My sweet Abigail is precocious, crazy-intelligent, creative, adorable, amazing...
... and so, so difficult, at times.
I find myself struggling daily, not only with the ways in which her stubbornness and headstrong resistance to my attempts at discipline are blocked at every turn, but also with the poor way in which I handle it, emotionally.
It's worst on the days when I'm feeling down, because a low mood always equals virtually no patience, and an overabundance of anger. The anger makes me so ashamed; it bursts out at often unexpected times, causing me to feel guilty, and just self-hating enough to further feed the hidden flame for the next round.
The terrible cycle has always left me feeling like the very worst of myself, but no more so than now, when it affects the way that I interact with my children. I start to shut myself down, perhaps in some misguided attempt to stem the flow of rage, and I can't seem to connect at all for a time. Sadly, this disconnect happens most often with Abigail, because her level of self-awareness makes it harder for me not to chalk her behavior up to "just being a baby," though I really do need to cut her much more slack than I'm inclined to.
It kills me inside, especially lately, when there have been so many trying days in a row that I have hardly any time to recover from my internal limbo.
Beautiful genius that she is, however, Abigail has found just the cure.
Yesterday, after a time-out chock-full of screeching, screaming, and angry tears, she rushed forward upon her release, arms outstretched, to wrap herself around me. I was shocked, and humbled. However, as I forced a physical response- a receiving arm, the soft stroke of my hand- that self-hatred began grow again within me when I realized that I was having difficulty fighting through my residual annoyance to cherish the moment.
Today, we had one last time-out in the evening, even more dramatic than the day before, and once again all she wanted when it was over was to be wrapped up in my arms. Immediately, my own tears broke through, at first of sheer mortification at my failure as a person and mother in continuing to nurse my negative feelings. However, as I pressed her body against me, folded her legs into my lap, twirled her silky-fine hair in my fingers, I could almost see the barrier that I so stubbornly created rend apart before my eyes. Then she said, "I love you, Mommy. So much."
I threw my heart back open, and laid her within it. And as I held her there, my senseless anger dissolved into peace, and overwhelming love.
She broke me, in the best of ways.