Parenting is not for the fainthearted, that is for sure. Out of everything I have done in my life, motherhood is by far the hardest thing I have ever done (it is of course, also the best, most rewarding thing I have ever done, but DAMN it's tough sometimes). Just when you think you've gotten a grip on the job requirements, something else comes up and all the balls you've precariously been keeping up in the air come tumbling down.
Actually, that sounds way more dramatic than necessary, things are not that bad. It's all part of the process I suppose.
Poor Kate is not feeling that great at the moment. She seems to be extra needy, extra clingy and quite anxious lately. I had a meeting with the teacher who said that academically she is doing great, but emotionally she does seem to be taking a bit of strain. I then met with her OT who said that Kate seems to be struggling a bit with sensory modulation and anxiety. We are seeing some emotional regression. And so I sent Kate to the school psychologist for a chat. (Lovely woman. In fact, everyone in Kate's 'team' is fantastic, I am so lucky).
They had an excellent session, the psychologist said Kate is very articulate and is able to express her feelings and emotions very well. And in a nutshell, this is what she had to say in the session:
- Mommy is always busy working
- Mommy works all the time
- Mommy is always on her computer
- mommy used to work in an office but now she works on the computer
- when I go into mommy's study, she tells me to go away
- I miss my mommy
- mommy never plays with me
- I love my mommy
That sound you hear? That is the sound of the knife in my heart.
Besides the obvious guilt that I feel about Kate feeling all these emotions and anxiety, I feel extra guilty that my children have inherited such crappy genes from me. Both of the twins have sensory issues, both are probably more anxious than the norm. Lovely. Poor kids :(
Kate had some other stuff to say, stuff I wont post on the blog for her privacy. A few separate but related issues. The gist of it is that Kate misses me. And Kate needs me. The psychologist said that Kate doesn't understand that the alternative to me working in my study is being at the office 9-5. She sees me working as rejection.
It is hard to hear this stuff. Because even though it might not all be true, it is her perception and therefore her reality.
The psychologist and I chatted about a few solutions. Some of them are focused on helping Kate deal with her emotions and her anxiety and others are things I can do to make it better for her. We are going to help Kate understand that mommy works and that my work is on the computer, just like as if I was in an office. I am also going to work at a coffee shop a few afternoons because if I am not here, she is fine. It is when I am here and working that she struggles. I am going to stop working from 4 - 8pm so that I can focus only on the kids and not try to do two things at once. Kate will have a few sessions with the psychologist to chat about all of this and to give her some skills to deal with it.
I am also going to spend some time each week just with Kate. Some 'Kate time'. No phone / computers / iPads / brothers. A time that she can look forward to, and that she knows when is coming. Because 'in a few days time' doesn't mean much to her. She needs to know that in 5 sleeps time, we are going to do something together, just her and I.
The question is - what? Do you have any suggestions for things to do? Not something crafty please, I really suck at crafts.
It's hard. Because my first thought was for Kate and I to go volunteer somewhere, I have been wanting to help out at an old age home for ages, to do something for all the poor old people out there. And I think it would be a good life lesson for Kate, but then I realized that she doesn't want to share me with anyone. I am always helping other people. She just wants to be with me. Suggestions please.
For those who have read "The Five Love Languages", you will understand that Kate's love tank needs filling up. Her love language is quality time. It is not my love language and so it is something I need to work on. To be proactive about.
There is lots more I could say on the issue above, but I think this is enough for now. If I sound calm it is because I have had some time to process this. I was very upset about it last week.
The bottom line is that I need to work. I work because I have to earn an income, I work because I want to. I run my own business which allows flexibility but it also puts huge pressure on me because I can't ever just walk away. I need to keep working damn hard in order to make sure that my business thrives so that I can earn enough money for my children's future.
Having said that, my family are the most important thing in the world and I will do whatever it takes to make sure they are ok.
PS I have had a similar talk recently about empty love tanks with my husband (he is sorely needing some quality time from me), with BOTH my sisters (who say they need more quality time with me), with my mother (ditto)..... I have decided that the only way I am going to be able to do this (besides cloning myself) is to allocate time in my diary for everyone who needs some of me. Seriously. Otherwise it wont happen.
PPS I wish everyone's love language was words of affirmation. Or gifts. Then I could send a nice email with a gift voucher attached and everyone would be happy.
PPPS The good news is that Adam is doing really well, he really is shining at the moment. He has grown so much emotionally, academically, with his sensory issues. The other good news is that although Max is still as naughty as hell, he hasn't hit anyone for two weeks. Progress!
PPPPS Thank goodness both my BFFs are extremely low maintenance whose love language is not quality time. Hallelujah!