Many families are either living in, working through or overcoming challenges. Whether we have disbilities in the family or not, my bet is that if we have children, we encounter life hiccups and parenting fails rendering us temporarily incompetent and questioning why there isn’t a ‘money back’ scheme on kids. Like, “sorry, I’ve tried this out, and its not what I was after”… “No problem madam, they come with a 10yr money back guarantee”.
Mummagrizzlybear and her precious babybears are mid way through the summer holidays. Our holidays started earlier than others as pda’er was excluded for the final week of term. Its pissing it down today and its my birthday. Daddybear is working and this is my ‘week off’ from work. Ha. The irony.
Some perspective. Its not all doom and gloom, I’ve had some smashing moments with the kids, some ‘nice’ days together on outings, visited relatives and plenty of self care and ‘me-time’. So why does it all too often feel a bit too much of a struggle to keep my cool? I’m reminded of a blog I wrote some months back, where I promised myself that I’d keep an eye on my wellbeing check list.
Rereading this post helped me to recall that I am a whizz at overcoming struggles far bigger and that, my dip in mood and increase in sarcasm may well be indicators of mumma doing the ‘hump’ again!
I deal with challenging (even violent) PDA behaviors far better than I currently manage the ‘neurotypical’ assholey behaviors of my 10yr old babybear.
Being that ‘calm’, in control mummabear is a far taller order than I ever anticipated. I guess I’ve always been hot headed at times. Its a complete fantasy in my head that I’m a cool, chilled out, laid back kind of girl. I can think of way too many examples of me proving the exact opposite to this. But somewhere naively in my young twenties I believed it entirely possible to raise my babybears without the need for the hot-headed psycho mum needing to be breathing down their necks 24/7.
99% of the time I’m pretty awesome when it comes to parenting my youngest who has PDA. Even when I’ve been sleep deprived and at my wits end, I muster the strength 9 times out of 10, to ensure I phrase my requests in the right way, speak calmly, remove or reduce overstimulation and assist in helping him to learn the skills he needs to ‘manage’ the present issue, no matter how trivial or tricky.
So why is it that I am struggling to afford my eldest the same treatment? He too, requires me to word things carefully, not because he is demand avoidant by diagnosis, but instead because he is, growing up and testing out his developmental milestones and trying his luck by being defiant and ignorant. He needs to be enticed (bribed) into compliance and cooperation and that takes energy. He needs me to be calm just as much as babybear does. No child wants to be scared or met by confrontation and yet, our pattern of relating all too often evokes anything other than ‘calm’ from me. I find him infuriating and I’d guess he finds me just as bad. Babybear needs his environment carefully managed in terms of stimulation, and so too do most children. But at the moment this translates into mummagrizzlybear monitoring biggest bruvs screen time, phone use and availability to his mates, all of which he massively resents and kicks off about. In fact, anything that doesn’t go his way elicits a pre-teen strop. Learning to be able to successfully accept that ‘no’ will sometimes be the answer or to tolerate your brothers differences (no matter how embarrassing) or to speak respectfully even when not getting your own way, requires the acquisition of skills… Skills that I do not have the foggiest how to teach.
Part of the reason I find dealing with ‘normal’ parenting issues so tough, is because I’m always tired. Sleep is no longer the issue but living with PDA in general is exhausting. He takes every last ounce of me. Secondly I’m riddled with guilt and the fear that I’m getting it wrong and somehow failing my first son, pretty much because I had my second son.
Case and point… Youngest just knocked the internal conservatory door off its hinges. Its fooking heavy and could have been disastrous for many reasons. This was a complete accident and quite likely the normal consequence of living with boys but basically happened because I dared to have a cup of tea with a visiting relative and was not entertaining and supervising my pda’er. The meltdown which followed required me to be calm, use the right language and predict reckless behaviors and therefore keep everyone safe by diffusing the situation. It was relatively short lived, but sufficient enough for visiting relative to make her departure so as to ‘free’ me up to focus on him once more. I finally sit back down and utter that we need to go walk the dogs (another chore like the ironing and hoovering that has not escaped my bday celebrations today) and bigger bruv raises quite defiantly that he will not be coming for no such dog walk. Instead of calm, I unleash the dragon. “Who is in charge here” yada yada yada…. Blah blah blah… We will go for a frickin dog walk and it will be bloody perfect…right!? Do we all just have a certain amount of calm? Is it just coincidence that I rarely have any left for him?
No matter how trivial, my neurotypical child’s strops finish me off, each and every time. I can only conclude that its because I perhaps expect more from him. He after all, does not have autism, and therefore should have far better chances with empathy, reasoning and social skills. I am not perfect nor superhuman so I’m probably setting myself up to fail by aiming to have enough in the tank each day to perfectly parent both kids. Hmmm… Maybe one would have been easier?! No returns though!
The next hurdle is the dog walk. After which, for a good dose of humour or ironic blog material, I am going to insist we go on a family outing kayaking with a picnic for a picturesque little birthday adventure, all together, all happily smiling and all without kicking off!!
Wish me luck.
Peace and love to you fellow mumma bears (and daddybears). Summer holidays and birthdays should be enjoyed. Thank goodness there’s gin and sarcasm in my life.