Monday, July 6, 2009

Crisis

I am wondering if any one who is reading this has had a child that you wish you could send back.

(insert nervous laughter... is she serious or is she just being funny?)

I have one child who has finally pushed me too far. No, not finally, because this breakdown in our relationship hasn't happened in one day or one week or even in one year. This child, from the day he was born, has tested my patience. Exhausted me of my compassion. Emptied me of my sanity.

As a young child, he refused to go to bed on his own. I would have to sit in a chair in his room and watch him, or else he would get out of bed and re-brush his teeth (while spilling water all over his pajamas), or play with his toys, or climb up the shelves of his closet and sit on the top shelf (about 6 feet up) and throw books and toys down to the ground.

This child has caused me to cry into my pillow on countless nights. This child is causing me to be depressed. His siblings are not anything like him; they can understand our simple rules of the house (lying is absolutely wrong, ask permission before taking things that aren't yours, stay safe, etc.) that he either chooses to ignore because he just wants his own way more, or has some disconnect in his brain that does not allow him to understand things like You might get hurt if you climb up onto the roof of the garage.

When I correct him in my very low voice, which I have been practicing very very hard, he gets so mad at me that he falls to the ground, kicking and screaming, and yelling that he hates me. We had this type of incident today when I explained that he wouldn't get any dessert after dinner because he stole candy out of the cabinet and ate it. What I consider a fitting punishment is, to him, an opportunity to throw a tantrum.

When bike riding tonight, he was riding right in front of me. Then, out of no where, he decides to cross the street and crosses RIGHT in front of a moving car. Honestly, he was about 4 feet from the car's front bumper when it skidded to a halt.

Yesterday, I was filling up the van with gas and he decides to start the car. Yes, he started up the engine while the gas nozzle was still chugging the gas into my tank. I was FURIOUS and I explained that HE could have killed us all because the starter produces a spark. That spark could have caused an explosion. HE would have been the one to kill us. Do you think that was too harsh? Well, he barely batted an eye.

He is not afraid of anything, and I don't think that's a good thing. He has no natural fear of disappointing people or hurting himself or hurting other people or breaking things. He just does what he wants to do and everything else be damned.

Yes, maybe he has ADHD. And yes, that would be very convenient if my husband and I were on the same page about treating ADHD. But my husband is absolutely 100% opposed to medical intervention. NO MEDS for our son, no sirree. If he needs help then by golly, we'll just pay closer attention and MAKE him behave. Yeah, that's easier said than done. And, don't forget honey: You're at work 5/7of the week. When you're at work, who has to "make him behave?" YEP THE PERSON WHO DOESN'T AGREE WITH YOUR OPINION ABOUT MEDICINE.

I thought about vlogging this, but I thought it might be a downer to watch a person sitting on the floor of her bathroom bawling into a camera lens. But the bottom line is this:

How can I separate my feelings about my son's behavior from my feelings about him as a person. I know they are not the same, but it has been going on for so long now that the line is getting blurrier and it's just too hard to believe that he doesn't understand what he's doing. Everyone is implusive from time to time. But I have tried and tried and explained and begged and bribed and cried and told him that he needs to think before he acts. He needs to think about other people and their feelings. He needs to be a good boy, and I KNOW he knows what that means.

I don't want him to grow up thinking of himself as the bad kid in the family (even though right now that's exactly what he is). I don't want him to alienate himself from other kids and teachers because of his impulsive behavior. Most of all, I don't want him to ruin the relationship he has with me. I am sure I will always love him. But, truth be told, I don't like him at all. Not one little bit. I hate that about myself and trust me, I have already gone down the road of what an awful mother I am.

I feel so alone. This isn't the type of thing that is popular to talk about at Mommy and Me class. My relationship with my son is draining me so much to the point that when the day is over I have nothing left for myself or anyone else. I don't want to finish any projects or clean dishes. I just want to sit on the couch and cry. Is it possible that anyone else feels this way?

25 comments:

Meaghan said...

Its been a while since ive been over to your blog...missed ya but still LOVE the name of your blog :)

Stopping by from SITS to invite u to our Jewelry Giveaway. We are a small charity made up of many men/women/kids who send cards to those battling cancer.

