Follow by Email

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Head Bonks and Bus Swearing

The last couple weeks around here have been pretty typical. Let's see...a principal called because one of my darlings was swearing on the bus. A kid told his mom. The mom called the school. My boy was identified as The Swearer. My boy admitted it guiltily so the principal admired his honesty and the punishment was just a call home. My boy failed to tell the principal that his friend told him to swear on the bus. And when a friend tells my boy to do something, he usually does it because he can't control his impulses very well. Not that that makes it acceptable at all, but just that there is always more to the story when my kids are involved.

Ella got bitten by a neighbor's dog this week. Poor little thing was running away from it when it bit the back of her leg. Broke skin, teeth marks are still embedded in shades of swollen purple. My poor baby was terrified and heartbroken and couldn't stop gulping and sobbing. She kept wailing "This is my WORST OWIE EVER!!!" Until she fell down on the sidewalk yesterday and her knee bled and then that was the worst owie ever. The doctor said to watch Ella's dog bite to make sure it doesn't get infected, so I'm on leg watch this week. So far so good.

Ella is also struggling with self esteem and school. Our speech therapist is testing her, and is starting to be able to pinpoint where exactly Ella is struggling, and surprise surprise, it's in the area of auditory processing. That's what the preliminary findings are, at least. Just like Aidan. So following multi-step directions is hard for her. That's why she says she can't keep up with her class. The class goes too fast for her and she says she's stupid. 

*ouch. mama's heart cracks in half.*

I've reached out to our fabulous teacher and told her what Ella's therapists and I are seeing, and what the therapists have suggested as interventions to help support Ella in school. The teacher does her best to implement these supports, so we'll see what happens. But worry worry worry. These kids, geez. Thanks for the gray hair, kiddos. Luckily I have a fabulous hair artist who can conquer the stress that exhibits itself in the graying of my hairs.

Two days ago the middle school had a suicide prevention day. The kids filled out risk assessments to see if any red flags were raised about depression or suicide. I expected a call. I waited for it. I anticipated it. And sure enough, the phone rang. Just because I knew the phone would ring about this, doesn't mean it was any easier to hear. Terrifying, actually. 

One of my boys had been pulled by the social worker because of his answers to his assessment. Nothing too major, but enough to cause concern. The social worker had talked with my sweet boy about his answers. He said he had thought about suicide last year but not this year. This year he is on new medication, he told the social worker, and in therapy. The social worker felt he is not at risk for suicide. I explained that my twins frequently talk about suicide, and have since they were five years old. It's almost a way for them to cope with their extreme feelings. I take this seriously, but I also know, to the best of my Mama Knowledge, that they are not actually suicidal. But I'm always on watch. Always on watch. 

We reinforce over and over that suicide is not ok. The world would not be ok without my boys in it. They are not allowed to hurt themselves, and if they do or feel like they will, they have to come to us and tell us so we can help them. Because we will move heaven and earth to help them. Because we love them more than is even fathomable. 

They get sick of hearing The Suicide Speech.

But I know that I've talked with my boys about it, so they are informed and knowledgeable. That's all I can do. Bottom line, their lives are in their hands. But I will do everything in my power to make their lives happy and healthy. 

I had an IEP meeting for one boy yesterday- just an annual review, so not too much fighting. It actually went very well! I know, what a surprise! My boy is improving. Things are getting a little bit better in many areas. We still have some work to do, so we tweaked some things, but overall it was an extremely positive, productive meeting and my boy will have even more support at school now.

One of my boys has been crying his eyes out since Saturday. Well, he took Monday off from crying, but was back at it yesterday. He is worried about some family health issues in our extended family. And he is worried about leaving me. For days, he has either been raging or crying. Yesterday he literally could not get out of bed because of his depression. He laid on the couch most of the day, crying on and off. I couldn't get him to school. He was incapacitated by his anxiety and depression.

