Saturday, April 16, 2011
Shopping the hurdles....
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...