What do you do when you suddenly realize that you are the catalyst when it comes to your children? My husband and I were talking over our daughters’ behavior and belief systems this morning. They treat each other nasty and then both lash out at me when I try to address their behavior. Jeff pointed out that they can speak calmly to each other at night right before bed. I suddenly realized – that’s when I’m not longer in the picture (I go to bed before they do), when I am no longer physically present.
How are they when I’m gone on Sunday mornings? Fine.
How are they when I’m gone on Tuesday evenings? Fine.
How are they when they are getting ready for bed and I’m already asleep? Fine.
So if I’m not around, they will either ignore each other or interact fairly good natured, but still harass each other some. When I am around, they are nasty to each other. Then when I try to interact with one or both, they are disrespectful to me or are so completely engrossed in tearing each other apart that it’s as if I’m not even there.
I followed this thought process. If I am the cause (Jeff thinks I need to reword this to something more positive) of their negative attitudes, behavior, and disrespectful relationships, no wonder my anxiety skyrockets. No wonder my anxiety climbs all afternoon before I pick them up from school. No wonder I can’t relax when they are at home. My body realized this long before my mind did.
Now what do I do with this information? I’m not sure.
This week, I’ve been feeling like I alternate between anxiety and depression. I spend the days anxious about what type of mood my eldest will be in when she gets home from school. I spend my alone time in the evening (about 40 minutes) feeling depressed about how difficult our life is. Our family is not normal and I’ve lost hope that we will ever reach a state of normalcy.
An example of how much we struggle – Today my husband made me a pumpkin mocha. It’s one of my favorite drinks and I really enjoyed it. This evening, my eldest found the mocha cup in the dishwasher and freaked out. She likes making me mochas on Friday evenings and assumed that I wouldn’t want another. A normal, more neurotypical reaction would be to ask if I was going to want another. Our norm is for her to immediately jump to anger mode and scream at me. Or we could have the opposite reaction and she crawls in bed and starts bawling.
So I spend my days wondering what minor thing will tip my child into a rage or a meltdown. I haven’t yet learned how to go with the flow and relax in those times when everything truly is ok. Why? Because it can change in an instant. We could be laughing and talking when all of a sudden she turns on me. And a lot of the time, I have no idea why.
At this point I can’t hope for a normal family life. Instead, I look forward to the day when both of my daughters move out of the house. Then maybe I’ll be able to relax longer than 30 minutes at a time.
Just keeping it real.