Posts tagged ‘Parenting’

The preferred parent

Children go through life in phases. Some phases are obvious and a given; the infant phase and toddler phase, for instance. Other phases are unique; which television shows they are hooked on or if they go through an orange food phase. The other two phases every child is likely to bounce between for many years are the Mommy Phase and the Daddy Phase.

The Mommy Phase is when the infant, toddler or child is about all things mommy. Mother and child appear joined at the hip. Where Mommy goes; so does the child. Mommy is the only one who is acceptable in life for fulfilling any of the day-to-day needs. Hungry? Ask mommy. Wet or dirty and in need of a diaper change? Find mommy. Tired? Only mommy will do. It isn’t that I’m any better at any of those things than Daddy. It’s just that I’m the preferred parent at that point in time.

The Daddy Phase is the exact same phase only the roles are reversed. Rather than being the preferred parent for every action, outing and need; Rob is. For all things in life, during the Daddy Phase, only he will do. No substitutions accepted.

While you would think that I would be grateful for a Daddy Phase because it allows a certain amount of extra “me time”; it doesn’t always work out that way. There is something rather insulting with a sense of abandonment about the Daddy Phase. Suddenly, overnight at times, it seems as if I am no longer good enough. The food I prepare is sub-par. The bedtime stories I’ve chosen aren’t long enough or funny enough. Sometimes it seems the things I say and do…well, the Boys seem to take them offensively. It’s heartbreaking to watch them prefers someone else, even if that “someone else” happens to be Rob.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many ways to get over things when I’m not the chosen parent. It’s simply one of those things I just have to move past. Unless of course I’d rather share my feelings with another mother, who is likely to understand. Either way, there really isn’t much I can do about the phase.

I know I should recognize the unseen benefit and enjoy the little bit of extra time I am being offered, while it lasts; especially since I always seem to be complaining about how little “me time” I’ve allowed. Plus, I know that all too quickly, I am going to find myself the object of obsession and soon I’ll be wishing for that extra “me time”. But for now, it’s hard.

It hurts me to hear Emmett John scream “Da” and “Daddy” over and over again. Knowing that he doesn’t say “Ma” or “Mommy”. He doesn’t call me anything. I know I shouldn’t allow it to get to me this way. I know it’s a phase and “This too shall pass.” But damnit, it does!

And now that I’ve vented and whined and had my little pitty party, I think I’ll go try and pay the bills with some blogging related stuff.

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Chit-chat with Dr. P

Elliott Richard had his bi-weekly appointment with Dr. P, aka Patty, last night. It was mainly a Question and Answer session for me and catch up night for her and Elliott Richard.

I had the opportunity to ask a few questions about my circumstances with Sue, my therapist/counselor, since Patty is the Psychologist “in charge of/over-seeing” my case. A few weeks ago Sue had said I was “too smart for therapy” then she asked me “what I hoped to gain from therapy”. To me, this sounded and felt like she was thinking that therapy isn’t going to help me or that she’s in over her head and can’t help me. I really like Sue and I feel like she is a really good match for me. But I don’t have enough time, energy or sanity to spend it seeing a therapist/counselor who is questioning her ability to help me, ya know?

So Patty and I discussed my questions and concerns. And I decided to have a frank conversation with Sue reminding her of the things I need for therapy to be effective etc. Then if nothing changes Patty and I will reconvene and go from there and decide what to do.

Then it was time to catch up on Elliott Richard and what’s been going on there. I told her about his Day Camp and how helpful that has been. How the Day Camp has convinced him that school this Fall is going to be a lot of fun.

The last time Elliott Richard and I had seen Patty we discussed why Elliott Richard appeared to be struggling with sleep and being alone. At the time, she felt that Elliott Richard was having such a difficult time sleeping because he was struggling to be alone. Which makes complete sense because he struggles to even play alone or be alone.

