It must be the holidays. I’m feeling pulled in a million different directions, and I seem unable to focus on the day-to-day tasks as more and more stuff to do piles in my head. I was not surprised when Charlotte had a series of meltdowns this morning. We are back in school after the Thanksgiving holiday, and her re-entry into this routine is usually shaky.
A few weeks ago at dinner she announce that she was feeling tired. While this seems like such a simple thing, Chad and I nearly high-fived each other across the table. She has taken the next step of many in the journey toward self-regulating.
That being said, when she announces her need for sleep at 9am on a Tuesday morning, other than canceling our morning plans and driving home and putting her to bed, I wasn’t sure how to help her. I struggled getting her to eat breakfast, get dressed, and attend Dana’s morning drop off assembly. By the time we got to her therapy appointment, she was done. The hand-off to the therapist did not go well. Charlotte spent quite a few minutes on the floor, seeming unable to pull herself to standing and go in for the session.
Thankfully, the ever-so-patient therapist motivated her to stand up and enter the session. Once in the therapy room (where parents do not go), I could hear her continue to sob her tired tears and plead for some item of need. Most days, I take off quickly after the hand-off for my morning walk, but today I waited in agony, stood outside the closed door, and waited until I heard the tears quiet and the session begin.
As I began my walk, my mind was flooded with a million thoughts of guilt and shame that someone else was having to deal with my child in that state and what I had done to get it to that point. All of a sudden I realized that putting myself on a guilt trip was the least healthy thing I could do for myself at that moment, and freeing myself of this guilt suddenly jolted me into reality. In addition to the added stressors around the holidays, I recognized a series of events and decisions that had occurred in my personal life over the last few weeks that have pulled my focus from my family and have forced me to regulate myself. Charlotte’s world was more upside down than it needed to be, due to my choices. I said out loud as I walked, “I am done”, and mentally released all of the excess mental baggage that I had been carrying around while I was trying keep Charlotte regulated at the same time.
It was like a switch flipped for me at that moment, and I realized that the precious amount of energy that I had to get through each day was being wasted. Instead of beating myself up for allowing Charlotte to get to a point of exhaustion and dysregulation, I promised myself that I would get my focus back on what is important and use my energy to help her get through the next few hectic weeks of off-scheduling, holidays, food temptations, and any other unexpected drama that would derail our regulated state.
I am giving myself permission to stay focused on my family when life will want to pull me away again. Nothing is more important than keeping my child comfortable and free from avoidable meltdowns.