April 3, 2011

Talk to Me

A week ago I had a moment when I messed up with my daughter.

It wasn't the first time. It won't be the last.

In my defense, I have had a difficult few years. And at the moment of this particular personal failing, I was confronted with an in-my-face reminder of how much pain I have yet to process.

The words tumbled out of my daughter's mouth. She had no way to know how they would affect me--although I think her words reflected just how many questions she, too, has about what has taken place in her life and the roles that certain people have played.

Talk about stitches ripped from wounds struggling to heal.

I said some things in that moment that were a reflection of my hurt ... and my anger--anger not at my daughter, but anger that is so very real and raw that it can consume me in the moment, if I am not careful, until I can barely focus on anything before me, even my beautiful daughter.

I told her, in no uncertain terms, that the subject of her words was so upsetting to me that I did not want her to mention it again.

Bad, bad, bad Mommy moment.

I recounted the entire situation to a friend who has become so dear to me that words cannot describe her value.

She empathized. She reminded me of the very difficult situation I have been in for a very long time. She told me, basically, to not be so hard on myself, which is something I need to hear from time to time. And she gently reminded me of something I can never forget--that no matter how difficult, no matter how gut-wrenching it might be, I ALWAYS want Olivia to feel comfortable talking to me, about ANYthing.

Pretty damn good point, wouldn't ya say?

So the next day, I did the best I could to gently reintroduce the ugly topic to my daughter. "Hey, Olivia," I said, "You remember when we were sitting in the restaurant the other day and you started telling me about ....."

I tried, even more gently, to explain, in very brief terms, why I get upset when I hear about the topic--but that did NOT mean she shouldn't talk to me about it. Because I am her mom, and I always, always want her to tell me what is on her mind, what she is thinking about, what she is worrying about.

I hoped my words registered. I hoped I had undone a big part of the damage I did the day before.

And guess what? I think I accomplished that goal--because of what she said to me later that night as I put her to bed. THIS time, I did a much better job.

Thank goodness this mothering-gig leaves you some time for improvement.

I decided to write about this because I don't ever want to forget the important lesson my friend helped remind me of. Only one of my two children can talk, after all, and so I have even more reason than most moms to never forget how important it is that my child feels comfortable talking to me.

And I wrote about this because I can think of no better way to say thank you to my friend, who will read this when she checks in with Google Reader tomorrow. I love you, gal. And I owe you so much.


  1. It's so hard being a parent, especially of a special-needs child AND a neurotypical one. We have so much on our plate, on our minds, in our hearts and to be able to control all those things 24/7 is certainly daunting. Your friend is right; don't beat yourself up too harshly. It sounds like all ended well with reintroducing the subject. Our children love us no matter what, the same way we love them =)

  2. I was once given a piece of advice that I think has served me well. And since it didn't cost me anything, I'll pass it along. 'Never be afraid to apologise to your children, even the boss is wrong sometimes'. Of course Robert Half said, 'Free advice is worth the price you paid for it'. And, like I said, it didn't cost me anything.