not the best day

There are days when it's all so simple. The ebb and flow feels just right. The tide washes gently over our lives and I'm in sync with all things. Granted, those days are usually accompanied by my having eaten something off the floor of a public restroom while I'm scrubbing away, but I digress...

Today I had a real crisis of confidence. It happened at the Little Gym. Well, before actually. I went to Bootcamp and had another great workout. I'm steadily losing weight and inches and feeling good about my discipline. I got home, did some laundry, cleaned up the kitchen and figured out that bad smelling thing was me! I popped in the shower at 9:22 and just as I soaped my hair I thought, "Fuck! Rio's dance class!", which is at 9:30 and it's about 15 minutes away.

I jumped out, toweled off, dressed her in record time and zoomed to class. We were late, needless to say. I like to be early as a rule, and with a [still struggling for the right word. a label. an easy thing to say that tells the world she's not one to jump in. she takes her time. she can't/won't be rushed...] child it's crucial to give her time to adjust to feel comfortable. I, for one, do not understand this. I could be dropped in the middle of any social situation you can imagine and feel comfortable within seconds. My daughter, not so much.

We spent almost all of dance class sitting on the floor. She wouldn't leave my lap. Stood up a couple of times but quickly returned. The other mothers were talking and laughing and having some grown-up time and I was on the floor in the dance studio. I felt like we were both very conspicuous. I don't mind it at all for me; I mind it a lot for her.

The second half of class is in the gym. She knows I can't go in there with her. I let her take her lovey, Guy aka Thing 1 or 2, and she went in. And out. And in. And out. And in. It was while she was inside that I had that horrible moment. The other kids were all sitting on the giant mat and then jumping on it while it deflated. Rio was off to the side, watching but very separate, on a small stack of mats she sat alone.

It was then, looking at the side of her little face, the profile so perfect to me, that the arrow pierced me. I lay my hand on my chest for fear the mothers would hear my heart pounding; squeezing; screaming. I thought, 'Is this how it's going to be?' and instantly hated myself for thinking it.

I don't want a sheep. I want a strong child that grows into a strong woman. But I want her to be happy. Comfortable. Okay.

Arguably, she is just that. After class she told Mr. Nick, "I went in and out, but I didn't cry!", all proud of herself.

It's times like these when I feel alone on this journey. Everyone who knows and loves her and me will say she's great. She's fine. Bear is not social. He's not anti-social, he just doesn't care about many people. When I tell him she was separate he thinks it good. He says he understands that. I wish I did... So, I put it here - mostly just to put it down.

But it's things like this that make me seriously wonder if I'm cut out for this.

I always knew with certainty that I didn't want children. I was wrong. It's the most terrifying thing I've ever done and that, my friends, is a huge statement. But I love every day with her. I feel blessed for the first time ever. Blessed.

I always knew with certainty I'd be a horrible mother. My mother told me this would be true. She told me every chance she had. I heard thousands of times, "Don't have children. You can't keep a plant/fish/relationship alive!". She was wrong. It turns out I'm a great mom. I'm patient and I feed her. :)

Recently I've had a feeling that everything will be okay. She'll find her way. She'll be happy - no matter her social likes and dislikes. She'll be comfortable and things will come easily for her. She'll learn how to manage situations so she can enjoy them.

I hope I'm not wrong.


alienbea said...

You're not wrong. You *are* a wonderful mom, exactly the right sort of mom that Rio needs. I, too, prefer to be on the outside of things, take a while to warm up to a given situation, never want to be in the thick of things. And in some ways, that will make Rio very strong and very independent, because there is always intense pressure to be a part of the group instead of being on the fringes. Just you wait and see. :) I think you might just call her an introvert -- it's not a bad thing to be. Just another wrinkle in the vast continuum of what it means to be human.

Tuesday Girl said...

You are a great mom. Sometimes we doubt it or forget it, but that is ok too maybe that is what makes us good moms.

My son is the same way. Timid, sensitive. Sometimes I catch myself getting mad at him for these traits. I stop myself because that is who he is. I love who he is.

Mama Bear said...

The apathetic reaction to group play reminds me of her father's behavior at that age as well as my own.I never felt "left out" or sad - just bored. I'm still that way. I'd rather spend my time with people and activities I find interesting or just do things on my own.Don't worry about Rio: She has excellent social skills and she's a happy little girl.Instead of beating yourself up, give yourself a pat on the back. Good job!
XXXX Love to All.

