Monday, August 10, 2009

Struggle

I really don't even know where to begin with this. How do you say that you think there is something really wrong with your child? Oh, maybe just like that.

Seth has always been my challenge. His labor was not too terribly difficult, it was the pushing that caused both of us great pain. He fought me every push and consequently tore me quite badly. He came into this world fighting, I don't know why it surprises me so much that he fights me as much as he does.

I guess I had these expectations, these thoughts as to how it would be to have children. When I was 13 I became and Aunt. I had 11 nieces and nephews when I got married. I could change diapers in my sleep and was the prize babysitter in my neighborhood. I was good with kids and comfortable with them. I was the cool Aunt, I was Aunt Kimmy. The one that did sleep overs at her college apartment, the one who would tease the boys about girls and tell the girls to stay away from boys, the one who would rent movies and eat popcorn and just have a good time with the kids. That was me.

So, when Emma was born I was ready. I knew what to do. Except that I didn't. I knew what to do when someone else set up the rules, when someone else was in charge of discipline, when someone else had done all the hard stuff. I was good at the fun stuff. So, when I was suddenly (or not so suddenly..I did have 37 weeks 3 days to prepare after all!) thrust into this thing called Motherhood I felt like a fish out of water. I felt like I had no clue what I was doing, but that it felt so natural too -- such juxtaposition was alarming to me.

I loved being Emma's Mom. She was easy. She only cried when she was hungry, tired or poopy. Easy. Until it wasn't and she was gone and I was broken.

A little over a month later, in the fall of 2003, I found out I was pregnant. I just knew that Emma had gone up to Heaven and told her siblings that someone better get down to Mom NOW or she'll be up here with us. That was all Seth needed and away he came.

His pregnancy was nice, healing, scary, beautiful. I really started to embrace my pregnant body in a way I hadn't with Emma. I talked to him, I cried, no I sobbed; body shaking all encompassing sobs, I learned to love this little person who was growing inside me that wasn't Emma. I learned to love another baby.

So, when he fought me so fiercely during birth, I was shocked. Looking back I think that maybe I should have just let my body push him out, but I didn't know what to do, I'd never done this before since Emma was born via C-Section. The urges to push were so strong that they just overcame me.

He was born, he cried, he was perfect. He nursed like a dream and was such a sweet baby...for the first 4 weeks. Then the colic kicked in. We had to have white noise on almost all the time. Jeremy called him Screech for the sounds he made. He was miserable and so was I. He didn't sleep, he would arch his back when I tried to nurse him, he was just an unhappy baby. This lasted for 5 months. Then he changed and became this sweet little guy. He still needed white noise to sleep (but so do I!) and when he got super cranky. Other than that though, he was so mild mannered and sweet.

When he went to the nursery at church he was 18 months old. He went right in without a fight. His two best friends were there and he loved it. The older kids would sometimes take toys from him, but he didn't care. He was so laid back and my sweet, tender, caring boy.

In the last 2 years I have noticed a change in him though. When we moved to Logan he was almost 3. I didn't expect for nursery to be a problem for him. I took him in and anticipated staying with him the first couple of times. Three months later, Jeremy or I were still in his class with him. He would just melt down at the mere thought of us leaving. I was perplexed. Any kind of change that was happening now had to be talked about for days beforehand. We had to make sure he knew what we were doing and when so he didn't throw a fit.

This happened again when we moved into our new house. I just expect now that I will have to devote a lot of my time to helping him deal with the change. I can handle that. That is not a big deal. Spending a week in his Kindergarten classroom making sure he is comfortable with his new surroundings...no worries, I am prepared for that.

What I can't handle is the anger, aggression and downright rudeness that has started with him. I try to remember when this started and I can't. It just came about so gradually that I feel like I've just woken up and there is this person I don't know living here. This little man who gets so angry and so defensive, yet can be so loving and kind. This person who growls and scowls at people he doesn't know. This child who will be playing with kids on the playground one second and the next comes over to me to hide in my shadow. The child who is so bossy that other kids don't want to play with him. The one who when asked to help around the house tells me, "WHY?!?! I'm a KID! I'm supposed to play, not WORK". The child who is so obstinate, stubborn and sometimes just mean to me that he brings me to tears.

Deep down I fear that he is like me. I fear that he too will deal with the depression I've fought for so long. I fear that he is already starting to have to fight that battle, the one I despise, the one that takes his Mother from him when he least expects it.

