This is as true in everyday life as it is in battle: we are given one life and the decision is ours whether to wait for circumstances to make up our mind, or whether to act, and in acting, to live."~ anonymous
I think that every parent has been there..You are out shopping with your kids and one of them utters THOSE words(if your lucky). There could be as many as six, could be as few as three. But they say them and immediately you become a parent of action.. Did you ever see a gazelle gently grazing-and all of a sudden they sense a lion? There head goes up, their body stiffens, they are on high alert. The only thing they seem to be thinking is how to get from point A to point B in the quickest way possible.That is how it was on Tuesday, when in the middle of shopping, Lily looked at me and said "Mama, I think I'm going to throw up." Being on the opposite end of the store from the bathroom, I had to act quickly! The only real obstacles were the packs of roaming senior citizens (many riding carts) cluttering up the aisles. How was I going to get through with two kids and a full cart? I don't know how we did it. The memory is a blur..but somehow I managed to get us to the bathroom with the agility of a highly trained athlete-without knocking over a cart or breaking anyones hip. The seniors are slow, but for the most part they are an understanding and gentle group.
It has been quite a while since I had to navigate a store like that-years actually. But there was a time when I could have done it blindfolded. When I knew every escape route that there was, every quiet corner, every bathroom. Some of my children have sensory issues. When they were younger, and we were in a place with too much light, or noise or crowds-there were times that they completely lost it-broke down, fell apart. There was nothing to do but try and help them-either by getting them out of the area-or sitting down and waiting it out. We dealt with it as a family. It wasn't strange or odd-it just was. We would get through it and we moved on. I know-it sounds easy, but in hind site-it wasn't. There were many things that we had to do as a family-as parents, that were incredibly difficult.
There was a time when one of my children was violent. A time when at any moment-like a hair pin trigger, they could become so enraged that the only thing they could do was self injure or lash out at me. There was a time when I thought I had to live that way. That somehow, because I was the mother it was my responsibility to bear. Because somehow this was my fault. That I was missing something, not doing enough..I LOVED them..I just had to love them more. Even if it meant I was beaten up, bitten, bruised and bloodied.
I was wrong. Absolutely without a doubt-wrong. Allowing this behavior to continue was NOT loving my child. Allowing this behavior was telling them that it was acceptable. That they somehow did not have to follow the same rules as everyone else. That they were incapable. Allowing this behavior separated them from the rest of the family. Realizing all of this-it was harder than hard. Because it meant that I had to face a hard reality. My child had been communicating with me-they were screaming for help..and I was too worried about being a "good parent" to listen.
What followed were some of our darkest days-because we had to make decisions-decisions that sounded horrible. Would they need to leave home for a while? Everyone knows that considering placement out of the home makes you a bad parent-right? Everyone knows that every facility is a snake pit..a place for undesirables..right? Oh and don't even think of using medication! We over medicate our kids! It would be me just trying to "cure" them..make them compliant..suck their soul away..GOOD parents don't think of these things!....Oh, I heard it all-and believe me, I thought it as well. I also know that if I had chosen to listen to those words-allowed them to keep me from changing things, I'd have people commending me. Telling me how brave I was because "good parents" don't make those decisions. But, none of those people were my child-none of those people could look at them after one of their freakouts and SEE that my child didn't want to feel this way- see how the fallout shattered them. Recognize that they were looking to me for help...sigh... It is to me, my greatest failure as a parent to have not acknowledged it sooner. But it is also my greatest joy to recognize that even though it took me a while, I did..
It has been a few years since those dark days. So much has changed since then, so much progress has been made. Yes, I may actually be getting the hang of this child rearing business. Good thing that there isn't an expiration date to parenting. Because I am sure that I have plenty more to learn-and that there is plenty more for my children to teach me and vice versa. They continue to thrive, they continue to grow-we are blessed.
So, after successfully navigating the flocks of senior citizens crowding the aisles, and making it to the bathroom- we found ourselves once again thwarted by...*sigh.*..more seniors with uuhh..gastrointestinal issues. It was definitely NOT the place to be with a nauseous child and her now nauseous sister..nor an equally nauseous mother..as I looked at my daughters through watering eyes..we came to an unspoken consensus....without uttering a word between us, we turned around and ran out the door. The reason for going there forgotten-the relief at getting out..priceless...
That's one way to forget about needing to throw up. :-) Wonderful, as always.
Somehow, I think that would make my need to vomit even more intense. Walking wouldn't have been possible.
Btw, where was Otis during all the grocery store drama?
.'...good parents face up to those hard things...' Thank you. Yes.
Priceless! Thank you for posting this!
how well written Katherine
truly the number of decisions we have to make on our own is just mindboggling
And I can just see you sprinting around those seniors to get to the loo. Uggh. And the hard decisions you talk about make the sprint look like a walk in the park. You're a good mom to realize communication when you see it--in all it's may forms. I'm not sure I would have made the connection.
