Another Mother;’s Response

I have read the ” I am Adam’s _________Mother” article and I am shaken to the core.  It hits me in a place that I cannot fully describe to many people, it makes me hurt, because on some levels she is describing my oldest son.  Some will read this and comment that my son is not capable of such behavior, he would never talk to anyone in those voices or threaten another human being.  If you believe that, I invite you to journey with us for a day or two, or talk to our closest neighbors, who he plays with on almost a daily basis.

while I have read the account, I relate, but I also caution us to take what is happening with a grain of salt.  To pin this type of madness on a presumed mental illness is dangerous and uneducated–the truth is, it is hearsay.  We don’t know the motive, the life he was living, nor the depth of his personal pain.  We are too quick to jump at what may seem  as easy conclusions because the reality of the situation is too heavy for us to bear.  We should not have to bear such horrendous acts, we should not grieve at the senseless killing of children, but more importantly, we should be crying out for the senseless killing of anyone–not just children.

Where is our outrage when gangs are killing in the streets, or hours from where I live the suicide and addiction rates are some of the highest in the nation, with a poverty rate the lowest in the US?  Where is our outrage when first and second grade students “quit school” and sit more time in the principal’s office instead of the classroom because most of the male figures in their lives are already in prison and they are just waiting their turn?  Where is our outrage when we use words as swords to lash out at each other, demeaning how we live, and love? Where, oh where, is our compassion?

Where is our compassion when we allow people to slander one another in the name of anything because it elevates their own position or opinion?  Where is the understanding that we are each as different and unique as each snow flake that falls each winter.  I am from the midwest people, and them’s a lot of snow flakes from many many winters.  I am as different from you as you are from me and we are as unique as every one of those snowflakes ever made.  That baffles my mind to even imagine!  I celebrate that difference…hell, I rejoice in it!

My oldest son has a double diagnosis, a double mental illness…and I hope and pray through every day with him.  He is not a madman waiting in the wings, he is a little boy with an abundant zest for life, too much intelligence, and a spiritual understanding that astounds me.  He can also lose it, big time.  He has a diagnosis, but more than that, he has a name and a life that I want to be full of hope and promise and light and love.  He has a name and an identity and a sparkling personality which he uses to drive me up the wall quicker than any human being…and I love him for it.  He worries me, causes me to fret and stew, to tear my hair out, to walk around with my heart outside my body—and so does his brother–and I love them for who they are.  His intelligence will not dictate his actions, his moral character and spiritual grounding ( or lack thereof) will spell out his future.  As a parent, I have to pour everything I can into both of them and believe that I, and others that I have trusted to care for them, have instilled the right and proper and strengthening ideals into them.  I have to watch them walk out into the big world everyday and relinquish them into someone else’s control….whether that someone is a school, a job, a loved one, or someone aiming to harm them.  I have to trust that I have done my job as a parent and that means trusting myself to let them go….and to admit that in the end, they are not really mine.  OUCH!!!! That hurts, doesn’t it.  My boys are not really mine.  They are on loan to me and I am the blessed one charged to their care for this time and this place and in this moment.  There will come a time when I am asked to allow them to continue in their journeys, and like every parent, I pray it is never within my lifetime that I am asked to give them up to something bigger than me.  They are gifts for this time and this moment, I struggle to remember that, because I want to believe that they are solely mine.

The reality?  Yes, I have seen my son wig out…I have seen him beg me to get a gun and kill him, I have been the butt of his threats and his violent anger…and I have held him, cradled him, and sang him to rest time and again.  I would do that for anyone.  I would do that for anyone because I know that anyone of us could lose it at any moment.  That is right…Any one of us could lose it at any time!  Think back to stories we hear of babies being shaken and we are shocked when it happens….horrible, yes!  Put yourself in the position of that person who has had that child screaming for hours on end, already tired, worn out, and nothing they do helps alleviate the screaming…..Understandable how a person can be pushed to their limits?????

