Calgon Take Me Away

Writing this blog has been therapeutic for me – helping me to gain some perspective, focus on the positive, and keep my ego in check.   I hope you are finding my posts to be entertaining, interesting and helpful. 

I have shared a few of the lessons I’ve learned and some of the stories of when I have done things right.  Last night, tho, it all went out the window.

The evening started off well enough – Kenneth started the casserole with little resistance, even remembering to remove the plastic wrap.  Everyone had their chores finished when I got home from work and the girls and I played around and were giving each other “fish kisses” – our cheeks sucked in and lips puckered up like a fish – kissing each other on the nose, chin, forehead.  It was very sweet and fun.  I was feeling particularly tired and was glad to be just chilling out on the sofa.  At bedtime, Patsy went willingly to brush her teeth and kissed everyone goodnight.

About fifteen minutes later she came downstairs, still in her school uniform.  Before I could ask her what was wrong, she started whining and wimpering, saying she was scared.  I asked her what she was scared of and she said she didn’t know.  I told her to try turning on her radio, sitting up in bed and reading.  She ran up the stairs wailing that no-one cares about her and she hates all of us.

Whoa!  Where the hell did that come from?? I am tired, and REALLY tired of her drama and all of the “fire-drills”.

So, I ignore her.

Which is certainly better than my first inclination which was to go into a tirade and tell her that she is acting like a spoiled brat and that if I didn’t care about her why did I give up my life as I knew it to take care of her and her siblings.  I could have gone on to describe how much better her life is now – she actually has a bedroom, a bed, nice clothes, regular meals, etc., etc., etc.  At least I didn’t do that.

And of course, she came back down the stairs a few minutes later with her drama dial turned up even more. My response was to tell her that she could turn on all of the lights, listen to some music and read a book to get her mind off whatever is scaring her. She yelled that no-one ever listens to her and there is no way she is going to bed and no-one could make her.  I placed my head in my hands and groaned.  I intentionally waited about 10 minutes, then announced I was going upstairs.  I wasn’t going to “let her win”, but knew if someone was upstairs she would probably chill out.

Just as I was straightening up the livingroom for the evening before I went up, Tom decided to take the laundry up.  Once he started up the front stairs, Patsy scurried up the back way.  That aggrevated me even more – and I’m still not even sure why.  When I got upstairs, Patsy came into mine and Tom’s room to take her meds.  Tom started talking to her about what was wrong.  I was too fed up to stay there and listen, so went to brush my teeth.  As I was finishing up, Patsy came in to apologize and say goodnight.  I said that I forgave her, even though I hadn’t yet.  I did recognize that I was over tired and in a nasty mood, so I decided to just go to bed.

Today I was reflecting back on the events of the previous evening.  Initially I was beating myself up for screwing up and not using the strategies and interventions I know that I “should”.  Then I started berating myself for letting Ego take hold of my inner conversation.  So, instead of staying mired in the past, I wondered what it would be like if I was as kind and gentle to myself as I am with the kids.  I took a few deep breaths and asked myself what was wrong and what I needed.

Here is what I learned:
1)  I’m tired
2) Getting back into the school-year schedule is a hard transition for me – I am WAY NOT a morning person
3) I have been doing a lot to focus on the kids’ needs – school enrollment, school shopping, counseling appointments, Dr. appointments… – and haven’t really done much for myself
4) I want to feel appreciated

What I decided I need is a day to relax and rejuvenate.

On Saturday I am going to do just that. I am going to get my nails done, have a hair appointment, and am thinking about taking myself on a shopping spree as well.  Just the thought of giving myself a day to take care of myself has made me feel less stressed and more calm.

I also had an interesting idea about how to feel more appreciated. First I decided that there is nothing wrong with wanting to feel appreciated.  What is wrong is when you don’t feel appreciated, you don’t say anything, and then get resentful.  So, I decided that I am going to talk to the kids about how I am feeling and ask for what I want.  I am going to ask the kids to choose from one of the following ideas:

1) Write a letter to me describing how I have touched your life
2) Write a poem to me, expressing how you feel
3) Give me a foot massage
4) Create a large, beautiful bouquet for me with flowers from our garden
5) Make a collage of all the ways I make a difference in your life using printer paper so I can frame it
6) Some activity or memento of your own creation and imagination that expresses how you feel

These are all things that will stay with me for a long time that will help me always remember why I made this choice.  And why it is so important for me to persistently insist that these kids deserve love, safety and happiness and know that someday they will believe it.

copyrighted 8/19/09

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