After reading a recent New York times article, a friend quizzed me about who I thought was happier: married couples without kids or those with wee-ones. And even though I’m certain that I’m happier with ‘em, I offered up that married peeps sans children was the correct answer. Nope. She said the finding showed no difference in levels of happiness, but that those with children felt life’s highs and lows much more intensely. I further suggested that one’s highs and lows might even be dictated by one’s kids – a heartfelt, but rather sad notion.
Within the past year we’ve noticed that our middle daughter has been exhibiting some OCD tendencies – much like the ones I had as a child and ultimately grew out of. But her clinginess and separation issues suggest that she shares an anxiety I know all too well. I can tell that she is trying to manage something, though the root of the problem is still unclear. It took a month for a child psychoanalyst to confirm that she does indeed have anxiety and that she needs Play Therapy, a type of early childhood treatment that is rooted in play with rudimentary toys. And thus began the commitment with which many of my generation are somewhat familiar: a two-times-a-week, very expensive treatment that is (usually) in a geographically undesirable location.
Not only is “Play” all the way across town, smack in the middle of the day, and twice the cost of our pre-school, but my husband and I must attend one session a week on our own. And even as a product of adulthood therapy (which I’ve been in for years, on and off), I resisted at first. But let me tell you, what a freaking gift. Not only are we being coached on how to support our child during a time of need, but it’s also a bit of marital counseling that every parent secretly wants.
We’re a month deep and it’s too soon to know what the results will look like. But I feel lighter already, just knowing that there’s a professional on the case. I also feel good about our decision to intervene, especially when my own parents did not, causing me to have to wrestle with my angst as an adult.
Just today I got home to find a non-descript padded manila envelope at the front door with my name on it. Most people might have gotten excited (An unexpected gift! A special invitation!) but of course my mind immediately went to “death threat.” Even though I was able to recognize my catastrophic feeling, it gave me pause. I stopped to think about how this type of paranoid anxiety (which is something I’ve learned to live with), could cause such turmoil in a little four-year old’s brain. I hesitantly opened the small package to find the most beautiful handmade silk garland – I had forgotten that I ordered a custom design for my daughter’s fairy-themed birthday. It’s the perfect floral wreath to decorate her amazing little mind.