Does Michael ever get to be Michael?
A trusted friend asked me this question not that long ago. It caused me to pause.
Sensory Issues. They come packaged in many different ways. It has truly been a learning experience. Michael's Sensory Issues, (he is hyper-sensitive) has taught me many things as a mom. It has taught me patience and how to love deeper. I have learned that when my world looks like its falling apart, I can dig deep, do the work, and set it back on it axis. Most importantly, I have learned that I don't know everything, and I can make big mistakes. The good news is that I haven't found a mistake that can't be undone.
So, back to the question. The answer led to yet another "AHA" Oprah moment, and another shift in the way I view and understand my son. I had been sharing all along with my friend, Michelle, my journey through the world of Sensory Issues. She knows my struggles, fears, accomplishments, and the great leaps we have made in helping my son thru this. One day I had been sharing my concerns and embarrassment over Michael's "snarkey, mouthy side". As a parent, you would understand why this side of him would be troubling. Yes? Yes. So, I was saying to Michelle, "Ugh, I can't wait until we work thru this snarky side with Michael. It just drives me crazy and there are days that it seems that no matter what I do, I just can't get him to stop this". My friend then tilted her head and asked, "When does Michael ever get to be Michael?", "I mean, you have spent quite a bit of time teaching me about Sensory Issues, and have pointed out that it seems to go hand in hand with delayed maturity, emotional regulation weaknesses, and poor impulse control. You have even shared with me that at this time, whether Michael is overly happy, say at a party, or anxious, say at school, that he often has the same response to stimuli. Snarky, loud, touching other kids. You have explained that at this time, when he is overwhelmed by stimuli such as these that he has not yet learned any other tools to cope. Yes? So I ask....Why are you trying to snuff out completely the only emotional release/tool that your son has at this time to express himself?" "So I ask again, Does Michael ever get to be Michael?".
In that moment my mind flashed back to a day when Michael was sitting at our kitchen table, and I had just told him how perfect he was, and how much I loved him. He looked at me square in the eye and said, "Then why are you trying to change me?". He was five at the time. Brilliant really.
With Tears in my eyes, the truth hitting me hard in the stomach. I answered my very smart friends question... " not so much."
Wisdom....It comes from many places if your willing to embrace it. I realized in that moment that while I have done a lot of right things with my children, in this case I was wrong. I realized while I pondered the question, that as a mom, yes, I needed to curb certain behaviors, and help my child to grow and mature. I realized that loving Michael also meant accepting him, respecting his feelings, and giving him the gift of allowing him to be who he is at this time in his life. That while I will work hard to teach Michael, and guide him, I also need to be his "soft place in which he can fall".
As a mom, I have revised the plan again. I will dedicate certain times of the day in which I will embrace my son and allow him to let out his pent up emotions, frustrations....all the feelings that he should get out...needs to get out. In those moments, I will Love him just a little bit more. And let Michael be Micheal. QAnnie