I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Kids Are Not All Right

My DS has been having a bit of trouble lately - full of emotion but with no real outlet for it, so we've had several of those phone calls from his school. Not the kind of phone calls one wants to get, and certainly not the sort one wants to get several days in a row.

This past week he had a pretty terrible, emotional week - which on Friday afternoon culminated in he and I sitting on the edge of my bed, holding onto one another for dear life while he cried his beautiful blue eyes out. Way back in July, DH and I sat the kids down and explained what happened with the whole job thing. We explained pretty well what was going to happen, what changes our household would need to go through, and what we expected the outcome to be. What we didn't do is reassure them that everything would be okay. I guess we got so caught up just in the facts and process of it all, "...so Dad will be doing more school drop offs and Mum will be taking on a second job..." that we sorta forgot to just hug them and tell them the lie all parents are required to tell - that everything will be okay, truly. We promise.

As my dear sweet boy sat there sniffling and crying, I had a parenting light bulb moment. "Boy," I said, "Boy - are you worried about the whole Daddy job thing?" To which his reply was to nod his head vigorously while it was buried in my chest, and cry even harder than he was before.

A-ha. Suddenly all the pieces made sense. THIS would be why his teachers tell me he has not been his usual communicative self since July. This would be why he is wandering around frustrated and impatient and angry. This is why my boy has gone from what his Nana calls 'sweetness and light' to bitterness and irritation. This is because I didn't take the time to just tell him IT'S GOING TO BE OKAY.

Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. I buggered this parenting thing up MAJORLY.

So we sat there, and I explained to him that we would be okay. That he would still live in his room, and have enough food to eat, and a school to go to, and people to love him, and Scouts to attend, and books to read...and that worrying was for the parents to do, not the kids. I straight out told him that *I* am a little worried too, but that I know we'll be okay and that HIS life will remain as okay as it ever was. I did say we had to get rid of a few small luxuries, but that on the whole we are a family, and we will pull together and we will be OKAY. I just held my boy and I promised him that we would take care of him and his sisters and that NOTHING would ever get in the way of that. I reassured him as much as I could that all will come good in the end. Truth be told, I have no idea if we're going to be okay...but my boy needed to hear it, and I forgot to say it all those months ago. So I said it, and I hugged him some more, and I listened to him cry and I prayed for my heart not to break for this little boy who is so full of worry and frustration.

Gradually he calmed down - and in the day and a half since, I would swear I am living with a different boy. This one is smiling. This one is walking just that little bit taller. This one did not pick up a book and hide in it for even one minute today. This boy laughed, and laughed, and laughed... at a funny website and a funny TV show and at his Mum tickling him on the couch. This boy did not complain endlessly, cry in frustration, get mad or let his sisters get the better of him. This boy did not lash out physically, and this boy ---this boy, THIS IS MY SON.

At the end of our conversation, I asked him if he had any questions for me - was there anything he wanted or needed to know about the situation? "Yes," he said, wiping his streaming eyes, "Will you always comfort me when I need it?" He was totally serious, and so this time I told him what I believe to be true - that today, and tomorrow, and every single day until my dying day (and even probably a little bit after that, too), I will comfort him when he needs it. He just doesn't quite realise how much comfort he gives me in return, but I suspect that's a lesson for another day.


ramona said...

Oh Michelle, this brought a tear to my eye. Sometimes we forget just the simplest thing but thank you SO MUCH for reminding us all. I'm so glad he's back to normal. (((hugs))) to you all!

Claire - Matching Pegs said...

I'm thinking of you Em, you are a wonderful Mother - the hard stuff in life is just really hard.

This reminds me of the time, a couple of years back, when my sister was having brain surgery on a just discovered brain tumor (size of a grapefruit). I admitted, when asked, that yes, she might die in the operation. It was a very real possibility, and I didn't want to lie - it was oh so hard to admit though.

Some people are horrified when you tell it like it is, but your kids need to know they can trust you to be honest. I think you have picked just the right line to share with DS.

Crossing my fingers that better times are just around the corner.

Nadine said...

I read this blog religiously (OK, I'm not all that religious but you know what I mean)...and I've never commented before. Mostly because I don't feel I have anything to add to what others have already said.

But today? Today? I just had to write and send hugs from halfway around the world. In fact, hugs from New Jersey.

From the words I read here and from what I read in between the lines those words are on, you are a fabulous parent and a fabulous mother and you and your DH really have your act together. Your family is in a position that so many other families are in today and your working your tushy off to make it better. Just another day in the life....

Do not beat yourself up for not seeing what you think you should have seen. Or for not saying what you think you should have said a few months ago. Kids have a way of hiding things from their parents and you could not know what he was internalizing. We feel that we should know what is inside our children because we are mothers, right? Well, it's not always anywhere near that easy. And you didn't mention that his sisters are having the same problem yet all three were at the same conversation when you and dh sat down with them. You had no way of knowing that what you said then was enough information for the girls but not for him.

You're handling things with him beautifully. Be thankful that you found the underlying issue. For some kids the issue may have remained hidden much longer with more major consequences.

And, you're a great mother!!!!!!

emzeegee & the hungry three said...

Thanks all - I am truly humbled. I suppose like everyone else I just muddle through this parenthood thing and hope I get it right...and then am grateful when I manage TO get it right most of the time. I guess a 100% hit rate is probably too much to ask for, right?

((massive virtual hugs to you all)) We're all in this together.


TAO said...

The tears are streaming and nose is running. He is a lucky boy to have a mom like you. I have guilt nearly every day about the things I don't do right as a mother. Parenting is such a hard job, and yet so wonderful!

Buncle Bordan or BIL said...

Dearest SIL,

You didn't make any mistakes. Our boy was there with you hugging and crying and loving which is just exactly what a boy needs from his Mum.

Trust me, I was a boy (yep, still am :-) ) with a Mum and I know.

Of course, these days I feel it is me being there for her, to hug and comfort and care for her. You know what? I don't do that out of a sense of duty, or obligation, or even greed (as more than one person seems to think is the right motivation but, one I'll never understand). I do it because I want to, because my Mum and Dad showed me that's how you live your life when I was just a kid and now it is simply who I am.

I wish harder than you can imagine that I could crack the money nut and take away the stress that it causes you, my Big Brother and the Three. Still, the really good news is that the magic of your hugs is what your kids value and the love that you share with us all is what makes you so special.

So for what it's worth, here in public for all to know and see - a very special BIL hug full of love and admiration comes your way for being such a wonderful source of joy and brightness in all our lives.


P.S. looking forward to getting the bike to you to help focus on a great positive Summer for our boy.

emzeegee & the hungry three said...

Thanks BIL - right back at ya! :) There are many, many times my kids have benefited from the bonus if having a third parent as fab as you!