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My 7-year-old daughter, bless her strong-willed heart, requires 120% of my attention, energy and LIFE right now to parent her.
She is testing her boundaries and pushing them to their very limits. She is struggling to find her place in the world, our family, her place with her friends and especially her place with herself.
She lashes out of frustration during homework, while she is getting dressed, brushing her hair, brushing her painful teeth, just about every corner of her little life right now is fueled with frustration.
A little back-story, she had quite the summer…
Poor thing started the first days of summer with a busted face, scrapped leg and a broken wrist. She was walking running our puppy, Sadie, tripped on her leash and down she went.
Happened on the second to last day of school and she was so upset because she thought she was going to miss the end of year party, yearbook signing and saying goodbye to all her friends; one in particular that would be moving that summer to a new school.
We managed to get to the last day of school with mere minutes to spare. There all her buddies clambered around her to find out what happened, sign her glittery cast and talk about how much they will miss each other this summer.
“We made it!” I thought to myself, then came the tears, the rage, the acting out…
Next up, her BFF moves away, not too far, but far enough where they won’t be at the same school or see each other nearly as much as they did already. This was a huge blow to Bear and her inner world, which I didn’t even account for. To me she was just a few miles up the hill and it didn’t even register that to Bear, she felt like she was gone forever and a part of her was lost. Then continued the tears, the rage, the acting out…
As does life when things get hard, life moves on. Summer begins and both kids attend camp. Camp was such a shinning moment for her. It was the first time she was going to be separate from her brother and not lumped in with him as she usually is. She was on her own, in the woods, making friends of her own and having adventures. It was great!
It was great, until we discovered she had caught a raging head full of lice. The tears, the rage and the acting out, got kicked up a whole level…
Note: As a parent, up until this point, I had never experienced lice. I remember being checked as a kid and getting notes from Bear’s class about it going around, but we had never experienced it personally. This is actually a story for another time, but lets just say, I tried to get rid of it and didn’t do a very good job and she ended up passing it on to another group of family friends over and over again. Sorry Rachel!
Next blow comes in the form of Orthodontia.
Poor kid has a nasty underbite and teeth as tight as pegs. We have to make room for her adult teeth trying to come in, but since her teeth are so close together they have nowhere to go.
At a two and half hour appointment, she left with an implant on the roof of her mouth that we turn with a key every night to break make her palate expand, spacers in the back pushing her jaw line out, braces on the top row to keep it all inline and a head-gear to bring her jaw back. Her poor little face with swollen like an adorable chipmunk and she could barely eat anything past a smashed banana. The tears, the rage, the acting out continued…
We slowly made our way through summer.
Just when I think we are out of the woods, school starts and the realization that her BFF isn’t there sets in harder than before. The tears, the rage, the acting out…
Settling into 2nd grade was not going well at all. She didn’t want to be there and even started throwing MASSIVE tantrums and refusing to go into class. Tantrums that were leaving us both in tears on the black top at school.
Deep breathes from this mama….
It all ends with a tiny slip on our trampoline and she busts her ankle. “NOW I AM STARTING SCHOOL WITH A BOOT! I CAN’T TAKE ANYMORE!” The tears, the rage, the acting out…
Now that you are all caught up…
My heart aches watching her struggle. I sit, I listen and can feel her pain through her tears. Yet I find my patience runs thin when she needs this much attention from me all seconds of all days.
Everyday I wake up look into her smiling eyes and say to myself, “Today I will be there 120% for you, without letting in my frustration“. Yet every night when I lay her into bed, sobbing because her teeth hurt, she doesn’t want to wear her headgear, I find myself depleted and snapping.
I used to focus so much on parenting through MY personal struggles, however; parenting our children through their struggles is equally, if not harder.
I usually thrive in the big moments of their life, helping them walk through tough lessons and being there to answer the difficult questions. However, lately I find myself waning with the entire struggle her poor little soul has been going though.
I talked about this with one of my close friends recently. She too feels depleted with the sheer amount of energy it takes to parent her 7 year-old girl as well. Their defiance, their push back is normal, yet matched with the rage and anger Bear feels with all that life has given her is hard to handle at times.
I’ve made the charts, bought the prizes, spent the extra time, and even sought out the professionals, but when do you step back and say to that tiny girl, “You have to meet me half way. I can’t make you happy through this. I can soften the path, but you need to try to find the good. I can’t do that for you.”
Isn’t it funny?
It’s true, for everyone, we can’t have others make us happy. We have to find it and fight for it within ourselves. I think it’s very ironic that THIS is the lesson that has been so obviously set in front of me over the past few months to teach my children.
I want to raise resilient children, adaptable kids who can see beyond their own surroundings. This is the lesson Bear is painful trying to learn. I know she will be stronger for it, better in the end and in the grand scheme of life, these aren’t difficult obstacles. However, for her, this is A LOT to deal with and trust me, I can relate to the toll it takes on you.
So I ask: How do YOU parent your children through their struggles? Making sure you are building the proper foundation for when things get really hard and we aren’t there? How do YOU hold it together when their struggle is making you want to scream just as loud as they are?
For me, right now, I am working on my patience (was that what I said I was going to do Rachel? LOL.), cutting her some slack when necessary and doing my best to hold her hand as she walks through the toughest year of her life. I feel like that is a good place to start.