And get this. At the IEP meeting that went so great yesterday, the SOCIAL WORKER had the AUDACITY to say that it surprised her that my son was so distraught because she had seen him just the day before and he was fine. Excuse me. What kind of social worker is this? Let's use the term "social worker" loosely from here on out. Why is it that 2 out of the 3 social workers my kid has had in middle school are so jaded that they have the gall to say my kid is lying about his feelings. I've never heard of social workers being so incompetent. I trained to be a school social worker, a lifetime ago, and I've done social workey things my entire adult life. I would never, ever say the things these school social workers have said to me. Unbelievable. I didn't even know how to respond to the ridiculous accusation that my kid is faking his distress. Luckily, my advocate jumped in and wisely said we should be very careful when making assumptions about my son's emotional state. Luckily for the social worker, my advocate was there, because I was about to jump across the table and throttle her. Seriously. 

While I was at that IEP meeting yesterday, I got a text from our babysitter saying the school nurse had called from the elementary school. Aidan had gotten bonked in the head with someone else's head during gym class. THEN he got hit in the face with a lunch box and it cut his skin above his eye. I swear, every time I'm at an IEP meeting at the middle school, Aidan goes bonkers at the elementary school. I don't know if he senses my stress from a mile away or what. Poor kid.

And then to top it all off yesterday, one of my darlings had a big, stinky rage. Because he couldn't get the TV to work to play his show. This is the same boy the "social worker" accused of lying about his distress. Like I said, he is either raging or crying. He can't regulate his emotions well, and can't control them either. 

I did find out one bit of pertinent information this week. My son told me that when he and his wife are trying to have a baby, he is going to eat pickled herring and sit on ice. Hm. Ok...why? Because that's how you have a boy, he informed me. And if he wants a girl, he will eat lemons. I asked him how he gleaned this very interesting information. He said he learned it from the TV show "How I Met Your Mother." Aha. Mystery solved. 

So you know, just the usual around here lately. A few calls from the school about suicide, head bonks and bus swearing. Dog bites and cracked skulls from lunch box attacks. Fits of rage and weeping. Social workers who doubt me and my children. A few million extra gray hairs. AND IT'S ONLY WEDNESDAY. Fabulous. I expect only amazing things from the rest of the week. 

At least I do know now what will need to happen in order to have a boy or girl grandchild. I can rest easy, now that I have that information.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Dude, Where's My Manual?

Here's what I'm wondering: where is my "What To Expect" book? You know those books- "What To Expect When You're Expecting," "What To Expect The First Year," etc.

There are bookshelves full of helpful books for pregnancy, the first year, toddler-hood. There are books about how to be a good mother to boys. About how to raise a teen. There are books about how to get your kid to clean their room. About how to raise responsible kids. About how to get kids to sleep. There's probably one about how to get your kids to join a circus. There are books about every special need out there. Trust me, I've read most of them. There are books about how to get your special kiddo to eat better, play better, be better. There are books about everything. Except a book that tells me how to help my unique kids. Where is that book? Where is my manual?

Where is my "How To Parent Kids Who Have:
ADHD
Bipolar Disorder
Tourette's Syndrome
Anxiety
Depression
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Sensory Processing Disorder
Auditory Processing Disorder
Visual Processing Disorder
Speech Issues
Gross Motor Issues
Fine Motor Issues
Low Muscle Tone 
Learning Disabilities
Compromised Immune Systems
Rages
Autoimmune Problems
Manual"

Seriously. I know we parents all joke "I wish kids came with a manual- ha ha." But seriously, in this day and age, why isn't there more help readily available for families like mine who struggle with so much? Why do I have to be Mama Detective and find the things to help my kids all on my own, all by myself? Sometimes just by coincidence, or being at the right place at the right time and overhearing someone else's conversation. Why isn't there more help?

Jonah and I did genetic testing recently. Ben refused to spit in the tube because the idea of it grossed him out so much he almost vomited. Not joking. They can't test vomit, only saliva, so we gave Ben's tube to Dad. His results are still pending, but Jonah and my results are back. This is some crazy stuff, people. Here's what I've learned during my crash course in genetics: A genetic snp is a genetic defect. Sometimes you can have a snp that's not turned on, so even though you have the defect, it doesn't impact you in any way. But sometimes you have snp's that are turned on and are causing your body to go completely haywire. Jonah and I have a few snp's that are turned on, and that's not great. 

