Traveling with child and chronic pain? When family treats you differently, how do you tell your family that you are the baby's mom, and you call the shots!? When is it too much?!?! This can be a pretty sore subject and one that is hard to face. Often when we are the mom, it is not easy to be firm with family that we want things to be done a certain way, our way! Moms with chronic pain are one thing for certain--STRONG! Being such strong females, why do we have such a hard time standing up to our family when we travel to visit them? Believe me, I get it. I have been there. I completely know what it is like to have a child who is a 1 1/2 year old, who has terrible temper tantrums. The way we handle temper tantrums in our home and when we go out and about is to let him have the tantrums, finish them out, get all the frustration out, all that emotion, all that anger, or all that for whatever reason he just was unable to handle by throwing himself onto the floor, kicking and screaming, is his only outlet right now. My husband and I only make sure when he has these tantrums that he is in a safe place where he won't hit his head or harm himself in any way, especially when we are in a public place. Many times at a store, the floor is marble or concrete, and really hard so we move him so he won't hit his head on the hard surface, or we move him from the middle of the walkway so he won't get stepped on. You get the idea.
I am told countless times by strangers when I have him at the grocery store, mall or a fast food restaurant (even a place like Applebees that is family friendly) that I should have better control of my child or that I shouldn't even bring him out if he is going to make such a fuss. I took him once to Applebees by myself when my hubby was out of town. He was 15 months old. He was so well-behaved while we waited for our food, and then he ate so well and ate some of my food too! Then while we waited for the bill, the server took a long time, and he got impatient. He began to fuss, then scream, and then he threw himself onto the floor, kicking and screaming. I dragged him out literally kicking and screaming! As we were on our way out of the restaurant, another patron sitting in a booth said, "why would you take him out to a restaurant when he acts like that?" I was so upset that first I was angry, and then I just busted out crying while driving home!
I often think to myself and talk with others about how total strangers seem to know exactly what to do in these very high anxiety moments with child, and yet they have never even spoken to us, never set foot in our home, never spent a moment's time with my incredible child who has so much more to offer than his 2 minute temper tantrums! I have been briefed on so many ways to handle it, on the RIGHT way to deal with a difficult child, on how NOT to do it, and on how I am completely and totally doing it ALL WRONG! And of course this is all by people that I had never seen before that very moment and will most likely never see again!
When speaking of my family, I will see them again and again! I will most definitely continue to get advice from my family. I don't mind advice though. As a matter of fact, sometimes advice can be helpful. What I do mind is deliberately stepping over what I do to do their own thing or to step on me to do their own thing and in the process tell me I am doing it wrong or that what I do or how I do it is worthless or useless. So how do I change this? Well, for me it is easier said than done actually. I need to work on being more assertive. When we go out of town to visit family, I need to immediately on arrival state that traveling is hard for everyone, and harder when you travel with child, and extremely hard when you travel with autoimmune arthritis diseases (and in my case with complications from the autoimmune arthritis diseases as well). I have to stress how exhausted I am and how severe the fatigue is and that my normal pain level is much greater from inactivity on the plane or in the car as well as the lifting of the suitcases and the child, the packing, etc. Traveling is stressful for everyone, and for me, it is a flare just waiting to happen. What my family needs to know is that I need for my stay with them to have as little stress as possible so that the flare that I get every time I travel will not be multiplied by additional stress.
So after explaining the fatigue and pain right off the bat, then I need to explain that I call the shots. I want to thank them for being so kind in letting us stay with them, and thank other family members for helping out with our son any chance they can, etc. I just want them to know that we do things a certain way, and we want to make sure that they stay that way while we are out of town. We want to keep things the same for our son. We don't want Mick to get confused if others begin changing things on him. It's just not the way we want things to be done. For example, the temper tantrums. When my son has a temper tantrum, and my hubby and I let him finish his tantrum without our interruption, I don't want another family member getting involved. I don't want a family member to come in and try to get him to play with something, to try distraction, to stop his crying by making him laugh or even by tickling him. When a family member comes into the room and gets involved with something like that and turns to me and asks me why I don't pick my kid up and love on him, that really hurts me! I do the best that I can do! The way we handle tantrums works for us, and it allows for Mick to experience on his own and learn by himself different emotions. Also, with my autoimmune arthritis diseases, I could never physically pick him up mid-tantrum! I would end up injuring myself and him. I would likely drop him, hurt my spine and neck, and my wrists are definitely not strong enough to try to secure him while he thrashes around!
So when I come in town to visit, and I ask you to respect the way we take care of Mick, and I ask that you do not interfere, please do not act as though this is a strange request. It seems that when dealing with a mom who has a chronic illness like autoimmune arthritis diseases, family members (and strangers in my experience) are more apt to jump in and take over. They assume you can't do certain things because of your disease, and they also feel like what you do is less than adequate at times. Our job as the mom is to up front state the way we want things done while we are visiting, and if it isn't done the way we would like it done, then we will have to stop coming, or we will have to start staying in a hotel over staying with family members. I believe if we are assertive, are strong up front, and remain very firm on what we want from them--our expectations; then I think it will be a lot more likely we will get out of it what we put into it. We will be happy with our results because we stayed STRONG! And our child will be happy too because we kept things "normal" for him. Kids don't like us to change too much on them, just like our bodies don't like us to switch things up on ourselves. So let's keep things the way they work for us and educate others on how we do things when we travel to visit them. In the end, family will respect you too for standing up for yourself for what you know is right for you and your family!