I Am A Fraud

I Am A Fraud

By Kelly Hirt

IAMAFRAUDI planned on writing about something else today; I intended to write about yesterday’s fencing class.  I was impressed by my long and lanky eight-year-old boy. There was a level of persistence and focus that I was proud to witness.  Despite other people taking their own lessons in the gym, mine listened to his instructor and focused on his directions.  He was challenged in ways that my son doesn’t normally tolerate.  At one point, my son tripped and fell hard to the floor. I gasped out loud.  In previous activities or other years, that would have ended the instruction immediately, but he stood up and was able to shake it off. He continued the lesson and there were even a few smiles that helped bandage whatever pain his knees were feeling.  There was a celebration in the car on the way home as we reviewed the successes of the morning.  He was proud and sat taller during that ride home.

Yesterday, it was a great day. Today was not.

It was a challenging day to parent my twice-exceptional boy—he’s intellectually gifted with extremely immature social skills—and my reactions weren’t ideal.  I feel like a fraud because I didn’t do what I write about.   I didn’t brush it off like I usually do, like he was able to do yesterday at fencing.

Frequently, I write about the need for recovery on the weekends.  I know that my boy needs it.  I know that his home and his parents are refuge for him; we take his frustration because he feels safe with us and he is more fragile after tolerating the discomfort and stress of school.  On most weekend days, I understand it.  I expect it.

Today, I didn’t want it.

Typically, I don’t let myself get sucked into the negative talk and escalate an emotional rant with my own visible frustration.  I usually let him walk away where he cools off in privacy and returns with an apology.  Sometimes his door is closed for twenty minutes as he collects himself and then he can enter back in the coming and goings of the house with grace and some dignity.

Today, I didn’t allow it.

The frustration when his computer game didn’t go his way or he was asked to do something that he didn’t want to do was just harder to take. The ongoing complaining about laundry and cleaning his room and the sermon about the cruelty of homework on the weekends, was painful.  I can usually distract him with a game or a snack or a favorite book. If it gets too much, I usually remind myself that he needs the help, the tools and I am able to join in and help problem solve.  I can put aside my own thoughts of unfinished work or upcoming challenges and focus on his needs for order and calm.

Today, I was annoyed by the inflexibility.

Instead of listening, I lectured.  Instead of waiting, I stomped my feet and found things to randomly pick up and move to other places to keep my body active while I was filled with words of frustration.  Instead of accepting, I pushed back and wished for what I wanted instead of what is.  These acts were exhausting my body and mind, but I was consumed in that moment with all the things that were hard, the “I can’ts” instead of the positive and the progress.

Like many mothers, I don’t usually promote the bad days.  I don’t post pictures of the tantrums and tears on Facebook for others to witness.  I show the posed pictures and I share the successful family gatherings. Maybe, I needed to share it today because it got to me today.

How can I be a parent that shares the needs of twice-exceptional children with others, and be the parent that ignores my own son’s needs? I feel like a fraud.

Then, I retreat to my room.  I allow myself the same opportunity for recovery and I begin to think that the sharing of only the good on Facebook … well that could be considered the fraudulent act.  The perfect picture at the pumpkin patch or the toothy smiles on the first day of school provides such high expectations that other parents wonder how they can match it. They wonder when they don’t have those same moments in time, why parenting is harder for them.

I look at all of this differently now.  I realize I am not a fraud, I am honest.  I make mistakes. I am a parent.

Kelly Hirt is a mother, teacher & writer.  She started her blog http://mytwicebakedpotato.com/ as a way to support and connect people parenting twice-exceptional children.  Kelly’s work has been seen in Macaroni Kids, Huffington Post, and many other sites. 

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The Bedtime Routine

The Bedtime Routine

By Kelly Hirt
0-13Yesterday, I sent the following tweet:  When I look at my son lying in his bed, it is as if I have forgotten all the rough parts of the day.  That is some Mama Amnesia!  It’s true, isn’t it?!

We could have a challenging morning filled with, “not fair” and “I DON’T want to” and an afternoon of, “you ALWAYS make me…” but somehow at bedtime, my boy looks angelic.  Just hours earlier, the eye-rolling and the “whatever” made it seem as though he had skipped his childhood and entered the land of teenagers!

When my precious boy is getting ready for bed, he begins to get softer around the edges. Once his glasses come off and he’s in his pajamas, he seems to go backwards in years.  For the first time all day, he wants to hug and get close and if I’m lucky … he invites me to lie next to him and talk about whatever is on his inquisitive mind.

Why does it stay lighter in the summer?

Who is God?

For some reason, his questions flow once the lights are turned off and while others can quiet their mind, his is just getting started!

One of our bedtime games that he loves is to remind me how quickly he is growing up.  “In just a few months, I’m going to be 8 years old!”  I play along as if I am truly surprised by the news. “That’s impossible!”

“Do you know what else?”  He leans in close, holds my face in his soft hands and looks directly at my eyes, “In no time at all, I am going to be ten!”

“Are you trying to break my heart?!”

“Oh, Mama!” He smiles.  We laugh and he loves it.  What he doesn’t know is that secretly, my heart really does break a little at how fast this is all racing by.

There was a long time, when I wasn’t sure I would have these bedtime routines.  The homework, the hugs, the unstoppable questions, all the things that come with being a parent just didn’t seem to be in the cards for me.  I was happy being a positive influence to many children as a teacher and then returning home to a tidy house and quiet evenings.

My partner and I were both established in our careers and secure in our relationship when we finally began to wonder if we wanted a family … a larger family than just ourselves and our beloved terrier. After a few years of talking and listening to each other, we decided it was time and we reached out to a local adoption agency.

Our journey was unexpectedly challenging and there were times of true uncertainty.  However, we are so very thankful for the process because we now have a precious boy of our own.  He is quirky, sensitive and intense and his favorite place to be is at home.  He is most comfortable in front of his computer or sitting between us on the couch during family movie nights.

Because I wasn’t sure that any of this was going to be mine, I remind myself of the joy as I do even the most mundane things like visiting a park, shampooing his hair, and the bedtime routine.

Out of the blue, he has recently started playing Pat-a-Cake again.  Strange, I know; but his favorite part is to say, “…mark it with a BB and put it in the oven for Big Boy and me!”  I visibly grimace at the sound of those words and he wants to do it again.  “You know, I’m really a Big Boy!”  One thing that I’m quite confident about is that as long as he calls himself a “big boy,” he really isn’t one yet.

When the talking and reading is complete, the lights turn off and the calm music begins.  He tries to delay the inevitable with more questions, but I say in a slow whisper, “My boy, it is time for bed.”  Most nights, just before he falls asleep, I get one more “Mama, I love you!”

I sit in the darkness and I think about being his mother … all that it means and all that I have experienced because of him.  I am forced to be more intentional with my words and actions since I have this boy watching my every move.  I censor my speech and I try to model the healthiest ways to express frustration and stress.  I must be my own best friend now … instead of my own worst enemy because he should see how to forgive yourself for mistakes and to learn how to celebrate your own strengths.

On this night, after the talking has stopped, I have a new appreciation for how hard it must be for MY parents to see me grown up and independent … making my own choices.  Choices that maybe they didn’t understand, but have grown to accept.

Kelly Hirt is a mother, teacher & writer.  She started her blog http://mytwicebakedpotato.com/ as a way to support and connect people parenting twice-exceptional children.  Kelly’s work has been seen in Macaroni Kids, Huffington Post, and many other sites.  Kelly’s blog was Parent Map’s 2013 Golden Teddy Award finalist for parenting blogs.

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