It is summer. Daniel is home all day, every day. There are some academic goals for this summer that were given to me during the spring IEP meeting. So I am working one on one with Daniel this summer too.
Daniel is 12. Daily, I can see changes in him. I never realized that this stage would be so similar to the toddler stage. I blink and it seems like a new kid or rather a young adult. One moment he will act surprisingly mature and the next throw a fit that rivals the two year old.
I find myself butting heads with Daniel frequently. My frustration is sometimes overwhelming. I find myself morphing into a screaming, nagging, nightmare. I am a person I never wanted to be – no, swore I would never be.
I push and push with Daniel. He pushes back. In order to protect Daniel, I feel the need to control. I take the responsibility to make his life work. In order to do that, I have to make things happen.
Theoretically, I know that it is time to start letting go. I know it is time to start placing the responsibility for making goals on Daniel. The goals have to be Daniel’s goals. The choices have to be his. I have to let him make the choices, even if they are poor choices. The last thing I want to believe is that I am a controlling mom but the evidence is to the contrary. I have controlling tenancies.
Maybe this is harder because of Daniel’s unique struggles. Maybe it would be easier with a typical child. Deep inside I don’t think that is true. I think it will be hard with each child in a unique way.
Daniel’s role is changing and I have to start changing my role too. Progressively, I have to advise instead of decide. I have to be a mirror and a counselor instead of mommy. Our dance is changing.
In everyday life, this is a difficult, even painful practice. Daniel’s decision making is often so immature. It is so scary to watch. What if he doesn’t learn by the time he has to head out on his own? What if the result of those decisions cause him pain? What if he struggles for a long time?
There are no guarantees. However, if he doesn’t start working on making his decisions, making his goals and choosing how he uses his time then a painful transition is almost guaranteed. What better place to start practicing than his summer schedule?
As I try to learn to let go, I learn more about myself. I learn about my fears. I am learning that I am a lot like my mom in good and bad ways. I am also learning that I am very different than my mom – again, in good and bad ways.
Some days, like today go well. Daniel takes on the responsibility of practicing his multiplication tables, writing and reading. He chooses well and there is little conflict. I feel like I am overcoming my fears and letting go. I feel happily calm. Today we danced well.
Is this hard for every mother? Is it easier with a typical child? How do you, as a mother, deal with this transition?