I don't know what to do with him. I don't know how to help him. I feel that I am walking on egg shells, I never know what will set him off. I don't know what I will do or say (or what his sister will do or say) that will bring out the child that no one wants to be around.

So yeah, I am struggling.

And as I struggle to help him become the person I know he can be, to be a person of great character; I realize how very lucky I am.

I realize that I am so lucky to have him here to struggle with. I realize that so many parents would give anything to have a child, their child to worry about, cry over and kneel in prayer daily for. As I struggle with Seth, I am constantly reminded of the reason he is here. He came here to save me. He saved my life. His spirit is so noble and good and I realize that he needed me to be his Mom as much as I needed him to be my son.

I am meeting with a friend today. He is a Child Therapist and specializes in working with kids ages 2-12. We are going to the park, the kids will play and he and I will chat. I pray that he will give me some good ideas, some insight and will help me find my sweet boy again.

16 comments:

Manic Mother said...

Sounds to me like you just have a stubborn little boy on your hands. Rowan is exactly the same, he thinks he calls the shots. He will yell at me "stop talking to me, stop looking at me!" I walk away completley frustrated. Its like he is 4 going on 14. I don't like the person he can induce from me, boy can he make me mad. Kids are a lot smarter then you think, sounds to me like he is just trying to control the situation. I wish I had words of wisdom, as to how to handle it...right now I am trying the taking some toys away until he can prove himself worthy of playing with them...I 'll let you know if it works, and let me know if you find a solution! I am so in the same boat.

Kalli Ko said...

Ah motherhood, 'tis nothing like and yet so much more than I thought it would be...

Good luck with your sweet Seth.

musicangel7 said...

Emma is 5 going on 16 as well, I think you have the right approach on talking to a child therapist. We are so close to our children that we are unable to see some of the solutions that might work. I miss talking to you at knit night, I stole so many parenting ideas from you. My children must be similar because they have worked. Hang in there.

Lolli said...

I can relate to so many of your frustrations and feelings. My oldest daughter, Kimberly, had some issues with temper, fits, lying....and I once had a lady I visit taught tell me she thought I needed to have her seen by a professional. That was devastating that an outsider would think that about my daughter. She has continued to be a very strong personality, but she has mellowed out over the years. Maybe she just learned to control the strong emotions that she naturally feels all the time.

All I can say is good luck. The one thing that I got out of my experience with Kim was, no matter what, give her love. Make her know without a doubt that she is loved, because that's what will hold her together in the end.

angie said...

Sending you a big hug. It sounds like you are doing absolutely the right thing.......I think it's hard for parents (speaking from experience) to NOT pass everything off as a phase and not really look into what could be a problem. If it even is a problem. Hope it goes really well and that you find the peace and patience to work through this.....:)

Tina E. said...

I could have written this when my son was 5. God I remember those feelings. This has been one of the nicest summers out there with Mike and I getting along and the walking on egg shells hasn't been so bad. I expect the next few weeks to be hard because he's changing into Middle school and is stressed out but it's been pretty good. I'm glad you are seeking help. I was always so busy helping Mike's older sister that I had such little energy for him when he went through these phases of wanting (or at least saying) he was going to kill himself when he was 5 and 7 etc, and having such intense emotions. I don't know what I did or how we got through it, I just accepted those things of him that were him, and disaplined those things in him that weren't. It was hard finding where the line was, of course, but we did find it. It was for his own good though that we did push through and find that line, otherwise he would have been lost on the other side of bad behavior reinforced by his strong emotions. Now he is just mostly strong emotions that sometimes come out as bad behavior. Does that make sense? Some of the things you mention sound like some of the things I've been studying about lately with my readings on Marissa and why she is how she is...I would be interested in knowing what your friend says and what other tests they might do for him.

Tina E. said...

We always joked that Mike from about age 2 up was a 15 year old teenage girl trapped in a little boys body, because of his mood swings and back talking. They say boys are harder to take care of when they are little and easier when they hit puberty. I'm starting to really believe that is true. Mostly because all those emotional stuff that girls go through in puberty, boys go through when they are 2 to 8, and learning they aren't the center of the universe and having to deal with all these emotions they have.

Tina E. said...

Some more thoughts, not sure how to verbalize this one as well though. So it might come out as totally wrong.

Seth isn't your first born, that special honor goes to Emma, but the difficulty is that Seth is your first born in many ways. (or at least oldest)

I've never really thought about the importance of birth order, but I know that it does matter. Babies of the families, middle born and first born all have issues and places in family life.

