Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wimpy or Strong

"Are you a wimpy mom or a strong mom?
If you are a strong Mom, what advice do you have for us wimps?" 

When I have one of those mommy life dilemmas I often turn to my lovely Facebook "Confessions" Community page to look for wisdom and to figure out if  I am completely crazy in my ways of thinking.

Now, I don't totally think I am a wimp.  I stick to my guns when it comes to the important things.  I am raising young men, who I want to become responsible adults that will add a positive contribution to society.  This requires discipline, education and in our case, lots of therapy.  It is my job as a mother to dish out discipline...that doesn't mean I  like it.  It's exhausting really.

I think there are times when many of us feel we have given in to something that we probably should not have.  Because our children have so much more than we had, we feel like we are spoiling them in some way.  You add the fact that they have issues that make childhood more difficult to say the least, you want to do whatever small things you can to make them happy.  

While I am not a complete wimp...I am a bit of a softy, especially in comparison to their dad who can be a bit of a hard ass.  I have to deal with them more than he does because of his work schedule.  So when it comes to choosing my battles, because I have so many, I choose carefully.  It's too exhausting to argue every freaking point with these kids.  They are teenagers.  It's their job to want to do everything we don't want them to do.  They are breaking away into adulthood.

When it comes to Blue, who is such a hard-working, anxiety-ridden, boy.  Sometimes I just want to give him a treat.  I just want to see a smile on his face...even if it's just for a moment.  For example, yesterday I was very tired after returning from my girl's weekend in San Francisco.  I could barely get up to get the boys off to school.  They did a pretty good job of doing this themselves while I was gone, so I kind of felt like...why should I have to?  They are old enough to do this on their own.  Well, I did as little as possible.  When Blue got ready to walk out the door he turns to me and says, "What about my lunch?" Shit! I had not made one nor did I feel like rushing to do so.  
"Can you just eat in the cafeteria?"
"Mom...I hate that food. Can you just bring me a sandwich from Subway and a cookie?"
"Fine...I will bring you your lunch later."
I've been gone for 4 days....I let a little mommy guilt set me up for bringing the boy lunch.

Meanwhile...I crawl back in bed with my laptop.  Before I know it...I am passed out cold. My flight got in late.  I had narrowly escaped getting sick while I was away.  Apparently, my body needed rest.

12:45 p.m. The phone rings. Shit! I forgot about the lunch. He convinced me that I needed to come.  He said it was too late to get a cafeteria lunch.  Luckily, his special-ed teacher heard him on the phone and caught me before I headed out the door with my sweats on, and an unwashed face.  

"I can get him a lunch in the cafeteria.  He will be fine," she says.  
"Tell him I'll make it up to him later," I say to her.
To which I'm sure she rolled her eyes and said, "Whatever lady," under her breath. I'm sure she wanted to say, "He needs to get over it.  You don't need to come running to his rescue to bring him lunch.  He needs to roll with the punches.  You're not feeling well.  Why should you run out in the cold, over here to bring this kid lunch?"  
He did make it sound like it was too late to get lunch and who knows, maybe in his mind it was.  He certainly didn't want to ask her for help.  He'd rather ask me.  He's no dummy.  He knows who he can manipulate.  Nevertheless, his teacher took him down and made sure he got a sandwich.  He survived.  He did not die of starvation....and I did not have to get out in the cold, in my my sweatpants with a dirty face.  

After school, I took his spoiled ass to Mc Donald's and bought dinner for him and his brother...a total wimp move.  At the same time, I did not feel like this was also win for me. 

So back to the question I posed...wimpy or strong, definitely got minds spinning.  I usually use a bit of humor and provocation to solicit a passionate response.  On the Facebook thread the advice that was given was good for all of us.  Some of us admitted to being wimpy, because we are tired of screaming fits that often come along with Aspergers. Mostly everyone commented that it's most important to be consistent and to always follow through.  Aspergers kids especially, need to know what to expect and they need to know the boundaries.  
Lorrelle Wittingslow sums it up perfectly...

"The WORST thing you can do is say one thing and do another!!! This teaches children that the rules are able to be bent and manipulated if they keep nagging/ annoying/ misbehaving. This eventually teaches them not to listen/ obey what you have to say and makes it difficult for when adolescence arrives. Studies have provem that a child with strict rules and strong boundaries is a much happier child because there is no fear of repercussion if they stay within the clearly defined lines. So being a hard mum doesn't mean you are hard, it just means you are ensuring your child is confident and socially well rounded. I have used this method with both of my children including my son who has Aspergers Syndrome (no social skills) and he is doing marvelously!"

I also loved this comment from Krista Hallet 

"...I've got to give all you parents a standing ovation. the fact that you have the strength to ask the tough questions shows me that you, in fact, are a tough mom. You are also so incredibly loving as you are asking for help and the welfare of your child, is above all your priority!! I am also a mom ...the comments also taught me a few things that I have yet to completely figure out on my own. Bless you all for your honesty, compassion, love and strength. For those moms that think they are wimpy, I see otherwise and you should be darn proud of yourselves."

And most of the time...I am proud of the job that I do. However, I know there is always someone out there who is doing it better, easier or who has some magic secret that has eluded me. I never stop looking for answers.