Maya and me had some tough arguments today. They weren’t pretty–at all–and her Dad had to mediate between us by comforting Maya and interpreting my intentions. Maya is getting big which requires continuous adjustments to how we approach supporting her physically throughout the day. I always try and give her as many opportunities to move and practice developing new skills (this is very important to her), but today what my heart wanted was not what my body wanted. Maya tuned into my frustration as I struggled to support her body and manage my own. My back just plain hurt and it wasn’t her fault, but I sure made it sound like it was. It was not one of my more stellar parenting moments, but it was a very human moment.
Maya cried and I was pretty upset with myself. She shouted at me, “How am I supposed to keep track of what movements hurt your back?!!” Well, she isn’t and I let her know that. I blamed her when I knew she was doing her best. She went on to cry about her body and feeling stuck in her wheelchair (which is part of why I push myself physically to give her many chances to use her body in different ways). It was very hard to remain present with her in that moment because it was painful for me to witness her pain and know that I caused some of it by being so hard on her.
Then tonight something similar happened. I was frustrated trying to facilitate movements that are more difficult for Maya but that I think she may be able to attain with some practice. In the long run it would end one of the last transitions we have that require that we lift her. She tuned into my frustration despite my attempt to disguise it better. She became irate and I backed away and gave her space. Her dad again stepped in to try and explain my intentions. As I got her into bed I told her I was sorry and that I didn’t mean to upset her. She asked me to stay with her for a few minutes and then she said,
“As it turns out Mom I wasn’t upset with you. I was frustrated with my body and I got out of control and I am sorry.”
I told her I understood and that I was amazed she was able to process all of those feelings and ideas so quickly and honestly. When I was 10 years old I certainly wouldn’t have been so honest about my behavior and I do not know that I could have come to such a mature perspective on my own.
Ultimately, we decided on a new house rule that early morning and before bed are not good times for me (or anyone else) to have Maya practice movements that are harder for her. I think that sounds like a good plan. I know we will likely be making many more adjustments both physically and emotionally as Maya gets older. In some cases we will be forced to replace hope with acceptance as we face our limitations both Maya’s and our own. Hopefully, I will be able to negotiate these moments with a little more grace than I did today.