped back into full lives -- Bubba at the YMCA every day, on the go from 8:00 until 5:00 and Punkin at our church's summer day camp where she is getting to do some really fun activities, but where she is also mostly foregoing her nap.

I'd arrive at the Family Life Center every evening around 5:30 and then we'd all get in line for dinner, followed by an evening full of Bible stories, play time, arts and crafts and lots and lots of singing. We'd usually get home around 8:45 which meant the kids would be in bed by 9:00, which meant that Punkin had been at the Family Life Center for approximately 13 hours.

Punkin did fine on Monday, but Tuesday night there was a meltdown of epic proportions. I should have known better, should have known that a whole day at the church was just too much for her. You'd think I'd know what sets her off by now, but actually I'm just now figuring it out.

While I still don't think Punkin has Asperger's, I DO think she has some sensory issues (which I'll address in a future post) and I think that a full day of activity, capped off by loud music and lot of singing was just more than she (and her nervous system) could handle. I made her go home with Mr. Daddy after camp on Wednesday and get to bed at a decent hour, but Thursday and Friday I let her stay at Bible School because she seemed like she was in such a good mood. I hated to make her miss out on all the fun, especially since she didn't go to Bible School at all last year. But the biggest thing I realized last week is that I have to be the parent which means that sometimes I have to make the unpopular decisions. I should have made her go home on Thursday night too so that she would have had a better chance of making it to the pie throwing on Friday, which she ultimately missed. I have to learn to recognize the signals that a meltdown is coming and try to head her off at the pass, so to speak. Lesson learned.

Bible school was hard for me for another reason, though this is one is all me. I mean, what I'm about to say is something that I have dealt with about myself in the past and I thought I was over it, but obviously I'm not. On the last night, all the kids got t-shirts and most were a little too large for the little girls. But just about every mom there reached into their bags and pulled out cute little ribbons and hairbows and what nots and tied up their little girls' shirts in such a way that they all looked so cute. They all had little hairbows in their hair, their faces were clean, their clothes were clean, their hair was neat. And there was Punkin, shirt down past her knees, lips ringed with punch stains, hair tangled, knees filthy. She looked like a little homeless child and for just a moment, I felt like a failure as a mom. And for just a moment I wished that Punkin was like those little girls. But she's not. She's a rough and tumble girl, always going at 100 miles an hour, playing hard, getting dirty. And I'm torn because I love that about her. I want her to be her own person and not feel like she has to be like everyone else. I love the fact that she likes to play and isn't afraid to get dirty. I was a tomboy too and I appreciate that aspect of her personality. I want her to be the kind of girl that wears Converse sneaks to the prom if she wants to.

I love Punkin fiercely. I don't know if it's because she's a girl or what, but I feel a love for her that's different than the love I feel for Bubba. Not more or less. Just different. Sometimes I think it's because she's a challenging child that I love her so much. She frustrates the hell out of me, but I think the greater challenges create a greater love. I can't explain it any better than that.

I think, when you get right down to brass tacks, what I wish is that Punkin were an easier child. But she's not. She is what she is. And I love her. But she often makes me feel like I don't know what in the hell I'm doing and I look at all these moms with these perfect little girls and I just feel less than. I feel pitied when she has a meltdown in front of everybody. I hate pity. I'm afraid it makes people look at Punkin and see "Problem" and I'm afraid they won't be able to see the sweet, smart, funny little girl that I know is in there too. I hate to feel out of control, like I don't know what I'm doing.

But like yesterday's post, I look back at a year ago and see how far we've come. I can only hope that I'll look back on these difficulties a year from now and marvel at how much progress we've made.


Queen Mother said...

Don't be so hard on yourself ...or Punkin.

Those mothers who readily turned "too big" shirts into "too cute" shirts were no doubt prepared because of previous years experience with Bible school Tees. I bet next year you'll reach into your own bag of tricks and work some magic.

As to Punkin, quoting Thoreau but changing gender, "If a girl does not keep pace with her companions, perhaps it is because she hears a different drummer. Let her step to the music she hears, however measured or far away." Give yourself and her the freedom to be who she is without apology or explanation.

maggiegracecreates said...

Honey - that same little tomboy was the one sitting with me and reminding me how much fun it was when mine were smaller. She snuggled up to me during the closing pictures and picked out her friends. Just before scampering off to snuggle with HER mommy. Not one of those who looked prepared and made you feel that way. HER MOMMY. The one that makes her feel secure. The one that she trusts. The one that she knows loves her no matter what.

Here is the honesty. None of us know what we are doing. One day at a time. Sometimes the just next minute right now. Just always love. I been faking that mommy thing for years. Sometimes I stumble - but skinned knees and messy hair and koolaid stains will dim by comparison when she wraps herself around you.

You are a wonderful mommy.


Burgh Baby said...

Tomboys rule and girly girls drool.

True story.

1blueshi1 said...

Honey, right now I have one crying in the bedroom & another sulking on the couch behind me because he does NOT want to move to Nashville. If ONLY I had a magic bag of tricks to reach into that would perform ATTITUDE wait, where did I put those darn thumbscrews again?!

Lauren said...

What is it about those little ribbons that incite immediate feelings of inferiority among those who don't have them?? (ok that was wordy) But I know how you feel, and frankly I actually put you in the "perfect mom" category...every day when Punkin' would come over, she was meticulously dressed, her hair was 'fixed' and her face was clean. Also, the diaper bag was perfectly stocked..something I STILL struggle with after four! But the point is that you are much too hard on are an awesome mom!! And you let Punkin be herself, which is the most important thing...she's always going to march to the beat of her own drum :)

Just in Case said...

I love that you write so honestly. I have too learned with Xman that I have to prioritize keeping his routine - his "normal." Often the activities that are supposed to be the most fun are the ones that are the hardest to enjoy with him. He doesn't do well with over-stimulation, being off his routine, or feeling out of control.

I also carry around this guilt about how frustrated I get with how challenging parenting him really is. He's an amazing kid - but goodness gracious, he is a full time job. And not in the way that other kids are. I worry that people in his world will be overwhelmed by his personality, his quirks and not take the time to enjoy him. Because I think, I'm his mother - and I love him with a fierceness I never thought possible - and there are days that I don't enjoy my time with him. Then, I too feel like a crappy mother for thinking such a thing.

Anyhoo - I have decided that every once in a while I pack my bags and let myself go on a little mommy guilt trip - then I throw those bags out the front door and remember that he loves me - ME. How lucky am I?

Leslie said...

I couldn't have said it better than the comments above, but I know where you're coming from. Punkin is a delightful little girl and you are a great mom.