Friday night capped off a very emotional week. My grandfather was hospitalized again after having suffered two seizures, then returned to the hospital less than twenty four hours later after suffering another. My entire family has been pushed and pulled emotionally. We have prayed around the clock, had to ask questions we never thought we'd have to ask, and answer questions we didn't want to answer. It was intense, but that was only what most could see. That's what I shared on Instagram and what my mom shared on Facebook. It wasn't the entire story.
While we were on standby waiting for news on Grandpa, I was on the battle field again with my six year old. Here we are again, less than twenty four hours after our biggest fight to date. It was ugly. I screamed and yelled so loudly and with such force that I have a scratchy throat. She growled and screamed like an animal. I had to hold her door shut so that she would stay in her room, and she in turn almost kicked the door in. Then realizing I had another child in the house as witness, found a cowering and crying Mac in her room. I'm not even kidding, I wish I were.
The result was two very traumatized children and a shaking and emotional mother who sobbed on and off until one in the morning. It also resulted in me realizing that we did nothing to resolve our original argument that sent me over the edge of motherhood. We were originally fighting over a mini Christmas tree. A two foot, scraggly, would put Charles Brown to shame tree. Because little sister requested a tree and since there are two mini trees in the house, I took it upon myself, since I'm the mother and all, to let Mackenzie have last years "decor" tree in her room. This doesn't mean that my older child is left out of the tree extravaganza, she has a tree, one that I went great lengths to procure four years ago. What it meant was that Mommy makes changes that Caitlin doesn't agree with and that she wanted both trees herself.
There was no reasoning with this child. Which is no surprise because there has never been any reasoning with this child since she was born. This is the child that hated her crib, her swing, her pack and play, her car seat, and sleep or contentedness in general. This is the child who upon being weened from a bottle was told she could only drink milk out of a cup, and gave up milk all together. Some days she will request chocolate milk, but she cannot abide by milk. No way, no how. This is also the child that was "bagged" for a urine sample and held her pee for six hours, even after a 32 ounce Dr. Pepper. As soon as I removed the bag, she peed. Everywhere.
So last night, I sat on my couch and counted all the ways I have spoiled this dear child. All of the ways that I have failed her since day one. Because when you scream so loudly you are pretty sure you busted a tonsil, you feel so much guilt and remorse that there is no air. But crying over a mini Christmas tree, wasn't the only thing I was crying over. It was the culmination of mornings filled with tears and yelling. Mornings spent interrogating my six year old on the reasons she doesn't want to go to school, or to music class, or to dance class. Mornings spent waiting until the last bell so I can walk her on the playground to her teacher so that I can leave her, crying hysterically, with someone she trusts, instead of coldly leaving her in line on the playground alone. Ask me how I do this, ask me how it feels to walk away and hear the sobs of your daughter.
I can't breathe. There is no air in here.
The last few weeks of school have been a wreck. Our mornings begin with tears that increase with every minute that passes. We cry about clothes, hair styles, breakfast choices. And there aren't too many choices. I know about that situation. I know that too many choices make it impossible for kids to make a choice. This my friends is on an entirely different level. We are paralysed by our choices. We can never make a choice between two outfits, or two pairs of shoes. We can never make a choice on how we want to wear our hair of if we want a bagel in our lunch. I ask, and ask, and ask again, and I am always met with an "I don't know", or and "I can't choose". Which as you can imagine, sends me into a tailspin at seven fifty-five in the morning when we have to leave for school by eight ten.
We thought it started with music class. A class that she loved at the beginning of the year. A class that has never been a problem. Now she is sick every Thursday, the day they have music class. She doesn't want to sing in the Christmas program, claiming the Chinese New Year song is too sad. She has even had crying outbursts in music class that I didn't even know about until I asked.
I've asked about bullies, problems with friends, issues with teachers and teachers helpers. I've asked if she is scared. Is she nervous? Is she worried? All of my questions are met with an "I don't know". And so I'm afraid that we truly don't know. Except that we have found out through a series of conversations that she doesn't like the new lights we put in over the kitchen sink. She doesn't like where Daddy relocated our family picture, and she really doesn't like the idea of new hard wood floors. She told the Hubbs and I both that she doesn't want our house to change. She wants it to stay the same. Perhaps we are afraid of change. I know I am, and I'm 35, but is this really the heart of the issue?
Anytime we call Caitlin's behavior into question, I always feel like this is just a matter of brattyness. A matter of being spoiled rotten by everyone in her life. I always wonder if it's something I did. Something I'm doing. Surely losing my temper, flying off the handle, and letting go of any sanity I may have isn't helping. But at the core, every time I lose it big time, I'm afraid that my past is coming back to haunt me. My past of dark days spent checked out in front of the TV, going through the motions of motherhood just to get me the next day. All those days, could she remember those. Could she be this discontent because I was so discontent? Could that happen? Is it happening?
I sit here, at the keyboard that serves as the only form of therapy at my disposal on a Saturday afternoon, heartbroken and deflated. If I told you that I wake up every morning vowing not to yell or lose my temper would you believe me? If I told you that I DO NOT want to be the mother that yells and screams would you believe me? If I told you that I try, I try so incredibly hard to be better every day, to hold my tongue, and count to ten, and not go into a parenting tirade, would you believe me? Because some days I don't even believe myself.
This morning I vowed to seek help. Professionally. That isn't really hard to type. What's hard to type is that even after these six years, I'm still so flawed. I'm still a novice. I'm still left wondering how to care for this child. There are no longer night feedings and diapers, hours spent trying to get her to nap, days spent trying to be perfect. Those are not my biggest mothering challenges anymore, and yet, I really wish they were. Those are easy. Those were doable, even when I felt like I was failing at every single one of them. Today, my mothering challenges are emotional and behavioral. They call into question every bit of my parenting style, every single bit of what I knew to be "our way". My mothering challenges today, require no band aids or stitches, no chicken noodle soup or cough syrup. There is no single answer to my questions, and that is so very scary. That is what keeps me up at night, that is what keeps my eyes filled with tears about to tumble. I am at a loss as to what to do, but I know I can't have another night like last night. Last night I'm pretty sure I left my body for a minute. I'm not proud of that, in fact I'm embarrassed.
Last night I thought about every challenge I have faced with this child. Every mountain I had to climb. It has never been easy, not once in these six years has there been a day without challenge. But I feel as if something is changing. Unexplainable tears, uncontrollable outburst, growing defiance. Are we suffering because we are afraid of change or are we just bratty? Is this a situation of my own design, or are The Hubbs and I totally missing something? In the words of my daughter, "I don't know".
What I do know is that I can't breathe. There is no air in this place that I am in, no matter how many deep breathes I take. I need air.