For as long as I can remember, I have felt different. I have always experienced things much more intensely than those around me. I have always had more to say, more to express, more to get out of my system. I have always questioned everything presented before me, figuring I could find a way to do it better or say it better.
I never put much thought into these differences. They were apparent, but that was just who I was, right? That was until I became a mom.
Having children was one thing that was never on my to-do list. I didn’t want the responsibility of raising and shaping the life of a little human. I didn’t want to screw someone up the way my parents screwed me up. I had married the love of my life but we had no intention of 2 becoming 3. Then one day that all changed and before I knew it, my little D was here (now he’s big D but that’s a story for another day).
Being a mother came to define me as a person, which I am totally okay with. It changed my life for the better and I’m finally at a point where I can be proud of the person I am (most days at least).
From the first time he was put into my arms, D and I were inseparable. He was my little sidekick and we did everything together. He was and still is the definition of a mama’s boy. As a baby and toddler, he was so easy. He slept through the night at just two months and hit all of his developmental milestones without issue. He was sweet and friendly and everywhere we went people commented on how bright and wonderful he was. His father and I beamed with pride. He was everything any parent could possibly hope for.
Then one day something was different. He was starting daycare, I was 6 months pregnant and we were attempting to start potty training; lots of changes for a little one. That is what I initially chalked his new behaviour up to. He seemed to fear being dropped off in the morning, even though he never wanted to come home when we arrived to pick him up. He became extremely clingy and began having meltdowns on the regular, over what seemed like the smallest things. Parts of our routine that were once a breeze: getting dressed, getting teeth brushed and getting into the car, etc. became a nightmare and the part of the day I dreaded most. Always a picky eater, D’s tastes and habits got even more limited even though he was being exposed to many new foods during the day. He began getting extremely upset over things like the way his zipper brushed his chin while in his car seat and the texture of foods he used to love. Anything and everything would set him off and he seemed so angry, yet we could not figure out why. Surely this behaviour was not typical of my little boy. It must be the influence of the other kids I told myself.
Then a few weeks later, I volunteered to go on his first field trip, to a nearby splash pad. I booked the time off work and anticipated the wonderful day we would have together. Boy was I ever wrong. He ran away from me the entire day. He struggled with every instruction his teachers or I gave to him and refused to participate in all the fun activities. Why wasn’t he enjoying himself like the other children? For a kid who I believed was mimicking the bad behaviours of other children, he appeared to be the only one not following the rules. Again I brushed it off. He must just be tired.
Only after a month or two, when this behaviour became the norm, did I allow myself to believe that something was truly wrong. I spoke with his doctor first, who gave me some ideas on how to give him some control by offering him choices. It seemed to work at first but then slowly he reverted back to the meltdowns and angry outbursts.
We started trying to seek out as much information as possible; reading books, attending parenting classes and talking to other parents. We tried everything but nothing seemed to help. I saw his doctor again for a follow-up and filled her in with our progress. That is when she introduced me to a term I had never heard of before. She suggested our little boy might be “spirited”.
When I got home from the appointment, I began doing some research online. A light bulb went off in my head. All of these websites were perfectly describing the characteristics of not only my son… but me!
The more research I did, the more I came to believe that the two of us shared the same personality traits and that is why we were having such problems interacting with one another. Still I couldn’t shake the need to figure out why. Why this happened, why he was so angry, why things were different all of a sudden. It took awhile but I finally came to the realization that this was not a phase. This was who he was now. I could sit there and expend all of my energy trying to figure out the how or the why, but that wouldn’t do any good.
I had to figure out what I was going to do about it instead. We struggled for many, many months before anything started to get better. And things have started to get better. It’s not a miracle. It’s not anything we have done or he has done. All that has changed is the way we look at situations now. My child is not defiant, he has strong beliefs. He is not demanding; he is assertive. He is not fussy; he has a strong sense of self. I found an amazing quote that I repeat to myself on the toughest of days, when D is challenging me the most: “Treat a child as though he already is the person he’s capable of becoming.” – Haim Ginott
My vision for this blog is to share with others what I have learned, both from research and experience. What has worked, what hasn’t and our daily struggles. I hope with this blog I am able to gain some perspective, make people laugh, make people cry and most importantly, help them see their own children for the amazing little people that they are. I hope to take all tough moments and turn them into life lessons.
Life is not going to be easy for this spirited mom, but it will be worth it.