I think I am starting to see the consequences of my ways. How I handle things. And ultimately, how I am showing my kids to handle things.
I just got back from a conference with my son's teachers. He is in fifth grade and classified as learning disabled. It is three weeks in and I am already in for a meeting with his team. Apparently, he is "checked out". Already. Overall, we haven't had to come in this early for a meeting since we made the choice, about three years ago, to allow him to be classified. I thought everything was going relatively well, with some minor glitches. If asked how things were going, even specifically, he would reply, "Great!". Things are not great. I got the call last week.
What I heard the teachers saying was that, my typically anxious kid, was showing no signs of anxiety. At all. And we were seeing the same at home. Everything is just ducky. At least that is what Ethan wants us all to think. The reality is, he is overwhelmed and won't ask for help.
I think as parents, we try to shield our children from some of life's unpleasantries in an effort to preserve and prolong their blissful childhood. I do this. All. The. Time.
During the conference, we got to a point where I was forced to give a more detailed explanation of what has been happening in the house and some changes that are about to happen. "That is a lot to have going on. That has to be stressful." I reply, "I'm fine." I hear myself and I realize that is just what Ethan has been saying. And he doesn't think he needs help either...and God forbid he asks. What have I done?
I have set him up for failure. I often refuse to ask for help, because in my eyes, it means I have failed. I am sure the kids are aware of this. My husband gets upset when he finds I have done or attempted to do something maybe I shouldn't have without help. I snap back that I don't need help. I know it's because I am secretly angry about the changes going on inside of me and want to prove that I am stronger than my moronic immune system, RA and fibromyalgia. I may have used up all the hot water in the shower that day because it is the only place I allow myself to cry and acknowledge how much I hurt, how exhausted I am and how scared I am about the future and what life will be like and what people must think of me. But ask me how I am..."Fine/Good/Great." Unless I am comfortable enough, I won't let my guard down. I don't say I am overwhelmed. I never wanted to be that person that someone regretted asking, "How have you been?"
My kids aren't stupid. They know I am lying through my teeth to other people. They know I say I am fine and refuse help altogether.
The teachers were kind in offering that perhaps I give the kids a bit more information so that the kids don't form their own conclusions. What I heard...my kids don't trust me to be honest with them I have failed them. I have been so concerned with what others may think of me if I am honest or ask for help. It is such a painful thing for me to admit and now my kids are doing the same.
I need to find a balance where I don't loose too much pride or comfort. I need to show my children that it is OK to ask for help and that it isn't always the best thing to say you are doing great, especially when you are not. But I don't want to encourage whining or needless excuses either. I want them to be strong, independent and productive individuals. I have to wonder if it is too late. If I have already unknowingly instilled bad habits in them? How do I fix this?
What is encouraging is that it is early in the school year and we are catching this. Maybe this new "showing" of anxiety is partially due to maturity. Maybe it is not all my fault. Maybe my beautiful boy is teaching me a lesson~
Maybe, my boy just broke me...