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Monday, December 23, 2013

Letter To My Daughter

Dear Kayla,

I will be the first to admit I'm not a great mom. I know I have many faults and have made many mistakes in raising you. The incident over the necklace is just one example of those parenting mistakes.

When I picked you up from school the other week and your aide told you to show me what your friend/classmate gave you I was expecting it to be another one of those rubber band bracelets you've been coming home with.

I wasn't expecting to see the dainty, silver necklace with the "K" around your neck.

I admit to having almost two simultaneous thoughts. The first being absolutely touched that your friend gave you a gift like that. I had to hold back the tears.

Immediately following that thought was a feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach as I thought to myself that this gift was going to end up broken in no time.

I was surprised to even see you wearing that necklace. You don't like to wear anything on your arms, around your neck, or in your hair. So while I was touched by the gift she gave you I also felt like it was kind of wasted on you as it would end up sitting on your dresser, or more likely, broken.

On the way to therapy I kept pointing out your necklace and how nice it was of "I" to give it to you and how important it was to take care of it. I kept mentioning that you had to be careful with your necklace so it didn't break.

You were great about keeping it on the rest of the day. That night after I finished making dinner I went upstairs to get you and noticed all the lights were off. I found you in bed with your pajamas on. You said you were tired so I cuddled up beside you and started rubbing your back.

I don't know what made me think about your necklace, must have been intuition, but I reached up to your neck and asked you where you necklace was. You said, "It broke."

I admit I reacted a bit too strongly to the news of what I figured would happen had happened so soon after receiving the gift - that it didn't even last a full day.

I jumped out of your bed and said, (ok more like yelled), "What?! Kayla where is your necklace?!"

You told me it was on your dresser and there I found it split in the middle - no way for me to fix it.

I was so upset and didn't control my feelings well at all. I yelled at you about not being responsible and taking care of your things and look at what happens you end up breaking your stuff. Then I continued in my childish ways and stomped down the stairs so frustrated.

You came down for dinner and sat at the table where I was still fuming over the broken necklace and I didn't let it go. I continued to be upset about it and harp on you about breaking a necklace that someone gave you and how this was such a special gift.

Of course it was no surprise when you left the table and I heard you in the bathroom crying.

I sat at the table and cried too.

Cried because I was ashamed at the way I just reacted and cried at the way that I treated you and cried that I yelled at you and mostly cried because my actions caused you to cry.

I heard you in the bathroom crying and saying, "It broke itself. I didn't do it, it broke itself."

And there I went again, "Kayla it didn't just break by itself! You had to have done something to cause it to break the way it broke. You did something, you weren't careful!"

More tears. From both of us.

I finally went to you and in a more calm voice asked you if you were trying to take your shirt off when you changed to your pajamas; and when you pulled your shirt over your head did the necklace get caught and break? You said yes, but it's hard to know if that's what really happened.

I pulled you in to a hug and apologized to you. I told you I was sorry for yelling at you about the necklace. I told you I still loved you. I know it didn't make everything better, but I wanted you to know I was sorry and that I still loved you despite my less-than-desirable behavior. 

I don't even know why I was so upset over the necklace. I tried to find the words to explain it to you, but I don't think we got very far.

I think it was because this necklace meant more to me than it did to you. I think I've always put a lot of importance on material things ... attached memories to them and they became my memories. Material things became important to me. I had scrapbooks filled with things from my growing up years. Things that I kept because this person or that person gave it to me, or tickets to this movie or that movie because I went with so-and-so.

I was so touched that this girl gave you a present, I think maybe for Christmas. I don't know how many other girls she might have given a gift to as well, or if you were the only one, but either way, you were one that she did choose to give a gift to. You were included. She thought of you and wanted to give you something and I wanted that to mean something to you.

And you were happy about it- I could see it in your face when you showed it to me. But I wanted you to be like me. I wanted you to be responsible like I was when I was your age. I wanted you to take care of your things. I wanted you to just know how you were supposed to take care of the necklace. I wanted you to take pride in it.

I think my anger was anger at myself that I unfairly directed at you. Anger because of my own image of you doesn't always reflect the person who you are. Anger at myself because sometimes I blame your having Down syndrome on things that frustrate me. I had the fleeting thought that if you didn't have Ds you might have cared more about the necklace, might have been more careful when changing your clothes, might have just known how to be gentle with it. I know that's not fair and that is one of my faults. I never said I was perfect. I know I'm far from it.