Day Camp is helping him by leaps and bounds with that. He’s sleeping better unless he has a nightmare, which is understandable. But he sleeps better. He’s slowly learning to play alone. He’s always been opinionated but he’s learning better ways to voice his opinions. It’s amazing!

This is the kind of thing, I’ve always dreamed of as a mother. Having the opportunity to watch this kind of change in my son. The opportunity to watch him grow as an individual.

It makes my heart feel good.

I hope and pray that I will have many more experiences like this in the future. It almost makes me feel like…maybe I’m not a complete failure as a mother. Maybe I’m just a little bit better at this parenting gig than I realize.

It gives me hope and just a little bit of faith…in myself as a mother and a parent in general.

* posted on the fly w/o the use of proper editing tools 😉 *

~ Lizzeann

Things I’ve learned this week

This week I’ve learned…

…there are actually doctors out there who care about their patients.

…some hospitals are actually better than others.

…4 year olds are very sure of what they want…until they aren’t.

…when you are a 2-3 month old kitten, a fly and the computer cursor appear very similar.

…when you are a 2-3 month old kitten, attacking the computer cursor is unacceptable.

…when you are a 2-3 month old kitten, pouncing on the dog to get to the fly is also unacceptable.

…car accidents change everything and it doesn’t matter how long you haven’t been on speaking terms with your parents and family or why it began in the first place.

…that you can always go home even when home has changed.

…once you are “Daddy’s Little Girl” you are always “Daddy’s Little Girl”.

…there is nothing quite like getting a hug from your parents.

…that Mommy’s and Daddy’s get hurt too. Even mine.

…that sometimes Daddy’s don’t like to take their medicine and need to be “reminded” by their Little Girls.

…there are few things greater than the act of forgiveness.

…time heals some wounds and changes perspective on others.

and the last thing I learned this week…the act of giving birth doesn’t define someone as a mother. It is the act of loving and caring for a child the best you are able.

Autism & Carefully Directed Violence?

Emmett John is a very angry little guy. Understandably so, however, that doesn’t change the fact that he can’t go through life that way. I mean no one wants to be angry forever. Plus he’s so angry with no way to express himself that he lashes out…at me. He doesn’t lash out at anyone else, just me.

It’s crazy. He:

  • hits
  • pinches
  • bites
  • punches
  • scratches
  • slaps

me. Plus he has this scream…it’s horrible. It’s high-pitched, long-winded and just grates…it kills me every time. Especially when I already have a migraine…forget about it.

The physical abuse is what really and truly gets to me though. I don’t know if it’s because of my history with Nick or because he doesn’t abuse anyone else that way. But I’m starting to feel just the least bit unloved.

Now he hits his brothers. But that’s a brotherly-completely- age-appropriate thing, his Help Me Grow Case Manager Tiffany said so. He doesn’t go after them with the vengeance he seems to come after me. He’ll come to me, arms up appearing to be an adorable 22 month old little boy. Then when I pick him up he attacks me! Literally. He begins by punching me in the cheeks, these little baby punches that quickly turn painful. Then he pinches. And it quickly swirls out of control from there. Dr. H had told me to

  1. Tell him “NO” in a stern voice with the “angry Mommy face”.
  2. Put him down.
  3. Walk away and “ignore him” for a bit.

whenever he bites or scratches or hits etc me. Yeah, I do that. It has absolutely no effect whatsoever on him. He doesn’t care. He walks off. Does his own thing until the “punishment” is over. And then is thrilled when I pay attention to him again – since I obviously can’t ignore him forever.

I don’t know what to do.

I am already in muscular pain to some extent everyday of my life from the Fibromyalgia. Then you add a 2 year old (for all intents and purposes) hurting and injuring me on top of that, at every available opportunity. I don’t know if I can survive that.

I’m already so far over my limit. I’m so close to my person edge. I don’t know if I can take much more. I know there are sensory issues at play here. I know he can’t talk and really can’t communicate for all intents and purposes and that much frustrate and anger him but I can’t continue to be his outlet for that anger and frustration. It hurts too badly.