Melanie said...

Your post has brought me out of lurkdom to try to ease your mind. . . My oldest daughter, Courtney, now almost 17, spent the first 10 years of her life looking at the floor. When she was introduced to a stranger, you could literally feel her discomfort. She couldn't make her self look at them and speak. Sad to say, I think my embarrassment added to the tension, as I would prompt her and encourage her and practically BEG her to acknowledge people, smile, say hello. Anything.

I remember when she was 6 and I stood outside her gymnastics class peeking through the slats only to see her constantly move to the back of the line as the kids que'd up to do cartwheels. She never once tried the cartwheel, but she was really inventive in how she managed to stay below the instructor's radar. That was my Eureka moment when I finally accepted that she is not the confident social being that I am. She doesn't crave new adventures, new classes, new opportunities to try things. She likes comfortable, familiar surroundings and people.

I continued to encourage her to step out of her comfort zone, but I stopped taking responsibility for her reaction to challenges. I also scaled back on the activities (no more gymnastics!). We focused on what she showed an interest in and I allowed her to say no.

Somewhere around middle school, she matured. Today, she is still not the life of the party - and never will be. However, she is happy, mature, confident, and socially capable girl. She simply prefers a small group of very good friends to the legions of people I like to be surrounded by. She will never be voted 'Most Popular Girl' but she would be uncomfortable with the attention if she were! She's different from me, and that was hard for me to accept, but she's healthy, happy, and a constant source of pride.

Anonymous said...

nita sweetheart, i'm hugging you this very moment. as you know, i've at this age with my beautiful little girl.

i was struck with the thought in immediate response, that you don't have a sheep at all. choosing to be independent and do her own thing, is totally anti-sheep. :c)

from the wonderful, touching, entertaining stories you share of your daughter, she is one of the most well-adjusted and healthy children i (pseudo) know.

you are doing a great job. those other moms? eff 'em. 'cause YOU are doing a GREAT job with Rio babe.

mwah! hugs and stuff.

nita said...

bea: great points, and thanks

tg: i have the same wicked love thing going so i get mad at myself for wanting anything other than what she is!

mama bear: bear told me to ask you about this. he doesn't know how he *was* but we all see a lot of who he *is* in the wee one, yes?

mel: delurk more often. your comment brought tears to my eyes. thank you so much.

kate said...

When I was three, my best (only) friend Chelsea didn't come to Gymnastics. I refused to participate. Point blank, not happening, no way no how. Even when scary (bearded) coach made me sit in his lap the whole warm up... Did not want to play their games.

By 17 I was the first person volunteering for any new adventure (zip line? Whoosh! rock climbing? I'll be the guinea pig!)

Though at 18, after unloading me at college, my baby sisters were the ones leaning out the door saying, "It'll be okay, just *talk* to someone" while I hung back from the crowd.

I've always been shy and still occasionally struggle with the whole social anxiety thing. Part of it definitely has to do with me really enjoying time alone. Part of it is a (twisted) need for perfection and a hesitancy to try something until I'm sure I can do it well. Part of it is my genetic chemical imbalances at work, no doubt. But there are some great drugs out there... ;-)

Rio sounds like an awesome, well-adjusted little girl. She'll find her way. How could she not with your brilliant support and affection?

nita said...

hep: thanks sista. it's the same sort of crowd that mostly ignores peeps they don't know from high school, but we met an awesome mom last week! yay awesome mom and her awesome daughter who sticks her tongue out at everyone and laughs!

kate: i remember the coach story...i would never have guessed your shyness when meeting you. we must get together again sooooon. i'm in bton for 3 days, i'll e you and make you dinner and then get you really drunk and call jay to come get you! hahahahaha. but thanks for the nice words.

Beth said...

Trust Rio. She may not always be comfortable and things may not always come easily for her but if you let her know that she's perfect, exactly as she is, she will know that to be true.

In my family, I am the introvert. Wolf can feel death approaching if he's not in some sort of company doing something loud. Kitten prefers the company of people but will, if she must, occupy herself with some creative endeavour or other.

In my family, I am the odd man out, too. And we will both raise amazing girls because we love them unconditionally and allow them to live, even when we're terrified for them.

Give her kudos and keep a couple of yourself. You're both doing great!