Hanging In

I know I’ve been writing some positive posts lately… and there have been some great things happening to be sure. But the truth is, I’m kind of struggling right now.

My daughter is going through a hard bit. She’s been in a shitty mood for about a month. She is constant negativity. The first sound out of her mouth in the morning is a bark or whine, and the last thing she says before she goes to bed is a complaint. Everything in between is more of the same.

It’s exhausting. And it’s starting to really get me down.

I wish I knew why she gets like this. I wish I knew how to make it better. She is such a sensitive kid. She clearly struggles. But she’s almost seven years old and still has daily meltdowns that put my three-year-old to shame. My patience wears so thin.

She’s been getting these red streaks on her cheeks, under her eyes. It’s probably a reaction to something, but it’s hard to get an accurate account of what she’s eaten at school and aftercare. I pack her enough lunch and snacks that she doesn’t need to eat food from either place, but she does if they offer something she likes.

It hurts my heart to think she’s having a hard time because she’s reacting to something she is eating… We all know how my husband feels about exploring that possibility.

I have thought about emailing her pediatrician, but previous discussions on this topic suggest he won’t be of much help. “It could be anything…”

It’s just… hard for me. At this point I cringe at the thought of picking her up at the end of the day. I know that once I get her I’m just going to be berated until she goes to bed.

I have not been feeling great myself. I’m always tired. Exhausted really. I wonder if my allergies are acting up as well. The pollen count is definitely going up, as the rains stop and the sun comes out. I’ve been weekly allergy shorts for six month now, so my symptoms are more subtle, but I am still affected. I should start taking antihistamines again. Of course those make me drowsy…

I know part of it is this school year. There is only one trimester left. I can do it. I can get through. 14 weeks. I can do anything for 14 weeks. I keep telling myself that.

And of course there is always the political climate, which does so much to wear us all down. It’s not panic so much anymore as a constant, throbbing despair.

Right now I am looking to the summer. The summer is my salvation. The summer is my everything. I just gotta get there.

21 Comments

  1. With my kids – if we are in a rut (more sleepless nights, more food issues, more whining complaining not listening) I always remind myself, it wont be like this for long. The stages are relatively short in the grand scheme of things and at some point in the future we will be wishing for these inconveniences over something grander, bigger or harder to deal with. I know in the moment it is hard but nothing lasts forever:)

    1. I know no phase lasts forever, but my daughter is not a typical kid. She has sensory processing disorder and I’m sure will be diagnosed with ADD (like her mother and grandfather before her). We’ve had to take her to behavior specialists to learn strategies to help her manage her emotions because what works for most kids simple isn’t relevant for her. So yes, this too shall pass (this specific negative cycle) but she will have these negative cycles way more frequently than most kids and need different behavior management than most kids when she’s in them (and even when she’s not). I don’t mean to disregard the experiences of parents with typical kids, but especially after having my son, I really do believe it’s very, very different. And while yes, things will change and she will grow so that different challenges present themselves, she will always react more intensely and always struggle more to manage her emotions and respond appropriately. It’s just who she is, who she will always be.

      1. This sounds hard. I’m glad your son is giving you some perspective though. Were the specialists helpful? Are there more services you can use to help mitigate the sensory challenges?

      2. Kids like your daughter and mine are a totally different ball game. It took me a long time to believe that it wasn’t just me not being resilient enough. There are of course good days and bad days and we love them like crazy but the “phase” is in many ways permanent – we and they just learn to better manage it over time. (I hope.) (I’m in a phase where I want to be at work all the time because no one hits me there.)

  2. Typed a long comment re: food sensitivities and my LO’s experience but lost it (too lazy to retype). Instead I will just voice that I COMPLETELY believe something she’s eating may be accounting for your daughter’s behavior (and agree that most docs are useless on the subject).

    1. Yeah. I’m pretty sure that is what’s happening, but I know I’ll get no support if I go down that road, not from her doctor or my husband. Sigh.

