food fights

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

This past weekend has been extremely full of emotion for all of us. Our Very Big Thing is looking just as impossible as ever, and we have no idea how to feel about it. We have a child who has been in a funk for quite awhile, and things continue to digress between us. As if the continued propensity for running away isn't enough (go ahead and ask me about how I felt when I found said child walking down the busiest major road in our area), things really just came to a head yesterday when I threw a piece of cake at this particular offspring.

You read that right.

I       threw        a            piece         of         cake.

Someday, I'm sure my children will look back at their time at home with their mother and talk about my gentleness and self-control. How long-suffering I was. How I was the calm and steady center of the family. I'm pretty sure that's what they're going to say.

The thing is, this parenting thing is just so very hard, and parenting kids from hard places is even harder. It's hard to explain to parents of kids who have not been through quite as much trauma, because behaviors sometimes look very much like "normal" child behaviors. I wish I could remember exactly where I read it, but someone once described parenting children from hard places as parenting with a highlighter. The words (behaviors) might look the same, but everything is highlighted in neon yellow. There's just something intensifying all these normal looking behaviors. That's our lives right now.

It wears on me. Not only does it take a tremendous amount of emotional and physical energy, not only does it take way more time than anything else in my life, but it also brings me face to face with the ugliest parts of myself. The parts where the child who struggles to believes themselves worthy brings me face to face with my own struggles with worthiness. I'm supposed to be the one teaching them, reassuring them that they are special, that they are  loved, that they are intrinsically worthy, and I can't even believe it about myself. I lose my cool. I yell. I throw cake at my kid.

Let me not delude myself - these moments are not my finest moments,
but instead of thinking all the things that I tell my child over and over,
things like...
our behaviors are not our identities
everyone messes up. we say we're sorry, and we move on.
we can always start again
you are special
you are loved no matter what....

Instead of that, my inner dialogue much more resembles this:
you are the worst mother in the world
no wonder they hate you
their first moms would be horrified to know you're treating them this way
maybe the powers that be made the wrong decision when they decided you could parent this child

and most often:
you are not worthy of love

It's a humbling thing to have your worst behaviors on display for your children to see. It's terrible to realize just how close I am to the most hateful of behaviors on any given day. Coming face to face with all the ugliness in my heart that I thought I had dealt with, but instead is now spewing out at the ones I love the most is awful. I'm scared to think about how my behavior can further harm my child and break their little hearts wide open. Beyond that, I don't like to think of myself as internally fragile, and yet, here I am struggling with the same things as my littles.

Am I good enough?
Will you love me even when I treat you like crap?
Do you still find me precious and beautiful even my behavior is ugly beyond belief?
Am I worthy?

I guess I'm not writing this tonight to just let you see the vulnerable questions of my soul. Or to just give you the assurance that you are a better parent than me. (Did you see the part about the cake? You are a better parent than me.) Really, what I want you to know is that this stuff is hard, and it's ok to admit it. It might not be as visibly hard as someone else's hard, but the minute we start comparing, everybody loses. If you think your stuff is hard, guess what? IT IS. Your stuff is hard. Your feelings are complicated. Some days you are winning, and some days it is utter failure. But you're not alone. I'm right there with you, and my guess is that we're not the only two. So let's do this together.

photo credit: Rainbow Cupcake via photopin (license)
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