This past weekend was even more terrible than most of our weekends. The kids were completely out of whack. Mood problems, behavior problems, rage problems, anxiety problems, depression problems, sleep problems, sensory problems…it was pretty brutal. I couldn't figure out how to reset everyone. To make matters worse, it was a four day weekend for the kids. So we had two more days than normal to be together and wallow in our Ick. And not only that, three of the kids had been home most of the week before with strep. I think we've had quite enough togetherness.
I don't know what the problem was for the kids this weekend. All I know was that I was burnt out and down in the dumps. I couldn't see my way out of the Yuck that was our family. I couldn't figure out how to find my Reset Button.
I always hear people say that they never envisioned having children who have special needs. That this didn't match the plans and dreams that they had before they had kids. Before having kids, I never had specific dreams of things like "My son will play baseball" or "My daughter will like to crochet." But I've realized that the dreams and hopes I had for my Someday Family were things like "We will enjoy being together" or "We will do family activities together: trips, games, the zoo, movies, and we will have fun!"
Yeah, not so much. Life hasn't turned out exactly that way. Granted, we do do things together as a family, of course. We take the kids to the zoo, to movies, we occasionally travel. But if I'm honest, it's mostly not so enjoyable. I always think it will be, but it's more stressful and challenging than anything. We keep doing these family things because we think they're important for a family to do. Traveling helps the kids understand the world better. It helps them learn to deal with real life- like how you can't control it if your plane is delayed. Movies give us a sensory experience like no other, and tell stories that we've never dreamt of. The zoo is fantastic! So many fun and new sights, smells, and textures there.
But I get way more excited about all these things than any of the other 5 people in the family. Well, Ella may be almost as excited as I am for a new adventure. I think our family likes the ideas of all those things, but in reality, the experiences are just hard on too many levels to be fun for them. I hear about how this family we know went on this trip, or some other family went skiing, or whatever. Their pictures look beautiful and sunshiny and happy. I know in reality that every family has its struggles. But it seems like some struggle more, or with different things, than most families.
Before I had kids, I never dreamt "Our family will have a level of anger that is beyond anger. We'll spend a lot of time in the Rage level of anger! It'll be so fun!" That is the one thing I cannot stand. I don't understand this level of anger, and I have a hard time tolerating it. I didn't grow up around a lot of anger, so having a family of my own that includes several angry individuals is quite a challenge. If I could change one thing about us, that would be it. I always hope that this is something that will change. No matter how many angry moments we have, I always hope for change.
Don't get me wrong, we have a wonderful, loving, beautiful family. I cherish and adore every person in our home. We have many wonderful experiences, every day, together. I can see that at the heart of each of my children lies a caring, generous, compassionate, kind, beautiful soul. And that is so important to me. But to be honest, this outer layer of anger that some of them have, blegh. It's so hard to live with. It goes beyond normal anger. I wish I could wish it away. I know it's a combination of biological, physical, chemical, and neurological issues for them. I get it. But I hate it. I wish we could spend more time being the wonderful, beautiful people that I know our family is, and less time in the rages.
On day 3 of our 4 day weekend, we had a friend and her son come over for a play date. I was so hoping that my sweet friend would be my Reset Button after such a tough weekend, and she fulfilled that hope. We talked and laughed, teared up a little, complained, shared our experiences over coffee, and then tea, and then grilled cheese sandwiches with the kids. It was just what I needed. My friend rejuvenated my soul and wiped out the yucky feelings I had that were leftovers from the weekend. My dear friend was my Reset Button.