      1. Why do you think it’s food related? The rash can be food related, but unless it is extensive eczema, a simple rash doesn’t really interfere with quality of life. I think food can affect mood, but often the diet changes needed to make a difference are enormous and a huge amount of work (cutting out sugar or grains, for example). And the differences in mood may not be that significant to justify the stress.

  3. well you know well that I can relate. What you described about waking up with a bark and going to bed with a complaint has been our life for the past few years and I don’t think its a phase for us, and its really really wearing. really wearing. The therapist we are seeing thinks this may be the early signs of a mood disorder, and is working on cognitive behavior stuff that WE can do (which mostly consists of ignoring his complaints and re-directing his thoughts) to get him out of the rut of focusing on the negative all the time.

    1. I’d really appreciate hearing more about the CBT you’re looking into. I wonder if it could help my daughter as well.

      1. Some mental health human did some great CBT with the kid and had her draw pictures of happy, safe places and happy, safe feelings/activities so whenever she feels out of control or sad or worried, she can imagine being back there. Then we can either grab her book of drawings to show her or remind her of those things. It at least shortens melt-downs.

      2. We’ve just preliminarily begun to discuss this. Its NOT the kind of CBT I typically picture, like drawing pictures, imagining happy things…the way she describes it is basically to train your brain to shift focus. And we help him with that by completely ignoring his overly negative statements. Just move on. Don’t ignore HIM, but just acknowledge “yeah, you don’t feel like going swimming today, its hard.” and keep going…”OK, so put on your suit and shoes. when we come home we’ll do xyz”.
        If we try and coax him out of it, remind him of the good stuff, etc… he (his brain) gets a “reward” (any parental attention is a reward for a kid’s brain, I think its like a dopamine hit for them) so they keep doing it. Its hard to stick to, because the instinct is to teach him/talk to him to get him out of it, but according to this therapist, its the wrong approach for kids like him (though it works great for other kids).
        For example, when we are walking home from after care, he is always hungry. I’ve packed loads of stuff in his bag that he can eat, but sometimes he eats it all, or spills it, or doesn’t feel like eating that, and he complains and rages, hits & pinches my arm, the whole way. We are, at most, 10 minutes from home (where he promptly forgets about being hungry and goes to play) so I just say, “I hear you, you’re hungry, stop hurting me” and walk a step ahead of him until he stops (theoretically; so far we’ve made it all the way home without him stopping). I used to try SO HARD to make him laugh and tell him stories to distract him and realized that he LOVES when I tell him stories. Why should I reward his tantrum?

        1. She did also suggest taking pictures of him smiling during his swim class, or similar, to remind him that he DOES enjoy the activity once he gets there, though its a struggle to get him to actually leave the house! If only I could take a picture of him not-dying-of-starvation on the 10 minute walk home to remind him of that phenomenon.

  4. I’m so sorry that your daughter is going through that. It must be really hard for you all. From what you write, I get the impression that my son is similar in that he reacts really intensively to negative events, but his basic tone is very positive, which makes everythimg much easier. But for me it’s been difficult not to get angry or resent him when he shows such bad example for his little sister, who is a “normal” kid and would probably never even dream of making a scene over some minor thing, had her brother not modeled such behavior for her. It’s really infuriating.
    I’m a new reader, and not trying to give advice, but for me, not sleeping enough makes me a totally different person, and not in a good way. I have once had basically all symptoms of clinical depression just because of huge sleep deprivation. And this can happen to me also in a less serious way with much less sleep deprivation. Just 4 nights with less than 7 hours make me apathetic, not able to concentrate, unmotivated and generally feeling that I don’t perform at my normal level (not at work, not with kids, not socially). I write this because for a long time I tried to convince myself that I’m just not trying enough, but I have now realized that that’s not true. I really need the sleep, and I make it a priority (thankfully my husband likes to get uo early so I get to sleep in in the weekends). I’m not trying to say that just sleep will fix everything, but sometimes we don’t realize how sleep deprived we are.
    Hang in there!

