Nausea. Mouth sweats and that hollow feeling in my stomach…am I going to heave or begin body convulsing sobs. Hours spent between sleeping and waking. Obsess.
That is the aftermath of extreme parenting shame and regret for me.
The first time…our oldest was two and a half—an astonishingly strong-willed child with a fierce temper and iron resolve. I slammed her down on a seat in a moment of intense frustration and anger. She cried out, “Momma! My back! Oh, my back!” And the feeling set in. The oh-my-God-I-hurt-her moment of realization set in. Nausea. Mouth sweats and that hollow feeling in my stomach…
Hubby and I sought out a counselor. We cried out for help. And we received it.
Strategies. Tools. Methods…to help us navigate this brutiful mess that is life as Mom and Dad…to help our child navigate the world and her emotions too.
This parenting gig…it’s tough.
I’ve done some hard things. I found my way back to functioning after being responsible for a car wreck that ended my grandmother’s life and nearly took my father’s. I persevered through a decade of chronic pain that ended in a months-long surgical recovery—walking with a tennis ball-accented walker and requiring assistance to shower and wipe my own ass. I have grown and birthed real-live humans. God willing (and helping), I. Can. Do. Hard. Things.
But raising children has proven to be the most difficult of all.
I’ve confessed to some friends and acquaintances our most recent struggle. That we, hubby and I, were failing to effectively deal with the growing-more-frequent emotional fits, rage, and physically violent outbursts from our four year old.
I admitted that while Hubby and I were both prepared for him to deal with complex emotions as a result of his adoption, complicated by the fact that he is a black child being raised by a white family in an overwhelmingly white community, neither of us believed we’d be making the call for help quite so early.
But, the truth is…we need help.
And what I’m struggling with is not the fact that we need help.
My struggle is with the fact, while many have been supportive, too many have indicated—consciously or unconsciously, there is somehow something wrong with seeking aid.
It’s in faces and subtle reactions. The too-long-delay in response, the lack-of-eye-contact-moments, the silence of what isn’t said; they imply judgement. They imply failure on our part and imperfection or fault on the part of our child.
In an effort to reach even one other parent who identifies with what I’ve written here, I am sharing this post. Because we need to be LOUD about this, friends. We need to SHARE about the reality that is parenting, that is raising children, that is LIFE.
This parenting gig…it is tough. And it is OKAY to ask for help. It is RIGHT to seek tools and aid, and give ourselves and our children every trick or shortcut, or perspective, that might make this life better, or easier, or simply MORE MANAGEABLE.
There should be NO hesitation—no second thought to seeking counseling, services, therapy, or any other machination that might HELP.
Good grief?!? What are we coming to if we cannot admit THIS IS HARD?
I fear more for our children and our future if we pretend we have all the answers than if we scream and shout…”I NEED HELP!”
My son is amazing. Period. He is highly tuned into the world around him, with a sense of wonder second to none, topped off with a kind of charm that could tame the coldest heart. And…sometimes…he is emotionally and physically volatile in the extreme.
AND…he deserves my best.
That means he deserves parents who are ready and willing to utilize every possible resource at their disposal to help him learn how to best navigate this world. Right now, that means Mom and Dad must ask for help—learn how to pass along strategies for managing BIG feelings in a little body, and provide professional help for dealing with complex thoughts and emotions in a young life.
I’ll make no apologies—not for seeking help. That is part of doing my best. And my kids deserve my best. I may at times feel frustration, dejection, exhaustion, and/or confusion. But I will not feel shame. Not in this.
I’m taking a stand in my own way, here in my tiny corner of the world. I’m shouting from the metaphorical roof tops and screaming into the realms of the inter webs.
Love comes in many forms. Seeking help when needed is certainly one. And there is no shame in love.
Cry out if you need to.