Somehow she at least understands that my behavior is not about her. Somehow we managed to teach her what rude is...and that it is not ok. Those are good things. I am holding onto those good things.
For months now(and especially recently) I have struggled to manage basic conversation with her...whether it is in response to her lack of impulse control or just the reflexive garbage from my own childhood, I have not been consistently kind to her. And, yesterday, she told me.
I was in the midst of an exasperated moment. I was frustrated and tired and overwhelmed and she was trying to explain something to me...I don't even know what...It sounded like she was telling me she had taken something(a thing that happens due to her lack of impulse control)...but, she could not describe the thing well. And, I am not even sure I was understanding her correctly. She kept trying to tell me what I was not grasping, with the same words...over and over...I don't even know why...but, she did, and after repeatedly saying that I did not understand what she was trying to tell me...I finally said "I do not freaking understand!" The tone was wrong...the attitude was wrong. I was communicating that she was a waste of my time, that she was an interruption, that I did not enjoy her company...so many things that I did NOT really want to communicate to her. Those things are not true! She is a treasure...
The good news is that she knows it on some level. Her response to my statement was "you are SO rude to me!"
Outside of our home, the people who do not live with the constant lack of impulse control, or the constant chatter, the flooded basement or the crayon markings on freshly painted walls...the missing keys/wallet/whatever... the people who do not have to put the rubber to the road of living all of this out with her can see her as the ray of sunlight that she is, pretty much non stop. They tell her daily, they SEE her daily...They are in an environment(for two hours a day, four days a week) to see her at her very best. Her brother is not there to antagonize her or offer an opportunity to antagonize himself. She is in a controlled environment. They do not see her fighting to gain attention over her brother, they do not see her deliberately poking at him(because she can...like most siblings). They do not find themselves searching and searching and searching for something that they *know* they left right here, only to realize they have not yet asked her...and then watching the light go on when she remembers taking that thing and goes to retrieve it from wherever she has put it.
They get her absolute best.
I have lost sight of that part of her...I want it back.
With tears in her eyes she said the words I needed to hear. And, somehow, hearing those words from her...something inside of me changed. I remembered that I was talking to a person. A human being. Not "just a child".
"Just a child" comes from my own childhood. Most of us know the "just a child" mentality. It involves disregard and a perceived lack of value, or place in society. I grew up "just a child"...but, I never wanted to pass that on to my daughter. But in my struggle to cope with her childlike impulses and struggles, I have relegated her to something/someone to be managed. A source of chaos and distress. A "child"...not a person.
I often wonder what might have happened if I had felt safe telling my father "you are SO rude to me!"...I wonder if anything would have changed. I seriously doubt it. But, it would have indicated that I had SOME clue of my worth. I didn't. I did not even wonder that until I was much older and was starting to get a glimpse of my own value as an individual human being. The reality is that I am still me. The "me" I was way back at age 5 is the same "me" I am today...just with more experience and a better understanding of the world around me. But, I was no less who I am deep down. All of what makes me a unique person was already present. Oh that I would remember the same is true for her.
She is incredibly unique. I want to know the person she is...I want to stop treating her like an item on my "to do" list...or a barrier to my peace of mind.
I wish she had not had to say those words. I wish that I had always been the kind of mom she deserves. I wish that I were totally free of all of my flaws and sin and confusion and struggle. I am not...so I did the only thing I could do. I stopped...I grew silent...I refused to do anything to make her feel she should take back her words...I honored the truth of those words, and I apologized. I apologized to her and owned my failing. That is the best I could do. And, I will continue to do that when I have a weak moment. I hope to live out of a truly changed perspective. I hope she does not need to do quite so much forgiving going forward. I hope to support and feed her understanding of her value. But, while I work on that...I will apologize for the times that my behavior does not reflect her value in my own eyes...not to mention her value in the eyes of the One Who created her. And, I will continue to seek His face and His voice and His view of my beautiful daughter, through HIS Eyes.