Note: This blog is made into hard cover volumes for my family to read when I'm no longer here. It's an open diary of our life. This post is for my boys to read when they are parents. Boys, It is my hope that my grandchildren will not have to bear the burdens you bear, but if they do, please try to remember how you felt as a child. Try to remember the days you were learning to control the seemingly, uncontrollable. Remember the battles you had to overcome. I write this so you can do better; be better parents than we were. When we know better, we do better. I love you boys.
Child: "Can I go to Ben's House? "
Me: "Not today kiddo, we have family things to do."
and that's all it takes. Just the answer, "no," That's all; nothing more; Just a no... It seems so casual, so easy; like the answer would be one of a million "no's" a parent would have to say in the lifespan of parenting, but "no" is not easy. It's not easy when your child(ren) have a mental disorder.
"I hate you! I hate you, you fat woman!! I hate your fricken guts! I WILL go!!! I will and you can't stop me!!! YOU can't tell me that!!! You fricken idiot!"
The saga begins.
In the beginning, when we didn't know any better, we would ground them or talk with them or try to reason with them.
In the beginning we pulled out all of the parenting tools we owned. We found new ones; Bright shiny new tools that the experts said would help....the experts...in their comfortable, puffy chairs.
In the beginning: "Honey, we have to say no because...."
The yelling got louder, the head banging, hair pulling, throwing themselves to the floor was a shock. Now, it's normal.
In the beginning: "You are grounded."
The yelling got louder, the walls were riddled; holes here and a nicks there, from their kicking, punching and thrown objects. It was a shock.
Now, it's normal.
In the beginning: We didn't realize there was no such thing as "parenting-this-out-of-them." We thought we could cure it by spanking or grounding or reasoning or patience or ignoring or sticker charts or positive reinforcement...week after week, month after month, year after year, looonnnggg trials of this parenting style and that parenting technique...Longggg, exhausting futile tries to "fix" our children.
Today, it's old hat. Today the answer was no. He pulled his hair. Another child walked in to instigate, yell, become irritated when told to please walk away for a moment. The dueling wills began. They both had something to be mad about, and the full force would be directed at the only people they can trust; mom and dad.
The older child walked out of the room, kicked the back door forcefully 4 times before slamming it. It bounced back, hung wide open, unable to shut in the bent door frame.
It's okay. We're not beginners anymore.
We ignore the tantrums, the yelling, the spit, the kicking, the hurled insults. We ignore until one tires of screaming...until he tires of his own anger...until he sits, exhausted, sobbing, rocking back and forth. Minutes pass before he is able to speak. I can tell that he's coming back to us.
He mutters softly, "Mommy." I ignore it for a moment...waiting to see if it's over. It has to be truly over before my help will be accepted. If I offer help too soon, his disease will over-take him again. I can't do that to him. I won't.
Softly the rocking child sobs. Slowly he comes back to reality. Gently he rocks. He is himself again. Sweet, sweet, precious, loving, gentle boy.
He whispers in tender hisses: "Mommy, Please help me. Mom, Pleeease, please..."
"What can I do honey? Is it time for help? Are you back with me now? What can I do?"
Groaning sobs wave over his little body. I fight my own tears so that I can be strong for him. He needs strength to pull from. I have to pour strength into him.
His eyes are open, staring at nothing. He answers in deep, choked, pleading words: "I can't make my tears go away. Can you wipe them? I can't make them stop. Mommm (his sobbing breaks my soul. I fight the tears.) Mommmm, why am I like this? Why can't I stop?"
He needs answers. He needs me to make it stop. I can't. I can't make it stop. I'm all he has and I can't fix it.
"I don't know how to stop it, but I am here and I love you so, so much. I love you so, so much." The cold wash cloth gently glides over his face. He takes it tenderly and holds my fingers. He leans into my chest and sobs.
"Mom, Take me back to the doctor. The pills didn't work today."
The other child returns just as his brother's behavior quiets. He ignores his sobbing brother sitting in my lap on the kitchen floor.
"Mom help me with this now." My Brain Screams. 'Really? Homework? THAT'S what you need help with right now...on a Saturday...during this chaos?'
But, I don't scream. I don't yell. I Ignore it...it's our way now.
"I'll be right with you. If you can walk away for a moment, I'll help you when your brother is feeling better."
That was not the answer he wanted. "I can't believe this crap!" Another slam of the door as it swings back to hit the side of the house. The dog runs in and back out. Objects are thrown around the yard. I make a mental note of the talk I will have with the older child, how many days he will be grounded and how I will hug him when he apologizes. I WILL hug him. He needs me too.
'Calm' My brain is out of body...as if God holds my emotions just far enough away to keep me sane...'Calm. YOU are calm. That is all that is needed today. Stay calm.'
I hold the younger child who sobs for help. Brian speaks calmly to the older child who so desperately needs help but refuses to take it.
We're a team. We pick up the pieces, yet again. It's all we can do. We talk to them, we console, we explain the correct way to handle "it" next time so they have the tools, yet again, to use. We pray they remember. We pray they are able to reach these tools during their manic episodes. We pray.
The realization that their future may not be as bright as we hoped hits full force, yet again, and I cry.
I cry again today. The phone rings, I cannot answer it. I cannot help if someone wants a favor. I cannot pretend life is great for people who need me to be well. I cannot be the woman I used to be. I have to be this mom. This mom who waits for the bomb to drop at a moment's notice. Manic spikes? My plummeting blood pressure? Which one will come next?
Can I make it to Mom's Night Out? Probably not. I'll probably be sick or sad. Can I babysit for a friend? No, What if one of the kids' emotions spike? I can't keep it together long enough without Brian's help. Can Brian take the boys camping? No, he needs to be here for Shelly, just in case she passes out.
I used to plan events, be the leader, try to be the fun in the crowd. I used to be....Shelly.
Now? I honestly don't have the common courtesy to care anymore about what this person thinks or that person requires of me to maintain a friendship. I have no advice to give. I don't even want to "grab a coffee" or "hang out" or "chat." I can't think of anything but my sickness or my children or the strain on my marriage while I'm out "relaxing" with friends.
What I want is to be normal again. Normal, Normal, Normal! I want my children to be healthy. I want our lives to be simple, boring, fun, days full of family events that clog a normal calendar. I want that pretty picture of normalcy that announces to the world that life is grand for our household....and NORMAL!
What I want....Ohhh, let me count the wants.
They know who they are....they know.
What I have is what God knew I needed. He gave me life. The real stuff. No fluff. He gave me real friends with real problems who understand my problems and my limitations as a friend...as I understand their limitations. We have all figured out that life is not about what we want; It's about what we appreciate. And I appreciate my Husband, Family and Friends.
There are times when I am tapped out. 1, 2, 3....tap, tap, tap....this woman has no more answers, no more moves to pull out of her bag, no more thoughts on the issues....tap, tap....t.a.p... Who can take my turn in the ring?
That is when I know He is real. Though I walk through the valley, I see His Hand and know that the mountain top is just one step up...just one step. I can do this. I can. I try. I try again. That is when He holds me, His fingers wipe my tears, I hear His voice gently consoling me...
"Give Me their future, Shelly. I've got it. Give Me your fears. I've got them. Give Me your hand, Shelly. I've got you. I took your turn in the ring. I love you so, so much."