Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Bounce Back

There's this time every night that happens like clockwork.

All of my kids have been asleep for awhile. No noise. The dog is snoring quietly on the couch. I'm finishing up emails or cleaning up from the day. Husband is working on dishes. It's almost time to start winding down for bed but for a few precious minutes, I am just alive.

And no matter what kind of day I have had, no matter how much screaming or how many meltdowns or how many times I've been pinched or kicked or punched, no matter how few minutes of quiet or calm there was in the day, I reset.

I call it the "bounce back."

It's that moment when I remember that tomorrow is new. That there is hope. That my life won't always be this loud, this out of control. That day by day we will figure out the special needs of my middle child and continue to learn how to meet them. That my other two will survive until we do.

It's one moment every day where I take a breath and say "I can do this again. I can."

Last night was different.

I had walked into my toddler's school for pick-up on his first day and could hear him losing his mind even though I was around the corner and his classroom door was shut. I peeked through the window and saw him sobbing on the floor under a table. I sighed. I braced myself, knowing that to get out of there with him and his little brother in tact, I'd need all my wits about me and an extra measure of arm strength. It ain't easy carrying a 40+ pound toddler in one arm and a 30+ toddler in the other, especially when one is totally unhinged.

I walked in, already ashamed. Already embarrassed. Already sure that he had probably treated his new friends poorly. Aware that there were other parents trying to pick up their smiling kids while mine made a scene in the corner. Trying to avoid their gaze, their stares. Hoping he hadn't hit their kids or if he had that no one was hurt.

Tired. Oh so tired of this.

We managed to get home, somehow. And later that day, he was asleep by 6 pm after a short nap and a rough afternoon.

And as I sat on the couch last night after the other two were asleep, the moment didn't come. I just felt defeated. Sad. Exhausted. And fell into bed, to the sweet oblivion of sleep.

People like to say "hey, you know this will pass" or "toddlers are terrorists" or "when they are little it's little problems, when they are bigger it's big problems so savor the little." The thing is, I don't know for sure that it will pass and it doesn't feel like little problems. And I don't like living my life based on a possibility that it will get better. It might not. There are no guarantees. It has been two years. TWO YEARS of screaming and meltdowns and defiance and injuries and isolation.

And let me be clear. I'm not looking for advice. We are still in the midst of lots of dietary changes, we just moved across the country, his teacher ended up NOT being there the first day of school and my son had to roll with a stranger we had not prepped him for. I should have expected the bad day. Especially after a weekend where we had people staying with us and messed up bedtimes. We know better. Sometimes I just can't handle the routine, the regimen, the sheer inability to do anything that might upset or mess his day and I say yes to actually having a life occasionally. But, there's no breathing room when I do. He can't handle it.

There was no bounce back last night. I woke up sad today and wondering if he's going to get kicked out of preschool. And hurting. Feeling so isolated in this. Tired of explaining to new people why he is behaving like he is. Tired of being embarrassed that he peed on the neighbors lawn (the ones we haven't met yet, of course.) Resentful that every day revolves around making sure we have the fewest meltdowns possible so that my other children don't end up with PTSD.

This morning, I walked my son in to school. We have been shamed before in these situations and I could feel myself tense up, waiting for some kind of warning or reprimand about my parenting.

"Nate! Hi! We're so glad you're back."

I looked at them and they smiled. "We've got this. He's a sweetie. We're going to love on your little boy and he's going to have a great time. Don't worry."

They could have said so many other things, but they didn't. They spoke life into my son. Which spoke life into me. They aren't going to give up on him too easily, at least.

As I sit here, he's asleep. My oldest is due back any minute from school and I am trying to muster up enough energy to greet him with a smile. He needs that. He SO needs a mom that looks like she did bounce back last night. And maybe I will tonight.

In the meantime, friends, do something for me.

Remember us the next time you see a mom who looks defeated. She might feel completely done. You don't know her story. Just pray for her. Or offer her a hand. Or a word of encouragement. Try not to stare. Don't say anything trite about it passing soon. She might not have gotten her bounce back last night. She might need a stranger's smile to give her what she needs to get through the rest of her day.

Do it for me, please. For my son. And all the other parents in my life who are going through this same thing for various reasons.

We love our kids but this journey can be so very, very hard.

No comments:

Post a Comment