When we put it in perspective it is not hard to imagine a person pushed to the edge…we are one thread away from it.  THANKFuLLY, there is compassion, common sense, and love that covers us most of the time.  Let’s walk carefully the lines of blame we draw, lest we wrongly paint a whole faction of people who struggle with learning disabilities, mental illness, or any other politically correct label we want to use as violent and deviant.  The fact is, we are all violent and deviant in our own ways…..ever flipped someone off who cut in front of you?  I have.  Ever swore under your breath when you see the cop lights flashing behind you?  I have–out loud.  Ever said something so awful to someone you love in the heat of hurt, anger, betrayal, and injustice?  I have and I have had people do that to me.  Ever wanted to hit someone so hard that they did not know what was coming at them?  I have and hated myself for it later.

Have you ever had someone apologize for a wrong they had done to you?  Has grace come knocking and shown you mercy and forgiveness even when you knew you did nothing to deserve it?  How about love?  Has someone poured their life into yours, knocking down your barriers and your walls to see the ragged soul you carry and loved you in spite of your messy self? I hope so.  I hope you have been loved with a fierceness that takes your breath away and that you can extend that to others.  i hope you know what it means to be pursued in a way that makes you feel wanted and needed and important because you are you and no one else.  I hope you know what it feels like to pursue someone else in that fashion…I hope that you know yourself as a beautiful and necessary human being deserving to be seen, heard, and loved every day of your life and for eternity.

What happened Friday is beyond tragic and has dominated much of my thinking the last couple of days, but it has also served as motivation.  I am beginning to uncover my own areas of outrage at things happening all around me and I see an obligation to stand in the midst of it and be light.  I feel a call to cast light into the darkness, reveal the truth, and walk doggedly into it with wisdom and compassion.  I hope I am smart enough not to go alone….I pray I am not walking alone.

My son has a couple of mental illnesses….but more than anything, he is my son, the first-born to 2 parents who love him, sacrifice for him daily, and would walk through fire to protect him.  He is part of my body, my soul, and my heart walking around out there for the world to see.  He is one of 2 of the best things I have ever done….when you see him, love him for me–protect him and keep him safe when I cannot.  I am counting on you to be the light just as you can count on me.  Can we count on each other?

Calgon?

I posted on my facebook last night that I was mad enough at my children to spit nails.  I was frustrated by the lack of respect, the insanity of clutter all around my house, the general confusion as the end of the school year takes hold and summer descends.  I also wrote that I feel alone in this parenting gig.  It was of some comfort to hear that there are other parents, many not that younger than me, that feel the same.

I almost kicked myself for vocalizing that.  Then, I stopped.  Why should I be afraid or apologetic for admitting that sometimes I do not have a clue how to do this?  There are moments that I do not want to be climbed on, or my food eaten from my plate.  There are also times that I do not want to share my bath, my bed, or my emotions.  Sometimes I simply want to be left alone.  Even, as I write this, I have my oldest standing right next to my chair swiveling it back and forth…..now my youngest has come over to ask me to open his tiny muffin package, hurling a litany of questions as I open it. 

Do not get me wrong, I love, love, love my boys and I have a connection with them that transcends anything else I have ever experienced.    I did not and do not have that connection with my family.  My mother will tell me, “But you would not let any of us love you.  So I stopped trying.”  Ok.  I don’t understand the connection my boys and I have, but it is spiritual as well as tangible and it defies definition.  It is love, pure and simple.

That does not mean in the dark part of me that I do not struggle with being a mom.  This is incredibly hard heart work.  It is an all-consuming, up at dawn, never-ending roller coaster that most of the time I embrace wholly.  But…there are times.

My oldest current diagnosis sticks.  ADD, Bi-polar, and extremely gifted.  He is a high needs boy with energy and passion to spare.  He is much like his mama, I just don’t have the ADD or bi-polar.  I was high energy, passionate, stubborn, and independent….WAIT!  I still am.   My oldest is also highly intuitive, compassionate, giving, and perceptive.  He has been with me on my Seminary journey the whole time, and at 8 years can speak to the heart of some complicated issues.  He asks theological questions that have no easy answers, and he works them out for himself.  He is my emotional barometer.  If something is off, I can count on him to sense it, just as I do.  He simply does not have the vocabulary or experience to understand what is happening.  YET.

