Clare and I went to see Disney on Ice: Princess Wishes last week. I took Clare last year, and she loved it. Every time we pass the hockey arena, she asks if the princesses are there. So when they came around again this year, I knew we were definitely going. Clare insisted on dressing up as Cinderella that night (she remembered seeing all the other little girls in their princess dresses last year, and she was not wearing one). She was so over-the-top with excitement to go. We had seats with friends of ours, so Clare was thrilled to be with her friends as well.
For me, watching Clare during the show was better than watching the show. She gasped, exclaimed, grinned, was enthralled by the show. Until the big, evil, fire-breathing dragon from Sleeping Beauty appeared on the ice. Fireworks exploded from its mouth and a line of fire blazed on the ice (actually pretty cool from a special effects viewpoint). In one instant, the enchantment was over. It was a hundred times worse than when Cinderella's magic wore off at midnight and her gorgeous carriage was just an old pumpkin again. All of a sudden, my princess was a quivering mess. Sitting on my lap, crying, hands over her ears, which eventually erupted into a full-blown hysterical fit. The evening ended with me carrying Clare out of the arena and into the icy night while she screamed bloody murder.
Clare fell asleep in the car almost immediately, and I cried the whole way home. The horrible part is that I was not crying for Clare. I did feel bad that the dragon scared the you-know-what out of her and put a sour note on the end of our otherwise-wonderful princess-y evening. And I do hope that this does not ruin her anticipation of going again next year. But I admit I was crying for me. For me. For poor, poor me who had to have a child who could not, at the age of almost-six, understand that the dragon was not real. A child whose hyperacussis made those fireworks sound like a thousand times louder than they really were. A child whose body is programmed in such a way that the adrenaline and cortisol rush of the "fight or flight" response lasts four hours in her little body. Four hours of stress hormones racing around her bloodstream, often causing her to become aggressive, hypervigilant, and over-reactive. Sometimes paralyzing her so that she cannot move. It really was a blessing that Clare exhausted herself out and fell asleep because once she is "triggered," it can take awhile for her body to maintain stability again.
So I cried the whole way home. Shawn came out to the garage, carried Clare in, and put her in her pajamas and into bed. He asked if I wanted to talk about it, but I was still so wrapped up in my self-misery and pity-party that I just wanted to go to bed myself.
Waking up to a new day usually helps me gain perspective. And having my little curly-haired girl crawl into bed, put her arms around me, and say, "I'm so sorry, Mommy," made my heart ache. I have challenges in my life. We all do. And, yes, sometimes I think my challenges are greater than other parents because Clare does have so many medical, developmental, and emotional issues and that puts me into my "poor me" state of mind. But then I realize that feeling sorry for myself never gets me anywhere. I cannot wallow in self-pity and spend the day in bed, which would be my preference some days. Something or someone will snap me out of my funk and make me focus, not on the challenges in my life, but on all the blessings. I am not a touchy-feely, mushy kind of girl. I loathe self-help books, Dr. Phil types, and other such devices. But I am finding these days that a dose of perspective, a thought to meditate on, and prayer can get me through. And all the hugs my children will give me!