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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.

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