Tag Archives: Parenting

Quitter (or “Understanding Your Limits”)

I could come up with a dozen different titles for this blog entry.  I wonder if any of my old blogger friends will see this – I’ve poked my head in on this site a few times in the past year, but I haven’t been diligent about reading like I should…and I’ve clearly stopped writing for over a year.

As usual, I’m not sure where to begin. (I seem to start all my blog entries off that way.)

I mentioned my health issues from last year in my last journal entry – swallowing issues, colon cancer, etc.  I took all of that as a sign that my body was telling me I needed to make changes.  I was under a lot of stress. I think the swallowing issues are closely related to my stress levels.

I was not being a good mother to any of our children. I don’t feel I was being a good wife, either. I was finding any way to escape that I could.

So much I want to say here, but when I’ve looked online for women in similar situations, all I’ve found are throngs of posters discussing what horrible people they are for not only having negative feelings towards their special needs kiddo, but – God forbid – discussing those feelings publicly.

Maybe I just wasn’t meant to have three children, period. Forget the “step” and the “special needs” labeling – three children can be a handful. Many of you know this.  I don’t know how some women do it alone. (I’m looking at you, Rose!!)

Late last year, I started asking myself the hardest questions of all:  Can I do this forever? Can I continue living my life the way I have been? Can I get past the anger, frustration, anxiety and stress I feel as a mother of a child with special needs?

One morning – following an especially trying evening where Colin had peed on the floor in his room for no apparent reason – I lost my cool.  I was exhausted. I was tired of being disrespected. I was still angry from the day before.  A million excuses come to mind, but none of them is legitimate – none of them excusable.  I grabbed Colin by the back of the neck, got in his face and yelled. I made him cry. The bus had just shown up and – without apologizing or trying to calm him or myself – I sent him on his way and slammed the door behind him, then burst into tears myself – right in front of the other two boys.

By that point, I realized I was just angry all the time.  Just seemed like every day, something was setting me off.

Later that day, I got a call from CPS. When Colin got on the bus crying, they asked him what was wrong.  He told them I choked him. (Not what happened, for the record – but I understand that “grabbed the back of my neck” isn’t a phrase that would spring to mind for him.)

We went through the CPS process – we were interviewed, Colin was interviewed, the other boys were spoken to and photographed. In the end, they agreed that this wasn’t an issue of a child in danger – this was a mom who had a bad day and knew she’d made a mistake.

Though, at that point, I was already considering leaving. I’d done some soul searching and wasn’t sure I could handle staying – this CPS incident scared me even more.  What if one day I lost my cool with Colin and it cost me Ryan and Robbie as well?  What if one day he pushed me so far that I did something I wouldn’t be able to take back?

But these are things we can’t discuss.  These are thoughts you can’t even talk about with your psychologist.

My stomach is in knots sharing this, but I feel it needs to be said.  How can someone get help if they’re not even allowed to discuss it?

I remember the first time I made Robbie cry.  He was maybe a year old, sitting in my lap… he reached for something dangerous – hot coffee maybe? – and I raised my voice at him for the first time.  It shocked him and he started crying. I felt like a monster making this poor baby cry! I held him and apologized.

Aside from the occasional hand pop as a toddler to keep him from touching something he shouldn’t, I never hit my child. Never hurt him intentionally.

When I moved in with Rick, I didn’t know how to handle older kids.  I went from mom of a 4 year old to mom of a 4, 5 and 6 year old.  I went from someone who had only a very loose understanding of autism and ADHD to someone who’s world seemed to revolve around these diagnoses.

A friend said to me recently, “I don’t think you really understood what you were getting yourself into.”  I think he’s right. I thought I could swoop in with my patience and research abilities and find a way to “fix” things.  I tried so many things, and while I believe I did a lot of good…there are some things that aren’t “fixable” – they need to be accepted. Maybe acceptance is where I’m struggling.

I’m not trying to blame everything on Colin. Or Autism. Or ADHD. Trying really hard not to blame myself – I was doing that for months. Still do.

At the end of the day, you have to understand your limits. I don’t know what the answers are, but I decided that leaving was what had to happen.  Rick and I have separated.  I signed a year lease at an apartment complex not too far away – I didn’t want to move Robbie around during the school year, no matter which way we decided to go in the end. Ryan comes and stays with us every other weekend, which I love – I’m so thankful that Rick agreed to that.