I got the results from our testing, printed out a report, and brought it to our chiropractor who had said he would help me interpret all the mumbo jumbo. I knew enough to know that I have the dreaded snp that causes your body to not be able to process and use folic acid correctly. This snp, if turned on, can cause pregnancy complications, birth defects, you see where I'm going with this. So I knew this going in to my meeting with the doctor. But as he and our nutritionist and I sat at the table discussing the ramifications of our results, I burst into tears. Of course. Because lately I can't do anything without crying. I couldn't even talk for a moment. I said I just feel so badly that so much of the kids' problems come directly from me. My genes have even caused all three boys to be tongue tied- a result of that snp I was just talking about. If I could have known this before becoming pregnant, I could have had the right nutrition and the correct form of folic acid that my body requires, and who knows how many less complications we would have had. Why isn't genetic testing mandatory for anyone hoping to have a baby? Just so we can prevent so many things, so easily. 

My doctor said it's not my fault, none of the kids' problems are my fault. That's easier said than accepted. I feel guilty. Stupid genes. Between Alex's and mine, whew, it's a miracle these kids are even walking and talking and don't look like aliens. (No offense, Alex. Your genes are perfect and pristine, I'm sure. We'll see in a couple weeks when we get your results back!)

I am still researching Jonah and my genetic snp's. One thing I found out about Jonah is that he has a genetic defect nicknamed "The Warrior Gene." Ok, seriously. Could this be any more completely on target with what he is experiencing? Wow. With this genetic defect, people get out-of-control angry about things most people can easily handle without being disrupted. I have watched videos of people with this genetic defect and they look exactly like how my boys act. 

I have always believed that there is some way I can uncover what is going on in my kids' bodies. Then I'll know what to give them that will heal their brains and hearts and bodies. We'll get their neurotransmitters working correctly, their guts healthy and whole, their immune systems strong. It's taken me 13 years of painfully slow research to figure out just a fraction of what is happening in my kids' bodies. I think that's terrible. And even more terrible- I still don't know what to do to help them so that they can take off the bandaids of pharmaceutical medications and heal in wholistic, natural ways. Medications aren't healing or fixing what is malfunctioning in their bodies. Medications are our bandaids to get through the symptoms until I figure out what will heal their little bodies. 

Now I have one more piece of the puzzle- some insight into the kids' genetics. I know their, and my, neurotransmitters are all wonky. Our nutritionist is helping with homeopathic remedies to get all our neurotransmitters working the way they should. I thought neurotransmitters were only in the brain- did you know we actually produce them in our guts? So if your gut is out of wack, and leaky, and malnourished, of course your neurotransmitters are affected too, causing problems all over your body. (When I was telling a friend about this the other day, I laughed because she said "You're so smart!" But sadly, I can't take all the credit. I just repeat what smart people have told me.) 

My question is why did I have to figure out on my own that we needed genetic testing? Is this The Answer to all our problems? I don't know yet. But it is something significant. Why didn't a doctor somewhere along the line say hey, I think you should get some genetic testing done to see what we can help through non-pharmaceutical routes. My chiropractor said to me that this is cutting edge stuff. That what I chose to do with this testing is not the norm yet. He asked me who else I know that has done this specific form of testing. I said no one. He said see? He told me once this type of test is able to make money for some company, some day, then we'll see healthcare start leaning towards this type of testing. Until then, we're left to figure it out on our own. Crazy.

Am I asking too much? Is it too much to demand that someone, somewhere have a wealth of information in one place to help complicated cases like those that live in my house? Where is that person? Where is that book? It should be like a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book: if you've tried A, B, and C, and your kids are still having rages, try D! There's still hope! And you don't have to reinvent the wheel, trying to figure out where to go from here, because someone went before you and has another idea you can try! Parents should have some place to use as a resource for finding help that is effective. 

I remember reading books about parenting even before I had kids. I studied children in college and grad school. I had a ton of experience with kids. I thought I would do all the good things good parents do, and my kids would respond the way 'normal' kids do, and we would all grow up together happily. Time outs- a minute for every year of their age. Present beautiful, healthy meals that my darlings would devour. Teach right from wrong. Play and love. All the things you are supposed to do. But from the very beginning of our Child Journey, I realized whoa. We've got our hands full here. This whole parenting thing is not going according to plan. From the time Ben's water broke- 12 weeks too early, and probably because of that damn genetic snp I have- I knew our journey would not be one found in a self-help book on our local book store's shelves.

