Two situations in the past 2 days have left me completely wiped out and feeling hurt, sad, resentful, exhuasted and mournful.
I'm feeling a low right now, and so many questions run through my mind.
At what point does a parent come to terms with the fact that they are raising hurt children and not just children who are still in the adjustment phase, and accept the fact that their lives are now really, really hard?
How do you accept it when, after you bring your children home, you realize you have to say, I think we've moved out of the 'well, he's just adjusting' mindset to the 'well, I think we have some long-term problems/work in front of us here?'
When do you feel good and accept the fact that nothing is the same? And that friends you used to have are yours no longer because they avoid you and are nervous around your kids and don't know what to say (and you can't really blame them at all that they feel that way)? And that you sometimes even avoid family and others because it's too complicated to make others realize the boundaries of how they can and cannot act with your children? And that you don't set those boundaries because you are a mean or controlling or hateful parent, but rather because you are trying to teach your children what a mother is or a family is and help them grow emotionally?
I don't know the answers to any of those quesitons.
* * * *
Yesterday, in going through the boys' room, I found one son's favorite shirts bunched up (and I believe urinated on) in the far corner of his closet. Other of his clothing was hidden in his brother's closet. I found toys--none of which were Miles-- stuffed between Miles' bed mattress and the wall. And I discovered that Miles has been peeing in the room again, too.
Why am I struggling with the process of pulling up my Big Girl Panties and accepting the fact that I have a child with whom not a single, tiny 'sly' action can be ignored? And that we can never pretend a toy stuck in between a bed and a wall was just a 'mistake' or 'accident?' Because every time Miles does something just below the surface of normal (and sometimes it's sooooooo *close* to normal that people parenting regular kids think that *I* am nuts or overly punitive, because so may of these things can just be written off as carelessness or as an accident with a 'regular' kid. But not this kid), really it's just his way of holding up a huge, blinking neon arrow that reads, "I'm not okay inside right now, Mom."
All of these things happen when Miles is feeling angry or fearful. Sometimes he gets angry because Atticus might step on a coat hanger (honest to God.) Other times it's because he doesn't want to go to bed and wants to play.
The horrible catch-22 of this situation is that as a traumatized child, Miles suffers from horrible shame. Horrible. And whenever he acts out of anger, it in turn grows more shame and deflates a nearly-depleted sense of self-worth. It's a cycle that is so harmful to him.
To help my son, I realized that he needs his own room. With little in it--just a bed. A bedroom where if he is angry, there isn't anything he can ruin. One where there isn't the lure of bad choices which will only lead to further internal feelings of shame. I mean, he can pee on the carpet or on his bed all he wants, and I know that will lead to shame, but at least it won't be compounded by the shame he feels when he knows he ruined his brothers' belongings.
Plus, it isn't fair to Atticus and Keenan to live like that. They're just little boys who take care of their stuff and respect each other's stuff.
So, we moved Paloma into Hatfield's room, cleared out the little yellow bedroom that was Po's, and moved Miles' mattress and box spring into that room.
As silly as it sounds, this has absolutetly devastated me. Completely taken the wind out of my sails. I still can't stop crying about it all. This is not the way I ever wanted to or planned to live.
I had such pride in my little girls' rooms. Paloma's room was absolutely adorable. It brought so much joy to her and I. And the same with Hatfield's. I know it's just a bedroom. And so much of the world never has their own bedroom. But it's not Paloma's fault that she is losing her room.
Although I'm ashamed to admit it, I'd be lying to say that I wasn't feeling resentment and anger at this entire situation, even though I know that it isn't Miles fault that his trauma healing requires him having a completly quiet place to heal.
It is really, really hard for me to accept the reality that I have one child who sleeps in his bedroom, which consists of a room and a mattress and boxspring on the floor. It makes me feel like a mean, horrible mother. Even though I know we are not doing this out of punishment, but out of a need for him to have a quiet, uncluttered, non-distracting space for him to rest, I still feel horrible.
Because there is a part of me that thinks that if I could somehow have done something different, I'd have a happy, healthy little boy who would be very happy and healthy and behaviorally appropriate in the adorable room I painstakingly created for him.
** * * ** *
And as if having one son who sleeps in an empty room on a mattress isn't hard enough for me to accept, last night I had a child who slept on the floor in the bathroom in poopy underwear.
Because the children were doing their chores. And Keenan didn't want to do his. So he urinated and defecated in his underwear.
I don't do soupy poopy underwear. Well, I mean, if I have children sick with the stomach flu, of course I will. But if I have a nearly 6 year old child who will do that foul act because they are upset they have to clean a bathroom mirror or put away a toothbrush, well, I'm not that sort of mom.
So I placed him in the bathroom. Calmly explained to him (we've been through this before) that in our family, when a child chooses not to use the toilet, that child cleans up their own mess.
And do you know that this child choose to stay in that filth for hours and hours and hours?
What to do? I can't force him to take it off, and I'm not certainly going to forcefully take it off of him. I asked him nicely to take it all off, place it in the bathtub, clean up his own bottom and put on a pull-up so he could crawl into bed and sleep.
And he refused.
So he slept in the bathroom.
Now, logically, I know it was his choice. But as a mother, It. Kills.Me. to have a child who would rather sleep in his own soupy fecal matter than cooperate.
Because I can't help but feel that if I were somehow a better mother to Keenan, then he would not be choosing these courses of action.
***** ** ******
Right now I am mourning the normal, easy life we used to have. I'm still struggling to accept the fact that this is the way my life is. That I have a child who cannot act appropriately around other's belongings. That I have a child who will mess his pants and then stand in it for hours, and I feel completely helpless and scared when he does because I don't know what to do about it or how to make that situation better.
I am feeling tremendous grief and pain and guilt. I see these situations in my family and I feel like I'm trying to get my footing in the middle of an oil slick. If you are feeling this way too, please know that you are not alone. I have no words of wisdom, and really have no idea how to comfort you, except to say that I'm here with you.