Friday, August 27, 2010

Tearful shopping

I spoke again to a therapist about Amelia. I'm trying to be the "perfect mom" by making sure she isn't getting damaged by the stressful/emotional environment around here. I've watched enough Supernanny and Nanny 911 to know that most kid issues are the fault of the parents and/or environment. And I do not want to screw this kid up. She's too amazing.

Amelia really embraces her visits to the rehab center to see her aunt. She has never batted an eye at the wheelchairs she sees there. She's happy to ride along with her aunt or "steer" the wheelchair as she walks along beside it. But lately, Amelia has been acting strange. And I wanted to understand everything I could about how this may be affecting her - and causing some of these new behaviors.

We've been through two phases of separation anxiety before. Around 7 months of age and earlier this year. Amelia is in quite a serious anxiety phase now too. She cries and screams when I leave the room. She chases me upstairs if I'm simply going to brush my teeth. She wants to play with Mommy, sit by Mommy, sleep with Mommy. She's waking in the night and calling for us again. Amelia has pranced merrily into her classroom 2x/week for the past 11 months, but now she's clinging to me and crying again. Today, she begged me not to take her to school.

Hear that? It's the sound of my heart breaking.

We've had family members in and out of our house for a couple months now. And will for at least one more month to come. It's the least we can do for everyone while my sister-in-law is in the rehab center (we're the only ones that live in the Atlanta area). But Amelia's first question every morning is, "who is here, Mommy?"

She is very concerned with who is here, who has left, who is or isn't coming back. Even Daddy leaves for the day to go to work, and she has to confirm with me that he is (1) only at work and will (2) definitely be home tonight. With all of the in & out, I assume she sees me as the one who is always here. Always here when she wakes up, always there to pick her up from school. And I'm sensing some fear in her - maybe she thinks one day I'll leave while she's not looking.

Anyway, I got some fantastic tips for dealing with Amelia's new found anxieties. I'm supposed to not just respond to her concerns, but explain to her what they are. I've been saying, "Mommy always comes back" over & over again, but I should be prefacing that with, "You were afraid Mommy was going to leave, weren't you? You felt sad because you were scared without Mommy." Amelia is only two, so she needs help tying her emotion to a cause.

Check. I can do that.

The therapist also recommended that I get some special books for her. Books regarding family member illness, fears, and worry. So I took a trip to Barnes & Noble. I didn't find anything for our situation, or appropriate for Amelia's young age. Most of these books seem to hit more of the 4+ age groups. But the multitude of therapy books on the shelves was eye-opening. And I became sad. Even a little teary-eyed.

Books about divorce:
I Don't Want to Talk About it
It's Not Your Fault, Koko Bear

Books about cancer:
When Mommy Loses Her Hair
Can I Still Kiss You?

Books about death:
Help Me Say Goodbye
I Don't Have an Uncle Phil Anymore

Okay, A LOT teary-eyed. It hurts my heart to think of children who have to deal with such grown-up things. Kids should be happy, carefree, playing.

But things happen. More things than I had in mind, since I was keeping my tunnel vision on our own singular family situation.

Stop and hug your child today. And really feel it. That's what I'm going to do.
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