Part of the problem as I see it is that information is constantly changing. There are new things being discovered and tried all the time. But I think there has to be some way to have information in one place for parents who struggle like we do. Can anyone really comprehend all the zillions of interventions we've tried over the years? I mean, zillions. I always feel like I am not an expert, I don't know much about stuff. But if a friend asks me about a special need, or therapies, or interventions, or whatever, I surprise myself with how much I know. It's only because we've tried so many things. And so many things haven't worked, so I keep looking for the next thing to try. 

As I was sobbing in our chiropractor's office about my crappy genes that have been passed to our innocent babies, our nutritionist said "Just think if you hadn't done all the things you've done for your kids up to this point. Think how much worse off they would be. You work SO HARD to help them." My brain knows this is absolutely true. But my heart aches because nothing seems to work. Granted, if we hadn't tried anything at all, I'm sure all the kids would be much worse off. So maybe I'm mistaken when I say so many things haven't worked, because if we hadn't tried those things maybe we'd be in an even more horrible place. But out of all these zillions of things we've tried, why isn't something working better? The boys are on some heavy duty medications. Why do they still have all these difficult symptoms?

A friend of mine totally hit the nail on the head this week. We were talking about our kids and meds. She said (I'm paraphrasing her pearl of wisdom here) --oooo I love this, it's just so perfectly true--It would be one thing if a medication took away all the horrible behaviors. If we could totally stop rages with one med. Or get our kids to concentrate as well as a typical kiddo with one med. But the problem is, we have to choose between living in absolute hell without meds, OR putting our sweet babies on meds that have a million bad side effects just to see a little improvement. The med doesn't even totally fix our problems! And now our kids are dealing with weight gain, elevated liver enzymes, high cholesterol...and we still have to deal with the horrible things that the med is supposed to treat because nothing is treated 100%. It's awful. 

That's exactly it. Those of us who have to walk the tightrope of meds have to weigh whether it's better to give our little loves obesity, high cholesterol, elevated liver enzymes, and maybe a little relief from rage (or whatever you're treating), or just let them create a living hell that they cannot control and that the entire family has to navigate. 

It's not fair. It's not easy. It's not the way it should be. Someone, somewhere, should say well, I don't know if you're into "alternative" stuff, but you could try essential oils. Or homeopathic remedies. Or interactive metronome training, brushing, or Feldenkreis. Or MNRI. You can also try medications. Or maybe accupuncture, cranial sacral therapy, or therapeutic listening. You could try developmental optometry. Or counseling. Medications are sometimes necessary, but I wish someone had told me about all these other alternatives, and the other zillions we've tried, before we went down the med route.

It's so impossible, and lonely, and dark, and hopeless, and heavy, searching for the next thing to try because all the zillions of things you've tried over the past 13 years still haven't made life tolerable with, or for, your kids.

Where's my manual?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Birthday Blessings, And Only One Throw Up

Today is my birthday. Here's how my 24 hours of celebration began: as each of my three sons came downstairs to where Ella and I were slumped on the couch, they each exclaimed, one after the other, "EWWWW!!! Is Ella THROWING UP?? Happy birthday, Mom."

Nice. Motherhood is so glamorous.

My little sweetie had a fever, tummy ache, and threw up once today. Once I can handle. Plus Ella is the best vomiter in the crew. She knows exactly when to demand "BOWL." She aims, she fires. No muss, no fuss. Then after she throws up (I was informed by said sickie today that she prefers to say 'throw up' instead of 'vomit,' 'barf,' or 'puke.') she is almost manic- giddy with relief. She talks a mile a minute until she collapses from illness. So one throw up isn't too bad.

I had a wonderful day. I only got sworn at by my boys a couple times. And, NO RAGES!!! What?!? Do the happy dance with me, people! No rages. I went to the psychiatrist yesterday to talk with him about what our Boy Plan should be. Our psychiatrist is brilliant when it comes to psych-ish things, but not so warm and fuzzy. Not a hugger.

