Monday, September 15, 2008

Don't want that for her

For all the work I've done to not be my mother, to raise my daughter with love, compassion, understanding and provide her with the skills necessary to succeed in life; over the last four months, I've grown to realize that I've failed in one important aspect...teaching her to deal with stress.

I've seen signs of trouble in the past, but we've been able to work through them together. She'd go into emotional overload because of a stressful event, and I'd use the skills picked up in therapy to diffuse the situation. I'd validated her feelings, let her talk through her thoughts and help her calm down in order to put some emotional distance between her and the stressor, and then we'd go into problem solving mode. I didn't solve the problems for her, nor did I calm her down all by myself. I'd guide her into taking the lead and I'd follow along, making sure she stayed on course. I would offer up some suggestions on ways to solve the problem, but ultimately left the choice up to her.

This method has worked brilliantly in the past and I thought it was the right way to handle things. Apparently though, as stress builds upon stress, what we've been doing to get through a difficult moment isn't working to diffuse that stress in the long term. I feel like I've failed her because as her life becomes more stressful, she isn't able to cope and I'm clueless on how to help her because stress is my biggest enemy. I shut down. I don't want that for her, but I see her trying to do the same and know she picked it up from me.

Her stressors are very real and I would not want to be in her shoes. Her school course load this year is extremely challenging, which has been an ongoing worry for her since day one. Then this past weekend, while walking to the store with three friends, another larger group of fucking pansy-ass thugs wielding 2x4's as weapons surrounded and attempted to rob them. Despite her knee problems, she took off running like a bat out of hell the second they asked what was in her bag and she was the only one that didn't get hurt. Her boyfriend, her best friend and another friend weren't as lucky. Thankfully no one was seriously injured, but it was traumatic for all of them nonetheless.

I had her talk to her therapist via the phone today because last night before bed she just looked at me with this incredibly depressed look and said "I don't know how much more of this I can take". That look and remark are so far removed from her normally optimistic and happy personality that I was concerned. Fortunately she already had an appointment scheduled with her therapist for tomorrow, so she won't have to wait days or weeks for her next full session.

Guess I'll use the time I have with my therapist this week to figure out how I can better support my daughter through stressful times. Leading by example would be ideal, but she's far too important to me and I'm not willing to wait until I learn to cope first in order to help her. I'd rather she learned how to cope now.

She does bounce back amazingly well in the short term. Despite looking completely drained when I picked her up from school and being worried about Chemistry homework and a test she has in that class tomorrow, she went to bed with a smile on her face. I think my being here and keeping engaged with her as she talks for hours on end helps. Just need that missing link to help her in the long term, so she doesn't feel like I always do...that crap just keeps piling up until it's crushing.


Blogger Polar Bear said...

I know it can be really tough sometimes, but I hope that you recognise the fact that you are a really good mom. You're doing the best you can, and that's really great.

Polar B.

3:26 PM, September 17, 2008  

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