The last couple of days I think I have had some of my worst parenting moments ever.  I am doing better but I am still feeling guilty, and sad.

My girl is intense.  When she’s happy she’s HAPPY, and when she’s not, well, batten down the hatches.  Sunday came at the end of a particularly brutal week, which was brutal for reasons completely unrelated to her.  She was angry and anxious and argumentative and completely unwilling and unable to accept advice, or even just sympathy.  Even just getting away from her was futile- she seemed to have a need to rage.  Thing is, I can only be the target of such a rage for so long, and then my own rage comes out.

Anger.  Anger about not being listened to, anger about the lot in life I’ve been given, frustration that I just. can’t. make. her. happy.  Feeling put upon that I am her punching bag, her case manager, her caretaker…all rolled into one harried package.  It is not a nice feeling to resent your own child, especially when they can’t help who they are.

Or, can they?  People are a mix of what they are born with, and what they are able to do by virtue of their own free will, decision-making, or whatever you want to call it.  I vacillate between thinking, none of this is her fault, she is what she is…and then…DAMMIT STOP BEING SO OBSTINATE?  Her psychologist said, you can’t always blame Asperger’s.  Remember that she is also just a typical 14 year old girl with typical 14 year old issues.

As difficult as yesterday was, we made some good progress.  We dealt with one source of her recent anxiety:  drama class.  She switched into a tech class as one of her electives instead.  Drama had far too much group work, and she was constantly being reminded that she doesn’t fit it.  Kids would be told to get into pairs, or groups, and they naturally go with their friends.  Thing is, this girl doesn’t have friends.  In tech class there isn’t much group work, and given how into computers she is anyways…it is probably a better fit interest-wise as well.

She also started her PEERS group program.  Last night was the first session, and so far so good.  As far as I go, it is great to meet a group of parents who know exactly what I mean when I describe how my girl will talk and talk and talk and talk in conversations but not show any interest in how the other person in doing.

I also sent her new teachers a Girl 101 email.  I let them know about her IEP, her quirks, how she is doing, her addiction to her iPhone, etc.  I want them to feel like they have an open line with me, and knowing about her ASD will help them understand why she is the way she is, and how they can help her and their ability to teach her at the same time.

Onwards and upwards.  I am grateful it is a short week.  I am grateful that I remembered to take steak out of the freezer for tonight’s dinner.  I am grateful that her brother is such a good kid.  And am grateful that my Girl is upstairs right now, laughing and relaxing and in a much better place than she was 48 hours ago.




Parenting fail

I’ve had one of those days where I feel like I have totally and utterly failed as a parent.

I think that yes, it is hard to parent teenagers.  It is hard to parent teenagers as a single parent.  Now add Asperger’s to the mix.

I think of the attribution pie my therapist sketched out for me in one particular session. Let’s look at one of her behaviours. Part of it is genetic. Part is Asperger’s. Part is influenced by the sum of her experiences. Part is the parenting she’s received. Part is the crazy hormonal influence of just being a 14 year old girl. Throw it all together and today we ended up with a miserable, ranting, screaming mess of a girl.

It began when I suggested we all go to my boyfriend’s place for a skate on his lovely backyard rink, to be followed with pizza for dinner. Just a couple of hours hanging out with him and his kids. She went into defiant mode.  She didn’t want to go because she said she felt ‘alone’ around them.

What I think she meant was that she felt apart.  Social situations are tough for a hundred and one reasons that I don’t need to explain to anyone familiar with ASD.  And, her history of being bullied, being ‘friends’ with girls who were fairweather at best, manipulative and game-playing and cruel at their worst, has left scars.  She is afraid of most people her age.  Who could blame her after what she has been through?

Yet I encourage her to try.  She accuses me of trying to change her.  I say, no sweetie, all anyone wants for you is to be happy and to find ways to cope better with situations you find tough.  She says, why don’t the bullies have to change? I can see her point, but the reality is we have to find ways to cope because we can never change another.  She says, mom, you’re a hypocrite.

And such begins the circle of frustration.

I start to panic, feel desperate.  I feel feelings a mother shouldn’t feel about their child:  resentment, anger, even a bit of fury.  Because, dammit, I am trying to HELP you!

She wants help and she doesn’t.  She wants friends that exist beyond her laptop, but she is afraid to approach other kids in the real world.  She’s been burned too many times before.

I expect her to make sense, to tell me exactly what she needs, but of course she can’t.

Guilt sets in.  I am failing her.  I try and I try and I try and I blow it.

Then an hour later I hear her laughing upstairs, with her brother.  And I am in awe because I admire her resilience, her ability to get up and carry on, over and over and over.

She’s my hero.