I’m not sure what the future holds. I’m not sure that we’ll ever be able to go back to the way we were.  But I know that my son needs his mom to be happy and healthy. (I could/should write about how the whole situation was affecting him as well.) He needs the mom he remembers that loves snuggling and singing and playing games with him. Not the mom who is always angry or tired or stressed out.

I still worry about the selfishness of this decision. Rick thanked me at one point for acknowledging that I felt the way I do and for speaking up and leaving vs. bottling it up and/or becoming abusive.  Leaving is never easy – doesn’t matter what the situation is.  I’ve had people tell me I’m brave, but I feel like a quitter.

A complete 180

I know I haven’t been around much – I’ve had plenty to say but just haven’t found the time to put it all out there. 

Today, I’m frustrated.  Really, I’ve been frustrated for a couple of weeks now.  Colin’s been out of control and I just don’t know what to do – again.

We haven’t changed meds, we haven’t changed routine.  Everything is pretty much the same at the Crazy Antelope House.  Only Colin’s suddenly acting out at every. single. opportunity.

The moment an adult back is turned, he’s up to no good. In the last two weeks he has:

  • bitten Rodeo on the penis
  • spit on his brothers’ food
  • stolen Halloween candy from the kitchen
  • stuck a pair of tweezers in an outlet and blown a fuse (thank god nothing worse happened)
  • stolen a STEAK KNIFE from the kitchen and hid it under his nightstand (which we had turned around to face the wall because he kept hiding things in the drawer)
  • stolen a handful of straight pins from my sewing table and placed them in random places around his room
  • ran AWAY from Rick as he was picking them up from school (he was chasing a friend)

And the latest… today he ran away from school. (more on that in a minute)

We’ve gotten to the point where he has to be in our line of sight during every waking moment.  He’s not allowed to play in his brothers’ room at all and now he’s not even allowed to go to his room, either, unless its bedtime.  So now, it’s almost as if he’s sitting in wait… all I have to do is turn around to pack up leftovers and he’s biting the dog or messing with his brothers, pocketing something that isn’t his, etc.  It’s exhausting.

Today, about 20 minutes before school let out, I got a call.  Colin had run from the school.  I found out later that he was in his special ed class and just out of control.  The Special Ed teacher called the school counselor and asked her to come help.  Shortly after, Colin was spinning and dancing and refused to settle down…then bolted out the door.

He ran out of the school, across the basketball court…and into the woods behind the school.  He refused to come out.  Five different staff members tried to reason with him, but he wouldn’t give in.  Finally, they agreed to let Rick come get him if he’d just come back to the school.

(Rick’s phone went to voicemail so they called me next.  Rick and I then proceeded to try to call each other at the same time!)

Colin’s been suspended for a day.  Rick tried to reason with the staff members, explaining that keeping him home is just reinforcing the bad behavior.  Oh!  If I act like THIS then I get what I want – which is staying home!

Last week, he spent a good 2-3 days pretending he was sick and had lost his voice because he wanted to stay home.  I left work early on Monday to get him and take him to the doctor only to find there was absolutely nothing wrong.  No redness, no drainage, no fever, no strep.  Thursday he went to the nurse again and they called me. I told her if he wasn’t sick (he wasn’t) then he needed to go back to class.

He went back to the classroom and told his teacher that the nurse had told him to get his backpack and walk home – that I’d said it was okay!  Thankfully everyone at the school knows Colin well enough to double-check a story like that.

I don’t know what’s going on.  He does NOT want to be at school, which is obvious.  I don’t know if he’s starting to realize he’s different or what.  That seems to be the case at home – his brothers are definitely noticing more and more.  They have friends; Colin doesn’t really have friends. They’re allowed to go to play at someone’s house for an afternoon; Colin doesn’t get invited. 

I don’t know what else it could be.  Aside from the craziness at school today, he’s been fairly calm when making these horrible choices.  Rick noticed that today – he isn’t manic and impulsive like he used to be during the worst offenses.  In fact, he’s pretty dang calm.

Just this morning, we started having him meet with the play therapist (Dr. H) Robbie & Ryan were going to.  Our plan was to let Colin go every 3rd time, then every other time… slowly phasing R&R out of the therapy sessions.  We explained to them that they are doing great and we are SO incredibly proud of them.  They understand that Colin needs more help.  We also told them the door is open for them to go see Dr. H if they ever feel the need.

Today was his first day of therapy.  I wish he could go back sooner without upsetting the other two, but I don’t see how.

The school also seems to FINALLY be willing to do a psych eval and possibly accept the ASD diagnosis that we’ve had for 2 years now.

I sense some bumpy patches ahead.