I’ve been pretty quiet the internet lately, something that’s so out-of-my ordinary that my mom called because I’m normally all over her social media feeds.
I could blame it on the fact that we’ve been super busy. Things have been pretty hectic around here. Let’s see…
Husband and I had a major fight about alcohol and honesty – he has a long history of alcohol dependence and had slipped back into old habits but was hiding them from me. I did not respond with kindness and empathy. Things are better, now, but man… That was a rough few days!
We were denied services for Little at school, so we pulled him out. Little is now homeschooled. Things went wonderfully… at first.
Middle started acting really, really unhappy. Constant lying, rule breaking, manipulation and “victim playing” resurfaced. “The Game” resurfaced, and even started to show up at school!
Middle also performed in Seussical with her school. She did an awesome job and was definitely the best Who #11 she could be!
Oldest’s developmental specialist has been having her reevaluated for autism and trying ADHD medication. Lots of appointments!
CPS interviewed my kids at school. We were not notified by the school, nor by CPS. I had to go to the DCHS office and track down our caseworker, who then did a home visit and said she’d close the case “as soon as possible.”
I went to the BeTA Retreat and had an amazing time!!!
The CPS caseworker showed up unannounced and asked us to take urinalyses to disprove the allegations made in the CPS report.
Middle got sick. Really sick. Like, 104.3-degree fever sick. Like, they almost gave her a spinal tap to test for meningitis sick. Luckily the ER doctor caught onto the fact she was exaggerating the amount of pain she was feeling in her head and neck and tested her for the flu instead. Thank goodness the flu screen came back positive!
During Middle’s illness, she admitted she had lied to her teachers, friends, and the CPS worker when she was interviewed at school. That explained why the case wasn’t closed as quickly as we’d been anticipating.
I started working at Rev.com as a transcriber to pay for the hotel room I’ll stay in during the Parenting In SPACE conference. So excited!
The CPS case closed. Last week! Thank goodness! Those things always stress me out, and I get all “mama bear” at the slightest whiff of a hint that someone may even think about separating me from my kids.
The initial joy I had in homeschooling Little has ended. He’s started up with the meltdowns again. Nothing violent… But there’s a big concern he’ll start in with the aggressive behavior meant to harm again. We’re seriously considering a 30-day residential treatment program with a trauma-informed hospital in a location about 2 hours away. We’re still not sure we’re ready for that. I mean, how do you work on attachment with a kid who’s absent from the home?
So, yeah. I’ve been busy.
But that’s not why I haven’t been writing.
No. The real reason I’ve been silent for over a month?
I’m super pissed off about all of this, and I’m stuck in a “woe-is-me” mindset because this is not how I envisioned my life – my family’s life. At all.
So, yeah. Super pissed. So angry that I have lost every single therapeutic parenting bone in my body. So frustrated and mad that I’ve once again started relying on traditional parenting methods to correct behavior. Little has been grounded for nine days of March, so far. Middle has been snapped at, yelled at, sent to bed early, denied privileges, and yes, she’s been grounded, too.
I even deleted everything off the kids’ Kindle Tablets in retaliation for their crappy behavior.
Clearly, coming on here and highlighting my good therapeutic parenting moments has been out of the question for most of 2017… Because I haven’t really had any good therapeutic parenting moments!
And the worst part of all this? The part that makes me even more outrageously angry?
I know I’m not helping them right now.
I know how to parent therapeutically, right? I’ve read enough books, watched enough videos, been to enough conference to know that yelling/isolating/grounding/etc., doesn’t work with my kids – will never work with my kids.
I know this.
I’ve also learned enough to know that my kids can’t help their unwanted behavior. That the area of their brains tasked with regulating their emotions (their prefrontal cortexes) are, likely, underdeveloped due to the early trauma they endured. That their amygdalae (the brain organs responsible for sending people into “fight/flight/freeze/faint” mode) are, likely, enlarged and over-active. Now, I say “likely” only because we’ve never subjected our kiddos to any brain imaging or scanning. All the research compiled on children with trauma histories has shown significant differences in various brain structures of traumatized children. Kids who experience sustained early-childhood trauma just don’t develop their brains in the same way non-traumatized children do, so I think it’s safe to assume that Middle’s and Little’s brains are different from your average seven or eight year old’s brain.
I know all of this. And yet, for the last two weeks, especially, I’ve been reacting to my kids as though I do not know this.
I’ve yelled, I’ve stomped, I’ve isolated, I’ve grounded. I’ve taken away toys, privileges, and a lot of the nurturing routines I like to do with my kids to help them feel safe and secure. I’m still taking care of them, but I’m only meeting their basic needs… Even though I know they need more than that to heal from their early traumatic experiences.
Instead of really committing to therapeutic parenting (again), I’ve instead taken up residence in The Land of Fury where I blame everyone else for my unhappiness and curse myself for ever deciding to stay in this family when I knew it was going to be a long, hard, awful road to travel down before we found healing for my littlest ones.
Yeah. It’s that real, you guys.
All of this stuff, it’s embarrassing to admit, especially when I like to present as a woman who really knows what she’s doing.
Well. I’d be lying to you if I came on here and tossed out some therapeutic parenting wisdom to help you through your day, and I have a strict anti-lying policy I try my hardest to adhere to at all times.
Also, I know many of you live these same struggles on a daily basis, too, and as always I’m sharing this with you because I need you to know, to understand, that you’re not alone, fellow trauma parents!!
But, there is good news.
The good news here, folks, is that I’ve been stuck in the doldrums like this before. In fact, I used to experience these bouts of hopelessness and anger far more frequently than I have over the last year. And as awful and consumed by rage as I have felt lately, I know it will pass.
And if you’re stuck in an unhealthy, angry space right now?
Hang in there. Engage in some self-care (I had to hand over the bulk of my parenting/housekeeping duties to Husband this month and I’ve been doing a lot more things I enjoy lately. I’m letting my need to feel better take precedence over things like laundry and vacuuming). Look at your kids while they’re sleeping and can’t argue, or go through your favorite pictures of them to help you reclaim the love you feel you’ve lost for them at the moment. Realize that your love hasn’t gone anywhere… It’s just hard to feel underneath all the hurt you’re carrying around with you!
Sounds like our kids, doesn’t it?
So, make sure you’re as kind to yourself while you’re struggling as you would be to your children when they are (and when you’re not living in The Land of Fury, of course).
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