My friend and colleague, Jennifer Olden, LMFT, told me she learned this stuff from me, but she flatters me. Anyway, she is also one of my writing partners, so I get to read some of her stuff once in awhile. Today, I received this little essay about parenting her perfectly attached, trauma-free, biological children. Reminded me, parenting is a wild ride no matter the circumstances.
I am an AMAZING mother
by Jennifer Olden
Yesterday at the Barrio, our local coffee shop, my 3-year-old, Sam, played Legos independently for 45 minutes while I chatted happily with a friend.
An acquaintance approached and said, “Wow, I don’t want to jinx it but your kid is so well-behaved.”
I responded, “It’s because I’m an AMAZING mother.”
In truth, Sam’s ability to focus and play independently is more about his personality than my mad skills as a parent. It’s easy for me to see the tenuous relationship between my parenting and his behavior at the coffee shop but when my eleven-year-old daughter was his age, I couldn’t separate the two at all.
My sweet daughter is very sensitive. It’s her strength and I can see that now, but when she was two years old I didn’t recognize the blessing. Her tantrums are seared into my mind. For example, I remember the meltdown at the community pool because I brought the wrong bathing suit. She screamed, cried, and rolled around on the grass. I remember my hot shame and the overwhelming feeling of failure.
I *know* there were parents and grandparents in the vicinity watching her and watching me and thinking, “Wow, your child is poorly behaved. What have you done?”
I asked myself the same questions: What have I done? What is wrong with me? What is wrong with her?
I didn’t know that I was asking the wrong questions. In a situation like this there are only two questions a bystander or I should be asking:
1) Are you Ok?
2) How can I help?
I wish I could reach through time and put my arm around my previous self and stop asking the questions whose business is it to assign blame for the suffering. I wish I could orient my mind to the simple and earnest stance of compassion and concern. So much of life is out of our control.
Sam is basically happy because he’s basically happy and it’s not my genius, or failure, or supreme mental health, or stellar parenting, or top notch abilities as a therapist, or the undeniable fact that I’m a domestic goddess. It’s just him. It’s how he plopped onto the planet—a chubby baby packed with joy. Good for you, Sam.
I wish I could go back to that scene at the pool when my first born was crying and screaming in histrionic fits of discontent because of the wrong bathing suit and yell at the woman looking at me from across the pool.
I’d yell, “It’s not my fault, expletive, expletive, expletive. We are sensitive about all things. It’s our strength and source of compassion. Why don’t you help me load up my car because as you can see I’m going to have to carry a screaming two-year-old and it’ll be difficult to also pack up the towels and toys and leftover fruit snacks and fishy crackers? We are made of pure sunshine—my daughter and I—so you should take heed and help us out.”
That would be satisfying.
But I didn’t realize what I now know so I scurried to the car, face red from the sun and embarrassment, and cried alone.
Are you ok? How can I help? Me too. That’s what I needed and still need.
Don’t compliment me on my son’s behavior. I am not in control of it. I’ve influenced and impacted all three of my children but they have their own soul and life story. I am here to help them live it as fully as possible; that’s the true meaning of secure attachment. –The End, The Beginning
Upcoming Events Calendar and Other Things in Sacramento…
NEW DATE: Trust-based Therapeutic Parenting Class for Parents of Children from Difficult Beginnings by Ce Eshelman, LMFT will be held on February 17th from 9am to 4pm. Register here or on our website!
NEW! 5-Week FRIENDSHIP SOCIAL SKILLS IMPROV GROUPS FOR CHILDREN WITH DEVELOPMENTAL TRAUMA–5-7 yrs group. The group will be $20 per session, CALVCB payment eligible, structured, and fun, too. Groups will begin January 13th, 2018. Contact Ce at Ce@attachplace.com for more details.
UPCOMING ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT: Join our monthly Adoptive/Foster Parent Support Group on February 14th, 2018! Open to all parents/caregivers at no cost. Support Group is every 2nd Wednesday of every month from 6 pm to 8 pm at 3336 Bradshaw Road, Ste 175, Sacramento, CA 95827.
Reminder: Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. January 19th, 2018 from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm. Gluten-free snacks provided. Please RSVP to Andrea@attachplace.com so we get enough snacks, right? This is a monthly social group for the children; and caregivers will have an opportunity to connect, chat, and chill in a separate space. A donation of $0.00 to $5.00 will be accepted for food and supervision if you are able, but please don’t let that be an attendance barrier because the group is FREE. ASD kids need a social life and this is a great way to make it happen.
GIVE MY BOOK FOR SUPPORT TO A FELLOW ADOPTION ADVENTURER: Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT. Daily inspirational reading for those who sometimes find it hard to keep hope alive. There is hope for healing. At Amazon or get a discounted copy here.