Helping my child with school work can and has often left me feeling like a big fat failure! I am a teacher with plenty of experience teaching young children. I would even consider myself a really good teacher. I am cleaver and creative in my explanations and work hard to stay mindful of all of my trauma sensitive training. And maybe that’s why I have been so frustrated and disappointed that working with my daughter on her school assignments at home has been so incredibly challenging.
Our girls attend a school that is referred to as a homeschool collaborative…they attend school on campus three days a week and I work with them on teacher created assignments the other two school days.
It usually starts out beautifully, well intentioned, but often ends in massive meltdowns for both her and I. It always looks the same and sounds the same, but unfortunately I have been too reactive to really hear to what she’s trying to tell me.
“I don’t want your help” she screams angrily as she slides under our kitchen table. She might even add that she’s not going to do it ever and that she hates me. It’s not fun and I have wanted to quit more days than all the fingers and toes of the entire Hutton family put together.
Then a few months ago, I finally heard what I think she was trying to communicate with the words “I don’t want your help!” She doesn’t want to need me. She doesn’t want to need anyone because her history tells her people can’t be trusted to meet her needs so she better just stop needing all together.
It was like someone had just turned on the lights when I had been trying to read a book in the dark. I still didn’t know how to respond to her, I tried saying things like “I know you don’t want to need me, but you do.” and “I’m a teacher and I know how to help you” This line of reasoning and talking, and explaining only made her more mad and more disregulated. She didn’t need me to try and convince her or change how she felt. She needed me to just be there with her in her discomfort and that’s not always easy, especially when I was being blamed for the discomfort.
That evening I shared my discovery with my husband Kyle…he looked at me with a big grin on his face, then reminded me of how the week before he and I had been engaged in a long, tearful (for me) conversation where he was “helping me” recognize that I was resisting his help. I don’t want to “need” anyone either? Really? But why?
Well, I’m sure the why will continue to unfold, but what I did recognize in that moment is that I feel shame in needing people…somewhere, somehow I developed a belief that to need someone meant I wasn’t enough… I too, had lost a father when I was young and that hurt. Unfortunately that hurt was not validated…leaving me to feel something was fundamentally wrongful with me and I guess I decided needing people was a weakness I didn’t want to own. What seemed like my daughter’s rejection of my wonderful teaching skills was scraping the scab off a very old, yet obviously still very tender wound… one that says, I’m not enough….
I know my work….it’s not about getting better at teaching. It’s about healing the wounded girl in me so I can really begin to see the wounded girl in her and that’s a big deal, one that’s taken 100s of little moments for me to finally recognize. And that’s ok…I’m learning to offer myself compassion and grace more and more often and I hope you are too. I’d love to hear about your “little moments/big deals” Please share them in the comments below. Your vulnerability invites others into theirs.❤️