He is also a global thinker.  I remember the day before he started kindergarten.  I found him in the bathroom, sobbing over an episode of Bindy, the Jungle Girl.  The show demonstrated the plight of the whales and dolphins, and here was my son, sobbing because he could not solve the problem.  My heart broke.  I sat in bed that night and thanked the Creator for such a son, and sobbed for the hurt his heart experiences on a daily basis.  I can’t take it away from him.  I can advocate for him and with him, I cannot take it from him. HE has the gift of mercy, and sometimes that is weighty.

He also drives me up the wall quicker than any person I know.  Right now he is watching a show and his energy has him opening and shutting the tv cabinet door with his feet.  Mindlessly, open and close, open and close, as I hear it thump, thud, thump. AAAAAHHHH.  He does not know what he is doing, his body must move.  He does not connect that he is 3/4 my height and the full weight of him in complete motion mode is heavy and I cannot carry him anymore.  He does not realize that climbing on me won’t be an option much longer. 

He also does not realize the words that come out of his mouth are sometimes so hurtful I cannot look at him.  When I hear him yell at me that he wishes he were dead, to go and get a gun and kill him, it stabs in a place I can never articulate to him.  He may understand when he is a parent.  Now I have to choke down the many times that he screams that I hate him, and that he hopes he dies sooner rather than get older.  How do you respond to that….how do you join him?  The only solution I have in those out of control moments, are to hold him close, whisper in his ear, and rock him back and forth.  It is all I know how to do.  Sometimes I know it’s not enough, sometimes I feel like I fail him.  Sometimes I think he would be better off with a stronger and more capable mom.  NEVER do I wish he were not my son.  Re-read that last sentence.  Sometimes I struggle with who I am and who I can be for him, never that he is my son.  He has taught me more about humanity and grace than any person I know.  He is one of 2 living heroes I know…my youngest being the 2nd.

There are moments that haunt me.  When in quiet moments of bedtime conversation, my oldest will look at me and ask if it’s ok if he does not survive past 16?  Uh…what?  “Is it ok, mom, if God calls me home before I turn 16?  Are you ok with that?  You know where I am going.”  UH!!!! NO!   No!  I am not ok with losing my son anytime, anywhere, by any method.  NO!!! You may not go anywhere, let me keep you here, with me.  The biblical story of Abraham and Isaac takes on new meaning in that light.  Surely a loving and merciful Creator would never ask me to give up my son!?  Surely I would be spared the pain and horror of that…SURELY.

Well, ask Mary how she felt to give up her Son.  I guess that puts a different spin on the issue.  DANG!!!!  So, I hold him, cuddle him, give him everything I can in hopes that it is enough. 

Sometimes, though, I am tired.  Sometimes I do not want a high needs child, almost smarter than me at age 8.  Sometimes the hurt at watching him is close enough to the surface that I cannot let him see the tears that escape before I have my mask firmly in place.  Anger seeps through in the middle of the night and I rail silently in my head, grappling for a solution.  Times when my 2 children are arguing so loudly and my oldest slugs the other in the stomach…yes–to hurt him–i see red.  There are also times when my youngest is trying to appease his older brother, doing anything in his power to make his big brother happy…to get him to stop screaming at him, hitting him, kicking him in the back.  These are moments when I have to stop….not to react, to breathe.  I watched one of those the other night as my youngest handed sticker after sticker to his brother…it was his brand new sticker book given to him by his grandma.  I wanted to yell, to scream at my oldest that he had no right to put his little brother, MY son, in this position.  I didn’t.  I shook my head and walked down the hall, knowing I had to let them work it out…keeping one ear open for blood-curdling screams

They come too, sometimes.  The screams.  When my oldest is in the bath and he sees a bug…a bug that incites such fear that he is literally inconsolable for the next 1/2 hour to an hour.  I shake my head, wondering how this is happening to a kid who lives, eats, and breathes insects, science, and anything animal related.  How can seeing this live be so traumatic?  I still don’t know, but then we have 2 screaming because the youngest is now terrified that his brother is screaming bloody murder.  WHAT~~~?

