Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Dream Interpreted

I had an awful dream last night. Lately, Gracie's attitude has gone even further downhill, and although I think I am finally figuring out ways to deal with it I can't say that it's not taking a toll on us. I'm much more irritable and tired when the day is through, as is she.

So my dream... I dreamed that because of Gracie's attitude problems, I decided to send her to a month long disciplinary camp - a place where I would only be able to talk to her once a day for 5 minutes over the phone. In my dream, I was so confident in my decision, then when the people came to pick her up I realized that I hadn't done any research at all. I didn't know what methods these people were planning on using to straighten my child out. I didn't find out until they got there that I'd only be able to talk to her once daily. Panic started setting in when I realized that I hadn't done anything to prepare Gracie for what was to come either. She had no idea that she was going to be gone from us for more than a night or two, or that they had planned on her sleeping in a tent (something she's never done). Tears streaked down my face as I watched her happily waving from the back of the bus as it drove off. I was sending my daughter to an ambush and she was absolutely gleeful about it.

I woke up with a feeling of dread, similar to how I feel after watching a post-apocalyptic movie. My heart feels heavy and I am literally seconds from crying. As I think more about what the dream could mean, I can't help but feeling like perhaps I've been treating Gracie too harshly when she starts acting out. Our tempers tend to flare pretty high and pretty quick in this family and I know I am my mother's child when I've hit my boiling point. I can hear the same shrill tone in my voice once I've had enough and after that, even the most mild irritants will send me through the roof.

Please don't misinterpret me here; my mother was and is wonderful. But everyone has their faults.

I remember making my mother angry as a child: I'd either do something really bad or I'd do a lot of little things that built up over time to wear down her patience. When she finally lost her temper, it was over. From then on out, like me, even the most mild irritants would push her back over the edge. I can't blame her - when you've had enough, you've had enough. It's not easy to explain this to a child though, and when she would erupt I remember thinking things like, "Well I just left my plate out after dinner for a few minutes.... I was gonna take it to the sink in a little while...."

Now as a mother myself, I see myself following in her shoes in a lot of ways, both good and bad. And one of those ways is that I tend to overreact once my buttons have been pushed a few too many times. It has no off switch either. If I lose it early in the day, my patience stays pretty thin the rest of the day.

I think that perhaps this is some of what my dream was trying to tell me. Maybe I need to calm the eff down when I'm dealing with Gracie. It's not fair to her that she has to deal with my anger issues and it's no fun for me feeling the guilt of overreacting over something small.

I hope that my decision to work through my anger differently will not only change the dynamic between my daughter and I, but maybe I'll sleep a little better at night too.