Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Soccer Mom My Ass

It's soccer night. That means I get to schlepp my kid, his best buddy, my other kid and a butt load of stuff out to sit in the middle of a field to stand by as two teams of 9 year olds race around after a ball for an hour. Then I'll schlepp them all home. The badass possibilities are limited, so I'm choosing to stake my claim in a more subtle fashion: I'm actually going to watch. I'm not going to talk on my cell phone, catch up on my reading (or texting). I'm going to watch my budding David Beckham as he runs, trips, dives and falls. Then I'm not going to holler that he should be more aggressive, pass the ball to Danny or "Go! Go! Go!" He'll get a pat on the back and a question about whether he had fun, but that's it.

Then we'll come home. 'Cause soccer may be something we do- but it's not who we are.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tough Enough

I've heard lots of people make the joke about birth being the easy part of parenting. You know, like this. I sort of assumed, though, that this hellish childrearing experience would come with adolescence. I imagined screaming fits, tattoos, poor clothing choices and Libya-level engagements around curfews and cellphones. Maybe that stuff is coming, but I've already seen the worst I can imagine.

My daughter has always been chipper, easy going, free-thinking and adventurous. Not much throws her and she's got a natural badassity that does my heart good She's my idol in a lot of ways. But in the last three weeks she's become a different kid. A kid I recognize because I was that kid. The timid, "Mama don't leave me," cling, terrified kid. The one with the red eyes and the constant tremor. My darling girl has somehow inherited the anxiety I tried so hard to hide from her. Not just inherited it, but been attacked by it. It's crept out from under her emotional bed and has her cowering under the covers- and she's missing out on big chunks of her life as a result. Brownies? Nope. Sunday School? No way. Play date? Uh-uh.

I've done everything I know to do. Therapy, mindfulness, sitting with the feeling until it passes (it never does so this is fairly fruitless), keeping her so busy she can't think, more rest, less rest, changing diet, changing bedtime stories...nothing's getting us closer to the goal of a return to my brave, happy girl. A few good friends have pointed out to me that all of my efforts may be convincing her of just the opposite- that it may be reinforcing her belief that there's something to be scared of because otherwise why would mama be giving this so much attention?

Damned if I do, damned if I don't right?

So now I've taken to what my friend Katie calls Bored Indifference. When the worry starts to well up, when the panic sets in, I'm trying to respond with "Oh, that? Yeah, we're used to that. We've seen that before. No big thing girlfriend. Just keep moving and it'll pass."

But that means that I have to not show how much it kills me to see her quiver. How I have to feign nonchalance when the tears well and her hand tightens in mine. It means peeling her off me at school and bedtimes with a cheerful kiss and a reassurance that she'll be okay and that she's safe. I'm not sure I'm tough enough to do it. I'm not sure anyone is- but I'm doing it. Just like I did childbirth when I was sure I couldn't (right around hour 20). That was the second hardest thing I've ever done. Coincidence?

Essentially, it means doing every single thing I don't want to do and I hate every single moment.

I think that's the bad side of badass. Incidentally? It sucks ass as well. Just in case you were wondering.