This time of year can be so bittersweet.
Our expectations can be such HUGE stumbling blocks. Those expectations about what makes for a good holiday can be especially challenging.
The expectation is usually motivated by recreating those times when we felt most loved, when we felt most part of something, when we felt most filled with a sense of peace and safety. SO many times we want to feel that again and we want our kids to feel it too!
So, we fill our homes with the food, the smells, the visions and the people that bring all of that back for us. We spend lots of physical and emotional energy trying to recreate it all. The problem is that those things and people don’t create the same wonderful experiences for our children.
Our children get anxious and act out and then everything has to change. We can’t decorate the same way due to their sensory struggles. We can’t leave a dish of ribbon candy sitting out like our Grandma did because our child can’t regulate himself and will sneak and eat it all. We can’t spend time with those that help create such wonderful feelings for us because it is too much for our children and we will have huge fall-out afterwards.
It is no longer easy. It is no longer peaceful. We no longer feel part of that something that made us feel like we fit in somewhere, where we feel most loved.
The reality is that we love our children and we want the best for them. We want them to feel loved and like they fit in, we want them to feel safe and peaceful. The bittersweet comes in when we realize that to give them all of that, we have to do “it” differently.
It is important to dig deep, to remind yourself that the gift you were given needs to be passed on. Now it is your time to create that place and group and tradition that will help your child feel MOST LOVED. Create the sense of peace and safety you had by helping him feel like he fits in because he can be successful. To be successful, help him to understand what is coming next even if he can’t read your nonverbal cues. Help him to regulate in the midst of so many triggers by keeping things as close to normal as you can and as close to neutral as you can – no surprises! Help him to not sabotage good things by being the bridge between his past and his present, his irrational beliefs about his own worthiness and the truth that he IS worthy of all the goodness you and your family have to offer. (If he doesn’t take much food, give him more, believe behavior could mean he is worried he won’t get presents give them early or spread them out, believe that behavior could mean that he is worried this is the last big hurrah and he will have to leave tomorrow and make sure you keep saying and showing that it is not.)
So many parents are exhausted and stressed trying to make this holiday be what it “should” be by recreating everything that has ever felt good in hopes of passing that on to their children. Be sure you are not recreating your past and expecting the same results. Your expectations will not be fulfilled. You must meet your child where he is and make your goal be to do it differently enough that he can someday feel fully loved and accepted – safe and peaceful.
When you look to give this as your gift, you don’t have to have it be the same as it was before in order to have a wonderful Christmas – You are STILL LOVED, YOU ARE ALWAYS PART OF YOUR FAMILY, YOU ARE SAFE and YOU WILL HAVE PEACE!
End the bitter and CREATE the SWEET!
Remember...you are NOT alone!