Perhaps I should feel loved that he turns to me Or honored that I’m the one he chooses? But I don’t. I just hurt. I’m tired of my doctors looking at the injuries he inflicts and thinking I’m self-injuring – because I know that’s what they think. I tell them where the injuries came from – they don’t believe me. I’m not stupid. I can read their expressions and the fact that they are feverishly taking notes but never again mention the marks and injuries.

I don’t know what to do.

I don’t know how to stop him. I don’t know how to get him to stop any of these dangerous and negative behaviors. He fell down the stairs – most people would have some degree of fear or apprehension about going up and down the stairs after a fall like that. Not Mr. Emmett John. He just keeps screwing around on the stairs. We. Can’t. Get. Him. To. Stop. We are consistent. We are strict – as “strict” as possible with a 22 month old. We say “No”. We do everything we are supposed to do but it doesn’t work.

I don’t know what to do.

Update!

Update to the Update

I originally wrote this update on the WordPress Application on my BlackBerry hours ago; but WordPress and my phone apparently aren’t speaking to each other at the moment. So I had to email it to myself and post it this way. Sorry for the delay.

End of Update to the Update

We’re home! =)

Emmett John was in and out of the ER in no time at all. They were debating putting him in a trauma room and doing a full trauma work up – blood work, brain scans, the whole kit and caboodle. In the end the doctor opted to check Emmett John out first and go from there since he hadn’t passed out at any point in time and he wasn’t vomiting. Thank God. All of Emmett John’s vital signs were normal. And everything checked out A-okay! =) All told, they were gone maybe an hour tops and Grandma G dropped me off so I was there with Daddy and Mr. Emmett John for the last 10 or 15 minutes or so.

I’m just relieved that he’s okay. I was so terrified, words don’t adequately describe how I felt. I try later when I can type on my Netbook rather than my Blackberry. (My fingers are cramping up. Lol)

Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers!

Thank you Grandma G for your help with Elliott Richard and Gavin!

Below are pictures of the boo-boos. They aren’t very good because Mr. Emmett John is very wiggly. I’ll try to post a more detailed account.

Update to the Update Part 2
The pictures will come in a few minutes but not right away. Sorry.

You can’t see the bruises under his bangs really well.

Honesty

I am not a good mother. I’m not. I hate to burst your bubble. I hate to tell you something you don’t want to know. But it’s true.

I. Am. Not. A. Good. Mother.

I try. God, how I try. But it’s so hard. To say that Gavin can push my buttons without even trying…is an understatement. Then when he does try to push my buttons…it’s enough to drive me insane. To say that I’m stressed out and over-whelmed…is a gross understatement. To say that they all try to push my buttons…it drives me to the brink

I love Gavin. More than life itself. I love all of my boys. I would go to the end of the Earth for them. (You know if the Earth weren’t round and had an end. But I digress.) I would give my life. They mean everything to me.

There are days when I am absolutely certain that God placed me on this Earth to be a mother. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to be in life. From the time I was a “tween”, I knew I wanted to be a mother. I wanted a house full of kids. Back then I never thought about “special needs” children. I was going to have a house full of perfect little red-headed, blue-eyed children. I was going to be Super Mom.

Now. Well, now I’m not so sure about why God put me here. I know that tween from way back when had absolutely no clue. Not about numbers. Or needs or the ability of one woman to be all things to all people. There are days when I am reasonably sure that God messed up. I wasn’t meant to be a mother at all. I wasn’t meant to have a Special Needs son. Let alone two of them. IF I was meant to be a mother, and I’m still sure that I was, then someone some where has the children that were meant for me. God has screwed up in a major way and given me someone else’s children. He meant to trust someone else this much. Not me. “God never gives up more than we can handle.” Well, he didn’t mean to give me so much. Surely, he meant all this for someone else. There are days I feel this way. Days I believe this way. Days when this is my truth.

