Saturday, June 05, 2010

Coming to terms

I feel like every few weeks I write, this is the hardest week we've had in a long time. And yet, here I sit now, feeling the same way.

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.


Story of our Life said...

I wish I had your email address and could email you privately my love and support.

As I read your post this afternoon it brought back so many of the same thoughts/feelings/memories that I, too, struggle(d) with.

Please know that I, along with so many other momma' understand.

Sarah, this crap sucks. Big.time.

I'm so sorry. I wish I could take it away. I wish I had the magical answers. I wish that I was that mom who was able to say "i did xyz and it was all better". I'm not. I never will be. I never wanted to be. I couldn't do it.

I know that pain, you as their mother, is experiencing. I know it all to well. And I'm sooooo incredible sorry.

(((((HUGS)))) from one Frozen, Rainy, Hot, Muggy Tundra Momma to another!!


geralyn said...

You better be planning on the Haiti camp.....NO MATTER WHAT! We have soooo much to talk about, notes to compare and laughs to share.

My mom match-up here from Corey is super. Total chaos with her 5 and my 4 together, but so needed and welcomed by us both since we can actually relax with the kids and know that neither of us are going to freak out if the kids do something totally defiant, gross or weird.

You are not alone! I cannot wait to meet you IRL and share some of our stories....then you'll feel in good company!

Megan said...

And YOU are not alone. Sending prayers your way.

Casey said...

I don't even know you, but I got to you through Corey. You are NOT alone. You DO know your children better than anyone, and YOU ARE DOING YOUR BEST. You are grieving while you are trying to figure out how to best navigate these waters of a new life together. That's gonna be rough. I'm so thankful for the internet and for the feeling of community for those who struggle with the same things. You are not alone.

Casey in VA

Mighty Isis said...

Sarah, much love and understanding is sent your way! Please check your voicemail and let's get together asap.

Me said...

I wish I knew something to say. I don't.You are a great Mama-to all your children. Hugs!

ManyBlessings said...

Love to you. And some ((((giant hugs))) from those of us who DO understand.

Tracy said...

I am so sorry you're going through this. I have to admit, if I were going through that I would feel the exact same way. How can you not morn for your easy, normal life? You are doing such a great job and your choices for how to deal with those struggles are amazing. Just know there are moms who fear going through those same issues and only hope that if we do, we can handle them with as much grace as you do.

Lisa said...

You are so brave Sarah and much stronger & wiser than you think. Your amazing strength and sense of what is truly right and wrong for your own children will win out eventually. Yes your boys have a lot of healing to do, but you already know you can't make up for past hurts you can only lay new foundation for future greats. Your boys will win their battle with this thanks to you. I'm sorry you are feeling so low right now, I won't pretend to know what you are going through, but I will say for what it's worth you are doing an incredible job!

bbbunch said...

Oh Sarah...I know we talked about both of these situations, but reading them here made me cry (with you) all over again. I am so sorry for everything that all of you are going through. I can guarantee you that Paloma rooming with Hattie is harder on you than her, but I know that right now, telling you that isn't going to make you feel better. As dark and difficult as some of these weeks are, and as much as you have to work for your family...just know that someday all five of your children will talk about you in stories of great strength, love, dedication and commitment. Long term, my friend, all of this will have been worth just has to be. There is too much love in you, in your home and family for it not to be.

I am sorry that on top of all of this, you have to deal with loss of frienships. You are so special to me, and it breaks my heart that you are hurting. I hope you know that all of you are welcome here anytime. YOU are not alone, either. I may not be going through the same things that you are...but I am here to listen anytime, and for what it's worth...I think you are doing a fantastic job. We all love you!


Katy said...

Not sure what to say, except for I am so sorry you are going through it. :( And you are not alone. I don't have the same circumstances, but have been going through some significant behavior/attachment/trauma issues with my little one in the last 4 1/2 mos, and it definitely stirs up LOTS of emotions. Wouldn't trade her for anything, but it is OK and normal to have a whole lot of emotions going on. We all need to know we are not alone with this stuff! Hang in there.