I realized this week that all I felt was exhaustion. There was no joy left in my being a mom. I used to have easy reset strategies, reset of mind, of body, of mindset. Whatever reset I managed, didn’t last anymore. I was feeling pretty hopelessly sad.
Then I had an interview with ARFO about becoming a “trauma competent care” trainer. The discussion was revitalizing, reminding me about the importance of connecting before correcting.
We’ve been so focused on discipling our children, guiding them, correcting them, that we forgot to simply connect, out of joy, daily. When jackie joined us before age 4, we played all the time. Every day. And that was the foundation of our growing relationship. I mourn this first year of not exploring the world with Evelyn, though she barely notices it. She has a sister a a family. I just wish for all our sake that we could go out and see the world together.
Ivy does this annoying thing. She shuts down when she doesn’t like something. For a while we let it play out. It was more about knowing her, understanding her, and less about correcting her behavior. So we did. We let her be, and waited for her to open up. She gets over her grumpy moods pretty quickly but they are also a power struggle. Or it could become one.
Today I read in “the connected child” the mirroring approach as a way to connect with a child who suffered trauma. It’s easy to forget about her past or trauma, because she is so well adjusted, and easy going, lovable and empathetic. So today, as she got grumpy, I imitated her in a playful way. She smiled unwillingly, under her frown. But we got over the tension fast and easy.
I was also reminded to use my gaze to love, to connect, to invite, and not to punish with fire and anger. So I started to smile more, and if I am disappointed or furious to avert my eyes. And let her see my love, not my irritation. Today was a good day. Each small success turns into a bit more joy and faith and an extra ounce of patience.
Today daddy put ivy to bed a second evening in a row. She still cried for me. But Then I went in to give her a kiss. It was a long goodnight kiss for both girls, daddy stayed with us, but it was one of those wonderful nights to remember. For all of us.