I hit rock bottom with my kids last week. It has been almost eight years since we adopted them at eight years, five years, and sixteen months, and I just couldn’t do it anymore. Counselors sit in nice comfy offices asking me if I understand Reactive Attachment Disorder, and I answer back that yes, I do, but it doesn’t help much when I am living it every interaction, every day. The sheer exhaustion of getting push-back on what they wear, what they eat, whether they do chores, how they treat each other, homework (!!!!), t.v., vitamins, etc. It just never stops. And this is on top of the medical and psychological conditions they have.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was my nine-year-old taking a bath before school when we were running late, and I told him he only had time for a quick shower. I was already upset with him about that, and when I turned my back, he dumped his smoothie down the sink. That packed-with-nutrition smoothie that is rather expensive to make and physically demanding getting that raw honey out of the jar, that I feel so good about giving my kids because I know it’s healthy. And the thing is, he didn’t really care that about getting in trouble. He cared that it was inconvenient, but not that he had done anything wrong. “No remorse,” was how his teacher described his behavior at school when he was taken to the principal’s office. Until later when he realized it was going to cost him recess. Then it was remorse of a different color.
I went to parent-teacher conferences last week with my sophomore, and I heard one teacher tell the parent in front of me (about her daughter), “I wish I had thirty more just like her.” Instead, I hear, “He’s just not doing the work, when he turns it in, he hasn’t finished, he just sits there in class, he doesn’t seem to want to make much effort.” So together with Gavin and the teachers, we made a list of all the missing assignment he had to complete last weekend. My favorite part was when it was time for him to do his English paper, he said he didn’t know what to do, hadn’t been listening that day in class, didn’t have any friends in class he could call for info, “Sorry, Mom”, just can’t do the assignment. Yesterday he took page two of his biology assignment and shredded it because he didn’t want to do it.
And just to round it all out, back to my nine-year-old, he’s telling me that he hears voices, has heard them all along, but didn’t want to worry me. He says that’s why he’s so loud all the time because he’s trying to drown the voices out. I don’t even know if it’s true and neither does the psychiatrist, who admits nevertheless that “it’s concerning.”
I’m actually jealous of people who have events they have to get over, like the loss of a loved one or a foreclosure. This never ends and there’s no end in sight, and somehow, the older the kids get, the harder it gets.
I accidentally found a solution for myself today when I was trying to help a friend. She asked me how I was doing (dangerous question) and I had a melt-down. She and another friend spent the next hour letting me cry it out and sharing some of their survival struggles with me so I would feel less alone.
Nothing has changed, but just getting it out to people who care seems to have lightened my load. Usually I keep that stuff in, feel like I should handle my problems myself, but today, I couldn’t and it turned out to be a good thing. When you’re in Survival Mode, sometimes not having the energy to put on a good front can be a blessing in disguise. Thanks to two good friends, I think I’ll survive another week at least.