I seriously hope there will be no round three and you're still standing. And not sanding over the toilet!
Without the throw up, seniors, and grocery store, I could have written this post myself. word.for.word
The dark days that ended a year or two ago, and the progress since then. And the tough decisions and realizations. The 3+ years I let him suffer, in my ignorance. I lived it.
Great post. Good job, Mom.
@ Kwombles-yes-it certainly is. Thanks..:)
@Big daddy-no, it was so very very..overwhelming-that escape seemed to be the best and only option. As for Otis? I believe he is sitting on the dock of the bay..
@bbsmum-thanks..I had some trepidation about posting this one..for so many reasons...:)
@k-floortime-thank you. It is mind boggling. I guess the important thing is to make the decisions.
@Lizbeth-Yes-senior vaulting..I believe it ought to be an Olympic event! As for communication-I have no doubt you would have no problem recognizing it. At the time, my this child was non-verbal. I only had to look and see the absolute horror and pain in their expression/eyes when they saw that they had physically hurt me. They could not help it..and they really wanted to. This was an awakening for me on so many levels...
@ life in the house-I was commenting as you were..do we get to yell "jinx" or something? ((())) Yup-you know...and I'm sure you kick yourself from time to time(as I do). But-I do believe that taking action..even though it seemed to take me forever..made ALL the difference. I try and tell myself better late than never...sigh...
Absolutely. I got my son back, because I took action. So it's hard to feel anything but right in my decision for him. The only thing I sometimes wonder...see he was a really joyful child until the bullying started...then he lost all of his joy...getting him help restored much of it, but his light was permanently dimmed by the years of suffering. Sometimes I wonder if I'd acted earlier, it he'd have gotten back to 100%...sometimes I let myself go there...mostly I try to just pay attention to what's going on now...savoring what I can.
Is there a parent who hasn't made a wrong decision at some point and blamed themselves for it? We are all doing the best we can and as long as we keep trying and are not doing something that is known to be harmful and we reevaluate when something does not work I think we probably should stop beating ourselves up. Of course, I don't always listen to my own advice. I blame myself for my daughter's distrust of doctors because we allowed the doctor to prescribe too quickly and the prescribed medications made things worse not better. That was when I took her to the neurosychologist for an evaluation.
Maybe it would help to know that I worried, worried, worried about everything I missed or couldn't fix, and guess what? My kid is 18 and turned out just fine. She's happy, she loves her parents, she has good friends, and she likes herself. Yeah, she's had her trials along the way, and I've made my mistakes, but who hasn't? By the time our kids get to adulthood, the old stuff is just a memory, they've become their own people in ways you never could have imagined in your wildest dreams, and they're looking forward to the rest of their lives.
So don't fret, y'all. :-)
@life in the house-I know..I know..BUT..you know as parents we want to protect them all the time..we want everything to go smoothly for them..I don't know any parent who doesn't..but-I don't know any parent who has been able to do that. Our kids live and grow and change from experience-even the bad ones(experiences). I think the important thing is that they we are behind them 100%. It sucks being human sometimes..you know?
@D.S Walker-ha! yup..it is easy to tell another parent to stop beating themselves up...but when it comes to ourselves..*sigh* Yes-I made a BIG mistake in this particular situation...but I fixed it..and we are in a good place..I just wish that kids came with detailed instruction manuals!
@Rachel-YES! It does help..it does.
It is lovely to read from someone who already walked where I am walking now. Sometimes I tend to get mired in the moment..there are things that I wish I had recognized(about myself) sooner..The time that I spoke about in this post taught me the best (personal) lesson on parenting..I needed to parent for my children and not popular opinion. I can't tell you how many people I read or communicated with(at the time) who were in similar situations that said letting your child behave this way was an act of love. I couldn't seem to find anywhere that dealt with this issue from a parental point of view-where the parents took a different course of action..even though some of the choices hurt so bad to have to make. But-we made them-and it was the best thing we could have done. So, no regrets there. :) I just hope that maybe someone who might be dealing with this particular issue comes along and reads this. Read something from someone who has walked in their shoes. Maybe it will help a little. :)
Great post - excellent points made.
Keep going, Love Ei
Wow Kathleen, I wish I had read this sooner. I do think that far too many people are too prescriptive about how others should bring up their children. Every family is different and every child is different, so how can that work? I love the 'all behaviour is communication' quote and it is now helping me to try and find out what is behind my son's behaviour as well as dealing with the behaviour itself. Glad you've moved beyond the violent stage and hope to be joining you soon x
@Looking for bluesky-yes they are..sad thing is I think we all listen from time to time. I know I did. I'm sorry that you are going through a similar situation-it is so very very hard and at times disheartening..hang in there..if theres anything I can do..listen etc. please please let me know..:)
Wonderful post. Sorry I'm getting to it so late. Making those hard decisions is where we do the growing up. Thanks so much for sharing.
Kathleen...no wonder you have such amazing children. This blog should be read by every parent.
Thank you Miss Doreen :)
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