Monday, September 17, 2012

i've caused my sweet 4-year-old to lose her cool

First day of school
We had a sunny summer of bliss, Lilly and I, me taking time off from work to regain some perspective, and she growing ever more confident and amazingly competent at the pool and at the beach. There was no hurry. There was only savoring.

Then comes fall. "Fall of excitement, here I come!" I posted on Facebook while packing up for my first trip abroad to promote my book. Preschool resumed while I was gone; missing first day of that is in itself a faux pas.

I've never missed any of her big milestones. In fact, I've only been gone from her a single night before on two different occasions and that was both three years ago. Then towards the end of this summer, Leighton and I had our first couple's only vacation, leaving her with grandparents she doesn't see that often for three whole nights.

And then I go over seas for ten days. In turn she starts extended days in preschool so Leighton can get his work done.

Seeing her again at the airport last Tuesday was pure bliss. She was so happy to see me! So excited! And the feeling was completely mutual.

But then came the nights with my exasperation at her crawling all over my body. And a house full of stress with both Leighton and I having more than our share on our plate this fall. As they say; when it rains, it pours.

It's not an exaggeration to say we've been feeling frayed. And there's been tension at the house. It's like we all crave more comforting and support from the other than the other is able to offer. And Lilly is still in extended day at school three days a week. We can't afford the money, but we also can't afford not getting that time to work; if we do, we will surely lose our cool completely.

And sweet little Lilly? She has already lost her cool. If not completely, then more so than we've ever seen before. Sure, her acting out is making it even more challenging to parent her, but more than anything, it just breaks my heart to see the consequence of how she must feel. Abandonment. Lack of attention. Adjusting to new kids at school, some of whom are really struggling; I see them crying in distraught at drop off. Emotionally overwhelmed parents. Tension. Not safety.

She loves school and makes a fit over the fact that she can't be there every day till closing hour, including on the weekend. But she's acting out there too. When I picked her up from school the day after I got home, she told me her teacher had taken her hands and held her because she wasn't being "good;" she wasn't calmly doing her work. She was jumping.

It's like there's all this emotional unrest inside of her manifesting in her physical behavior and it's enough to punch me in my gut. We made a vow, Leighton and I, this weekend to both resume therapy and I will return to my yoga mat and we are going to work really hard to be more there for her in an attentive, grounded, and emotionally stable manner.

I lost my balance. I guess I always knew I had to lose it before I would feel more compelled to get myself back into it.
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