After my boys came home and the honeymoon officially ended (which, in all truthfulness, only ended for one of them, because we never even honeymooned with the other), and we were thrown headfirst into a spiral of trauma-induced behavior, I became hyper-aware of the fact that if we had any hope of all at surviving this gig, we needed to have fun.
For quite a while, I made it my mission to keep things light and fun in the midst of our trials. It was easier then because at that time I craved it like I crave Ben & Jerry's Americone Dream.
To help the big kids cope with their adjustment, we extended the big kid's bedtime so they each had our time doing whatever fun things they wanted, from playing 30 million back-to-back games of Blokus (which was fun until my 8 year old routinely starting kicking my ass at it), to creeping ourselves out with Nancy Drew mystery computer games (I'm a weenie, you bet), to having sundae parties and watching scary movies.
I sought out fun for the Mister and I. We employed babysitters and had date nights once the little ones where in bed. We watched movies curled up on the couch, or when the weather was decent, we'd sit outside under the patio twinkle lights and share a beer. Sex and intimacy happily became a huge priority for both of us.
I sought out things for myself, too. Many times I couldn't leave the house due to the Mister's travels or needy children, but I sought out new series of books to read (Charlaine Harris, anyone?), continued with favorite series (Janet Evanovich.) We subscribed to cable and I learned that I LOVE TRASHY CABLE TV-SERIES. The trashier, the better. And I'm not afraid to admit it.
Somewhere along the way, however, I lost that focus on fun.
And life has suffered.
Now, I'm not saying that this recent accumulation of problems is all my fault, or all the fault of the lack of fun.
I am saying, though, that in living a life with traumatized children, it is really, REALLY, REALLY important to have some sort of fun in your life.
I was all set to blog about all my lofty fun goals for this holiday season. Pumped and ready for fun.
Then the dreaded "Blogger's Curse" stepped in.
I just finished up with a situation with Miles. The holidays are hard for him, and a day with everyone at Grandma's house has sent him spiraling out today, despite my best efforts to keep things calm and routine for him. Today, I sent him outside, all bundled up, to empty the compost containers into the large compost bins. Typical kid chore. One that all of my children have done about a billion times.
After a while, I realized Miles had not come inside. I peeked out the door, and there my boy was, choosing to stand outside hollering and wailing and screaming in the cold. Why? He wanted to use a different door that he could not access. Instead of asking Mom for help with the side door, he chose to stand outside in the freezing cold, crying and hollering.
I will completely admit: it is NOT easy having a kid who would rather freeze to death than do something as simple as saying, "Hey Mom, can you open this other door for me?" It hurts to see how trauma affects him. It hurts to have a kid who acts as though having to interact with their Mom is about as appealing to them as eating dog poop. It's hard to parent a kid like this. I totally wanted to just say, "Well, fine then, stand out there and freeze."
But with a trauma kid, you can't. One, he would stand out there until he passed out from hypothermia, no doubt (no, I'm not kidding. Or exaggerating.) But most importantly, doing so just reinforces the unhealthy mumbo-jumbo in his head.
Instead, I ushered him inside, warmed him up, and talked him through the situation calmly. Do you know that it is dangerous standing outside in the cold? (yes.) And that's it's not being a very good boss of your body to do that? (yes.) And did you see how Mommy is a very good boss and loves you so much that she will make those choices to keep you healthy for you, when you are not able to make them for yourself? (loooonnnggg pause, lots of screaming, crying, carrying on. Then a quiet, 'yes.') And why does Mommy do all that (because you love me.)
Is there beauty in the above scenario? Sure, at the end. Is a lesson learned? Maybe. Is a bond being built? Slowly, but surely, I think it is.
But to paraphrase my dear Corey, Oh. My. Head. I repeat that scenario and dialogue about a trillion times a week. And it is not fun. Even when it works out and I'm able to keep my cool and keep a situation moving and healthy, it is hard and it hurts and it is exhausting.
But those hurts and exhaustions are all the more reason why I have to get back at trying to enjoy life with my family. Both in gentle ways with my hurting children (the holidays, all the excitement, lack of routine, and relative spoiling, for some of my children it's just too much,) and in ways which my other children and husband find fun and joyful.
And I need to work on finding ways for our new family unit to have fun that is joyous to all of them. Because we have different "family fun" parameters now which need to be taken into account.
At times, when I'm sick and exhausted or just fed up, this task seems nearly insurmountable. Yet, if I could do it before, I can do it again. And I must. Because life is just too short and difficult not to put a focus on fun.