I should probably attempt to explain. I know this isn’t coming out right. I’m probably sounding more like a “super whiny mom” and less like the “super crazy overwhelmed donkey-on-the-edge mom” I feel like. Let me try to explain it again.

In actuality my truth is that I’m over-whelmed. Gavin is exhausting. There are mornings when he comes downstairs and looks at me and I’m exhausted because I can see it in his eyes. I can see that he’s not in a good place. I know how that is going to effect everyone’s day. This look in his eyes and this truth exhausts me.

Gavin is creepy. There I said it. I don’t like it. It’s certainly not a statement I’ve ever wanted to make about any of my children; however, it applies. He does creepy things. Rob says that the creepy behaviors have started since he’s entered puberty but that’s not true. He’s always done these things to me. I can remember a time when I had him in the cart at Wal*Mart. I was pushing the cart through the store. He reached up and grabbed and tweaked my breast. Then he gave me the smarmiest grin. It turned my stomach then and it turns my stomach just thinking of it now. He was 4 years old then. He knew what he was doing. Now as he’s entering puberty I’ve watched him grope others – male or female he isn’t particular at this point. So far it’s only been family members. I don’t know if that’s because they are the only ones easily accessible or what. He’s left me out of it until the other day. We had picked him up from school as a family. I left Rob and the Boys in the car while I went into the school to pick him up. While I stood talking to his teacher, Gavin came over and nudged his head under my right arm – much like a cat or dog does with your hand when they want attention and you are “ignoring” them. Then he nuzzled my right breast. I was humiliated, grossed out, shocked. What was I supposed to do with that?! At school no less! Do I take him aside and humiliate him in front of everyone, which promises a horrible night. Hands down. I was screwed. So I did nothing. I stood there. Frozen. Looking at his teacher – just as humiliated and frozen. We stood there. Trying to talk. Looking at each other. But trying not to. I tried to nudge him away. He finally caught on and moved. Then we left.

The relationship I have with Gavin is not what I want. I want to be able to snuggle him and hug him. I can’t do those things because he takes them too far – each time, every time. I don’t even know which family he believes he lives in anymore! Just last night he was gathering his clean pajama’s together to get ready for his shower and this is our conversation:

Gavin: Mom, can I have a hot shower tonight instead of a cold one?”

(Whawhawhat?!?!? I swear that I do not give any of my children cold showers/bathes. Really, I don’t.)

Me: Gavin, what are you talking about??? I always let you feel the temperature of the water first. Have you ever actually taken a cold shower?!

Gavin: No. I just don’t want to.

Me: But. You said. (insert me stammering like a fool)

(This is the part where I engage him in frustrating conversation. I shouldn’t have. I knew I shouldn’t have. But I couldn’t help it. I was trying to get answers. He’s the only one who can give them to me. So I tried. I ended up making my migraine worse.)

Me:  Gavin, what’s going on? First, we are starving you. Now we make you take cold showers. What’s going on with all this?

(Back story to the starving comment: Yesterday, he had just finished breakfast then all three boys had killed a pack of graham crackers when maybe a half hour 45 mins later he came over to me and said, “Mom, oh never mind.” When I asked him what he had wanted he told me that he was going to ask me for a snack but he knew I wouldn’t feed him so he changed his mind.

(Yes, that’s right. I don’t feed him. I admit it. It’s bread and water if I remember to feed him at all. (That’s some heavy, duty sarcasm there, folks. Just so you know.) I do actually feed Gavin. We feed him a lot. We also have to be careful because he does not possess the skill set to self-regulate. So when you and I eat and our stomach signal our brains to say, “Hey you, you’re full!” His stomach either doesn’t send that message. Or if it does send the message his brain doesn’t receive it. So he keeps eating until eventually he vomits. Then he will keep eating until eventually he vomits again. Do we see a pattern here? He’d just keep going because he cannot self-regulate and tell when he is full. So Rob and I play that role for him. We work with Dr. H and the food pyramid to be sure that his dietary needs are met. And we watch what he eats, how much he eats, and when he eats – as much as we can anyway, when his PICA is active and takes over we obviously have no control over that. So I didn’t want anyone to worry. We most certainly do feed Gavin. I swear to you all.)

