Thursday, March 13, 2014

What if there isn't a Right Answer?

(Not really the answer.)

So...I've been thinking about today's #HolyLens prompt and feeling more pressure than usual. Since Cari and the rest of the Theme Thursday folks are joining in our themes for their Thursday prompts, it feels like more "real photo people" will be looking at this picture than the daily ones we've been putting on Instagram. I'm so excited that Cari joined up with us, but today I feel like it ups the ante a little bit.

(I'm not sure that makes any sense.)

Unfortunately, feeling more pressure to take a good photo didn't help me find the time to do it. I never saw just the right thing or had that moment when I went, "Oh! I should do that..." 

What I did have was a pretty challenging day dealing with the anxiety of the eldest of my offspring.

I freely admit that he comes by it honestly. Both his parents have had bouts of anxiety at various times. We've definitely struggled, and we can understand where he's coming from...but for all my empathy, I can't figure out how to help him.

His anxiety takes the form of "What If." What if I have a bad dream about that thing I thought about earlier today? What if I think about a random face appearing and then I get convinced that it will actually appear? What if I forget to sleep at all and when I wake up, I'm really tired? What if the power goes out in the night and my nightlight bulb blows up in the power surge and then I don't have another one to replace it with?

I want him to feel like I am hearing him. I want him to feel like I care about his worries. I want him to know that his feelings are important to me.

And sometimes, I just want him to be quiet and give it a rest.

Right now, he's sleeping with all the lights on every night. That's two nightlights, a closet light, and an overhead ceiling light. There can be no shadows. A few weeks ago, I decided it wasn't worth fighting the battle over the lights. When I made that decision, though, I really thought this would have blown over by now.

It's gotten worse.

He is coming out of his room many times every night, sleeping really lightly when he does sleep, having nightmares, and spending the majority of every day grouchy, sleepy and with dark circles under his eyes.

We go back to the pediatric neurologist soon for our regular 6 month visit, and they might say his growth in the last six months means his medication dosage isn't right any longer. Then we'd have a reason, something we could blame for the sudden worsening in his sleep.

With his continuing seizure-free status, though, he'll be going off that medication in another six months, anyway.

Part of me is worried that there isn't a right answer. What if we just have to figure this out? What if we just have to be parents and decide how to balance sensitivity and compassion with firm guidance and boundary-setting?

I am not posting this so people will tell me to read parenting books, or so people will tell me how we're taking the wrong approach, or so people will pat my head and tell me we're doing a good job.

I'm posting this because sometimes, being a parent is just hard. It's hard. It's tough to realize that I'm the one in charge and that there's no guidebook. It's humbling to think that I am making a decision based on my experience and my instinct and my knowledge but that it might not be the best decision for my child. It's frightening to arrive at the conclusion that, despite my research, careful consideration, and prayer over the situation, there might not be one right answer.

Sometimes, we're kind of just fumbling around in the dark and hoping for the best.

Tonight feels like one of those we're leaving the lights on.