Sometimes I am proud of my parenting and sometimes I am not so happy with myself. Every time I lose my cool, I give myself a very hard time. I try so hard as a parent and a wife to stay calm in my communication. It can be very challenging. When you have been trained to counsel people there is a voice in your head that tells you what to say in a situation. It is amazing how my head could be telling me to say something to my child, but my emotions take over and I am too upset to listen. I didn’t do a great job with Lillie today, but I was able to turn it around.
My day started by taking Ella and her friend to musical rehearsal at school. Ella wasn’t happy to be missing her theater class, but it was dress rehearsal for Monday’s musical, so we figured she should go. I dropped them off and ran home to get Lillie ready for Max’s soccer game. Max and Seth walked out the door as I walked in the door. I was so excited that Lillie was already dressed. I figured this was going to go smoothly. Getting Lillie out the door rarely goes smoothly, and I shouldn’t be so optimistic. She likes to choose her own outfit. She likes her hair to look a certain way and she like to take time to decide which shoes and coat she wants for the day. She doesn’t tend to have a sense of urgency which is much better than my frantic, trying to get out the door energy! Tanner our puppy is messing with Lillie and throwing off my plan to leave. He is jumping on Lillie and biting the shoes she is trying to put on. My patience is waning, but I am trying so hard to be calm and get out the door. As Lillie screams and continues to take a long time, I lose my cool and finally get her to the car.
We head to Max’s soccer game and he plays amazing. He is on a new more competitive league this year that offers him goalie training. What a difference it has made in Max’s skill level. I am super impressed with him, but his team doesn’t play well, and they lose the play-off game. It was a frustrating game to watch and I am in an annoyed state as I drive home to rush Lillie again to get ready for dance. I am so very tired of rushing. I bet my husband and children would tell you the same thing. When all three children have an activity, it tends to be too much for me.
I rush Lillie upstairs to get her tights and leotard on. She hates tights and this is not a fun process. I rush Lillie to get her hair into a bun. We should be in the car already, but I take a deep breath and collect everything we need to bring with us. I even remember her costume which I think I am supposed to bring with me. It is parent observation week which means that all the parents sit in the dance studio to watch the class. This is a mandatory observation because the dance studio gives the parents important information about dates etc.
We walk into the dance studio on time somehow, and all the girls in her class have their costume on. I try to rush Lillie to throw her costume on, but I should know better. Lillie does not like to be rushed. She also refuses to change in front of people and is yelling that she needs to go in the bathroom to change. I run into the bathroom with her to change her into her recital costume. She is insisting on wearing a tan “bra” that looks terrible under her costume. I try to take it off as she is ripping the bun out of her hair and insisting that she wear a pony tail. Her hair looks so bad and I am embarrassed, but I try to let it go as I help her slip the bra off before we walk into class. Lillie is very frustrated with me for rushing her and fighting with her about the bra and her hair and is crying and clinging on to me. I find a chair in the studio and she sits on me burying her face into me and refusing to dance. She is in a bad nervous upset place and I am hot and sweaty and feeling claustrophobic because she is clingy in a hot crowded room. I firmly tell her to go dance many times as she refuses. My therapist voice is telling me to calm down so I can calm her down, but my emotions are charged, and I need her to get off me. We walk into the waiting room to wipe her nose and tears. I figure I can calm her down and get her to dance but she is refusing to dance. One of the owners of the studio walks by and sees us sitting there. This sweet wonderful woman talks to Lillie and reassures her that she doesn’t have to dance. She tells her that lots of kids get nervous on parent watch week and that she can just watch with me. She asks us not to leave because she is going to share information with the parents that she wants me to hear. She is so sweet and calm with Lillie and I feel Lillie and I both relax. Lillie keeps telling us she doesn’t feel well but we both know it is just her nerves. She tells Lillie that when her son gets nervous, he doesn’t feel well either. I loved this studio before today, and I love it even more after talking more to both the owners today and seeing how wonderful they are with Lillie and all their students. Bottom line is that they want the students to be enjoying themselves at dance class.
The therapist voice was telling me to calm down and be sweet. The therapist voice was telling me to help Lillie calm down. There are a lot of times that my emotions get the best of me and I ignore this voice. I was taking deep breaths and asking Lillie to do this with me. I asked her to go watch with me. I told her I was disappointed because I was hoping to see her dance. She nodded and seemed to understand what I was saying. I knew I didn’t need to pressure my six year old to dance. I know she is only 6. In the grand scheme of life does this really matter? No! I knew that all the wonderful mothers around me understood what I was going through. All of my dance mom friends were being so supportive to Lillie and I. I can’t tell them how much they helped me today.
The class started going over the recital dance. I noticed that they were about to start over at the beginning. I told Lillie that her partner needed her and that now was the perfect time to jump in when they were starting from the beginning. Her head was buried in me, but she heard me and nodded. She asked me if I wanted to see her dance and I said yes! She smiled and nodded and ran to her spot. I took a big sigh of relief because she was finally smiling and dancing and not climbing on top of me making me sweat in a hot room. My friends all gave me the looks of understanding and I smiled watching my adorable dancer. She loves to dance. She dances around the house all day. If I find Lillie by herself in the playroom, she is dancing. I always tell parents to notice what your kids do in their spare time. That is their passion! Lillie does her dance and keeps looking at me and smiling. I can tell she is proud of herself for getting out there and that she is thrilled that I am watching her. I am not talking to any of the moms. I am not looking at my phone. I am present and watching her dance and beaming with pride. I couldn’t be more proud of her at this moment. She pulled it together, got over her nerves, got out there, and did an awesome job. I am proud of you Lillie. From the bottom of my heart, I am so sorry that I wasn’t a better mom today. I promise to do better next time. I will learn from this! Rushing you and fighting with you only makes you feel stressed and nervous. We need to take our time and we need to calmly get ready. I know we can do it. I will continue to fail, and I will continue to succeed. I will never give up and I will always strive to be a better mother. I don’t always listen to my therapist voice, but I will try hard to listen more often!
Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R