Wednesday, April 13, 2011

what to do...literally.

i'm feeling like a crappy mom lately. 

mostly just a crappy mom to leah.

i have no idea what to do with her. how to play with her, engage her, stimulate her, help her learn and grow.

ryan takes care of the fun stuff. he and leah tackle and wrestle and giggle and goof off every night. that's not how leah and i interact. sure, we have our regular dance party, but i feel like i'm responsible to fulfill different needs for her than ryan is. and it's in those areas that i'm lacking.

ironically, i feel like i'm pretty good with others' kids. sure, i don't know all of their quirks and might make a mistake here or there, but overall i feel pretty successful. when i watch my friends' kids, i have things to say to them, games to play with them, activities to engage and involve them. and it's not hard for me. granted, i'm not doing this day in and day out, but i feel resourceful enough that i could - and i could be quite good at it. 

but i have leah. to set the record straight, i truly think of leah as the crown jewel. i would not trade that sweet girl for all the wealth in the kingdom. but i have no idea what to do with her!

without hesitation, i could list off 20 people more qualified and able to give her the care, support and stimulation she requires. people who are awesome at advocating or ingenious when it comes to adapting everyday life to a non-verbal, non-hand-using child. people who could incorporate amazing therapies into the day-to-day without so much as the blink of an eye. 

and yet here i am. here she is. the both of us together. 

i'm a do-er. a list maker. i like my projects  and crossing things off a list. i love that feeling of accomplishment. but if i were to stimulate leah in a way a normally developing child is naturally stimulated, it would be a non-stop job. i wouldn't be able to do anything! i can't give her a snack while i prepare dinner. i have to feed her that snack. i can't clean the kitchen while she eats her lunch. i have to feed her that lunch. i can't ask her to play in her room while i make a phone call or send an email. she needs me to help her play. to read her a book. to blow the bubbles. to hold the crayon. to think of conversation that might intrigue a four year old. 

i'm just not that able. there are some who are. and perhaps i'm not completely able because i'm a bit selfish. i can admit it. i need my projects. my lists. my accomplishments. so leah watches tv. she spends 1.5 hours in her room each day - and sometimes she doesn't sleep. so how horrible am i that she sits in her room doing nothing while i put a check mark in a box of a list i've made. probably pretty horrible.

but i don't have another answer. we don't have a nanny or a home therapist liek some. and leah was stuck with a selfish, unimaginative {resourceful, maybe but definitely unimaginative} mom. i copy ideas where i can to give her the best life i know how to give. but i'm not sure it's enough. 

i guess it's a learning process. we're both leaning what to do and how to be all day long. i just hope one day i won't feel so crappy about it.


Rach said...

You know what is so interesting...I feel the same way about my mothering abilities, but for different reasons. I imagine those destructive thoughts enter EVERY mother's mind at some point.
We both know that it is just a lie. A big, fat lie to get us to feel like we aren't good enough. To feel like we won't ever be exactly what we are supposed to be.
You want the truth...I am sure you were hand-picked to be miss Leah's mom..and for good reason! She wanted you! I am sure of it!
You may not know what to "do" exactly, but what you are doing is your very best. And it most certainly IS enough!

Dyan said...

Can I tell you I feel the exact same way you do. I know our situations are different, but I struggle with the same feelings. I too find satisfaction in checking things off the list. I think it is a good thing to have Leah spend time alone. You guys both need it. This may sound stupid, but are there any books or other resources for activity ideas?

Catriona said...

This is so similar to the thoughts that have been going round my own head! I bet you do a much better job than you think - in fact I'm sure you're amazing with Leah. But I think I understand how you feel. It's just so all-consuming - and impossible to tick things off, as you say. (I'm a 'ticker' too - and Rett syndrome just doesn't work that way. Drives me nuts.) Maybe it'll get easier as our girls get older??

JourneyBeyondSurvival said...

I have to have a break too. I'm feeling less guilty about it now that we have therapy all the time. But, I hate when she is all alone in her mind just laying there unable to see/do/be anything which is beyond her small bubble.

I just had a small brainstorm that I am going to try with Chickadee. I'm going to get audio books. I know that she is receptive and comprehending stories now. I've seen it. So. When she has to 'self entertain' I'm going to play those books near her.

This is one of the biggest reasons I wanted a service dog, to help keep her brain plugged in. I'm hoping it will help.

If you are able to just be still, it will get better.

Hannah said...

I have been thinking a lot about this lately too and feeling like I need to step up my game. I feel like I am in a mothering rut recently. I think it's nice to know that lots of people, regardless of their situation, have the same problem. Blogs are bad sometimes because they only show the awesome parts of people's life and you begin to wonder if you are the only one who sometimes struggles with the whole parenting thing. But in reality I think you are doing a better job than you think you are!

Rob and Marseille said...

I think you are stimulating her when you feed her. Granted I've never seen you do it before. But, they say meal time is the most important time to interact w/our kids. You spend a lot more time looking at her when you're feeding her than I do with mine, when my kids eat. Sometimes I feel like my demenure is grumpy as if to say 'eat your food & don't bug me, I'm trying to enjoy mine.'
And, I think all kids need alone time, whether they sleep or not. It allows them and you to reset. Don't feel guilty. (though I remember feeling guilty on days when christopher wouldn't nap, feeling bad that I was making him stay in his room while i was on the computer. Or now, making him find something else to occupy his time. When he was done w/the nap phase, not a coincident that it was when Michael was born (when C was 4 & 1/2), 'naptime' equaled tv time. now he's in school during that time, but over the summer I'm going to try to spend at least 30 mins (so 1/3 of naptime) with him. So only 1 hr of alone time for me. But, I have to because next year he will be in first grade & be gone all day. How weird will that be?!?!!
finally, I think 'journeybeyondsurvival's idea of audiobooks is a great idea! Or you could play calm, quiet classical music. That is suppose to be stimulating.

Tom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emily said...

Hmm I think I could have written this blog post! I have been thinking along the same lines for the past few months. I used to be so great with Jordyn...playing, trying new things, working with her. Now I really suck at it :( It's just plain HARD. The feeding gets REALLY old too. Sometimes I think,"I've fed Jordyn every single one of her meals for 8 years!"
And I agree with the others, you probably are doing a lot better job than you think. Just from reading your blog I had already thought several times,"Wow, she is a really good mom!"... I'm tellin the truth!