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

Thursday, September 29, 2011

love isn't enough except when it is

"Mom, it's 7:00.  We need to get up."  WG was standing beside my bed, waking me up. Which, given that moms are usually waking up the kids on school mornings, is hysterical.  Despite my efforts to move my cell phone to the dresser so that when the alarm goes off I'm forced to get out of bed, I still manage to smack it in a half-asleep state and roll back under the covers.  WG knows I do this.  She wakes up when she hears it go off at 6:50, then waits until 7 to get me.

Then there are the days when I'm awake and ready to go and I get to wake her.  She sleeps all over her twin size bed in some of the strangest positions.  More like contortions.  Monday morning I went in and she was wrapped up like a sarcophagus.  Only her head was sticking out.  I stifled a laugh and stood over her bed.  Just stood there and waited.  Thinking should I snap a photo and post it on the blog?  Cause this is priceless. But just as I was about to turn and grab the camera, her eyes blinked open and she smiled.  Yeah, that was definitely better than posting the photo on here.

AB is still generally a brute in the morning.  I wake him up by asking him what he wants for breakfast.  It has proven to be the best approach - appeal to the man's stomach.  Most times he grunts at me and it takes at least until 7:20 for him to roll out of bed, usually after I've threatened to squirt him with the water bottle.

On the days he wakes me up it goes like this:
*bump bump bump* to the side of the bed with his knees.
"mom. mom. mom." in tandem with the bumping.  Then as soon as my eyes open he rushes out, "whatarewedoingit'sseven?!MOM!"

He's funny that way.  Routines are gospel.  Forget the Bible or the Book of Mormon.  Routines.  That's the golden rule.  AB is prepared to stand on that word.  Mess up routine and he gets wickety wackety loo loo.  Like today, I opted to get dressed before making their lunches.  This is not my usual routine.  He followed me to my bedroom, me quickly putting on a shirt so he doesn't see me half-dressed.  "Mompleasemakemylunchbeforewegotoschool."

I snickered. "Oh, OK son.  Don't worry, I didn't forget."

"But you are getting dressed."


"I didn't want you to forget."

I snickered again.  "I haven't forgotten."

"OK. Just make it." and he walked out of the room like a robot. Did I mention that this entire exchange occurred without him making eye contact? He talked to the curtained window, his arms stiffly at his side. I love my son.

I had that same thought yesterday when we were at the dentist. After a rousing fiasco more than a year ago in which I got punched and kicked, the staff has been oh so obliging to always accommodate AB with the one single patient room they have. It's like getting VIP service. The dentist came in and remarked to the dental student that was frustrated that she couldn't fit AB's mouth with the right size brackets, "he's come a long way!" And we both laughed remembering the assault and battery I endured. The dental student just stood there wide-eyed all while AB laid in the chair, not moving, not flinching, just staring at the TV that was playing The Incredibles. In that moment, I looked at my son the same way I looked at WG on Monday morning - with warmness and love. Sometimes it hits me how lucky I am.

I even had a moment like that with Sissy last Saturday, despite the commotion she created. One of the techniques the staff wants us to try is to rub her back when she's agitated. No words, just rubbing. So after she was done screaming and shouting all kinds of insane crap, I went in, sat on her bed and just rubbed. She wanted to talk and chat and be all fast, fast, fast and I said, "No talk. Rubbing only." She laid down on her tummy, her left arm dangling off the side of the bed, the big box fan on high. I turned it to blow straight on her face, gently whisking her hair off her cheek. She closed her eyes and let her body go limp. We sat like that for ten minutes, saying nothing while I rubbed. And I was struck with that same warm glow of love. With her hair away from her face and only her profile visible to me, I caught a brief glimpse of the baby girl she used to be and my heart melted. How? How do we get back to that? I wondered. How did we come so far away from that love? With sorrow I remembered that actually, there never was a time in which Sissy was just a pleasant, happy baby. It was only when she slept, and presuming she didn't have night terrors, that I caught glimpses of peace on her face and in her body. Such a beautiful girl, such a troubled soul. so very little I can do beyond loving her.

Sometimes love just isn't enough and for a mom, that hurts to accept. No matter how hard I try, I will never succeed in conquering the evils of this world with just my love so my children are not hurt or so they won't struggle. That's an unrealistic expectation anyway.

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