Last week DD started gym class. I wrote about our successes in this post.
As late as yesterday she was still excited about going, then today announced she didn’t want to go. I thought she was just sucked into her DVD’s, so I got her to eat, get dressed, and come along for the ride. I asked if she’d like me to watch the class with her for a bit, like we did last time. But this time I was feeling the pressure. All the other 3 year olds were there happily, while my DD was sitting on the sidelines refuting all the attempts by instructors to get her to join in. Her responses to them were sometimes a bit rude, or even hurtful (yes, I have serious issues thinking I’m “hurting” total strangers’ feelings, when they probably could care less). I began to feel embarassed, like all the parents above were looking down on me, like there was something wrong with my child. And because it’s not a parent participation class, and because the teachers said that parents “weren’t really allowed” to stay there (but they would make an accomodation for now) I just couldn’t get over this feeling of wishing she would march in and join like last time so I could go upstairs. I felt like some sort of freak side show that everybody was watching.
She was making the same progress as before, gradually taking more and more interest in what the kids were doing, but then I got impatient because she began playing on the sidelines and I told her if she wanted to play she had to join in with the group. She was disengaging from me, moving closer to them, and that was all good. Then she started trying to get on some equipment and one of the teachers said she had to sit down and listen until the teacher was finished talking…she sat right down and I remarked to myself how readily kids “obey” other adults they don’t really know. She *seemed* to be engaged with the class now and not with me, and as I walked away and looked back she paid me no heed. Just like last time, except last time she was actively doing stuff. That was my error, I now know. But with all the pressure I felt, I walked away and went upstairs only to be turned right back down by my friend before I reached the top of the stairs to the observation deck. I ran back down and was greeted by a teacher holding a sobbing, hysterical DD.
Cue world’s shittiest mother.
I felt like utter crap, like I’d snuck out on my child, abandoned her, destroyed her trust. She asked me where I had gone and I made up some bullshit about having to pee real bad but mostly I just apologized to her, held her tight, and wanted to run off and bawl somewhere. For a minute I actually entertained the idea that I could salvage this class, but deep down feared I’d ruined it for good. I went upstairs where my friend K was watching her son, and I let some tears fall when I could, and K tried to comfort me. It was no use. I felt like shit for “abandoning” DD, I felt like shit for wondering what was “wrong” with my child that she couldn’t join in like all the others. I felt like shit for loving this class so much and “ruining it”….it was all just awful.
DD fell asleep on the way home. Strange since it was not even 2:30 and she doesn’t nap unless she is sick or really tired. She slept in this morning so no reason for her to be tired. But no symptoms of sickness, either. K arrived right after we did with her boys for a playdate, and bless her heart she brought chocolate doughnuts with her. She also gave me a pep talk, said she saw the whole scenario break out and didnt’ think for one second I’d “left too soon” and she also pointed out that DD didn’t cry right away when she saw I had gone, she looked upstairs even, probably just a second before I got there, but a second too late for me. Anyways, K made me feel like maybe I wasn’t a total failure as a mother for attempting my getaway when I did.
DD eventually woke up and for a few brief moments played happily with K’s boys and DS, then announced to her friend A (K’s oldest son) that she wanted him to ‘go home now’. I know she was trying to say that she didn’t feel like playing any more but it comes out as “I want A to go home” or “A isn’t my friend anymore” and I want to just die, I’m so embarrassed and upset that A’s feelings are hurt (A is only a couple weeks older than DD). On other occasions she’ll tell A who he can and cannot pretend to be, or she will take stuff he likes, etc. Frankly, there are times when my DD acts like a mean and heartless b*tch and A bursts into tears (he’s such a sweet kid).
I know my DD has a hard time expressing her feelings in words sometimes, and I know that she is a bit “challenged” socially at reading people (though at other times she is amazingly sweet and thoughtful and kind). But I guess it all ties into my own issues about hurting/upsetting others and there are moments, like at the gym, when I get bad feelings about my own beloved girl, like I don’t like who she is. I know that isn’t the case. I love her. I love her so much it hurts. But it also totally unglues me when hurtful words come out of her mouth and her friend, who is MY friend’s beloved son, gets hurt. I feel like I’ve hurt my friend, kwim? I feel responsible for her hurting other people’s feelings. And I know that’s stupid.
I know I need to just get over myself and not feel personally responsible for DD’s immaturity. But situations like today’s just really upset me. I feel guilty for not being 100% accepting of who DD is sometimes. I feel guilty for not meeting her needs because I was concerned about the opinions of total strangers. I felt selfish for wanting this gym class to work so badly. And I felt bad for feelings all those things.
Sometimes being a mother is hard in ways one could never imagine.