Wednesday, February 17, 2010

This Too Shall Pass

Some days you catch yourself thinking, 'I hope this day is over, done, and forgotten as soon as possible.' I had a day like that yesterday, but despite my frequent wishes that 8pm would hurry up and get here, and that we would never speak of the preceding 12 hours again, I have decided to write it up precisely so I won't forget about this day.

Audrey has been sick for what seems like a lifetime, though in reality, it's been about 2 weeks. First with the strep throat, and now with viral tonsillitis. They are unrelated, but they happened one after the other, and Audrey feeling out of sorts has started taking a toll on everyone. Let's also not forget to mention we're expecting her 1-year molars, and two more bottom front teeth, right about now.

Almost right around the time that Audrey contracted strep, she started throwing frustration temper tantrums, and as time wore on and she kept feeling lousy, the tantrums increased in frequency and duration. By yesterday- day three out of at least five days (if not seven) required for this virus to run its course- Audrey was either whining, crying, screaming, or asleep. Her behavior over the past two weeks accumulated into a big cloud of doubt and insecurity for me, and by the time she was bathed and put to bed last night, I was questioning every choice I have made to this point as her mom. I actually went online and started looking up the symptoms of personality disorders, attachment anxiety, and autism. Seriously.

It has been so hard for me to believe that 'just' an illness (or two) would completely change my sweet baby into a screaming, scratching, brat-monster. I remember thinking to myself, how did I ever take for granted her sweet disposition? Had she ever woken up in a good mood? [yes, every morning and nap time!] Had she ever sat through a meal, actually eaten, and not tried to throw things off her tray? [yes, 99.9% of the time!] Had she ever played by herself? [yes, every day!] Had she ever been OK without me holding her? [yes!] I swear, it seemed like there were 2 different Audreys.

At my wits' end, I called my go-to "Mommy-friend," and I unloaded on her (and despite the fact that she had been through some pretty hard stuff herself lately, she listened to everything). In less than 20 minutes, she had validated, eased, and all but solved my problems. She told me I wasn't doing anything wrong, that her daughter had gone through the same things, and she reminded me that- hello- Audrey isn't feeling well! Of course she's not herself. Who is when they're sick? It was just the pep-talk I needed, and she eased my mind enough for me to see through the cloud that had settled on me, and into the light.

The most important thing I took from her talk, though, is that no parent has the right answer at the right time every time. Her wisdom comes from trial and error, and no one expects parents to have trials with no errors. Hind sight is 20/20, and sometimes you can't understand good advice until the moment to apply it has already passed.

I wanted to write about this blip in our blissful family life because I didn't want to forget that lesson. Life is stressful right now, but there's no judge sitting back scoring us as we try to handle the curve balls. There are hundreds of "right" ways to raise a kid, and the mere fact that there is stress involved during the hard times means that the decisions being made are thoughtful decisions, made out of love.

Every kid is going to change... several times, I'm told, before they are an adult. How boring would it be if everyone stopped adding angles to their personalities at 16 months old? Tantrums are not acceptable, but I have the resources, tools, and support I need to make sure this is just a phase, and not a permanent part of her personality, and that is worth remembering forever.

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