Am I making my daughter more insecure?
Every time I see Juliana (my 6 year old daughter) struggle with life situations --you know, making friends, dealing with mean kids, getting sad, getting moody with homework-- I do something. I just do. There's always an immediate reaction on my part (and it is not always a good one).
I fail to understand that sometimes she's just sharing things with me and she doesn't want me to do anything, but listen and be there for her. But no, I'm a controlling, crazy woman who springs to action when her daughter says the she is getting mistreated by a friend. I say things to her like, "Don't let her talk to you like that."
I get furious with the situation and I make it all worse.
And obviously she doesn't do what I tell her anyway, because not only is she smarter than her mother, but she's also not me. She's herself. And mostly she's right and I'm wrong.
The therapist (yes we are seeing one) said to me last week, "Sofia, do you think it would be possible for you to just stay put, seated--the way you are now--and do nothing if Juliana has trouble of any kind? Can you try just for a week, as an exercise?
I'm like, " No Doctor, whaaaat? How do you mean?"
He laughs and I get it. I get it late, but I do get it. He's talking about being there for Juliana but not doing anything, just being.
And my attempt to do this, I have to say, has failed miserably. I have two more days to go, however, and I'm hoping I'll have a better report for the Doctor.
The weekend before last it got worst than ever. I noticed how two girls where being mean to Juliana while she was not doing anything about it. In fact, she kept trying to play with them. I went up to her and pulled her away from the girls and she got furious.
I said to her, "Honey they are being mean to you, why do you let them? Just leave when it happens, don't let anyone hurt you ever."
So instead of making her feel good, I made her feel like sh*t. I made her feel like she didn't know how to deal with the situation, when in fact she was "dealing with it" in her own way, which sure beats running away. I reacted guided by my horribly-controlling-Mom-instincts and it was wrong. My attempt to "save her" was plain stupid and I regret it.
That same night she had a very sad episode that broke my heart like nothing ever has before. She said to me, "I don't like myself, because I am dumb and can't do anything right."
It felt like someone was stabbing me, I swear to God that I felt so sad that I almost couldn't breathe. I said to her, fighting my tears, "What do you mean you are dumb and you don't like yourself honey? Don't u ever say that."
She started recounting all the things she "couldn't do right", she said, "I can't draw beautiful people like others, I can't draw Dad because his hair is difficult to draw, my cartwheels are still not perfect, I cannot do all the monkey bars (at the park) in a row and I fell last week because I'm dumb (she fell hard and bled horribly)..."
I hugged her tight trying to hide my tears (which came immediately) from her, and started saying to her what I actually believe to be true, "You are perfect Juliana, everything you do is perfect to me and to Dad, we all love you so very much and you are by far the smartest person I know…"
She kept crying for a while and I invited her to sleep with me that night. I hugged her tightly until she fell asleep and even more so afterwards, hoping that my embrace would give her all the strength and love she needs to keep standing up to her insecurities. I wish I could give her all the tools she needs to survive in this world, but sadly, I can't.
It has gotten a little better since that day but I still hear the echo of her words saying that she thought she was dumb and I blame myself for it.
On Sunday we spent the whole day at the park and Juliana did so much exercise that I got exhausted just by watching her. She kept trying over and over to improve her cartwheels, hand stands, and in the end, it was the monkey bars! She kept going up and falling down and trying again. Each time she kept missing the last bar before reaching the other side, she even got blisters, but kept on it. She kept saying, "This time I'll do it!" and stoop up from the floor with a smile.
Then she finally did it and I started crying under my big sunglasses.
Her happiness and pride made my day. It made me realize that the only one who's dumb around here is the mother. I have never said that I was a stellar mom. I don't suck, but I do make millions of mistakes and I'm really working hard to become better, because by becoming a better person myself, I will let my daughter be the best version of her own self. Juliana is an amazing and persistent little girl that will make all her dreams happen. I know it.
And I'll be there by her side. Trying to do less. If it helps her to be more self-confident, I will even become mute (and those who know me have an idea of how difficult that'll be) but for her, I'll do whatever it takes.
Do you do things to help your kids, that end up being worst for them? Do you worry about how your mother instincts are not always right?