Get in on our Giveaway and maybe even join :) Fun for the entire family & helping others...can't get better than that

www.spiritjump.org

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

Gretchen,
I'm so sorry you are having to deal with this ((HUGS))
It's hard when one of your kids isn't like the others-my son has some issues and I hate it. You are not horrible for wanting him to be different.
I don't know if this would help but maybe you could try some pretty intense 'exercise' punishments. Recently, when my girls act up WAY too much, I have them do a lap around the block. They hate it because it's hot and at the same time it wears them out a little (obviously make sure he's hydrated and it's not high noon lol!)

Marina said...

sounds so hard but remember you will need to be able to keep on with the correction else he will get away with murder later and as the previous commentator said try the punishments. Trust God to move on behalf of your little boy. Nothing is impossible with God and I believe He will give you the wisdom and grace to handle this tactfully, firmly yet lovingly. Here's a big SITS hug to let you know you ARE a good mom and to keep standing strong. God bless

jori-o said...

Ugh...so hard! I have heard that sometimes dietary changes can make a difference in "ADHD" kids. Have you talked to your pediatrician about his behavior? If nothing else, maybe some counseling for you and/or hubby to know how to deal with him and the feelings you are feeling towards him...?

Best of luck...that's a touhgie!

But having a challenging kid DOES NOT make you a bad mom! If anything, you're a GREAT mom for acknowledging there is a problem, and seeking out how to handle it!

jen said...

like the previous poster suggested dietary changes might help. I do think seeking out some outside help would be beneficial. It does sound like he does not have much impulse control. Most of all, you are not a bad mother in any way for acknowledging this. You love your child always, but somedays (most for you here lately) you don't like them!

Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

TM-

It is time for some professional intervention. I think you need to get some advice on how to handle an ADHD or difficult child. And then tell me everything you learned because you know my situation is similar.

If TP is so opposed to meds for your son, then I think maybe something for you might help. My antidepressant has just helped me stay a little more even keeled. I don't feel as drained when things are falling apart. I don't feel so anxious at the end of the day. Just a thought.

KEEP BELIEVING

HaB said...

That is a hard one.

I have a few books that I have read - because I have a "spirited child", as I like to call her. But at the end of the day - it doesn't help - no matter how many pages read.

Follow your mommy instincts on this one. If you think he needs meds to help even him out, make him more focused, then chances are he does. There is no shame and it is certainly NOT a parenting failure if you go that route. In my opinion, I really think you are doing your son a bigger disservice by NOT maybe not putting him on meds, if that is what he needs.

good luck.

Wendy said...

OMGsh. OMGsh.

Oh, hon. We have one that makes me feel like a complete failure nearly every single day. I just can't keep up with her.

We had her tested - and yes, she does have ADHD. A very mild form where she has good attention span but no impulse control. She is on one far side of the spectrum.

As it was explained to me, girls are often possible to deal with sans-meds. Especially when they are on the end of the spectrum she is on.

The doctor said to me (this was a psychiatrist who did not believe in medicating until/unless absolutely necessary): "bottom line, you can get away with behavior modification with her because she is a girl. If she was a boy you would lose your mind or he would kill himself long before you ever made any progress."

She is a girl, she is on the 'good' end of the spectrum, so no medication is an option. And I feel like if I don't spend adequate time in prayer & contemplation every. single. day. that I cannot deal with her. If I'm not on top of my game every. single. day. I lose! It is so stinking hard, every day. Every day I question myself a million times and have to stop & pray, "please Lord don't let me screw this up".

I am very, very against medication. There are so many unknowns, so many risks. But the fact remains that SOMETIMES it is simply the only good choice.

When you relationship with him is crumbling, it's a good choice.

When you cry about him every day, it's a good choice.

When you start to wonder if he'll survive his childhood, it's a good choice.

When his brain chemistry affects him so much that all he gets is big NEGATIVE feedback from every single human being he has contact with, it's a good choice.

My dad was like this - severe ADHD, unmedicated because it was the 60s. And he endured social isolation (ended up making bad friends), abuse at home (my grandmother finally started losing it with him), abuse at school (up to and including teachers who locked him in dark closets!), and failure in most aspects of his life. I see my dad, 55 years old and SO competent at SO many things, struggle with feeling like he is even worth shooting. It is so sad to me, just heartbreaking.

The biggest problem with these kids, and what I constantly keep my eye on with my daughter, is the social consequences. Other kids start to isolate them, and then you watch their self-esteem be permanently damaged. Once they have nothing to lose - what difference does being in trouble make?

In the meantime...

(my post is too long... hold on...)

