Warning: this post is epic-length.
I feel like I'm not cut out to be a parent once a child reaches 5 or 6 years old. When they're younger I "get" them. I can empathize with them, I can hear what they're saying even when they're not saying it, my patience is saint-like, I am able to keep my sense of humour. My mom and grandmother went through Canada's Residential School system and it nearly destroyed their parenting skills. What skills I have come from what wasn't destroyed in my mom, from my dad, and from books. Ever since I was very young (like, 7 or 8) I have been reading about parenting. However, it seems like I only internalized the early childhood stuff.
My daughter is a gem. An absolute gem. Ever since she was a baby she has been the "easy" child that everyone dreams of. Even now I really have nothing to complain about, but here I am complaining.
I pulled her out of school in January. Since then she has been happier than I have seen her in years. However, I feel like I am going crazy!
Here's our situation:
I am pregnant, and this pregnancy has been very difficult on me. I am not on bedrest, but I can't do anything physical or else I get terrible hours-long Braxton-Hicks contractions. Bailey "hated" gym in school, and lives very much in her head. She doesn't get a lot of physical exercise, and I don't know how to facilitate that without forcing her. I think the lack of movement is affecting her sleep. Besides being prone to insomnia to begin with she's simply not tired enough to fall or stay asleep. We go for short walks when I am able, and my husband takes her swimming when the timing works out. We live in an apartment building with a tiny patch of grass. I try to get outside with Bailey but we end up just standing around. The lack of sleep is affecting her mood.
We don't have a lot of money... well, we don't really have any disposable income at the moment. We go to the library, and we are going to a city council meeting on Tuesday, but we can't go to the zoo, we can't buy a lot of books or supplies, we can't sign her up for any lessons.
Socially: We go to a playgroup a couple times per month, but there are no kids her age... just babies and preschoolers and the novelty of seeing the little ones has worn off for her, I think. We started a homeschooling group, but that is just getting going. She hangs out with her old school friends on the weekends, though. When she was younger she was a social butterfly. She was kind, gentle, empathetic, and related to all ages. I went through a very severe depression, her Dad and I had some custody issues, school kicked into high gear and stopped being fun... and the result is a confused, angry shell of the Bailey I once knew. I recently realized (duh) that her bossiness could be reframed as "leadership qualities" so we've been working on that. But seeing her interact with her peers is sometimes painful. She wants to control, control, control. She had a disastrous sleepover at Halloween and lost her best friend. Bailey acknowledges that it was mainly her own fault, but says she doesn't know how to be any different. Bailey has always been surrounded by adults, too. She was the first grandchild on both sides of the family. She gets along famously with lots of adults. She just doesn't seem to know what to do when someone is being childish because they are (of course) a child.
Behaviour in general: She has gotten so contrary with me and her stepdad! Every so often I remember to step back and realize that she is learning to set boundaries and to make up her own mind about what is right and wrong... but sometimes I get so cheesed off that we both dissolve into tears! I am not proud of my own reactions. I know that in a lot of instances I am trying to be more powerful than her and show her who is boss. And I know that is ridiculous, and completely goes against what I actually want her to learn, which is that she is whole and complete and wonderful just as she is, that I respect and honour her body and that she owns her body (ie: if I'm cold she doesn't have to put on a sweater, lol)... etc.
I know that Bailey has been through a lot of changes in the past couple of months. I know that deschooling takes a long time. I've always wanted to unschool, but had to get past her bio-dad's resistance first. Even when she was in school I let her know that I disagreed with the system, and that we were only playing along because we had to for now. In retrospect maybe that wasn't very wise of me, but it's in the past and I can't change it now.
I realize I am being very negative in my writing. Lots of "I can't" and other stinking thinking. Normally I try to edit my thoughts and writing to be as positive as I can, because I find that being negative just makes things more negative. But I don't think I'll edit what I wrote above. That is the raw, ugly, desperate place I am at right now. Any feedback and suggestions are greatly welcomed... but please be gentle. I am feeling very fragile right now.