Monday, January 24, 2011

An eye-opener

I tried to blog throughout the week last week, but I had nothing.

Not nothing to write about. It was a helluva week, and I had a lot that I could have written. But emotionally, mentally, I had nothing.

Miles is having a *difficult* time with the Powerful Voice dialogue. His Inner Need to Be In Control is hearing the P.V. dialogue and is not liking it.

Not one little bit.

That's an understatement. The Inner Need to Be In Control is raising freaking H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks.

The amount of sneaky, stick-poking behaviors have exploded exponentially.

Holy acid reflux hell, Batman.

* * * * * * * *

I've been thinking a lot about the division of the Time and Energy and Attention that I give our five children.

Lately, one child has been receiving the Lion Share of this. The other children, who are behaving, are just kind of left. . . well, behaving. Just maintaining.

I am greatly blessed to have several very close friends in my life who are walking this journey. Who have walked this journey long before I began mine. Who are gracious listeners and unselfish sharers of their experiences and wisdom.

Just the thought of how much their friendship means to me makes my eyes teary.

One of my friends, whose oldest child is a biological daughter, has been sharing just how much this imbalance of time and energy--and the emotional gamut that we Moms go through with our challenging children--has really affected her older daughter over the years.

Listening to the painful parallels was certainly an eye-opening moment for me.

My emotionally balanced children have really been getting the short end of the stick.

My emotional "well" has been pretty dry, so to speak, for the past few months in particular. So often, I'm just tired, empty and depleted after my interactions with Miles.

To quote my friend, the brilliant Essie: "Child, you sucked the nothing out of me six months ago."

And that has to end.

It's not to say that Miles will no longer be getting the time, energy and attention that he needs. But it is to say that I need to set clear limits on what he does receive.

I need to truly guard my time and energy. I need to become hyper-aware of when it is being stolen. Just like Miles needs to work on being a boss of his body, I need to work on being the Boss of My Time and Energy.

Hatfield has been in Maintenance mode for months now. She is a WONDERFUL girl. The best. Kind, loving, patient. But lately I can see her becoming. . .tired. Maybe withdrawing.

Some of this can be attributed to her tween-early teen years. And horror-mones.

But my Mama's instinct tells me that it is So Much More.

Last Monday, after a particularly rough morning with Miles in which he took his breakfast spoon, hucked it across the room, and then screamed that Mommy hurt him by throwing his spoon at him, Hatfield had a complete breakdown.

Curled up in my arms on my bed, she sobbed.
And sobbed.
And sobbed.

I asked questions about how she felt, but the answers were fairly limited. She felt hurt. And betrayed. And worried.

She felt my intense anxiety that, holy shit, this kid is going to go to school and someone's going to believe his bull. She felt furious that he would even do this to our Mom.

Just like Miles needs a lot of TLC, so does my Hattie Lou.

So, on Friday night, I decided that on Saturday, I was going to paint the girls' bedroom. Because they have been living in a Finding Nemo blue-and-orange room for far too long.

Hatfield has bounced about bedrooms since we moved into this house. Mostly, since the boys have come home. She has never complained.

Not once.

So Friday night, I announced (only to the girls) that on Saturday, the girls and I were going to paint the girls' room all together.

As in, I was going to hand Paloma and Hatfield a paintbrush and roller because while for an adult-- painting that bedroom again? Oy voy--but for two girls--fun! Our mom is awesome because she let us help paint the room!

How's that for some deeply-rooted maternal guilt?

Come Saturday morning. . . .good God, Saturday morning. Miles wasn't out of bed for 30 seconds before he created an opportunity to "Sneak & Destroy". . .right behind my back, literally, while I was in the room.

Then another, and another, and another. All before the bathwater had finished draining from their Saturday Morning Bubble Bath.

I tried every single technique I knew to pull Miles out of his Control Freak Funk. Every single one. And just like every experience I've ever had fishing, I put the bait out there, and I couldn't get a nibble. Not even a tiny little bit.

No question about it, it was not going to be a great day for all of us. But the question was: for whom would the day suck?

I could continue to pour everything I had into Miles and hope that maybe by the end of the day, I could work him into some sort of regulation.

But I wouldn't be able to do that and paint. So I would have to put off painting for another day.

And the day would completely suck for the girls.