So it was with great embarrassment that I dissolved into tears on his couch as I was trying to explain the challenges we're facing right now with our sons. To my surprise, our psychiatrist was very understanding and compassionate, and really 'got it.' We talked for a long time about what our next step should be and decided some medication tweaks were in order. I'm scared- I always am when we change any meds. But I'm also desperate, so we've got to take a step forwards no matter what that step is, and even if I'm scared.


I worry because both of the meds my boys take specifically for their anger can cause weight gain. Ben has been on his med for a couple months now, and he has gained weight because of it. Jonah no doubt will also, because of the medication he started yesterday. On a Facebook page I belong to for parents whose children have Tourette Syndrome, a mom asked if other parents struggle with giving their kids meds that cause weight gain. A whole host of comments followed. As I read these comments from desperate, passionate, wonderful parents, clinging to the hope that THIS medication will help their kiddo, I thought how absolutely unfair this is. As a parent who is desperate to survive their children's rages and emotional problems, our choice is to give our child medication that can cause weight gain, prediabetes, high cholesterol, and a host of other health problems, OR--live in a home with screaming, raging, out of control children.

That is not a choice! That is not fair! There's no good answer here. Make your kid fat and unhealthy or just deal with the violence and abuse your kid can unleash on your entire family. Not fair. My sweet, smart, beautiful boys deserve better than either of those choices. They are being betrayed by their brains that are malfunctioning, and it's not fair.

I console myself with the thought that I am sneaking up on the boys' mental health and neurological issues. I'm coming around the back, all in black, in the middle of the night, and those darn diagnoses won't know what hit 'em. I'm working with our nutritionist to get all the kids' bodies healthy from the inside out. I feel that medication is a bandaid. It helps us in the moment, or for many years of moments. But it's not healing the body that it is put into. I'm working to help the kids' bodies heal so that they won't need the medications someday, or maybe will need less of them. My hope is that someday we will be able to slowly peel off all our bandaids and expose the newness, the whole-ness, of my healed children. That is my goal. Therapies, supplements, essential oils, healthy diet, chiropractic care...everything we do is so that someday, the bandaids of medication can come off.

I took Aidan to see our nutritionist this week. She's the one that does the "Voo doo," as Alex calls it. She hooks you up to a computer and is able to test your entire body and all its organs by using a probe on one of your body's natural energy paths- a meridian. I love it. On the computer screen, you can watch the nutritionist work through each body part and organ, seeing which ones are enflamed or clogged or in need of support. It's incredibly interesting.

Aidan's little body is a hot mess. He's just one big clogged-up blob. It takes time to slowly help a body heal and clean out toxins, but it is possible. I'm living proof of that slow recovery. Aidan is taking a few supplements to start his body in the direction of healing. Each of us goes to see the nutritionist every 4-6 weeks to see how we are progressing with our nutritional protocol and to tweak the process as needed. It's fascinating.

So that's my plan. I'm sneaking up on all these little brains. Suddenly they're going to wake up and realize huh! We just got healed! Then I will laugh and say "Take THAT, you rotten old brains! We fooled you!"

It isn't fair, but it is what it is and we're trying the best we can. My brother lifted my up yesterday with his words. He said that a physical side effect, like weight gain, can hopefully be combatted sometime in the future. We can work on that. We can try to do the things necessary to reverse that side effect. But the anger and rages- that's something that is tearing our family up right now, and it's something that can't be changed with diet and exercise, or any of the other strategies and interventions we've tried. Living this way is changing the way my non-raging kids see life. It's exhausting Alex and me. It's hurting the souls of my ragers. It can't continue. My brother said he thinks we've made the right decision with our medication changes, based on all that.

It's important to feel valued and uplifted and supported, especially by the important people in your life. Knowing that someone I value as much as my brother thinks Alex and I are making the right decision for our kids means the world. When you're in this position as a parent, scrambling in the dark for a tiny beam of hope, the love and support of friends and family means everything.

I know the med changes haven't kicked in for the boys yet, but we did have a good day. Friends and family took time out of their busy lives to make sure I felt loved and appreciated. My chiropractor and her office assistant did "The Birthday Song and Dance" for me all the way down their hallway. Friends from, literally, far and wide made sure to show me how much I'm loved. Goodies found their way into my mailbox! Facebook posts went bonkers with all the birthday love! Alex worked from home and took care of Ella so I could keep the appointments I had scheduled today for exciting things- like a blood test! And lunch with a dear friend.