I just looked at him, completely dumbstruck. I seriously couldn’t believe that he was standing there, claiming that we don’t and wouldn’t feed him. Unbelievable. I told him so. When I confronted him on why he would say such a thing? His only response was, “I don’t know.” Niiiiiice. So my son feels we starve him. He doesn’t know why he feels this way. Only that he does. Can’t wait to see the fall-out from these random statements. Oy.)

Gavin: I don’t know. ….. I just don’t know.

Me: Gavin, please. I need to know… I don’t want you to feel like… We try very hard not to be… OH! I just can’t find the right words.

(Insert me feeling defeated.)

Gavin: Bad parents?

Me: Wha-wha-what?!?!

Gavin: Bad parents? You feel like Bad parents?

Me: No, I don’t feel like a bad parent. I know we do the right things. Dr. H says we are doing the right things. Dr. R backs us up. Patty backs us up. All of your doctors back us up and supports us! They wouldn’t do that if we were doing the wrong thing. I just don’t know how I feel.

Gavin: Oh. I just thought you might feel like a bad parent. That’s all.

(I’ve resigned at this point. He apparently feels we are bad parents who don’t do enough. While I’m sorry he feels that way, I don’t agree. I know we do right by him. It may not be cake and candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But we give him what a growing 10-year-old needs. We love him. We care for him. We make sure his needs are met. So I gave up on the conversation.)

Me: Gavin, is this water hot enough for you?

Gavin: Yes, that’s Hot.

Me: Good. Please take your shower. Wash and rinse your hair. Wash and rinse your body. Turn off the water. Please, please, please, be sure to DRY everything off – including your hair when you get out of the shower.

Then I left the room. I was done. I had a pounding, raging migraine. I was crushed. It hurt, a lot, to learn that Gavin felt we were taking adequate care of him. It hurt even more to realize there was little to nothing we could do to change his mind. Most moments with my relationship with Gavin are painful and crushing. No mother ever wants to hear the things I’ve heard about my son.  “There’s a very real chance he could be a sexual predator if we don’t curb those behaviors NOW.” or “You have plenty of time but he just needs to function enough to live in a group home and hold a part-time job somewhere – like the Photo Department at Walgreens or the Circle K.” My little boy who could have done great and wonderful things is now sentenced to work at the Photo Department or the Circle K. This too, breaks my heart.

These little things. Things I don’t often share because they are dark and painful. Things that are not pretty. They are my truths.

You. Woke. Me. Up.

7:30am ~ Gavin is just waking up and already in a horrible mood.

Good morning. Happy Tuesday to you.

Gavin KetZchup

This is my life.

Gavin has an alarm clock. His teachers gave it to him just before Christmas break because they worked on these class projects of “resolutions” of self-improvement before they left for Christmas break. Everyone received an alarm clock to assist them in becoming more independent. They were to begin setting the alarm clock every night so that they can wake up on their own every morning. Thereby removing one thing from our, the parental figures, morning to-do lists.

Gavin doesn’t remember to set his alarm for school. He’ll remember to set it for the weekend when he wants to wake-up at say 4:00am so that he can draw 50 pictures for his imaginary boss but to set it for 7:00am or even 7:30am for school? Forget it.

Therefore, Rob or I must wake him for school every weekday. He’s next to impossible to wake-up. (Thank you, genetics. Thank you, ex-husband.) However, our options Monday through Friday are either fight with him to wake him up or allow him to sleep and eventually go to jail for truancy. I’ll take the fight, thank you. This morning this is how my day started:

6:15am ~  Mr. Emmett John wakes up. He’s grumpy. We go downstairs and begin our morning routine.

