I hate my life! she yelled as we were trying to get through our bedtime routine. There was a loud thunderstorm happening outside and she wanted me to sit in her bed and read to her. The 7yo was being clingy so I sat with her attached to my hip while reading our nightly bedtime story of Eloise. It became clear that this was not good enough for the 9yo who was completely melting down before my eyes ; her words slapping me in the face as she ranted like a bratty teenager. I wish I could tell you I was patient and said all the right things to her. Instead, I yelled. told her to stop screaming and calm down. I am pretty sure that is the worst thing you can say to a child with anxiety. I wish I had tried to get her to look at the horse picture her counselor gave to us to use as a focal point for relaxation. Instead, I became increasingly frustrated. Instead she yelled “I hate my life, you are making this day horrible!” It hurts when your child says such things to you, so after yelling and making it worse I sat there and ignored her. Let her rant, because what else could I do with a frightened seven year old, who is also battling a form of anxiety.
Once the 7yo was finally asleep and the storm was calm I did the only thing I knew to do. I got in bed and lied down net to nine year old who was still wide awake in all of her anxious glory. She must have decided that her life wasn’t all that bad because we spent the next hour talking. We talked about school, friendship troubles and Soccer. Part of me thinks she was having a little anxiety about starting back school in addition to the thunderstorm. WE laughed, and we talked and just like that, the frustration seemed foolish. I wish I had the patience to handle the situation better in the beginning.
At nine years old and such a wise sole, I forget that she is still just a child. In some ways so mature for her age and some ways so childlike. Add a little OCD tendencies and anxiety to the mix and sometimes I just don’t know what to do. I feel ill prepared to parent a child with anxiety. My inpatient nature gets the best of me. The truth is, she just needed me every bit as much as 7yo needed me.
They need us. Even when they are yelling how much they hate their life, they need us. Even when their words hurt and pierce us to our soul, they need us. They need us to be strong and to somehow hold it together. To protect them from all of life’s overwhelmingly terrifying events. When we fall, they will forgive us. Their love is so pure and unconditional and all they really need us to give them is us. There will be times when we fail and times when we hit the nail on the head. One thing is for sure, they will always love us.
What challenges have you had in parenting this week?