Worn Down

Sorry for the lack of posting lately, dear readers.  I have been seriously down in the dumps.  What has brought this on, you ask?  Some of it, I’m not sure.  Life just has ups and downs.  But some of it is that Mushroom has been extremely trying lately.  And by extremely, I mean some days I don’t know if I want to laugh at him or scream or rip my hair out or just curl up in a ball and cry.

Something I learned a long time ago is that kids bring you their worst when they feel safest and most secure in your love for them.  It’s true when you’re just their teacher and it’s true beyond true when you’re their parent.  It’s such a wicked contradiction, yet makes perfect sense.  Of course a child who feels unconditional love can let out all their demons, all their emotions, all their deep, dark thoughts.

I feel like none of the touchy feely, just give the kids love and respect parenting and teaching philosophies want to admit this terrible truth because it goes against everything that love and respect should do.  The more you love and respect you give, the more chaos a child can bring.

The answer isn’t, of course, less love or respect.  But as Mushroom’s anxiety has risen in the last few months, I’ve had to pull back and draw more boundary lines and push hard against that chaos and angst and tears.  And it’s just wearing me down, folks.  He’s always been a sensitive kid, but something in him has just snapped in the last several months and I am still struggling to keep up.

I want Mushroom to see that he is one of the gentlest, kindest kids I know.  In many ways, he’s the most emotionally intelligent eight year-old I’ve ever met, full of deep thoughts and amazing empathy for others.  I want him to know that he’s brilliant at math and writing.  That of course he’s not perfect, but that doesn’t make him any less amazing and excellent.  I want him to find confidence and resilience, persistence and patience.  I want him to find joy, because when he does, he lights up so brightly.

Some days he has all that and then some.  He pushes through hard math, he writes beautiful narrations, he works on his own projects with joy and cheer.  He goes outside and strays far and wide.  Other days, he is tears and screaming and practically clawing at me full of neediness and fear.  He shakes and won’t catch his breath properly.  He wants to go out, but he’s afraid – afraid of dogs, afraid of people, just afraid of his own shadow.  He wants to finish his math or his writing or reading, but he’s all nerves and tears.  My heart aches for him.  And I never know which kid I’m getting when we start the day.

I try to give him the right tools, to equip him with the skills to fight these battles.  And I am learning, painstakingly, to push him away when he’s in the throes of it and make him fight the battle.  There’s no way to sate those deep, dark fears except to turn away from them, something he has to do on his own.  I do this and hope for the best, hope that I’m doing it right, but never really knowing.

11 thoughts on “Worn Down

  1. My kid is much younger, but I’ve recently had the same realization, that our hippie parenting is probably the right thing to do, but does not actually make things easier. And I’ve felt some fist-shaky feelings about parenting teachers who preach this stuff, and who never seem to want to admit that empathizing that your child hit you because they were having big feelings is, in fact, NOT going to make your choice not hit you anymore. Sigh.

    Hope things get easier for you guys!

  2. So sorry you are in such a difficult phase of parenting. Watching you child suffer emotionally is so painful & exhausting. Is anyone helping you guys? Sometimes you need more than books & advice, you need a pro. Sending you hope & peace & strength as you both move through this. You’ll get there.

    1. I’m with Erica. Sometimes – and you’ll know when the time is right – getting some outside help really makes a difference. My now 11 yr. old’s anxiety started creeping up at around age 8 and at the age of 10 we got her some outside help. I tried homeschooling first to see if that would make the difference, but it actually spiked her anxiety; she told me that she ‘had too much time to think’ when HS’ing. We kept at it anyway and she is now glad we did, but we had to get through the period of time when everything came to a head.

      I am not in any way implying that this is your situation, but I wanted to let you know that my daughter has been diagnosed with PANDAS, which is OCD triggered by strep. Many online sites will list the criteria for diagnosis as ‘sudden onset OCD’, but the reality is that there are often small exacerbations, prior to a dramatic one.

      Please know again, that I am certainly not trying to worsen fear or provoke it for that matter. PANDAS is not widely known and I mention it here only to tuck away if one day you’re not getting the answers you may be looking for.

      I wish your family and your son the best of health and hope that his anxiety is nothing more than emotional growing pains.

      Best,

      Heather

  3. My 8 year old and I have been on a similar roller coaster the last couple of months. Sending good vibes to you for better days ahead.

  4. Mushroom is lucky to have you as his mother. Ballet Boy is lucky too! Here’s to things getting easier soon. 🙂

  5. Just FYI, he is seeing a therapist and has been for a couple of months. It has helped some and perhaps made some things harder as well. We’ll see. Thanks for all the good juju, guys.

  6. Sorry to hear you’re having a rough time. My 8.5 yr old son was on an emotional roller coaster about a year and half ago. A friend suggested I read the book “What’s Eating My Child,” as a result I started him on 1mg of fish oil a day and saw a huge improvement in how well he handled things that used to send him into fits and tantrums. I now highly recommend the book and fish oil to anyone who’s having similar problems.

  7. 😦 Hang in there! The dog issue is something we struggle with all summer when we go hiking. Why don’t some people put their dogs on leashes? They must have no idea whatsoever that it can take certain children ten minutes to recover from having a random dog surprise sniff them.

  8. So sorry to hear you are having a rough time. My almost 6-year-old has a lot of anxiety and OCD-type issues that we have just started seeing a therapist for. Like a few other commenters, I, too, am frustrated that my lovey, hippie parenting doesn’t work in all situations. I really hope that things get better for you guys – and for your other son too – as I’m sure the tension has an effect on him (i know that my 2 year old already acts differently when her brother is having a freak out.)… just know that you are not alone. parenting is so challenging sometimes.

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