OR, I could say, "you know what? I have tried EVERYTHING I know, and I'm not a magician. At the moment, he's not open to helping me help him. And from past experience, I know it's probably going to be that way the entire day. So, he can have his sucky attitude while participating in quiet activities so that I can paint with the girls, or he can have his sucky attitude while I do backflips to get him to regulate."

The truth of the matter is, Miles was in for a sucky day because he was aiming for a sucky day (the whole: We had a great day on Friday. . I mean great. We had a family night of fun and enjoyment that left the Mister and I looking at each other, thinking "This is exactly the family we have always dreamed of." Yet, Friday ended and the all-too-common RAD-reaction: I'm not feeling good that I had such an awesome day, so now I need some sabotage.)

At that moment I realized: I can let Miles sabotage Miles own day. OR, I can let Miles sabotage Miles own day, Mom's own day, and the Girls' own day.

I went for the smallest percentage of people in the house having a sucky day.

And you know what?

Miles survived.
He wasn't thrilled.
Actually, he was pretty angry that he couldn't steal Mom's time and energy.
But he survived.
And he went on to have a good day on Sunday.

And you know what else?

It was such a victorious feeling for me to not let Miles suck me into nothingness with his dysregulation.
It was a victories feeling to see how excited Hatfield and Paloma were.
To see how special they felt.
To feel connected and bonded to them for an entire day.

The day was truly, simply, wonderful for me and my girls. And I never knew just how much we needed it until I made it happen.


Lisa said...

Victorious indeed! The smallest percentage having a sucky day is always a winner.

Love that you have Essie up there in the cold frontier. Jealous too.

C Dawn's bucket said...


bbbunch said...

I'm so proud of you. You are a beautiful beautiful person. Wow, what an eye-opener for me, too. Why does the negativity always get the attention? Even though my circumstances are not what yours are, this really struck a chord with me. As a parent, I need to make sure and put my time and energy into the kids who are behaving too.

It's interesting, because my Mom used to talked about one of my sisters. This sister NEVER got into trouble. Ever. She was quiet and tiny, never calling attention to herself and never disobeying. If she asked my Mom for a cookie and my Mom said "not now" she would just say "okay" (so the story goes). She was the baby for 4 years before I came along...loud, attention seeking & receiving, put me up on the table and I will sing for you and your friends and pretend I can tap-dance, joke telling me. She remained quiet. She never got into trouble as a teen, or after. Doing everything she was "supposed" to do. As an adult, even though she was always kind enough to my Mom, there was a coldness about her that did not exist in anyone else in the family. She was so used to taking care of herself, that is what she continues to do. Not giving her more attention (because she didn't "require" it as much as the other 7 of us) was one of my Mom's biggest parenting regrets.

Somehow, you sharing this experience has just brought back that advice from my Mom and I am truly thankful.

Love you,

P.S. Hello? What color is the bedroom? LOL

Sarah said...

@ Beck: I went downstairs to find out the paint color from when I painted her old room (which matched her brown/pink/beige bedding--it's an off-white/creamy beige maybe?) Anyway, I find not one but TWO cans of unopened paint--Behr premium, that I purchased 11/09.

I have NO idea why I bought this paint. It's no where else in my house. We painted the living room late 12/09, so I'm thinking maybe i bought the paint early, and then forgot that I bought the paint?!?

So I open the paint and think--huh! That'll work. Free paint (well, it was 'free' over this weekend, at least, since I had bought it 2 years ago.)

Anyway, the color is Desert Springs. WTF kinda name is that for a paint, anyways!?! Well, in some light it's off-white cream, in some it's a hint of grey, in some there's a hint of light, light green maybe? Sometimes it's warm, sometimes it's not. Strange. I dunno. More of a warm creamish white? Either way, it matches the lightest color in their bedding and the girls love it.

Still, it scares me that I had that kind of paint in the house with zero recollection.

How's that for an answer ;)! LOL!

Thanks for sharing about your sis and your mom. I can't tell you how much that means to me.
Love you!

bbbunch said...

I love your answer :) Can't wait to see the room!

Love you!

Anonymous said...

You are a great mom. Each of the kids is very lucky to have you. And I am grateful for your patience and perseverance that is lovingly applied to all, including me.

-Mr. Trying-to-follow-in-some-pretty-big-houseslippers

ManyBlessings said...

Awesome awesome awesome post!!!!

I bet the girls are thrilled!!!