On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Saturday, March 26, 2011

love is ...

I have stewed on this. Wilted cabbage simmering in a pot with peeled tomatoes. That kind of stewing. Smells a little funky, tastes a little odd, nourishes somewhat, gives you the trots in 2 hours flat. That kind of stewing.

In my head it has rumbled and bumbled, rattled and battled, shimmy-shaked and baked.

Just what IS love anyway?

Tevye and Golde have some thoughts:

The Bible has some words:
1 Corinthians 13: 4-8a (NIV) 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails.

Karyn Purvis weighs in on a sister of love:
"Compassion doesn't have a shelf life. Our kids from the hard places always need it."

Music, TV, Movies and books have LOTS of ideas about love. I think they'd all be wrong with the exception of country music because we all know country music is ALWAYS on the money about love:

but maybe you prefer the Beatles' version of love:

Then there's the OTHER side of love.  The unconditional side.  The until-death-we-do-part, in-sickness, for-worse part about love.  Some christian theologians refer to Agape love. There's the love languages. (mine is "acts of service" btw)  And of course, there's tough love 

Regarding Sissy and perhaps other RAD kids (but I won't generalize because I have NO clue how it goes for other people in their love journey when parenting challenged kids), finding how to love in this capacity isn't written or sung or expressed anywhere. No, to love a child that refuses to be loved, you have to write your own book on the matter.

Do I love her?
I weep when I think of what would have become of her if we'd chosen not to adopt her.

I know what she likes, sometimes better than she does.

I can tell by the way she breathes if she's not feeling well.

I know the moment I see her if she's happy.

I gave her favorite store my email address so they could send me spam about their sales.

I have picked up her room for her, without even mentioning to her that I've done so, just because I want it to be a quiet, comfortable place for her.

I have spent the equivalent of four straight months, 24/7, in therapy sessions with her.

I never let her run out of her meds.

I get angry when the school doesn't seem to understand that YES, she IS indeed learning challenged, even if it is only an emotional impediment to her learning ability. It's still a challenge for her.

I've read the books she likes to read, just so I know what she's reading and can have something to talk about with her.

I've read stacks of books about parenting so I can help her.

I've spent hundreds of sleepless nights worrying about her.

I've spent hundreds of nights dreaming about trying to help her.

I've spent hundreds of nights waking up from nightmares about her.

I've spent hundreds of nights crying myself to sleep because I haven't known how to help her.

I've spent hundreds of nights crying myself to sleep because I have felt like I've failed her.

I've spent hundreds of days crying and talking and trying to convince her how much I love her.

I've crocheted sweaters for her, mended torn stuffed doggie ears for her, hand-stitched worn blankets for her, replaced lost items, glued broken toys, spent hours searching for the "perfect" gifts, baked beautiful cakes, made her favorite foods, stocked the fridge with her favorite snacks, held compresses on her neck while she's vomited, washed out favorite blankets at 3 am that were covered in vomit because she couldn't sleep without them, driven back to school with lunch boxes and book bags because she'd forgotten them, brushed her hair, combed her hair, braided her hair, washed her hair, cut her hair ...

I've gotten her emergency medical attention when she was suicidal and stood my ground with hound-dogging professionals to make sure she'd gotten a bed on the psych floor. I've gone to the ER when she was suicidal and been irate when we were turned away.

I can list the meds she takes without thinking, even though it changes almost monthly.

I hold her hand when she gets her lab work done to make sure her liver enzymes are within normal range despite all the meds she takes. I gently reassure her that the weight she's gained with the meds is worth it because the meds help her mind be quiet.

I've made her wash two more times when she stank so bad you could smell her from four feet away and she raged and faked us out and pretended and still stank. I made her wash even though she raged. Occasionally I put on a swimsuit and got in with her.

She has wanted for nothing. I have provided her with everything she needs and many things she has wanted.

There isn't a stone I've not turned over trying to get her the help she needs.

After all she's done to herself and to her family, I still love her. I still have compassion for her. I still grieve for her. I'll still fight for her. I'll still want her home. And actually, after all this pondering, it has surprised me that I've come to this conclusion. I thought I had nothing left for her. I was wrong.

I'm also not wrong when I realize I just can't do this anymore if it's going to continue on the same course for destruction.

And that is love too.

It's no easy thing to admit as a parent that sometimes love is being able to say,

"no more."

And in saying so, will I lose my dignity? Will someone care? Will I wake tomorrow from this nightmare?
props to my oldest sis who gave me this link eons ago and as it turns out, likes the country life too


Susan said...

Powerfully poignant, W.O.W.

Kelley said...

There is no greater love than that. You are amazing and love in a way I continually try to achieve. And, I love you. No matter what. Just so you know :)

Jamey... said...

You are amazing. I'm "acts of service" too.

Sincerely Mama said...

Been there, for sure. Hang on. You won't lose your dignity; that's impossible. Someone will care. And no, you won't wake up and find that it's been a nightmare. You'll survive, and you'll find joy again.

Kerrie said...

Thanks for this. It helped reassure me about myself.

GB's Mom said...

That is love. You are love. {{{Hugs}}}

Trauma Mama said...

What a great post!
I parent my children with the love you describe and have had extended family question my love and it hurts. Could it be possible we love our kids more than the Average Joe? Maybe we will never know...

J. said...

hang in there, take care of you and of your kiddos and keep on loving. Miss you

Tara - SanitySrchr said...

She is loved. You have advocated. You have given your everything. You have loved...you are loved - even if it doesn't feel like it. SOUL sisters love you. Others love you.