When our daughter was an infant I seldom left the house. I would hear other mommies talking about their full days of shopping, running errands & visiting friends and I could not understand how they did it. I dreaded leaving our home. The reason was simple, my daughter never stopped crying. It was not unusual to see me pushing an empty stroller while holding my screaming baby in my arms. People would stare and offer stupid observations that would make my blood boil, while I frantically tried to console the inconsolable.
As we entered her toddler years, I thought that all of that was behind us. I began to enroll her in classes and various toddler programs. We took music class, swim lessons & enrolled her in gymnastics. Each class was different, but offered a similar list of challenges. She struggled with focus, following directions & waiting her turn. I did not look forward to music class, swim class was a nightmare and gymnastics had me wanting to crush up Xanax and mix it in with my coffee. Stress levels were high on class days.
I felt a familiar feeling as several sets of eyes stared at me while I chased my screaming child across the gymnasium floor, angry that she had to wait her turn on the trampoline. I watched as a line up of children between the ages of 1-3 all stood patiently with their parents. I would point out the other children to Mai in hopes that she would take some queues from them, but she would just continue with her performance as the other mother’s stared. I couldn’t understand it. At home she was a lovely little girl, but once brought into a structured group environment, she turned into a little monster.
Every Saturday morning anxiety would take over my body in anticipation for another gymnastics class. When the final class finally arrived, my husband and I were relieved. We took the summer off of classes to try to regain our sanity.
The summer came and went and the fall is nearly over as well. With the cold weather coming, there will be less time for physical activity outdoors. Mommy got brave and re-enrolled Mai back in gymnastics.
This weekend was her first class. As we entered the gymnasium, my body began to tense up. What was I thinking coming back here again? We sat down and the whole class sang the introductory song before the coaches broke us up into groups. In our group Mai was the first to go. The coach showed her quickly how to do a ladder climb and instructed her through the obstacle course. I watched as my daughter flawlessly went through without even a stumble. I smiled. She got back into line. I stood amazed as I watched my daughter patiently wait her turn as all of the children in front of her made their way through the course. When we moved to the trampolines, which are her favorite, she held my hand and then sat on my lap until her name was called. Is this my daughter? Did I accidentally grab the wrong kid coming out of the obstacles? No, this is definitely my daughter. Coach Joyce even complimented her on what a good listener she was. Out of the corner of my eye, I heard some screams. I turned and saw a little girl kicking and screaming as her parents tried to calm her down. They came up behind us as Mai went through her routine. “Look at that little girl.” the parents said. “See what she is doing.” This made my heart swell with pride and it also made it ache with pains of empathy as the parents still struggled to keep her calm. “Don’t worry” I said it will get easier. “I know, I have been there.”