6:30am to 7:00am ~ Somewhere in there Rob wakes up and comes downstairs. I just don’t happen to remember when that happened. I was half-asleep.

7:30am ~ Rob takes on Gavin. I mean wakes Gavin up. I make myself a cup of instant French Vanilla flavored coffee. I’m slightly more awake. Gavin is also grumpy.

7:30am to 7:50am ~ Gavin gets ready for school.

(This involves the following:

  1. Wake up
  2. Get dressed
  3. Brush teeth
  4. Go to the bathroom
  5. Find shoes & Put shoes on
  6. Take morning medications
  7. Put coat on
  8. Grab book bag)

7:55am ~ Gavin and I leave for school. I take Emmett John along for the ride this morning, just because. As we leave it is obvious that Gavin is in a horrible mood. So being the good mother that I am, I ask him what’s wrong. Here’s the conversation that I was not expecting to have at 8am.

Me: Gavin, why are you so grumpy?

Gavin: You. Woke. Me. Up.

Me: Excuse me?

Gavin: I said, You. Woke. Me. Up.

(Now technically, I didn’t wake him up. Rob did. I choose not to argue this particular point with him.)

Me: Well, you kind of have to go to school today.

Gavin: I wanted to sleep in and You. Woke. Me. Up.

Me: Yeah. Well, you have school. You didn’t set your alarm clock. You had to wake up somehow. So yes, we woke you up. Get over it.

Gavin: I wanted to sleep in. I didn’t want to get up. You. Woke. Me. Up. So I’m grumpy. ARGH!

(The longer this asinine conversation goes on the more irritated I become.)

Me: Look! In order for you to sleep in as late as you’d like on a school day you would have to be late. If you are late and/or absent too many times, the police will come looking for me and Daddy. They may even send us to jail. I’m not okay with that just so that you can sleep in.

Gavin: I try to remember to set my alarm but I forget.

Me: I thought you had come up with a sign or something at school with Miss S to help you remember to set it.

Gavin: I still can’t remember.

Me: I don’t know that it matters anyhow. You either sleep through the alarm, which leaves Daddy and I to turn it off and then wake you up. Or you hit the snooze, which still leaves us to Wake. You. Up.

(Now, yes, I was getting snippy. I was probably pissing him off and egging him on a bit. I shouldn’t have been. I’m his mother. I’m older. I’m wiser. Ya-hooey ka-blooey. But you know what? Sometimes, as awful as it sounds, I just don’t care. At 7:45-ish in the morning, when he’s being snippy because we dared to wake him for school, I. Don’t. Care. Truth be told, after a few minutes of hearing “You. Woke. Me. Up.” repeatedly; I was exhausted.)

Gavin: I know! I just want to sleep. I don’t want to get up. I want to sleep. I want to be left along. But You. Woke. Me. Up. ARGH!

Me: Again, I’m unwilling to go to jail so you can sleep as late as you like!

Gavin: You. Woke. Me. Up. AH!

(At this point, he slams his head into his lap and just growls at me from the backseat – terrifing Emmett John.)

Me: Really?! I mention the police and you’re still stuck on “You. Woke. Me. Up.”??

Gavin: I’m. Tired.

(As soon as we reached the school, he jumped out as if I had set his seat on fire.)

Me: Goodbye, Gavin! I love you! Have a…

Gavin: Yeah, bye! *SLAM*

Me: good day.

8:10am ~ I’m home. I have a raging migraine, which means my day is shot to Hell. I don’t know where any of that came from. I don’t know what to make of it. I’m pretty sure that his day is also shot to Hell.

PS I did in fact suffer from the “migraine from Hell”, which made my day Hellish. Gavin, however had a “SUPERB DAY” at school. Figures.