Updated: Jul 6, 2020
After my last post on my daughter's eczema, I have been receiving a lot of encouragement, and even compliments for handling the situation the way I did. As I read the comments and messages, I feel the urge to elaborate the truth. The truth is that was the first time in my last 9 months of battling eczema with my little daughter - that I handled it the way I did, with love and compassion.
From the day we needed to form a routine eczema care for her, I had taken it on as a challenge. I searched high and low on the internet, joined different support groups, tried different things. I got stuck at the moisturizer shelf at the pharmacies. My eyes rolled when I saw the "stamp" - eczema-prone skin. The urge to look for a solution is always there. And when it doesn't work, it's a helpless cycle.
Doing all of the above is necessary for me to know that I am doing something and we are not giving up, but unfortunately I got lost in it. It was not uncommon that i would scream at the top of my lungs "Don't scratch!", or pull her hands away violently and annoyingly. Gradually, it was about the eczema more than about my daughter..
I felt anger, frustration, helplessness. I forgot to take care of my emotions. And I completely ignored my daughter's feelings as I went through the motion of "dealing with eczema".
The truth is it took me over 9 months to start recognizing and acknowledging my daughter's feelings and truly feel her pain (not my pain of not being able to combat it). And it happened because, I assume, she just couldn't take it anymore and vented out through a huge meltdown. I was taken aback, and that gave me the space to step back, see what I couldn't see before - "My daughter is an individual of her own feelings, needs and wants. She has the right to scratch." Sounds silly, but as her mother, I took that right away from her, sometimes, with force. I can't say I will just let her scratch to her heart's content from now on, but since the incident, I see myself handling it with more respect.
I will gently ask "Would you like me to help you scratch?", "Can you please scratch gently?", "Let's give your skin some love", "The skin will cry if you scratch too hard." - and if she refuses, I hope to be able to continue respecting her choice while letting her know I am always here for her.
Now I am also more willing to start scratching her a little harder than I used to, keeping in mind her needs to ease the itch, rather than just "rubbing gently".
I think she can tell the difference in the interaction.
The night after that huge meltdown, my husband and I were working after the kids fell asleep. We heard her crying. Within seconds, she appeared at our door crying with blood stains all over her sleeves. So yes, the battle is still full on for me, but I can now see her pain, keep myself calm and centered to give her the space to feel safe and calm down. If it was "me" before, I would have screamed and probably scolded her to cover up my "helplessness".
I truly respect all the mothers and fathers who have always handled the situation with great care & love, but I also feel deeply for all of you who have lost yourself at times, and feel like a bad parent afterwards, especially when reading stories of how graceful and dedicated other parents are. I was there. I can't tell the future, but the image of her kicking me telling me to go away and wanting noone by her side will be my anchor to put my daughter's feelings and needs first. I hope you would find an anchor that works best for you, without having to push your children to their limits...