He knows about Emma, you have taught him about her, and he has a relationship with her, but he is living the life of a first born because you are doing things now, that you never had the chance to.

So he's like this faux first born, with you learning how to parent him through these stages, and him learning how to be parent, with out having the chance to see you do it with his older sibling.

I'm not explaining it hmm... Perhaps there is a part of him that feels a little 'less' than he should becuase he has all the responsiblities of a firstborn, and all the learning etc, but he really knows that he can never be your first born. He can't live up to that.

Emma might have turn into this perfect first born child that he can never hope to be equal to, but he will feel the responsibilities of trying to fill her shoes as 'first' born or 'oldest' in the household.

If he has at all sensed that the reason you 'had' him was only to 'heal' from losing Emma, maybe he feels like once you are done 'healing' you might not need him anymore? And so he chooses to act out and hurt you, so you'll need constant healing... It's amazing what children can sense and how they process that into their own hearts and minds.

I know you remind him about her and that is as it should be, but remind him that he just isn't a Big brother, but that he's a little brother too (and I'm sure you do) and that it's okay not to be a big kid all the time. You dno't expect him to run the house, be the little adult, watch over his siblings, etc. But you do expect him to be a little kid and little kids have responsiblities like cleaning up their items and loving and respecting their parents in thoughts, actions and words.

I hope you understood that post in the spirit it was sent. I'm trying to understand myself and I clearly understand I'm an outsider looking in and have only my own struggles with my own children to base my thoughts on.

Deb said...

if he gives you any good advice, PLEASE share it with us all!!!

parenting is such an ongoing struggle... but i do remember how particularly hard it was when my guys were small. even dealing with some of the big "teen issues" seem easier because at least the communication is there (to an extent).

maybe he will struggle with depression... but you will be there with him every step of the way and will make sure he gets the help he needs. or maybe this is all a crazy phase that will pass, or be tempered, with age or maturity.

i wish i could solve it all for you, because it seems so unfair to have to have these feelings about your own kids!! why can't we just love them and they be perfect angels???

hang in there... and you are right, you were both meant for each other, even on days you want to send him to military school.

fireworks.sparkle.rainbow said...

Oh Mama, I don't really know you, but I've been reading your blog for awhile now. I found it through AbeSaves, dear friends of mine. I just want you to know that I think you're doing a fabulous job juggling Mom/Wife/Grief/Happiness...etc etc.

He's a boy. And in my case with my nephews, they've done the same thing. It'll hopefully pass.

Sending Good Vibes Your Way,
Maggy

Heather of the EO said...

Hi friend.

Miles is doing this too. I hate it. He really is my sweet boy, but he's SO not acting like my sweet boy. It's been going on for awhile.

My dear friend recommends these books that have simple titles like "Your four year old" and "your five year old" They make you feel like it's OK because they outline what's "normal" and so much of it IS truly developmental. Of course, some kids are more extreme, but I really believe it might be completely normal.

Just sayin'. Peace to you, lady.

Heidi Farmer said...

This was a VERY touching and well-written post. Thanks for the honesty, and I can relate some days with my four-year-old. I, like previous commenters, ask that you share what wisdom this man gives you. We could all benefit!

april said...

{{{{{HUGS}}}}}

AbeSaves said...

I love that you look to the positive things while you are in the midst of struggle and pain. It will help you through this. I am sure that part of his anger issues are from the fact that he has a sister that's not here, one that he never knew in this life. That would make me angry too! Best wishes to you and your dear family.

Lara said...

I too struggle with depression and I too have a little boy that is already exhibiting signs of having the same disease. I'm on medication, he sees a therapist but no meds yet. I have a lot of guilt and sadness that he, at the tender age of 8, is already struggling so much emotionally. So I have no words of advice but just support and to say, yeah, I'm in a similar situation. I hope your friend had some encouraging words for you.

UPrinting said...

I may not know you personally but I've been reading your blog for quite some time. I'm sad that you're going through these concerns right now. But I know deep inside you are a strong woman, like every mother in their own ways are. Your love for your dear dear Seth will help you go through what you are undergoing now. You said it yourself, he needs you to be his mom as much as you need him to be your son. There will be challenges for sure, and there will be times when you'd just want to give up at each other. Hold on, be strong for each other, for together you'll be able to go through anything that life will have to offer *hugs*