I'm speechless and humbled by the love of my circle of friends and family.

The kids and Alex made me feel so special tonight. We actually ate dinner TOGETHER, and there were NO fights! It was a birthday miracle. (Or maybe just that fact that there is one meal in this world that we all love to eat--tacos. It was Taco Night. Even though everyone eats their tacos differently, we all agree, we love tacos.) Everyone sang "Happy Birthday" to me as my candles burned to waxy stubs in my cupcake because it took so long to figure out who was eating which flavor of cupcake and the candles had already been lit. Jonah asked Aidan what flavor of cupcake he wanted: caramel, vanilla, or chocolate. Aidan looked over at him. Aidan paused a long, full, Aidan-Pause. Minutes of silence as we all watched Aidan and waited in suspense for the answer...then he said "I'll have Gatorade." Classic Aidan.

Ella, Ben and Jonah had to have candles on their cupcakes along with me, and we had to sing the birthday song to Ella also. We went on a scavenger hunt, led by Ella, to find all the presents she and Daddy had wrapped. She was so excited, even though she was sick. They would say "hot....cold" whenever I got near or far away from a present. I'd find the present and then Ella would snatch it out of my hands and rip it open. I hope by the time I turn 80 that I'll get the privilege of opening my own presents! But by then I probably will have great-grandchildren who will want to open my presents, and it is so fun, who can deny a child that gleeful experience?

My last present of the day was listening to the rain storm outside. That was a beautiful gift. I love rain.

I adore birthdays. Mine, other people's, doesn't matter. I don't know what it is, I just get so filled with excitement that someone special was born on this particular day. Each life should be celebrated and cherished! I don't understand people who don't want to have birthdays or don't get a huge kick out of them. I LOVE them! I embarrass the people around me with my birthday excitement. Too bad. You only get a You Day once a year. Enjoy it. I even told my phlebotomist that is was my birthday. She had my Driver's License in her hand, so she already knew, but I told her anyway. She and I go way back (I've had many, many blood tests) and I thought she had the right to celebrate with me over my 6 tubes of blood. And get this- me dear lunch date friend? She snuck a GLUTEN FREE chocolate cake into Panera for us to eat after our gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, meat free, soy free soup! (We laughed like crazy when my friend read the ingredients in the cake. Pretty much everything on our Do Not Eat list was in that cake. Except for meat and gluten. You have to live a little, especially on your birthday.) Now that is my kind of birthday celebration!!

Here's to a new year of my life. I can't wait for the changes and adventure that are coming my way. I'm so grateful to all the people who fill my life. Thank you for knowing me and loving me anyway. Thank you for sticking by me during my dark moments, and holding the flashlight so I can see my way out of the tunnel. Thank you for letting me know you're there, you understand. Thank you for making me laugh. Thank you for reassuring me that I'm not a bad mom. Thank you for walking through this life with me. Thank you for making my special day so special, just by being in it.

And most of all, thank you, God, for only one throw up today.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Backpack of Sorrow

In addition to having a troll on my shoulders, with his scratchy socks and bony butt a constant reminder that at any time the world could come crashing down around me, and my heart full of chosen joy, I also wear a backpack full of sorrow. Raw sorrow. 

Sorrow about many things, but today it's especially heavy because what mother wants to think things like "At what point is this too much? At what point do we say we can't handle life like this anymore? Life with constant verbal abuse, emotional and physical abuse, all from our children?" What parent wants to think those thoughts?

This morning the big boys had to go in to school early for a study group for a test. They have multiple tests today. They're a little stressed out. I woke them up with my cheerful Mama voice, like I do every day. Daddy came in to their rooms, singing a wake-up song from their toddler years. We were all happy happy joy joy. 

At some point, the tides turned. As usual, there was no single thing I can reflect on that was The Trigger. Irritation, swearing, inappropriate language, and anger decided that they would rule the boys today. For no reason that is apparent to me. It's not like normal teens who swear or act a little manic because they're nervous, or fight over who gets the last bit of chocolate milk. It's deeper than that. More malicious than that. More mentally ill than that. It's indescribable, the feeling of having to live like this and somehow make sure everyone's needs are being met, everyone is safe, and not lose my mind. If the thought "I may not be able to live like this with my children" even enters your subconscious, that means it's serious. It's serious. 

