Will a mailbox full of catalogs dripping with pages full of tempting toys gadgets and game, lights and music proclaiming the season, and talk of presents and parties and people, there is an edge of frenzy that buzzes through our days. Holidays, birthdays and special occasions can bring out the worst in our little family. I have to admit the Thanksgiving weekend I was feeling the need to find some freedom from the little whirling dervish whipping from ecstatic excitement to copious tears on a minute by minute basis. I even mentioned a desire for Monday’s return to work to come quickly… in front of said dervish…who heard me and knew exactly what I meant, the girl who counts feverishly each week to her day with mommy. Go ahead and hate me, I hate myself already.
But, as with each and every failure I have experienced as a mom, my resolve to do better is renewed and now I have developed a plan.
Step 1 Plan out the days. While the weekdays are packed full with just daily living, the weekends present an open book. For me the best answer to the question, “What are we doing today?” is “absolutely nothing”. For Dori that answer brings on a dark pit of despair. So we have a mix of things going on. One day on, one day off. And on the off day plan a craft or activity, baking or something we can do together to occupy our time. Balance that with quiet time. Dori plays great in her room by herself but she needs to be forced. I will map out our “Mommy days” so we can enjoy each other and each have a break.
Step 2 Temper expectations. When I was awakened before dawn Thanksgiving’s morning in eager anticipation of the arrival of cousins who would not arrive until the afternoon, I knew I had not clearly explained what the day would hold. Our day of joy and thankfulness started out on the wrong foot. One of us was bitterly disappointed and one of us extremely grumpy. Do I need to tell which was which? Vague promises of maybe only exasperate. I will be clear in communicating what we need to do each day and who will play what role. I will take you to ballet; you will let me sleep until the sun starts to come up.
Step 3 Include down time. Even on the weekdays make sure there is time set aside for reading aloud, rocking, singing and holding. A break from routine, extra stimulus they are her triggers. She is feeling insecure and so she brings out the extreme behaviors. Not enough to warrant panic but just enough for me to know, this is the façade I am seeing and not my real Dori. Somewhere, in that complex human brain, may just be an unconscious memory of without and alone that lingers. Somewhere, in her growing awareness, she knows there was time of without and alone that becomes spotlighted as we recognize and reminisce about coming together. My impatience only heightens the fears that what once was could be again. I need my behavior to echo my assurances, we are forever, and I love her more than anything.
Step 4 Reduce clutter. The holidays seem to bring a bit more clutter. There are the decorations and then presents hiding in the closets and on-line shopping at night instead of keeping things clean. Clutter is an extra stimulus (see step 3). My shopping is done so I will spend some late nights putting some of those things away and getting thing together.
Step 5 Make time for me. I can only take so much frenzy before I say stupid things. I am not talking about long blocks of time or being away, I am talking about enforcing quiet time, turning on the TV from 5:30 to 7:00a.m. and being used as a pillow while I rest my eyes a bit more, choosing to do things we will enjoy doing together instead of things that drive crazy that she loves.