I know there was no reason to be so upset over a $5 necklace from Claire's. The "K" charm on it was still intact; all I had to do was replace the chain. I did apologize to you, but I'm saying it again that I'm sorry I went overboard. I was just hoping the gift of this necklace would last longer than an afternoon.

I did go to Claire's and get a new chain. But by then I had traumatized you about the necklace because you refused to wear it. I convinced you it would be ok to wear it to school and that your friend would be happy to see you wearing the gift she gave you. You finally relented and I've been able to get you to wear it a few times now.

It looks so pretty on you.

I'm not the best mom, but I am trying to be better. Thank you for forgiving me for my faults.

Love, your Mom.

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Bailey's Leaf said...

We've all done the same kind of things. I'm not saying that we were right either, but we're parents. This parenting gig isn't going to be perfect. It's good to know that you talked with her about it. I've had the same kind of discussion with my K about a week ago. She had an assignment due and it was a big book report that also involved making a puppet to go with and having to interact with it during an oral presentation. In the end, we both got stressed out because of time frames, the holidays and so forth. I apologized profusely. I told her that we'll handle that differently next time. Can either one of us take that back? Well, no. It is good for us to be able to explain to our K's that we are human and we make mistakes. In making mistakes, we acknowledge that we goofed and we apologize.

Don't continue to beat yourself up. We all goof.

Mom24 said...

Beautiful Michelle. I love your honestly. I have so been there. It feels so awful to do things like this, yet do them I do. None of us are perfect, we do our best, we screw up, we apologize, we move on.

Thank you for being willing to share.

Stephanie said...

Oh, Michelle! I used to get so angry with Owen about his books--he chewed them, ripped them, and was so rough with them that he even destroyed board books. I would cry about it, thinking that he would never understand how to be gentle with things and not destroy them. And even now, and it's been a couple of years, I still feel extremely bad for having yelled at him about it all. This parenting thing is not easy! I hope you know that you're a good mom and that these things do happen. We're human!

J said...

I love your honesty Michelle.
By being honest and saying "here I am-" it helps other people feel better about making their own mistakes etc.
(Hope that makes sense)
Thank you for your wonderful blog!

J said...

I love your honesty Michelle.
By being honest and saying "here I am-" it helps other people feel better about making their own mistakes etc.
(Hope that makes sense)
Thank you for your wonderful blog!

ahoy.jenni said...

You know Michelle, as parents of kids with Ds we hold so much for them. We hold patience, we help them, we encourage them, we spend so much time teaching them how to do things that other kids learn naturally and I think that when they start to show signs that they are growing and achieving, we gradually start to let go of the tight hold we have had, and sometimes it spills out in a flow because we have been holding everything together so tightly for them. I've been having moments of losing patience with Matilda, but I think its because she is showing signs of maturity, and subconsciously I think I am sighing and realising I can start to let go a bit, that I don't need to control everything for her, that she will be OK and she is coming her own person. Matilda would do the same thing with the necklace, it would be broken the same day! I think you are right, its probably the fact someone cared about your daughter and gave her such a nice gift that has overwhelmed you!

Kerri Ames said...

Oh Michelle...I am so sorry for your pain and guilt. On the other hand, you handled Kayla like a typical child. Trust me on this one, I had a major meltdown on Abby for something similar. And I wouldn't let it go. I stewed and stewed. Gave myself a stomach ache. Wouldn't just let the explosion happen and then get over it.

It doesn't make it right or you feel better. But I think all moms go through this moment and then realize we were wrong. You apologized and showed her that even moms make mistakes and get overwhelmed.

Hugs to you my friend. Merry Christmas Eve

Beth said...

Can I please copy this and give it to my girls!!! I, too, get upset when they don't treat their things like "I" think they should!

I know it doesn't help - but thank you for making the rest of us feel not alone!

Anonymous said...

Wow. What a beautiful but painful post. I can relate to this wholeheartedly. I'm so glad you were able to get another chain and that she's worn it a few times since.

T McCallan said...

Love this...Love the honesty...Love the real feelings of it..

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my family said...

what an open post, thank you for being honest and sharing. Parenting can be so frustrating but we mess up and have to ask for forgiveness just like anyone else.
I love the beautiful necklace, what a kind friend to give such a sweet gift.
You girly is getting so grown up looking, just beautiful

Becca said...

Ah, Michelle, I missed this post. It just made me cry. I have been there, in such a similar way. Wow. (((hugs)))