I didn’t wallow in misery for too long after my crap day. Probably no more than 24 hours.
The day after, I spoke with my sister on the phone, went for a walk in the sunshine and gave myself a good talking to. I will figure this out.
The big news has been a change in how I parent the boys. No more Miss Nice Mum and Hello, Mean Mum! Well, Mean-er.
Every time I see a new therapist, the conversation generally starts with my parenting. It is my single biggest cause for anxiety and stress. Doing it alone means I don’t have anyone else to share the load with, or to bounce ideas off, or to have a whinge to.
Seeing a psychologist, especially one who works with children, is always an opportunity to spread the burden of guilt and stress I feel about my parenting. A chance for a second opinion.
One of the first things we worked out was that I was too nice to my kids. All these “please” and “could you”s when asking them to do things have now been changed to “It’s time to….”, “You need to ……., now” and “I need you to…….”.
The relief that came with using the new language and the change in the boys’ level of cooperation have been amazing!
It seems that rather than accepting my lack of control over them, I needed to exert more authority so they would “get with the program” of being helpful family members. I had thought that constantly explaining to them that we are a family and we all have jobs to do would be enough to gain their cooperation. Apparently not. Straight and clear expectations of behaviour were what they really needed.
I thought they would complain and fight me, but their behaviour has been remarkable. It’s also probably due to my increased confidence in how I talk to them. I expect them to cooperate and they do, while before I dreaded asking them for anything because I knew I would have an argument on my hands. Now, there are hardly any arguments.
I’m also making a bigger effort to draw them both into conversation. It became apparent in the psychologist session I had with my older son, just how limited his interests are and how hard it is for him to talk about anything else. So, my job is to keep trying to talk to him and ask him questions, especially about other people and things he doesn’t have an interest in.
I’ve been more successful with my 7 year old, who also struggles with understanding that other people have needs and interests different to his. He seems to be a bit happier at school after one particular chat at bath time.
Talking with the psychologist led me to realise just how much I am not getting from my children. I’m getting very little engagement, unless I want to talk about video or computer games, and most of the time I feel like a babysitter, rather than a mother. I do so much for them and get so little back. At times, I feel very little connection with them. Making the effort at conversation about other topics has given me a little bit back. I just have to stick at it.
Today, I got the official diagnosis that my 10 year old has Asperger’s. It was such a relief. I can now access funding for speech and occupational therapy to help with his social and fine motor skills. And the help I’m already getting from our psychologist has been invaluable. Seeing my boy how he really is has been eye opening and worrying, but now I have help and know that I am not alone.
Perhaps this last should have been the big news, but it’s not really. It’s just another piece in the puzzle that is parenting my boys. It helps me to understand them and to parent them better. That’s all I really want – to be a better mother.