I’m up all night due to pesky post nasal drip. I feel nauseous and sleep deprived and have no appetite, but I head to school to run an event all day. Somewhere along the way, women get super-human strength. My husband looks at me like I am crazy for going to school, but off I go. We all know that he would be in bed all day. He actually told me that exact fact that morning.
I make it through the day with the help of all the awesome volunteers, pick up all three of my children and head home. I am dreaming of laying on the couch with my feet up, but I know that I have an errand I really need to go run. The lists are never ending, but I need to learn that the world won’t end if I lay on the couch and put my feet up.
Max is starving when I get home, so I quickly make everyone dinner. I hand Lillie macaroni and cheese and she says that she didn’t ask for that after she had just asked me to make it for her. I am perplexed as always and ask Ella if she would like some macaroni and cheese. I give it to Ella and Lillie screams at the top of her lungs that she wants her dinner. I explain to her as calmly as I can that she just told me she didn’t want dinner yet. She is tired and irrational (this is what I tell myself) and screaming that she wants food “NOW!” I swear she just told me that she wasn’t ready for her dinner. I ask her to ask me nicely for her dinner.
At this point, Ella is very frustrated with Lillie and yells at Lillie “You don’t talk to your mother that way!” Ella scolds Lillie and they start fighting. I look at the clock and see that it’s 6:00. I have two more hours until Seth gets home from giving a seminar. You know that feeling that you aren’t going to make it through those two hours? That is where I am heading to. That place of no return. How about if I go hide in my bed and let the three of them figure out their own dinner?
I heat up Lillie’s macaroni and cheese and go to give it to her. I walk in the dining room and reach over to kiss her cheek and she pulls away. I walk away towards the kitchen and she screams “I want a kiss,” really loud and annoyed that I was leaving the room. “She’s just overtired.” I keep trying to tell myself, so that I don’t lose it. She’s moody, tired and having a roller coaster of emotions and I don’t want to go on the roller coaster ride with her. What is this kid going to be like as a teenager? She is already moody!
I kiss Lillie and walk into the kitchen to heat up my soup. Lillie follows me into the kitchen to complain that she doesn’t like her macaroni and cheese. I ask her if she wants some of my soup and she says yes. I give her some soup and she takes it into the dining room and doesn’t eat it. She wastes so much food it drives me crazy.
I tell Lillie that it’s time to do her math homework and she screams, “Not yet!” I want to throw her math homework at her and demand that she sit down right now and get it done. I remember my clients telling me they were too tired to parent. I remember them telling me that I didn’t understand. I wish I could tell them I truly understand them now. I also know that we can always muster up the strength to parent when we want to. Sometimes I just need a few minutes to regroup. What I really want to do is hand her to Seth. I want to be done parenting for the day.
I ask Ella to get her homework done and she takes it out and gets it all done very quickly like she usually does. I decide to ignore Lillie and the dishes and head to the couch to rest and regroup so that I can demand that Lillie gets her homework done. My feet are so tired I can’t stand anymore, and I need to mentally prepare for my battle with Lillie. A few minutes of rest will give me the strength that I need. These are the mental games I play with myself. I tell myself that a few minutes will reset me and give me strength and magically it happens.
Lillie comes over to the couch and tells me she is waiting for me to come and do her math homework with her. I can’t make this stuff up. You never know what you are going to get with this kid. I walk over to the dining room and get through the math homework with her. When homework is two-sided I cringe. She works hard on the first page and does a great job and then looks wide eyed at the back of the page which looks much harder. She cried about dinner. She cried about me being mean. Now she’s crying about her math homework. Let’s add to the list of crying and tell her it’s bedtime. I can’t do one more minute of this parenting thing.
I go upstairs with Lillie and I tell her she needs to rest. She tells me she doesn’t want to go to bed but is out like a light within a few minutes. I am reminded that most of her emotions tonight were from a very tired 7 year old. The dance of Lillie!
When I am mentally in a good place, I realize that I have a lot to teach Lillie. I need to teach her how to talk to people. I need to teach her how to manage all her emotions. I need to teach her both coping and problem solving skills. When I stay calm and sweet, we tend to make a lot of progress on most days. When I am not in a good place, I lose it and make the whole situation worse.
Just when I think I am patient Lillie decides that I need to learn more patience.
Just when I think I am flexible Lillie decides that I need to learn to be more flexible.
Just when I think I have good coping skills Lillie decides I need to learn even more coping skills.
Just when I think I am a good parent Lillie decides that I need to be a better parent.
Just when I think I am a kind person Lillie decides that I need to learn to be kinder.
Just when I think I am strong she decides that I need to be stronger.
Lillie loves hard. She feels hard. She thinks hard. She has strong emotions and a strong personality. I will continue to dance with her and will always be right behind her.
People tell me all the time that Lillie looks just like me and I smile. There was a time that people would tell me that she was just like me and I would shut it right down. I would tell people what an easy child I was. I would tell people that I never gave my parents any grief. I was a complete and total people pleaser as a child. However, as I write this, it becomes apparent just how much Lillie is like me. I too love hard, feel hard and think hard. I too have strong emotions and a strong personality. I think that I suppressed a lot as a child. That is probably why I feel so proud of Lillie that she is who she is. I want her to be strong. I want her to stand up for herself. As an adult you try to give your kids the skills that you didn’t have as a child. It’s time to stop resisting that Lillie is me and embrace that she has a lot of me in her.
Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R