CG is 8 now, old enough to read this blog over my shoulder if she were to be next to me, and old enough to have opinions about what parts of her stories I tell to others. Last week, we were camping, and she sustained a minor injury due to inadvertent carelessness of another child, and she didn't want to tell anyone about this (but did want to put a very big band aid on it, which only raised more questions). Part of what I've been doing while not posting very much lately is pondering how I want to tell stories about CG in more public places--and telling stories about hard times is, well, hard.
I've written before about anger management and the challenges of parenting someone whose anger, sometimes, can just spin so out of control in no apparent relation to the provocation. When CG can't cope with her feelings, we need to help her cope, and my best moves there come when I can stay calm myself and not get dragged into her feelings. That's all easier to do when she'll let one of us help her. This summer, she's been working on not having such big fits--she talks about it; sometimes she'll have a little outburst and then calm down and say, "My body wanted to have a big fit, but I didn't. Isn't that good?"
This summer, though, has been hard. She's been in camp every week since school ended--programs that have run mostly 9-3 or 3:30. After camp, we've not been doing much (although this week we've started going to a wonderful pool a bit), but she's been exhausted. And the afternoons and evenings have been a real struggle. She's just so tired, and I suppose at 8 looking to develop a bit more separation from us....but good FSM, the oppositional conversation is so draining. When she's tired, she never wants to sleep; she just gets cranky. And even though I keep resolving to stay calm, to be positive, I'm getting worn down by her opposition to me (quick example: about an hour ago, when it was bedtime, I told her to come upstairs, take a shower, and we'd get ready for bed. "NO! I don't want a shower!" she said very crabbily. "Fine," said I. "I'll bring the fan up and we'll head right to bed." "NO! I'm taking a shower!!!!!" she yelled. Whatever I ask, she doesn't want to do.)
So I'm just worn down. It's a good thing that my darling girl wants to be more independent. I'm a big advocate for her independence, as I've blogged about before. I love watching her learn to do things on her own. I've been re-reading my own posts (wondering where all the old comments went? I've always used blogger's own platform for comments and I'm surprised that the comments all seem to be missing on older posts), looking at older posts about parenting frustrations, wondering where that mother-writer went. I used to be better at handling CG's challenges; I didn't used to escalate small incidents into big fights; I used to be the one who helped her calm down, not the one she rages against).
I miss all that.
I know, it's probably a good thing that her feelings are overflowing at home.
I know, it's a good thing that out in the world, she's delightfully flexible and adaptable and resilient.
I know, the heat will break, and coping skills will rebound a bit.
I know, it won't be like this forever.
I know, I'm probably still internally over-reacting to my sister's comment, when I mentioned that this summer had been a little hard and CG had been a little overtired, that perhaps CG doesn't know how to deal with a lack of schedule in the summer. Maybe she didn't mean that as a criticism of the fact that Politica and I end up working in the summer more than she and her husband do. But that's what I heard. I know, I should not be holding onto that.
I know, I'm not the only working mother feeling dammed if she does and dammed if she doesn't: if I can arrange to work less next summer, I will (on the theory that too much camp is getting CG's rhythms out of whack...which leads me to wonder whether I agree with my sister's own comment, which just gets more more mad all over again).
I know, it's not good to whine. But it's also not good to sit in your house feeling like an alien with no parenting skills. So I'm telling my story, feeling a little better even in the telling, and hoping that some of you will read it and feel a bit less like an alien without parenting skills the next time your kid loses it. (Right?)