Blogger has recently changed and won't let me post messages on past dates. For example, sometimes I write blog posts but I'm not able to connect to the internet but I was able to go back at a later date and put those posts in where they belong chronologically. Now, I can't do that. So, I have a couple posts that need to be added here from past months that are going to be out of sequence. Sorry for any confusion - but I want them recorded here for the sake of authenticity and telling the whole story. :)
I’m waiting for Nathan to get out of surgery and thinking about the events of the past few days. Over the past two weeks, we’ve learned that not only did Nathan need some minor surgery, but that he is also suffering from a semi-chronic condition related to stress. My little boy has been so stressed and so upset that it has been affecting his health.
Earlier this year I discussed with his teacher that he was taking things very seriously and very personally. Specifically, I mentioned that even though Nathan had almost straight A’s in his classes, all he could see was the one grade that wasn’t an A. And when it came to his behavior, all he could see was the days that he lost his afternoon recess due to excessive talking. His focus was consistently on the negative.
We’ve also be struggling with Nathan’s focus on the negative in general. In life, he tends to view the negative and ignore the positive. This leads him to a very negative attitude about his life and his experiences; he tends to be pessimistic and ungrateful. We were working on fostering an attitude of gratitude, but didn’t realize that this was a much deeper issue.
As I’ve opened this line of dialogue with him, trying to learn what concerns him and what he worries about, I’ve gotten more and more upset. I’ve learned that he is concerned by:
* his grades, even though they are almost the top of his class
*by the loneliness that he occasionally experiences because he is one of the only boys in his class that like Star Wars
*by unrealistic fears about the consequences for missing school lately and for his minor discipline issues
*other unrealistic issues including fears he’s gotten from the news or other things he’s seen on TV
*concern about his dad and I being upset at/with him
*lack of money – he believes that he is somehow at fault for the times that his dad and I stress about money or make comments about how we don’t have a lot of money
And I’m sure that his focus on the negative in life only compounds his fears and worries because he isn’t able to find joy in life…
So, how do I handle this information. Well, first I wanted to cry. And then I wanted to sleep and avoid the issue. And then I wanted to shop to help me feel better. Come bedtime, I vacillated between being unable to sleep and having an upset stomach to sleeping and seeking oblivion. I am honestly heart-broken about how I have taught my son to be this little basket of nerves. I know that he has learned it from me because I can see myself in him very clearly. Instead of the gastro-intestinal issue that he has developed, I had seizures when I was overwhelmed with stress. I was a perfectionist and completely unwilling to settle for anything other than straight As. I was distraught at any sign that someone was unhappy with me or didn’t like me. One major difference is that I was an only child with a stay-at-home mom who was able to dedicate a ton of time to me. I got all the attention I needed and all the help with school work or projects. I always had other children over at our house and I was able to thrive while still struggling with my feelings of inadequacy and fear.
Nathan is in a different boat – he has to share his parents with two (soon to be three) other children and both of his parents work. With some exceptions, his friends don’t come over – they just play at school. He isn’t involved in extra-curricular activities (due to money partly, but mainly to both of us working). And he has a screwed-up, perfectionist, selfish, stressed mom and a dad with a temper issue.
I don’t like this combination.
As much as I don’t like it however is how clueless I am of what to do to fix it.
Financially, I can’t stay home. Lowell would need to find another job that makes more money (losing his seniority but maybe not having to drive so far?) and I would still probably have to work part time. And we can’t switch Lowell’s shift to days for multiple reasons – 1. There isn’t a position on first shift that is open, 2. We wouldn’t have anyone to pick up the kids and 3. We’d have to find childcare for the new baby. There are two additional issues with #3 – I don’t want my baby to be in a childcare setting and we couldn’t afford it anyway.
Then there’s the fact that Nathan watches me stress about life and be up-tight about just about everything and be a perfectionist in my own life. Why wouldn’t he learn these traits? So, in order for me to teach him how not to stress and to be more relaxed about life, I’m going to need to learn these things too. Does this mean therapy for me? Can we afford this? (Why is it always about money?!!!) I have not, as of yet, been able to fix these personality traits by myself so am I going to be able to now? I don’t want to be this way another minute – for any second longer than I need to – because it will only further reinforce Nathan’s behavior. (And because it simply sucks to not be able to lighten up and enjoy life.)
I have often seen commercials that feature moms and kids where the mom is laughing, playing with the kids… I am unable to do this. Honestly, I cannot relax and play and laugh with my kids. It is nearly physically impossible for me. I experience a physical and emotional discomfort when I try to play. It is like I am literally repelled by these actions. I find myself immediately sleepy, trying to check-out instead of having to face this request from my kids… “Play with me, Mommy!”
Isn’t that disgusting?! How can I be a good mom when I can’t even stand the idea of playing with my kids. I’ve tried explaining to them that mommy isn’t good at playing, that I have a hard time playing and that I would rather get them set up and watch them play… Lord Almighty, what kind of mother am I?