It’s not until you reach the lowest point possible, or, the highest point of stress that you may find your way to light. That’s how it’s been for me for the last 2 months – feeling like I’ve totally failed raising my second child. For varied and numerous reasons – lets call it “mashed up circumstances” – I hadn’t been as focused on my second as I was on my first – goodness knows I wouldn’t be able to handle any more children as other mothers so graciously do. But more than the usual “We played classical music for our first but the second just gets whatever is on the radio”, or, “We went totally organic for our first but the second ate bread and processed food WAY too early”… It was more along the lines of simply dragging the second along to everything the first was doing over this particular two month period, “hurrying” her along to keep up with whatever I was doing, and never really paying attention to more than her physical needs. I am a second born myself and I do realise how this feels. What a fool I was to repeat it for my own child!
So one day recently, all of a sudden everything felt like it came crashing down. My sweet, sparkly 3 yo was screaming and crying, constantly doing “bad” or the wrong things – that which she knows will push me or upset me, even physically hurting myself and others, and it felt like EVERYTHING I tried failed. Patience, calm non-violent communication, yelling, stupid consequences like removing cherished toys, changing the environment, making sure all physical needs were met that instant… I felt like I used all the tools in my toolbox and everything failed. I felt like she, and I, we’re breaking down.
I cried for a while… Well, it was 2 days actually. And then it hit me like the proverbial tonne of bricks.
SO simple. Children lash out when they are in need. When they are hurting.
Because of the various differences between my two, I was so focused on catering to my older child’s new phase and needs, as well as the other stressors which were going on at the time, my little one was totally left behind. My heart broke when I realised this. And then, her collarbone got broken after she fell from the dining room chair. This child who can literally jump off the clothes line, hang upside down on an aerial bar, do yoga, and climb 10 feet into the air on a circus rope, fell half a metre when messing around and broke her clavicle. At the time I felt it was my fault and wanted to make it all better, then we had quite a roller coaster ride with not getting help at the hospital (long story), that even more of our relationship felt like it was breaking. I felt like a really bad mother.
From that day onwards, even though she had been in pain and frustrated at not being able to do the amount of physical activity she was used to and had a lot of pent up energy, I tried to connect with her. It’s crazy how simple it is but in the busyness of every day life we can overlook that which is most simple.
I gave her 100% of my attention and focus. We played games led by her. We read her favourite books. I shared my feelings with her. And I made a conscious effort to have my older child allow her to speak without interruption. Every day I am working on it but every day is getting better. I think at one point in the process of feeling I was losing her I thought that because my first was constantly in the carrier and very attached to me (when she was tiny) that we had a stronger connection, and that my second born was simply a more adventurous, free spirit (which she is) but that she wasn’t as connected to me and that I had no say in the matter. That was another mistake.
You CAN make a difference in your relationship with your child. Never give up no matter how old they are! All it takes, is connection. You can never fail them as long as you are trying your hardest.
Let your love rule 🙂 You got this!