"Mommy, do you want to play with me?"
My eyes won't focus. They are too tired, for no good reason. I haven't left the house yet today. Or yesterday. Or possibly the day before; I can't remember. Sometimes outside is too much. I want so badly to be able to enjoy the sunshine, the clouds, the caterpillars, the blades of grass, the flowers my sons pick for me. The chirping birds, the possibly illegal rooster down the street, the big trucks driving by, my children's singing.
But each of these things brings a pang of overstimulation, like a fuzz-covered knife to the sensory processing mechanism in my brain.
For the first time today, I get down on the floor to play with my oldest son. The other two are napping, and this one is bored without his playmates. Yes, he should be able to entertain himself for a little while, but he also just needs his momma sometimes. The thought of playing with him fills me with dread, and a wave of guilt flows through me. I know we will have fun, if just for the 10 minutes my brain can handle it. But I also know that afterwards I will need to hole up in a dark and quiet room in an attempt to recover from the stimulation. By then, though, someone else will need me. So I make this small sacrifice. Not every day, but today, I say yes to his bid for playful interaction.
I tend to view my sensitivity as a negative aspect of my parenting: a disability of some sort. I'm afraid that I pull back too much, or shush them too much, or don't play with them enough, or don't take them to enough parties. I get irritated too easily. I don't do enough crafts with them. I let them watch too much Netflix. I wince when they tackle me with morning hugs and kisses. I don't enjoy them enough.
But lately, I've been intentional to notice the ways that my hyper-sensitivity is actually an asset in my parenting.
Part of the reason that highly sensitive parents are so easily overstimulated is because we notice more and feel more deeply. We understand them in ways no one else can. We can read their emotions and proactively prevent many frustration-based breakdowns with a few words of explanation. Before they become verbal, we intuitively know why they are crying (most of the time) and can show them that we will meet their needs, which leads to an abundance of trust. We fully see and honor their uniqueness and autonomy, and recognize that their feelings are as big as an adult's. We let our love flow freely.
So if you find yourself beating yourself up because of the negative aspects of your parenting, become more aware of the ways those "negative" traits are actually beneficial. Look at the other side of the coin and realize that you are a gift to your children.