What if a boy holding a knife while threatening me trips on a dog, falls, and actually stabs me? What if a shoe hits my head while I'm driving and I'm knocked unconscious while toting my dear little ones around? What if my smaller two grow up thinking this behavior is acceptable and they choose abusive relationships because it's what they grew up watching their brothers do? How do you protect all of your kids, and yourself, and still make decisions that are the best for all of them?

I know many families struggle with these thoughts, this backpack of raw sorrow. No one talks about it. No parent wants to admit that they are struggling in a verbally, emotionally, and sometimes physically, abusive home because of their children's actions. But the reality is that there are places for kids to live and go to school away from their homes because they just can't live with their families anymore. The reality is that some parents would rather die and take their child with them to death than deal with living one more day the way they have been. That's not ok, in any scenario, but my point is that there are parents struggling with a backpack of sorrow that grows too heavy for them to handle. At what point do you know it's too heavy to handle? 

My boys have severe separation anxiety. Almost every evening they get teary, saying it was a hard day at school because they missed me so much. They can't stay anywhere overnight without having panic attacks. Even at grandparents' homes. They can't go on outings with grandparents or stay home with a loved babysitter without having anxious meltdowns and completely falling apart. How in the world would they live somewhere else without Alex and me? How could we even ever fathom doing that to them? 

Nothing seems to work to improve the boys' behavior at home. I'm busting my butt, I'm exhausted, trying absolutely every thing I hear of that might help them be calmer, be happier, be healthier. Years and years of therapy hasn't helped. All kind of other interventions haven't helped. No consequences help. No positive rewards help. What else is there to do? As a parent, are you supposed to just take it? Take it all? Be verbally abused, literally abused, because you asked your son to put his shoes on or brush his teeth, or God forbid- do his homework? I really don't know. I don't have any answers. 

One time  a few weeks ago when a boy was having a rage, I got very angry and smacked his tush. I was tired of taking his verbal insults, his swearing, his physical attacks, on and on it went. We don't spank, as a rule. But I totally lost it, I screamed at him, and I spanked his tush as he struggled against me. He was shocked. I asked him what does he expect me to do when he is being so completely horrible to me? Just take it? He replied "Yes!" 

Parents are supposed to love unconditionally, and we do. The love that we have for our kids is not in question in the least. I just worry about our family if these behaviors continue to get worse as the boys get older and bigger.

I know the abusive behaviors come from their diagnoses. I know it's the mental illness rearing it's ugly head. I know it's the ADHD causing impulsivity. But knowing this doesn't make it easier to live with it.

My sorrow comes from so many things about being a parent to these children. Sorrow about the things we can't do as a family. The way my kids struggle in the world. The way they struggle in their own heads. The way Alex and I have to struggle so hard to get the kids to do things that typical kids take for granted. The fact that I don't know how we will live together as a family if things continue to get worse. That's where my biggest sorrow comes from. Where did my sweet toddler boys go? How did they turn into this? 

My kids souls are raw. They wear their souls on their sleeves, and so nothing is hidden at home. They let it all out- the good and the terrible. Sometimes their good, kind, pure selves come out and it brings me to tears- how tender and innocent and beautiful they are. The other day I was sitting on the couch. Ben came over and sat down, putting my legs up on his lap. He said he wanted to give me a foot rub. I said that's so nice! He said he had read a couple of my blog posts and he knows I struggle with life sometimes. He said he wanted to make life easier for me. 

Wow.

Then I reminded him he is not allowed to read my blog yet. He has to wait until he is a grown up. I don't want the kids to know this Mama. I want them only to know Mama. Someday when they're older they can read all this if they want to, but not right now. They don't need to know my perspective right now.

The kindness of my children is remarkable. They are wonderful people. There's no doubt about that. I just don't know what to do when the Bipolar takes over, or the ADHD, or the rages. Alex asks me what we are supposed to do. I don't have the answer. 

All I know is that my backpack of sorrow is too heavy today.