Why I Refuse to Raise a Cry-Baby

Abby on Skates

Look at her, so sure of herself, skating for only the second time. The picture of confidence and resilience. Well, don’t let her fool you; two minutes ago she was clinging to my arm whining with tears in her eyes. “I can’t do it, its too hard, I’m going to fall…wanh, wanh, wanh…” You know what I said to that? “Toughen up, or we are going home”.

I don’t know how I got here, usually I have so much patience and I am nurturing and kind…but it appears that nothing in the world annoys me more than hearing Abby whine. It is like nails on a chalkboard, I absolutely cringe…and then I turn into the Hulk. Or at least that is how it seems. Maybe it is more like Mr. Hyde. I get a lot of stares and disapproving looks from people and strangers around me when I won’t coddle her, but my every instinct says to dust her off and throw her back in.

I worry sometimes after the months I spent with her when she was sick, if I have lost that protective, motherly instinct for her. If somehow I used it all up? Or if I am holding on to some resentment from those months of no sleep, no help, no hope? Does that even make sense? You would think that those months would make me more protective, more sensitive to all of her tears…

So, perhaps I should take a deep breath and reassure myself that I have not turned to stone. Maybe there is a more obvious answer staring straight back at me…maybe a little mirror therapy would be more insightful.

So maybe I grew up over-compensating for my sensitivity. Early on, though I was a strong leader and a fabulous child (or so I am lead to believe), I can remember many times feeling very weak. I remember crying a lot, having my feelings hurt, being scorned by friends, feeling inadequate. If I look back in pictures I can see my self esteem slowly disappearing. I don’t think it was obvious to everyone around me, I think I pulled of the masquerade pretty well, throwing myself into my school work and a few sports. But, if you looked closely, you would see I no longer had the confidence to try anything new (if I couldn’t guarantee I would be good at it, I wouldn’t go near it), and I stuck closely to a group of friends who were nothing like me (they were girly, confident, silly, popular,… relaxed!) I also remember a friend from way back, we’ll call her Alice, who was ridiculed (usually behind her back) for being a whiner and a faker. Alice seemed to carry drama and trauma around with her like a feed-bag. She cried easily, she always had an injury…and given that she was in our group of friends, I certainly didn’t want anyone to talk about me like that.

I was told a few years back, by a brave person who had met me only as an adult, that I kind of came off as a b*tch. Thinking of myself as the ultimate do-gooder, this came as quite a shock. But after closer examination, I definitely did have a hard outer shell…I just didn’t realize it was glowing bright red with a flashing sign that said Don’t Try Me.

So where has today’s reflection and rambling gotten me? Well, I think I just realized that I am being overprotective by appearing to not protect my daughter. I am trying to harden her up, save her from being labelled as a whiner. And I think in my head I equated that with being strong, a fighter, when in fact she may live her life kind of faking that strength like I did.

So am I doing her  a disservice? I still don’t think so. But perhaps I would be doing her more good if I helped her develop a stronger sense of self esteem and awareness, a more healthy view of herself, and her limitations and her greatness. I still won’t raise a cry-baby… but maybe I can help her find the tools to avoid many situations that would make her cry. And maybe there are times I need to admit that I need a hug as much as she does.

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