    1. “But for me it’s been difficult not to get angry or resent him when he shows such bad example for his little sister, who is a “normal” kid and would probably never even dream of making a scene over some minor thing, had her brother not modeled such behavior for her. It’s really infuriating.” <-- Oh my gosh! Yes! This! I wonder how much of my son's acting out is related to his sister acting out. His mannerisms when he's frustrated mirror hers to a T. Sometimes I can hear her voice or see her face when he gets mad! It's crazy. And when she's not around he gets upset a lot less. I totally feel you on sleep. I've been getting a lot more of it lately, but it still gets interrupted most nights. But I've been trying to be asleep by 11pm, which gives me seven hours and I do think that helps a lot. Still I always feel tired, which I'm guessing is more about my allergies making my eyes hurt than anything else.

      1. Exactly. I know it’s not healthy, but sometimes I fantasize about how great my daughter could turn out if she was my oldest 😀 Her temperament + undivided attention for some years + no bad example from her brother….(really, I know it doesn’t work that way. And I honestly think that both my kids are pretty great).
        It’s great that you get a decent amount of sleep. I really hope things get better soon!

        1. Oh my goodness YES! I definitely think my younger son is modelling the behavior of my older son, much more as he gets older (he is 5 now). He is normally a sunny, positive kid, and when I’m one on one with him, he gets angry and gets over it within a minute. But when we are all together, he stomps around, makes that ugh awful frowny face like his big brother, and its a long drawn out affair, probably because he similarly wants to all the attention

  5. Your allergies makes it much harder for you to cope with her behavior. I am very sorry. And also surprised because you have been sounding much more up in general than this post sounds. Makes me suspect your resilience is depleted. I surely can under that!
    Wish I thought she was capable of avoiding foods not from home but I think that takes a LOT longer and way more years. I think of my ability to resist flour and sugar and ……. yes, I fail routinely too. At her age it is even harder.
    On top of this we have the current political actions adding stress. If HR 610 happens how long will it take for public schools to be heavily impacted? Will junior highs still be able to offer foreign languages at all? The anxiety of the unknowns is really hard.
    Sending you strength and wishes for hope.

    1. Yeah, the food sensitivity stuff is hard for me. I think she has them, but I get no support about it from her doctor or my husband and I can’t fight that battle again. It was REALLY hard on our marriage the first time. So yeah. Feeling kind of down about it, like I’m not a good mom for doing what I need to do to help her.

      1. It’s not just your husband though. Even if he were supportive, it’s a huge amount of work. You will have to do a lot more cooking, which you don’t enjoy doing. She is already picky, and you’ll have to deal with her refusing to eat anything you prepare for awhile. You will have to be on top of her teachers at school and aftercare to enforce it, which they will be resistant to do.

        There is also so much conflicting advice on nutrition. It’s just really hard to find the diet that works and even harder to stick to it.

      2. Telling yourself you are not a good mom about this is totally inappropriate. You are doing everything you can do, and you search for help. That you cannot do everything you might like to try is outside your control. You need to co-parent with your husband. Blowing up your marriage and stress there won’t help any of you.
        She is not an average child to raise, she is going to always be more reactive than average, she will have talents that aren’t average as well. Hopefully she will find passions/talents that help her learn to manage herself in positive ways, but it is going to be an long hard path for her. That isn’t her fault or yours or your husband’s.
        What is important to remember is that you try and you do win more now than a few years ago. Ultimately, this will be her battle.
        You might think about implementing a program of telling her the names of her behaviors and their impact… but only if you can do it as factual information without exasperation (tough to do!). It does teach naming emotions. “I hear you sounding tired. Am I right?” “You sound frustrated. What do you think?” “How would you describe your feelings right now?”
        Difficult children can be amazing gifted adults……. but it is brutal getting them to adulthood.
        Summer will come. For now, remember deep breathing and stop to look for a something beautiful in the world around you. A weed in bloom works.

  6. This sounds really difficult. As usual, you are doing an amazing job. I really identify with your characterization of the political climate as a constant, throbbing despair. Sigh.

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