What do you do in that moment?  How do you keep your cool?  Often I do not know.  I know this may have been more heavy than normal, cut me a bit of slack….it is on my mind and heart often.  In the midst of tons of people, I often feel alone, carrying a heavy and dark secret.  The fact is, I hope with all I can that I do ok by him, by both of them.  I pray I will improve as I age, that I will parent with grace and love, and not an iron fist.  I commit them to God each day, believing that the best will come.  Sometimes, though, I am simply tired. 

I must go, the peace that once reigned has been shattered as one has jumped full force onto the back of the other….Super mom to the rescue–one more time.

CALGON!!!??? Take me away????

Shalom,

cahl

What is the response?

HatredThere is a scene in Mr. Holland’s Opus where Richard Dreyfus‘s wife learns that her son cannot hear and she is unable to communicate with him.  In frustration she talks to her husband, pouring out her anguish at not being able to talk to her son.  All she wants is to be able to talk to him and know that he knows what she is saying to him, “I want to talk, I want to talk to my son!”

I feel her anguish today.

My son has been diagnosed with ADD and a possible additional diagnosis which affects mood and personality.  I am unwilling to sentence him to the mood disorder as yet, I believe that growth and maturity will play some role in this in the future.  The ADD diagnosis fits and sticks.  Besides the “ring of fire” ADD tendencies is the superior mental and verbal intelligence he possesses, couple that with a highly developed intuition and perceptive ability and life here is hectic.  Hectic to say the least.

Tonight, I sat at the supper as usual and it was all I could do to keep from weeping. I watched as he slopped ketchup on his face, unaware of the obvious mess he was making.  Speeding through his meal, I sat listening to the tirade of topics and the mood swings happening right there in front of me.  When reprimanded for disrespectful behavior he turns the re-direction inward and begins self loathing conversation and then balling his hands into fists as he claims vehemently that we hate him.  Up from the chair he bolts to turn on the tv, then back again to snatch a bite of pizza roll, then off and running about some song lyrics, then he is screaming lyrics.  I wait patiently, hoping for a break in the action so that I might have some peaceful conversation.  It does not work, it rarely does.  I stare at my plate and wish for a quiet calm to overtake the house and blanket it in its warmth.  My husband tries in vain to ask me a question about my day and I have no idea how to answer amid the yelling and screaming that will eventually give way to an argument or fight between the brothers.

I look into my son’s eyes, so like mine.  A deep chocolate-brown full of emotion and intelligence.  I sob inwardly when I see them because so often he is motoring out of a place I cannot reach, an illness I cannot solve for him.  I know these upheavals will lessen as medicine doses level out and as he grows and matures.  It does not stop the hurt as I gaze at him.  I want to scream at the disease that commands his body and mind….I want to yell at it to leave my son alone, leave him in peace.  I want to talk to my son…I want to carry on a conversation with my son, I love him and it hurts to watch was has happened and continues to happen.  I fear what happens in his school day, I wonder what the future will look like for him, who are his friends–will they love him as I do?

I listen to the pain in his voice as he spews words of hate at himself or me.  I am afraid when he turns physical, he is pure energy and muscle and will overtake me in height soon.  I have a son that is 3 years younger than him and I am afraid for what may happen in the time to come as they engage in “brotherly love”.  More than the physical aspect, I struggle with what his self-image means at this stage.  I tears me apart to hear him scream that he hates himself and I must hate him too.  From that mindset, he quickly turns to running around, bouncing of walls and looking for something to throw, hit, kick, or wrestle to the ground.  There is a constant power struggle as he tries to thwart my authority as a parent and an adult.  He is intuitive to know exactly what button to push to send my emotions into the blender, when he has me in that spot, he turns on whip for all its worth.  Most of the time I am nonplussed–so he thinks. Most of the time I can shake it off in his presence, there are times when it hurts in a place I will never articulate to him.  Sitting here, watching him at supper I want to reach out and hold him.  I want to rescue him, snatch him up and run away from this and protect him.  I can’t.  It rips me apart in so many ways…I just want to fix it somehow.  I can’t.  I just want to talk to my son…just want…just.

Anyway, I have more to say, but I need to regroup so my little ones here do not see the tower of strength, named, mom–burst into tears.

If you are reading, thank you…I appreciate you letting me vent a minute or two.

Shalom,

cindy.

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