Parenting is not for the faint of heart

The following post is from my archives. As part of the SITS girls Back to Blogging challenge, sponsored by Standards of Excellence, Westar Kitchen and Bath, and Florida Builder Appliances,the task was to find a post you wished more people had read and repost it; explaining why you wanted it read.

So the post you will read below is the one I chose. Parenting is not for the faint of heart. These words are as real today as when I posted them. My children have taught me much about unconditional love. They have taught me patience, grace, and dignity. They are wonderful, yet they are horrible sometimes too. This post was written to expose the “dirty underbelly” of parenting Special Needs children. Often parents see a kid acting out, being rude, or throwing a fit and they assume that the parent is to blame – either for  nondiscipline, not caring, or something…  What those people don’t see is what the parents actually have to deal with daily… Parenting is hard. Parenting Special Needs kids is hard. It’s a challenge daily. We are constantly on the go to doctors, therapists, and hospitals. We are always seeking new ways to help our children. We are not ignoring our children at the store, we never know what will set off a meltdown. So… without further ado – take a peek at a bad day in my life.

Parenting certainly isn’t for the weak. If you can’t handle things like poop, blood, vomit, spit, or sweat then parenting is going to challenge you daily. Not only are you at the mercy of your child’s physical ailments, you also get to deal with teenagers, puberty, and the fact that your children would like you to believe that not only do they hate you – but they don’t need you anymore. Oh yeah, and don’t forget the “You are ruining my (insert random activity here)!!!!!” on a daily basis… that takes practice!

Yesterday, apparently both Our Girl and Our Guy decided that they needed to show their tails – royally.
It started with an early morning phone call from A- our girl’s boyfriend. He wanted to go swimming before he went to work and drop her off to spend the night with a friend.
Now, let me just explain that night before last, Our Girl was told that she wasn’t going anywhere Friday until her room was spotless. This is what I said… What she heard was more like “If you will just do something in your room – you can go and stay gone all weekend”. I explained that No, we had talked about this – and she could go – only if her room was done, no exceptions. (We’re hoping to show the house to several parties this week – it has to be clean).

Mind you, Dad stayed up too late Thursday night, so when this argument began at 11 am he was still sleeping. Not one to hog all the fun to myself, I popped by our room to ask dear old dad exactly what it was I had said the night before. He replied — umm… she’s not going anywhere until her room is spotless. Good choice dad! So I wasn’t totally crazy – I had told her that.

So now, Our Girl has turned “get your room cleaned” into “You are ruining my summer vacation” and she’s so not happy about it – so she’s running about slamming doors and screaming. I advised her to hush – and not wake her dad, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea. (Remember, I already talked to dad). Her statement – Well – I hope I do wake him up, so he can talk some sense into you before you ruin my summer. Apparently she’s forgotten that Dad generally sides with me, especially when I’m right.

Well, finally she managed to raise enough hell that he got up – funny thing, and ya’ll would be SO proud of me – I never raised my voice one time! Not once – OH how I wanted to – most especially when that whole “talking sense” thing started. But I bit my tongue and let her have all the rope she needed. Needless to say, her room did get clean – to the tune of her griping, yelling, and complaining. She was done three times before it was finished, but it is now “show ready”.  Finally around five last night she was “finished” and wanted to go to her friends house. She called, they talked, and guess what? Our Girl got the date’s mixed up – it was TONIGHT that she was going to spend the night.

For the rest of the night I harassed her about the “ruined summer break” and not even having plans and putting me through hell – good naturedly of course.

Of course – around our place, we opt for the “two-for-one” bargain a lot – and Our Guy had a meltdown yesterday too.

His was a little worse – because with his emotional issues, he is unable to appropriately express anger. Usually, his outbursts wind up with him being restrained. Now, before you wig on me – please note – we have three emotionally disabled children. We know the appropriate restraint methods to use with our kids and we always practice safe restraint. Sometimes its the only way to calm Our Guy down.

Last night was one of those nights – I had asked Our Guy to fold laundry, and 10 minutes into it he’s flipping out. He can’t do it because there is no room, no basket, blah blah blah… He had 90 reasons why he couldn’t fold clothes. The biggest reason(and the real thing) – our son hates to be told what to do. He has no use for authority, and has a horrible time submitting to it, at home or at school. We understand that this is not his fault, and that he is emotionally challenged. He is in therapy, and its working – but sometimes he gets a little out of hand.

