Hi Bearsmama! I have been away on one last glorious vacation before my sweet, challenging baby starts kindergarten tomorrow after having grown up way too fast!
Way back on this thread you asked
Originally Posted by Bearsmama
Do you mind me asking if the decision to have a third was more difficult for you b/c you have a challenging child??? Or is the third the challenging one?
I don't mind at all! The decision to have a third child was not at all difficult, partly because I always knew I would have 3 kids and partly because our challenging child is our firstborn. Dh and I have said that if our first had been easy-going and our second had been challenging like dd1 we would've probably stopped at two, because we would've been so shocked at how difficult parenting can really be. But since our very spirited and challenging dd was our first, we didn't know better. We thought all kids were like her and I thought the reason it was so hard because I sucked as a mother. I didn't actually think it was all that hard until she was about 2 1/2 or so, and our second was crawling and showing his easy-going nature-that's when it started getting really rough, and still it was after that we decided to have a third. That's when it got tough and I started questioning my ability to parent and thought she'd be better off with someone else as her mother. Our third child is somewhere in between easy and challenging so far-she is not quite 2.
I have read mountains of parenting books. I have read mountains of information on SID and various other possible disorders while stopping shy-on instinct-of having dd1 evaluated by professionals. I have blamed myself, blamed her, blamed food, and blamed an unnamed "disorder" that must exist within her for all the difficulties we've faced. I have blamed my childhood, I have blamed it all on a lack of "goodness of fit" between myself and my daughter.
What I see today? I see that there is nothing to blame. She is who she is and I am who I am. I have unrealistic expectations at times, and she is sometimes unable to contain her emotions. We are both strong-willed and like to be right and get our way. I get a little too caught up sometimes in what I want or what I feel, and fail to see that she's doing something inappropriate/annoying because she's upset about something else entirely and just really needs a hug and to talk. In other words I am merely human and so is she. On the eve of her going to kindergarten I am really grieving the time I've missed while I worried so much and tried to make both myself and her perfect. All those struggles, those frustrations, the fighting with her. If only I had just relaxed a little, trusted her, trusted me, not allowed myself to get so caught up in believing her behavior is a complete and accurate reflection of the good-ness or bad-ness of my mothering. While she is by no means grown up, she's not really little anymore either and she never will be again and I really do have some regrets. But she is beautiful. I have lots of good memories and look forward to making more good ones. We have arrived at a point in time where she is helpful, mostly cooperative, able to talk about her feelings even if only to say "I don't know how to say it, but I feel bad". I can see now so clearly how some of the things she does that I've found so challenging are such great assets for her and will continue to be as she grows. I have learned by now how to help her calm down and how to communicate with her better. She has grown and I have grown.
I could go on and on because I'm feeling really sentimental today
The bottom line is that I have learned to put down the books, to stop trying to be a perfect parent, and to stop expecting that being a good enough parent will result in my children being any different than they already are. I have learned that my ideas of how things should
be bring a lot of trouble, whereas accepting how things are
helps me be a more calm and compassionate parent. I won't find the answers in a book or in an evaluation of my child (that is a statement about me and my child, not anyone else)
or in the suggestions my therapist has. The answers are all right here, within myself and within my children. All I have to do is listen, even if sometimes it's really hard to hear the answers. We still have bad days, I still yell sometimes, but not nearly as much as I used to. We have more good days than bad, many more. And most important of all, my dd is just fine. She is happy, she is brave, she is confident, she says she loves herself. She is giving and loving, she loves her brother and sister. She trusts us and she knows we love her. She is smart, she is creative, and I do really trust that she is strong and will keep thriving.
You and Bear will be fine, I really believe that. You love him so very much and you try so hard. Isn't that all any parent can do? Isn't that everything a parent can do? He will grow and you will grow and someday you will look back on this as a distant memory. You will remember as many good times as bad, probably more good times.On a practical note, some things that helped us cope during the toughest times were:
-no processed or artificially colored foods
-very little sugar
-massages (for dd, though going for a massage myself was helpful at times and I'd highly recommend a massage for any mom)
-brushing dd's skin with a soft nail brush. She hates tags, has trouble with how socks and underwear feel, can't wear 3/4 sleeves, and other sensory stuff. We always knew massages were relaxing and decided to try brushing after reading some stuff on SID. Made up our own brusing routine, and she loved it-if nothing else it relaxed her and gave us time to be at peace with each other.
-baths and showers for relaxation only (no washing-we wash as needed but kids can shower/bathe to relax daily or even twice daily if they need it)
-a weighted blanket to lay under when she was really having trouble with her clothes
-reducing stress as much as possible: predictable routines, frequent snacks (she didn't always seem to either know or be able to communicate when she was hungry), plenty of sleep, plenty of touching/hugging/playing
-plenty of excercise
-school. Things got easier in many ways when she started preschool. This is also a big part of the reason she's going to kindergarten. Homeschooling is my ideal, but I just don't see it working for us right now. Dd enjoys having her "own" place and a change of scenery/activities/people, I need a break from the intensity. There are other reasons also, but these two were biggies. Preschool may be a great blessing to you once he's settled in.