Wendy said...

Have you tried taking all grains & sugar out of his diet? this helps us tremendously. It takes a while to see the difference. I'm ready to scalp my MIL for giving Dolly sugar every single damned time she sees her. This includes artificial sweeteners & colors. It is good for all your kids, though the whining will be intense at first.

Do you give him alone-time attention, doing things he enjoys? This also helps with my daughter. I have had to really rebuild her desire to please me, from the ground up. It got kind of bad for a while, where I was misinterpreting some of her behavior as manipulative, when it was just emotional immaturity. Some of the things she LOVES to do make me want to stab myself in the head (I hate playing dollies; there, I said it) but it's what builds our relationship from HER viewpoint, so that she does want to please and doesn't give up.

Do you try to keep a consistent routine with him? Oh, brother am I bad at this. I am a seat-of-the-pants girl, but my daughter really shines when her routine is consistent. Any time we have changes, she has to be notified ahead of time and she WILL have 600 questions or more about every detail of it.

Pray pray pray over this child, and for your own stamina. This summer is a time to establish a relationship with him on his terms - but it will be hard with the other kids always there. You can try getting him up a little early (or keeping him up a little late, depending on when he does best) for extra time. Wow, does Dolly ever love it when she doesn't have to go to bed at the same time as her brother! It's like extra points on her Mom-loves-me Scoreboard.

But the bottom line is - he is a boy. He sounds like a middle-of-the-spectrum kid (hardest to go no-meds with) and you are fighting an uphill battle. Plus, he has (nearly) 4 siblings. Gee, willikers. If you knew me better IRL I would be all, "bring me the other 3 so you can have extra time with him" (I did this for a friend with a similar situation - one ADHD boy with three sisters!-I kept the girls a lot for her). Do you have a friend who will help you on this?

You also DESPERATELY need time to recharge your own batteries, on your own. And if hubby is going to put demands on you like no medication, then by god he can help you do it or he can get off his high horse. the. end.

dianthe said...

i don't have any practical advice as my only child is 17 months old - but i have no doubts there will be times in the future when i will be more than ready to send her packing!!

other than lots of hugs, the only thing i can offer is this website - http://www.dfwareamoms.com - it's a forum for Dallas area moms (and i mean the ENTIRE area) that has a TON of information - the moms there are SO helpful and non-judgmental - there is a Special Needs forum that might be of help to you - i know there are several moms that have had the same issues with their kids and have had some great success without medication

anyway - just wanted you to know that you're not the only one - hang in there!!

nicole said...

I'm sorry you are going through this. I don't have anything new to say, your commenters have already said so much good stuff! I would encourage you to maybe seek some guidance for you. You need encouragement, assurance, wisdom to move forward in a positive way for you and your son, and you need to get it any way you can. Peace.

Jennifer said...

I think everyone else had some really good advice. I have a friend with a son like this, she medicated and it has made a WORLD of difference. She is like my very best friend ever and I couldn't stand to go to her house because of him, but with the meds, he is a completely different child. He can actually sit quietly and color. For real. Can you imagine? I vote medicate. Sometimes dads just don't know best. Period. We are the mothers for a reason. It is your primary job to take care of the kids and you need to do that in the way that you think is best and he needs to trust your opinion.

Every Day Goddess said...

Wow, so much good advise! I have a ocd perfectionist child. Not the same trials, but nothing is ever quite right for her either.

My nephew had ADD and the medication is what helped him to make it through to high school. It was a big controversy in our family, all the men against it and the women for it....turns out we the women were right...no big surprise ;) He is a sophmore in high school now and no longer needs the medication. He actually stopped taking it when he entered middle school and is doing great without it. Just because they take it for awhile does not mean it is a lifetime of medication.

I think the best advice is to get professional help, both for him and for yourself to help you deal with it. Especially during the pregnancy, so much stress for you. AND no you are not a bad mom!! Just remember that you can't like them all the time, that doesn't mean you don't love him.

Someone Being Me said...

I wish I knew what to tell you to make it better. Mine are only 2 1/2 years and 3 months old so I am still pretty new to the game. If it were me I would look at how he acts in other situations. Is he better at school, church, grandparent's, playdates, etc? If so, then it is probably a disciplinary issue you can work out. If he is like this all the time with everyone no matter what then I would say it is probably something to needs to be evaluated. My husband is also extremely anti-medicine for ADHD. He thinks boys will be boys, etc so I can see where you are coming from. I would take him to be evaluated and make your husband come too so he is involved in the process. Also, pick a doctor your husband will respect and perhaps he will be more open. I know it is sexist but I know my husband would be more open to a male doctor with years of experience telling him that his son needed medication than a female doctor. Whatever comes out of this you can't beat yourself up about it. Even the most even keeled mom would lose it dealing with that kind of behavior day in and day out.

