My husband and I have had a lot of conversations about my daughter’s behavior and disposition lately. We both agree that it has improved immensely and we’re really enjoying spending time with her. The only thing we don’t agree on is how to explain the recent improvement.
I, of course, believe my daughter is doing better because of the changes we’ve made in what she eats. It’s been about three weeks and while I know we can’t be sure yet if the diet has really made the difference, it’s absolutely what I’m attributing it to. It’s too much of coincidence that her attitude and behavior turned around so significantly at exactly the time we started eliminating additives and adding magnesium, especially considering she’s been managing the stressful transition to Kindergarten, which I expected would make her more irritable and more easily upset.
My husband remains unconvinced. He thinks there are any number of possible causes for the turn around: she had anxiety about starting Kindergarten that has dissipated now that she finally started; she is going through one of her “good” cycles, possibly following a rough couples of months of rapid cognitive development; her brother is developing his own interests, affording her more space; she is settling into a routine after the random weeks of summer (our daughter has always done better with a solid routine). While my husband absolutely believes the diet and supplement are a part of the improvement, he thinks they are merely one piece in a series of moving parts.
This has been very frustrating for me.
And finally, last night, I figured out why.
The thing is, my husband’s explanation is a reasonable one. In fact, it may be considerably more reasonable than my own. It certainly is more conservative and measured, and it makes quite a bit of sense. There is a reason my husband studied law–he is good at arguing his case and he appreciates the importance of solid evidence.
Solid evidence is something I don’t have. And yet I choose to believe anyway. I choose to believe because if I think all this is helping it makes it easier to do all the hard work. I choose to believe because it feels good to think I’m helping my daughter.
I choose to believe because it gives me a feeling of control.
And that, in the end, is what it comes down to. I want to think the diet and the supplement are making the difference because I can keep eliminating additives and mixing magnesium into my daughter’s warm milk. I want to think this is all making the difference because then I can ensure things will keep getting better, or at least stay as good as they are now.
If it’s other things, a more elusive convergence of the situational and developmental, I have no control. I can’t ensure that my daughter won’t wake up one morning angry and upset, ready to meltdown or become aggressive at the slightest provocation. If the diet isn’t the causal force of all this good, I can’t guarantee that this new reality I love so much won’t evaporate in a puff of smoke.
I need that control. I’m desperate for it. Things are so much better than they’ve ever been, and I’m terrified it’s not going to last. If I think I’m doing something to cause these positive changes then I can continue doing something to ensure the positive changes don’t stop.
My husband and I had a good talk about all this last night, and I appreciate better understanding why it frustrated me so much that he didn’t attribute the improvements to the changes we made. Recognizing how terrified I am of losing this amazing version of my little girl, and understanding how desperate I am to ensure it doesn’t happen, is an important step.
I hope, moving forward, I can remain impartial in my recording of my daughter’s behavior, and be sensible in my interpretations of what might be causing any anomalous outbursts. A level-head can only help me moving forward, and I can only have one if I learn to accept my fear instead of allowing it to get the best of me.
And if I can’t, I hope my husband less emotional, more prudent interpretation can anchor me.
Have you even chose to believe something because doing so afforded you control (or the illusion of it)? How do you accept how little control we actually have?