I sat with tears streaming down my face. Not the movie-star one tear slowly making a silver track down one cheek. Instead it was one tear after another, a red-rimmed-eyed snotty mess. It was exhausting. I was drained and I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t stop because I was holding my son.
I forget what it was that had set him off. But he had reached his tipping point. His world had ended and he was in full meltdown.
It started with him stimming
He lost his ability to cope
He lost his voice
Then he lost his world
A high pitched noise came from his throat. It cut through the air and it pierced my ears and heart. His fists clenched, his whole body went rigid, his eyes went blank and he went into a huge panic.
And I had to make a choice between whether I would try to hold and calm him. Or whether I had to be with and help my other two children – an infant and a toddler at the time.
It tore me in two having to make a choice. What mother should have to do that?
So I held his bedroom door closed while he punched and kicked the door.
I soothed my other two scared children while another child of mine was in pain. He was breaking, my other two children were confused and afraid and I was literally being wrung between two worlds.
I held the door closed between MD and the rest of our family.
And I felt like I was severing him from us.
Until, after beating on the door for ages, he broke it right off its hinges. 4.5 years old, and he smashed the barrier between our worlds.
We stood panting, staring at each other.
Him unable to understand what I wanted to give him and me unable to understand his pain.
I reached out my arms to hold him.
He ran to me.
And started to hit.
In the same way he obsessively beat on the door he started to hit me.
He did not hate me, I know that. I know with every fiber of my being that he loved me. But I could also see in his eyes that he did not realize what he was doing, and he had no ability to stop.
He was trapped.
He was struggling just like I was, but he didn’t have the ability to control himself or talk about it.
I thought so hard about writing this. I am because I needed to hear it when this was happening. When no one else was speaking about these moments. While we all skirted around the truth and told the other parents that life was “hard but we are making it work”. I needed to know that there were other moms out there like me. Who were struggling like me.
I held him
I held him as tight as I could.
We rocked back and forth, MD screaming and struggling against my hold.
Aly and TJ crying.
A baby I couldn’t hold
A toddler I couldn’t comfort
A child I couldn’t calm.
And me with tears and mucus mingling, silent sobs wracking my body.
As the meltdown ended, he slowed.
Our rocking became calmer instead of frantic
I wrapped him in a blanket and laid him down to sleep. Both of us exhausted.
I hugged and kissed my other children.
I prayed for more strength, more patience, more Help.
As I searched for anyone that would talk to me, I continually came up empty.
Telling my husband what had happened became a recitation of the facts. I couldn’t put into words the emotional wringer I had been through.
I kept wondering if this was going to be my destiny. If every day was going to be like this. A constant choice between children, a constant tidal wave of emotion, physically and emotionally wiped.
Moments can sometimes stretch out for unimaginable amounts of time. What needs to happen is honesty between parents. Honesty and Grace. What a parent is struggling with may well be beyond what you are capable of understanding. As parents we easily look at each other and catch a snapshot of someone’s life. It is not enough to be able to pass judgement or to use statements such as “I would NEVER…..”.
I can only imagine what it would have been like to have not been scared to reach out. If I could have asked and talked to other parents without censoring myself and being concerned about being judged for my choices.
I am not perfect.
I am a parent.
Honesty to let each other know about our struggles.
Grace to not pass judgement.
How much would we all benefit as a community if we could have those two simple things.