Anyway, he got a little out of hand last night, lunged at me (not that he would have actually touched me -but he’s over 6ft tall, so it’s intimidating and he knows it) while yelling – which of course set Dad off. He asked him to apologize, and got nothing but a lot of angry yelling. It wound up with Our Guy being restrained and picking up a fork with his toes.

*** OK Break from the serious here***

Can I just repeat that last statement: Picking up a fork… with his toes… his toes ya’ll! Please ignore the fact that said fork was already on the floor. I could not believe this boy – I saw him pick up the fork and could not believe what was happening. I wanted to sit down and laugh so hard – because he picked up a fork with his toes!!!

*** Back to the serious***

So when the fork comes into play, I could only think one thing – OH MY GOD – that’s hilarious, he’s picking up a fork with his toes…  OK – wait two things – the second being CRAP, he’s got a fork inbetween his toes – and he’s reaching for it.

Of course, we were able to quickly disarm him, and finally calmed him down enough to talk. He realizes that he was wrong, and he wasn’t even thinking about what he would do with the fork once he got it, I’m just glad that I didn’t have to find out. I’m thankful to our crisis team, who has taken so much of their time helping us prepare for things like this.

With Our Guy this is a rarity. He does defy us occasionally – but this is the first time it’s been on such a grand scale. It is not at all a coincidence that he’s just moving toward the super worst  part of puberty.

Both Our Girl and Our Guy are growing into young adults. Along with that – they both have some heavy baggage to carry with them on their journey. Our Girl is bi-polar. She’s learned to control her emotions for the most part, and the doctors are pleased with her progress without medication. We use positive behavior supports and modification to move her toward a life as an adult without meds.

Our Guy – well, he’s got what’s known as ODD – Oppositional Defiant Disorder, he’s also depressed. Not enough that they want to medicate, but enough that they’re watching him for signs of adult-onset bi-polar disorder. Given that all of his siblings are bi-polar to one degree or another – it is a consideration. We know why he’s angry, so do his therapists and doctors – we just have to help him learn how to be angry and still behave appropriately. How to accept direction, without losing his mind over being directed.

I have to say, that when raising my three children I was not faced with these issues. Two of my kids were supposedly ADHD – but they were never medicated. I was medicated for seven years as a child, from seven to fourteen. I don’t think it helped – and for all intents and purposes, I believe I still have it. I learned to manage it – and I taught my kids to manage it.

The boys, Our guy and Little man, they never learned how to manage their emotions. They lived through some of the most harrowing experiences I’ve ever heard of. They have been abused in any way they could be. Our Guy is angry. Little Man, well – that’s a story for another day. And Our Girl, who by the grace of God himself, was not raised by their mother, she just doesn’t know.

Each day is a new adventure, as with any home with children. Our adventures, however, should often come with hazard pay. I cannot say that loving children with emotional disabilities is the easies thing I’ve ever done, because it is not. These kids grow on you, and loving them comes with a price to pay. The rewards, the rewards are innumerable. Loving them may not be the easiest thing I’ve ever done; it is certainly the best thing I’ve ever done.

These children have taught me the true meaning of unconditional love.


7 thoughts on “Parenting is not for the faint of heart

  1. Hi Elizabeth,

    My kiddos both have issues as well. DS has ADHD, they thought he had ODD when younger. DD has Asperger’s. Both have issues with anger management. It is challenging, no? Well worth it though for those “aha” moments.

  2. Pingback: Mental Disorders 101

  3. It is hard, isn’t it? Hard, but a blessing none the less. I am thankful every single day for the trials and the joys. Being a mommy is my most favorite thing in the world. Granted my baby hasn’t hit the teenage years yet and I am sure they will be full of challenges! Praying for grace to handle those.

  4. You are so right. Special needs children have different needs, and they should be recognized as such. Unfortunately there will always be judgmental people in this world. You are doing your part to help educate by sharing your experience. Thank you!

    Stopping by from SITS to say hello! Happy Tuesday!

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