Here's a list, graciously provided by one of my sons today, of things I need to keep in mind. I think I'll post it on my fridge or my mirror, or better yet, my computer welcome screen, to help encourage me when I'm feeling down this coming year:
I am a bitch.
I am a jerk.
I hate my son.
I am mean to my son, and don't listen to his advice.
I need to shut up.
He will destroy the house because I have been so awful.
I need to go away.
I am fat.
No one loves me.
No one even likes me, I'm such a bitch.
No one wants me around.
Why am I still here? Didn't he just order me to go into the kitchen?
I got to hear all this (many times) while he was destroying some of my stuff, throwing things and slamming things. And why? I was in the process of making spaghetti for dinner and did not consult him as to what he would like to eat. Meanwhile I had other children downstairs crying for dinner and another teen watching them and hoping we don't have to call the police just as the garlic bread comes out of the oven. I mean, we wouldn't want our dinner to get cold again and everything.
For those of you self-righteously opining that you would "never put up with" that sort of crap, I wish you just had to deal with a tenth of it so that you could see what it's like, cumulatively, from the time this child was an INFANT. I wish you could see what dealing with a child with genuine mental issues is really like. He started out with difficulties... there is only so badly you can mess a kid up by feeding him his Gerber Green Beans instead of Gerber Carrots, or making the kid wear his CAR jammies instead of the BEARS. People who like to chastise me for my crummy parenting have no idea how long "all this" has been going on, and the extreme lengths we have been going through to try to stop it.
And guess what?
We can't just get rid of our family members when they are inconvenient or disrespectful. YES, we tried raising the kid to get a consequence when he was naughty throughout his childhood. This is soooo far beyond that that any advice like that... sigh. Even advice like that is hurtful. It presupposes that DUH we have no stinkin' clue that this is behaviour that is undesirable to live with and/or ought be curbed... or that we are too busy getting drunk or high to notice that maybe this isn't acceptable.
And ya know... it would be understandable if one of us parents started up a habit like that. We've been actively asking for help since the child could toddle and bang his head bloody. (He still does that, you know.) We haven't really gotten very far. Think the average parent would get sick-n-tired, maybe discouraged even, after about a DECADE AND A HALF of this stuff? Hm?
So, dear neighbour/ stranger around town, if you think you know it all and this would never happen to you, I'd like to see you try going through what we have. Or just pick it up from this week if you're so strong. Try calling the mental hospital and hear about how they don't deal with autism and/or your insurance, tough crap, goodbye. Or YES! They do, but what you've been through, since it's become the norm, isn't a good enough criteria for admission. The wooden baseball bat he threw? Well, that was just an accident. Oopsie.
"You just shut up. You are a bitch. Why don't you just go away? Nobody likes you." You start to hear that wherever you turn for help. It's sure convenient to blame the parents, folks... and insinuate that Mom just messed the kid up. It makes you feel better that this will never happen to you because YOU have done things "right." It's part of the social contract, or the Old Testament, or something. God rewards "good" people with well-behaved children, because the "good" people magically trained their kids right.
Or, oh! My favourite lame-o excuse for personhood (I won't mention names) once quipped that of course God wouldn't test him that way, because he couldn't handle it. God should test me instead because I'm such a strong and Godly person. Pat, pat, pat... now go off somewhere else. Wow, with friends like that at church to pray for me, I feel validated! I'm gonna be sure to show up every week for this treatment.
Maybe I just read too much into a simple "no, sorry, we can't help you" from professionals or "sorry, I have NO idea how to pray about that" from church acquaintances now. Maybe I am overly sensitive; however, it's rather hard to deal with extreme situations like this not only alone, but while enduring the scorn and disdain of the community around you.
Ohhh... and she went on to have more kids? Mm-hmm... another son is THREE and doesn't even talk. Cluck-cluck. Tsk tsk.
See, though, Mrs. C is a Christian and God commands me to forgive you. Thankfully He doesn't call me to like you, or to not pray for God to pimp-smack you into the next century and humble you a bit. (Because I'm praying that for your own good.) And He doesn't call for me not to get annoyed when my fellow Christians say I'm supposed to be all loving to people who are rotten to me. It makes for a great sermon even if it is impractical.
You know what? I have a hard enough time loving my family when they're rotten. No offense, but I JUST do not have the energy to be all loving to stupid people outside the family who are also rotten. I'm figuring that if I'm going to be nasty to someone, I might as well be that way to people I don't have to live with. That's why I'm posting to the blog instead of yelling in the living room. :)
But maybe the "love is patient, love is kind" thing only goes so far. YOU try being "patient and kind" when it happens day after day over stupid things. And you've lost sleep. And you wake up angry or crying, and it takes you a minute to figure out why as you shake the clouds out of your head. And you keep having to get root canals... wonder why you grind your teeth so hard they break in two...?
But no, it must be all my fault. I must enjoy that sort of lifestyle somehow. (Root canals are fun!) I read in a parenting magazine once about moms who secretly enjoy "drama," 'specially around the holidays. The answer is to be more pleasant to the kiddos and let little things slide. One recent day at the Mrs. C house, there was much screaming and throwing of dishes because I said "please" too many times in my requests. I only wish I were kidding... can you imagine having a temper that awful... getting mad because someone nearby is too nice?
Maybe there has to be some other way, something we haven't tried yet, that isn't in the parenting mags, the doctors' offices or a pill bottle... but God hasn't shown it to me yet. God is about all that is left.
I do know my other children are growing up scared. I do know I am scared. I am reaching out for help and not finding much of it. I do know that going through all this has taught me to be far less judgmental of other families who couldn't make things better for their kid, or whose kid has done wrong. Yes, we've done allergy testing. Yes, we've done drugs. Yes, we've altered diets. Yes, we're continuing therapy. No, we're not willing to do hyperbaric chambers, leeches, bungee jumping and/or chelation therapy. Yet.
Truly, there is only so much you can do. One day, your child must make his own decisions as to whom he will serve. It is beyond humbling. It is humiliating, sad, frightening and a test of any shred of faith one might have left.
It's a new year. I can always hope that the next year, the next pill, the next therapy, the next technique might bring some relief. I cannot imagine that my son is having a rockin' good time feeling this way, either.
But how sorrowful to know that this, the child you have raised... well... you have done the best you can for him and you are still not sure what will become of him or the rest of your family. I am not sure of what to think of faith, hope and love... knowing the greatest of these is love. I am not sure what to think of people who think that "love" is putting up with someone who had a grumpy morning and forgot to say "I love you." Maybe what I live isn't real life, and that's a genuine struggle for other people. Other people have it easy.
Love is really, really hard to live out. Love is no cuddle-bug. Love is dang mean-looking sometimes, and it doesn't come with a bow. Love is hanging on when the person you care for hates you, and the world hates you for not doing a better job after you have done all you could.
Love is forgiving. Love is getting up tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day... and dealing with things again. Love probably also means I'll delete this post in a week, but here it is for now. Thanks for listening if you got this far.