Tonight was really rough.
When I was younger, I was certain that I was going to have a thousand kids. I was going to be the World’s Best Mom and I was going to have this SUV where I drove them all to sports practices and they would all tumble out of my car in a pile of laughter and baseball cleats… and we would all live happily ever after. blah blah blah, right?
So fast forward to tonight. Well, first let me tell you that my child spent ages 2-4 begging me to play baseball. We literally counted down the days to when he would be old enough to play t-ball and I excitedly stalked the website waiting for registration to open last year. Man, was that a nightmare. Have you ever had a 4 year old boy play t-ball? No? Well, let me tell you that 4 year old boys tackle each other for no reason, they chase butterflies, they twirl in circles in the outfield, they throw bats, they cry when another kid gets the ball… oh it was HORRIBLE for an anxiety-ridden control freak mother. I smuggled wine in to the games. No, I’m not kidding.
The second the season ended though, he begged for the new one to start. So, we have spent the past year talking about how if Mommy and Daddy are going to dish out $150 for a season of t-ball, then he isn’t going to chase a freakin’ butterfly and if I see him football tackle anyone in the middle of the game, I will come out there and football tackle him and I have a good 250 pounds on him.
So, tonight was the night we had to go turn in his paperwork. He was doing so well in the line, standing so still and patient and he was so chatty and excited. The high school baseball team was there and he was watching in awe. One of the boys walked by and gave him a high five and it was just going really well! When we were leaving, I saw that they had this cool program at the high school for Pre-k-5th graders where they get to go out on the field at home games with the baseball players and blah blah blah, all this cool stuff and I knew he’d love it because he always gets so jealous when he sees kids on the field during games. So, I signed him up! While I was filling out the paperwork, the sweet mamas at the table were trying to talk to him. They were asking him if he wanted to grow up and be a baseball player and various other stuff and he was being so rude. He started shouting NO! and hiding behind me. Then one of the high school baseball players came up to him and wanted to give him a baseball and he refused to take it and ran away and I was so embarrassed. This was not good for my high anxiety. I apologized profusely, took the ball and thanked the sweet kid, and got out of there with my ungrateful brat of a child and quickly power-walked with him to the car. And that’s where my spiral downward really took off…
I want to start by saying that I’m not at all proud of what I said and did in these moments. But I feel like no one speaks out loud about these moments because it’s not pretty and frankly, I’m tired of feeling like I’m the only mom that has these not pretty times. And if everyone reads this and is like, “Wow…Tabitha is a terrible mother, I’d NEVER behave like that.” Well, then fine. I’m alone and a terrible mom. I mean, I already admitted to sneaking wine into a t-ball game. So, great.
So, when we got in the car I started shouting at him. I started telling him how rude he was and how ungrateful and hateful he is. How Daddy works so hard to pay for him to be able to do all these awesome things and he just sits around and treats us like crap. How those women were asking him questions and he was being the worst child ever by ignoring them and being hateful. I started crying and screaming more. I told him how much I didn’t want to be around him. I was having an anxiety attack.
Then I took a breath and called my husband, who calmed me down a bit. I took a deep breath and I thought, okay, Tabitha…you’re the jerk. Let’s maybe forgive him for behaving that way. He’s a kid, he’s five. He’s tired, it’s an hour before bedtime, he hasn’t had dinner, and he didn’t know those people. Let. It. Go. So, I got us dinner in a drive-thru and on our drive home I tried to change my attitude and my voice and I explained to him in a cheerful way all the cool things that this cool group did. How he was going to get to go to all the baseball games at the school down the street (which he always begs to go to).
Me: Isn’t that going to be so much fun??!!!!
J: NO! I DON’T WANT TO! [crosses arms over chest, kicks feet]
Me: You know what? FINE. JUST FINE. YOU WON’T BE DOING ANYTHING ANYMORE. YOU CAN JUST GO HOME AND GO TO BED. FORGET IT. YOU CAN JUST NEVER DO ANYTHING FUN AGAIN. FORGET IT. [I’m screaming and crying and it was a LOT of me telling him how he’s ungrateful and hateful and how I’m never taking him to anything ever again. And now he’s crying and I’m getting mad at him for crying…]
We get home and I throw his food on the kitchen table and tell him to eat. I grab my food and go sit away from him in my bedroom because I’m afraid of anymore damage that will come out of my mouth. I need to be away. I’m crying and shaking. I call my husband… who says something that made me just… feel like dirt.
“It was probably his anxiety.”
… wow. How could I forget? What kind of selfish jerk am I? My child has extreme anxiety. It’s hard when you have two people with high anxiety together all the time. Especially when their anxiety manifests differently. Mine is triggered by things I obviously can’t control, like *shocker* other people’s behavior, embarrassment…. [other things, but these are the ones right here in front of us today.] Kiddo’s is triggered by social situations with adults. Not kids, adults. Or new places he’s never been to, new activities that he’s never done. Once he’s done them, been there, met the people, he’s 100% fine. It’s that initial situation. But the first time, he shuts down. I always forget that because I’m so social. My anxiety becomes so high in social situations that all I can focus on is how *I* am handling the social moment, not how he is. And when he isn’t handling it the way that *my* anxiety wants him to, I explode.
So, what have we learned here? My poor baby was having a little anxiety attack and I was making him feel like trash. I am not at all proud. I feel HORRIBLE. I feel like the World’s Worst Mother. Go ahead and give me my trophy, because I deserve it.
I composed myself, and I went with my head hanging low into his bedroom and crawled into his bed with him and cried. I admitted how horribly wrong I was, how I said hateful, horrible things and he did nothing wrong. That it is okay to be afraid of strangers, he was right to be cautious. I asked him for forgiveness and I told him it was okay if he was mad at me. We had a really long talk and he was so loving and forgiving and I could see and feel the relief come over him as we talked about the whole thing again. Now that he wasn’t in the middle of a panic attack, he was able to see the situation and be excited.
We only learned about Kiddo’s anxiety about 4-5 months ago and I am having a really hard time looking past my own to see his in times like these. I pray he doesn’t remember these moments, that he can truly forgive me and move on. I know that I’m not really the World’s Worst Mom. I know that I can’t be alone in this. I also know that I did something that some parents don’t do, I admitted I was wrong. I asked for forgiveness. Instead of being prideful and just standing my ground even when I’m wrong, I admitted I made a HUGE mistake. And in that moment I saw God in my baby boy. Because only God could create a loving and forgiving heart like his.
Please tell me I’m not alone here. And if you are having a rough time with your kiddo, I pray this hard time passes, that you allow yourself to forgive and be forgiven as well. ❤