Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A letter to the mom with the really hard kid

Hey there mama.

I just wanted to send you a short note to tell you I get it.

That crying your eyes out late at night because you feel like you were too harsh during the day. Life just escalated, emotions escalated, and you were asked 10 times too many to get that vitamin when you already said "not until dinner." 

I've been in that catch-22. You know you need to discipline. And yet your child needs correction SO MANY times during the day, that you feel like it's your fault. You feel like maybe you're overbearing. But it's not you. As you lay in bed, doubt and guilt lay over your conscious just as heavy and suffocating as the blankets you are snuggled underneath. 

I get it when you read other mommy blogs and you wish your issues were piles of dirty dishes and a floor that wouldn't stay picked up. You have the dirty dishes, you have the floor the doesn't stay picked up. But you don't have that child that is happily making the mess. You have a child that you try to survive. A child that requires more of you than you thought you had to give. The child that requires trying out every single parenting practice out there, wrangling in experts in the forms of books and professionals. Your child requires a team ... But sometimes, they have to settle for just you.

I've been there too ... Those days when you're only 1 hour in, and you've given 3 timeouts and a spanking. And you wonder how you will possibly make it through to bedtime.

I too have made that call. The one that you are beyond ashamed to make, but for everyone's sake ... You have to. "Mom, please pick up this child. I HAVE to have a break." Not a coffee break, or girl time. I mean, you need a serious chance to cool off before you do something dangerous or harmful. Yeah ... That call. Been there.

I know what it's like when everyone says, "oh, they're just like that at this age." But deep in your heart, you know this is not just "normal." Sure, they have their age approproriate stuff. But then on top of that, there'a your child's crazy defiance. Their constant fits. (I have entirely no idea what it would be like to drive to and from school without hearing a child cry the whole way there and the whole way home.) 

There are the looks of other women when your child is defiant or throwing the temper tantrum of the decade. And those strangers stare with judgement seeping from their heart. But you know inside, you're doing your best. You know that they have received discipline and correction all day long. But it's just not sinking in. And you know your child is doing their best too. (Or at least, you just really really hope so.)

"Just give them choices," the experts day. So you do. Your child chooses, and when you deliver on their choice -- they throw a fit anyway. Just because they can. Or they because they changed their mind (again and again) in the one minute it took to pick out their shoes or grab that dress.

Your child just doesn't make sense to you. If you could understand their logic, if you could reason, if you could find out why then maybe, just maybe, life would be smoother. But they are a mystery. And try as you might, you just can't figure them out. And try as they might, our kids don't seem to be able to figure out life.

I know what it's like to love a child you actually feel like hating. The one whose antics make everyone else smile, but for you, you have so little patience for it. The bone-deep weariness sometimes takes over. Sometimes it's hard to smile at the cute little face when you've spent the last 5 hours in what feels like a war. 

I know what it's like to pretend for your child's sake. To say "I love you" when you don't always feel it. To play with them when you don't want to. To choose them over and over and over again, because you have to. Every day, making the choice to be their mama, and try your darndest to be the best one you can be. Even when you feel like giving up.

I know the regret. The feeling that things should have been easier. Or better. The feelings that you just want to have a connection, to enjoy their personality. I know you want to enjoy your child. I know that I do. I want to be able to relax and let go and take this kid on a fun date and just BE and enjoying being.

Except it's not. Because this kid came wired differently, and everything (and I mean everything) becomes a game of whose will is stronger. Your child can't seem to handle it. Not yet anyway. But you live for the hope of that someday. Someday this will be easier. Someday they will need this strong will. Someday, we'll be able to enjoy each other. Someday, this season will be behind me. 

And I also know how crazy amazing the moments of connection are. It may take so long to get through to your kid. It might take them forever to just snuggle you, or return the "I love you." It make take days and days of enduring for you to feel that spark of love for a moment. That fierce kinda love that says "I will not surrender to my fears, or my mistakes, or my anger, or my frustration. But I choose you, I love you, and I'll do my very, very best."

Mama, I may not know all your life. I may not know exactly how you feel, or what it's like in your home. I may not be able to say perfectly "I TOTALLY understand."

But I can say, I'm also a mama to a really hard child. A defiant, strong-willed little one who tests my patience, my will, my authority, my love 

I'm deep with you in the trenches, my friend. And while it is so hard to be here, my hope for me and for you is that it will all be worth it.

That one day, the moments of love and connection will come more easily and naturally. That our patience will grow stronger and be more resilient. That we'll be some of the best parents because we will have literally "tried it all." 

That our kids will become exactly who God has created them to be. And fulfill their purposes in life.

And looking back, we know we'll are blessed because God allowed us to be a part of it.

Hang tight mama. Know, please please know, you are doing well. Together, we can keep on even through the tears and the frustration and the disappointment. 

One day, very single battle will be worth it. Even if we can't see it now.

1 comment:

  1. Probably you don't want another parenting book...probably you will roll your eyes at this suggestion just a little. BUT...this book/woman completely changed how I understand my children from hard places. It explained how their brain chemistry is different because of their historys. It explained how their brains are plastic and can be re-taught how to appropriately react to situations. It gave me tools and a game plan for discipline that is in line with the requirements set forth by DFCS butstill actually seems to be making an impact . The focus is discpline that connects me to the children. It is tough and requires a lot from a calm parent(ha). But so good. and Dr. Karyn Purvis - The connected child. There are videos and information on her site to check out before you commit to another(!) book. Best of luck. The past two weeks I've felt like I'm in a cycle of 'those days' and we will never emerge. But one day we will all manage to wear clean clothes, the floor will be mopped and they will play without day. :)