The other day, I received an e-mail from a reader that read:
One day, as soon as my husband got home from work, I loaded up and drove to the park to read a book. I had to get away. I know it wasn’t my son’s fault he was pushing my buttons but I had to get away before I lost it and screamed at everyone.
I could have written that paragraph. I am sure my husband, after a long day with Bridget could have written that paragraph. I also know that if I did not know this reader’s backstory the above paragraph could have been written by any parent. This feeling of having to “get away” is not necessarily because her child has autism. It’s because he is a child and sometimes a child’s favorite past time is pushing their parent to their breaking point.
I have raised my voice to Abby so loud I am surprised the neighbors keep their windows open. I have felt beyond frustrated with Bridget that I am surprised I haven’t pulled my hair out. There have been times when I have looked at my children and realized why they did not come with a return policy.
I love my children. Sometimes I do not like them very much.
Yes, Bridget’s mom is more frustrated than Abby’s mom (unless homework is involved). What has changed, for me, is when a very dear friend told me I was allowed to feel this way. That to be a better parent, I had to let myself break and allow my children to see me when I do. Most importantly, when their behavior has led to my breaking they need to know it.
Another parent recently wrote to me and said: I know it’s his ADHD but I can’t stop how upset I get.
I honestly believe that my girls should never feel that my feelings do not get hurt. Both girls should understand that their behavior has a direct impact on me. Even Bridget, with all her challenges, can learn that when she has a temper tantrum it will negatively affect her mom. I am not sure how to teach her. I believe the child who conquered the idea that she would never roll over can also learn how not make her mom lose her sanity.
I think parents (and I include myself in this) forget that we are not superheroes. Our feelings are not doormats for our child to stomp on as they learn new ways to drive us nuts. I know my child respects me, but I also admit that some days she isn’t respectful.
I also know that if I do not teach either girl that my feelings are just as important as theirs that I am doing more than just raising a spoiled princess. I am making them less empathetic and less civilized. If I do not let them see me break, they will never know I have been hurt.
To the parent who needs to get away before they scream at everyone, that’s okay. I have had to remove myself from the room before I said/did/felt something that I could not take back. I hope you also know that when you scream at everyone, that is okay too.
After all, they drove you to that point.