Anna See said...

I am so glad you shared this. I hope it makes you feel better to get some of this out, and I know it will help others who are going through similar situations. I screamed at my kid to "Just Shut Up!" last night, and I still feel icky. I just lost it.

Your other readers have given you some great advice. So I'll just say, You are NOT alone. You are tired and need rest and a break. I know it's hard to get a break b/c you probably have to arrange it/pay for it yourself, and sometimes it just seems like TOO MUCH to arrange. But try.

xo

Jen said...

Reading this and your email just makes me want to cry. I am so sorry for you. But I think that your son might need some professional help. Medication may be out of the question but what about therapy or behavioral classes. I think its time to talk to you pediatrian.

The Lucky Mrs. T said...

I mentioned you in my blog today and came over to tell you.

I read your post and my heart goes out to you, girl.

I would def get some opinions. Even just talking will help ease your burden. You are never alone, and there is someone out there that can help you.

I am not a big fan of medicating for everything - as I think that our society has gotten to a point to where most think a pill will solve any/all our problems.

I also think that ADD/ADHD seems to be the catch-all diagnosis for so many kids.

Then again - if you educate yourself, and get many opinions - you might find that there is some type of medication/therapy/counseling that may help or alleviate your situation all together. You can only do the best you can - and with knowledge comes power. You are also the one who knows what is best for your children.

I think as mothers, we all get to our wits' ends - anyone who is a parent can relate to wanting to pull your hair out - but I tell myself that in order to be the best mother to my children, I need to take care of myself too. It comes full circle.

I send many hugs and love your way. It will work out. Keep your chin up and your mind open. You feel this way because you love your boy so much - and that is the most important thing of all!

Schmoochiepoo said...

Oh big hugs! This mommy gig is really tough at times.

You've gotten some great advice from previous posters.

'Wild boys' are hard to deal with, I'm beginning to realize I may have one of my own.

Chin up!

Stephanie said...

My little sister struggled with ADHD all through elementary/middle school. She had attention problems and only a mild case of impulse control. After a lot of therapy, they decided it was time to medicate and it made a world of difference!! When she went into high school she went off the meds slowly and has done great! In fact she just graduated college.

Anyway my other thought was maybe it's not ADHD? Do you know 100% that it is? There is a boy that went to the church back home...and he had an impulse control problem, but it was different. He wasnt aware of consequences of anything. It was just not something he was capable of "learning" or "knowing" I dont remember what it is called. BUt I will call my stepmom. Shes on vacation, but as soon as I know the name i will leave a message!

Good luck! Dont give up!! Even though you dont think so, you are doing great!

McVal said...

I've told you my troubles with my son... But honestly, it will get better. Unfortunately it will be the year that he turns 18... And he's still not out of the woods yet completely...
My prayers are with you and your son.

Jennifer Poppy said...

Not that you're asking, but:

1. I have felt completely drained from a child who knows better, yet has insisted on doing things his way...it's debilitating.

2. A break from him helped me...he's going to work with daddy this summer (as of yesterday...hallelujah!). I realize you prob can't do the same...but if anyone will keep him for ya for a lil' while the breather should help.

3. "Have a New Kid by Friday" by Dr. Leman has been great...we just started it this week & it's working.

Just my two cents...take it or leave it.

Scary Mommy said...

Ummm, Meaghan, next time read a post before you pimp whatever you are pimping. That was totally disgusting.

Karly said...

I don't have anything to add to these comments, but I just had to say I'm thinking about you. Good luck doing whatever it is you decide to do.

Oh, and I should add that I've taken anti-depressants before and they were SO HELPFUL. Stuff might still suck, but it kept me a bit more calm about it.

Jenn M said...

I'm sorry you are dealing with a very difficult situation. I have a spirited 2 year old and the advice I have just read makes me think.

I hope you get the answers you need.

Natalie said...

you have my admiration and my prayers girl! someone in my bible study mentioned that God gives us children with different personalities so that HE can use them to grow US as moms.