December 19, 2009

Walkin' in a Sensory Wonderland

Hyde park winter wonderland
© Photographer: Lorettaphoto | Agency:

No, I don't discipline my son like I should. I let him pretty much do anything he wants to do if it doesn't involve harm. He runs our household but the joy of having him makes it feel like a small sacrifice, not big, for my husband and I. He has sensory issues and has to have a routine to relieve anxiety.

He isn't just a brat. But I sure hate having to explain that.

We spent the whole day getting ready for company tonight. And that is not often. He was excited. So excited he didn't take a nap. He got anxious and demanding when we tried to move some furniture around to make sure we'd have enough seating in the living room. We had to move it back and do it when he was distracted.

Finally, they came. My first mother's family, whom I dearly love. They have made me feel completely one of them from day one of our reunion. In so many ways. And we are so alike. Amazingly alike. I commented to one of my friends just this week how I felt like I had "found home" at my Aunt Patty's house and would "hang out" there often just to drink in the feeling. It was healing and wonderful.

But I still have this "perfection" thing going on, which I hate. And it beat me up tonight so bad. See, my son was my son. And because I felt like I had to be perfect tonight, I probably downright terrified him trying to get him to "obey." He was so excited and literally could not calm himself down, so he just kept getting more and more hyper and out of control. Instead of me keeping my own head and doing the sensible thing like take him for a drive or something logical, I blew up at him to try to get him to stop a meltdown.

I broke so many rules of motherhood for a sensory-challenged child. And I'm smarter than that. That is why I am sitting here bawling. Not only did I scare my child and attempted a wrestling match that I knew I couldn't win, but I also felt like I made a fool of myself in front of my family. True, it was in another room, but my husband told me later they could hear a lot. Even in the midst of it, I was thinking in my head how disappointed I was in myself for allowing the pressure to get to me, and that I was ruining this get-together for everyone, including my son, who I so want to have happy memories.

But see, I'm so scared of people "judging" him and me as a mother. I'm so scared that people just think he is a brat that won't obey, and I'm a spoiling mother. And I can't find the right balance. Especially in high-stress situations. I was so humiliated after my showing out (the intensity pretty much matched my son's meltdown, so sad, especially since he never sees me like that and it scared him), that I refused to go back out to the living room for quite a while. I made my son take a bath because I knew that was the only relaxing place he would drink his Pediasure and calm down. And it gave me a good excuse to avoid the embarrassment, at least for awhile. I am so hard on myself. Even though my husband kept coming in trying to get me to let him "take over" so I could go visit, I continued to say "no". Though I knew I'd eventually have to face everyone again.

I guess it is true that the fear of something is worse than the actual experience. Once I got Andrew to drink his Pediasure (I'm literally the only one who can make him eat/drink when he is disregulated), I faced the music and joined the then quiet living room of family. I could tell they felt bad for me. And that made it worse.

This is where I weep. Not there, but here, as I write (I have to get it out some how). My family understands because they are like me. They may have done the same thing and so they care about how hard I am on myself and try to make me feel at ease. And it works. Within minutes we are back to having fun, and I'm so thankful. The rest of the evening was saved. Andrew calmed down after our heated talk and warm bath and full tummy. And he was able to interact and play with his aunt, uncles, and cousins. They tolerated his extreme hyperness (did I mention rough play) and the ice was broken. The last hour of the visit was like "old times" ~ playing Win Lose or Draw, singing carols to the guitar, and just laughing. And my son has his family. He has his beloved Grandma (my adoptive Mom), AND his extended family by birth. Even through these experiences, we're all still here and still making family memories.

I'm so embarrassed by my behavior tonight. I got angry. And my son didn't even understand why, because he wasn't able to regulate himself. Why did I let the pressure overshadow my logic? I grew up trying so hard to be perfect. I couldn't express anger or behavior that was less than expected. I'm sure there are many opinions as to "why" that was. I think a large part was adoption. I was expected to fill a role that wasn't myself. So I played the part. It has been so hard emotionally to allow myself the freedom to be real. Even when those around me want me to be.

Lord, help me. And help my family. Help me continue to learn what family and love and being real is all about. Thank you for tonight. And for mercy.
Please bless my family and help them as they go home. Give them peace.
Thank you for the noises of laughter and play I hear in the next room right now. It makes it all worth it. I love you.


a Tonggu Momma said...

Oh, sweetie... we have ALL been there, especially those of us with children who have "invisible" special needs. I totally lost it with the Tongginator at a church Christmas party last week. And the sad thing is - she wasn't doing anything wrong, she was just being her sensory self. It's so difficult, but all we can do is try to do better.

*Peach* said...

Thank you for your comment, Tongggu Momma. I feel so guilty and am trying to get over it. I guess the fact it happened in front of my family made it even worse. Knowing I'm not alone makes it better. Hugs and thank you. Merry Christmas to your family.

Lori said...

Peach, this is something that you are so human in. We all want things to be perfect.

But, you know, by the time you are my age - almost 50 - you will realize that even the small stuff is not really that big a deal and you will stop making the house perfect, hoping everyone is thrilled and mostly trying to impress people who are already impressed.

It will be ok. Your child knows in his own way that you were stressed too and that it was not you being angry, it was the stress.

I have to do the same kind of thing - with my husband. He will get anxious or hyper and then do stupid things, and I am the one that has to stop it all from exploding. I used to try to make it all "right." Now I just know that it will be right and that no matter what, those that love you, they don't care. They care that you are happy.

Breath, you are normal.

Blessed be this season and all year.