Sunday, August 9, 2009

Perspective: It's a Beautiful Thing

So, it's been 5 weeks since I wrote this post about Linus. And, about how I was about to lose my mind. I thought you all might want to know what's been going on in our house since then. SO MANY of you lifted me up with your comments, suggestions, advice, and prayers. I really felt them all and I am so thankful.

I feel like I have turned this situation over and over in my head a hundred times. I've looked at it from every angle. I've tried to figure out if the whole situation that day was a product of me being stressed out, or Linus being stressed out, or a lack of normalcy in our family manifesting itself into bad behavior. I have tried to be open-minded about Linus' behavior, because to shut my eyes to it and say, "Oh, he's just a rambunctious boy" is the worst possible solution. If he's misbehaving because he wants attention, then ignoring the behavior altogether will just make him turn up the misbehaving a few notches until he sees how far he has to go to get the attention he wants. On the other hand, I don't want to jump the gun and sign him up for 5 hours of therapy a week just because he is a bit more uncontrollable than my other two older children who, by the way, are very compliant and obedient.

So, here's how everything went down: I had the horrible day with Linus, which was really just the last straw in a month-long string of resistant and out-of-control behavior for him. He has always been my kid who pushed the envelope with my patience, but the month of June was extra tough for us. That whole month we were on vacation in St. Louis, Florida, and two different towns in Illinois. Texan Papa wasn't with us, so it was up to me to manage behavior for all 4 kids. Once we got home, Texan Papa went to Boy Scout Camp with Charlie Brown for 3 days, again leaving me by myself. I really had reached my limit of trying to deal with the kids and I think Linus had reached his limit of being told to "just TRY to behave."

Linus said he was really going to hurt his sister Peppermint Patty. His words were scary and awful. At the time, I freaked out; I worried that I had a future sociopath on my hands. But I also recognized that his words did not match with his actions AT ALL. He said some pretty mean and threatening things, but he has never pushed her down, hit her with an instrument, drawn scary pictures, etc. I called my pediatrician, I called my friend who's a pediatrician and a Christian, I called Focus on the Family, and I called the local ER. (Yes, I was a bit over the edge. It happens.) I think God really intervened because on my way to leave to take Linus to the ER to get him evaluated by a psychologist, my car battery was dead. Baby Sally had climbed up into my car and turned on the power without starting the car. So, I had to pause & collect my thoughts and try to get my car jump-started. This whole time while I was making phone calls and figuring out what to do, I left Linus in his room. And know what he did? Just sat quietly, played with stuffed animals, didn't try to come out of his room, and didn't throw a fit. By the time I got my car started I had calmed down, and I decided to just at least wait until Texan Papa got home from Boy Scout camp, which was supposed to be the next day (but he actually came home early, that evening, and I was so relieved.)

I did decide to at least get him an appointment with a psychologist for testing or evaluation or whatever it is that they do. I don't have any experience with psychologists, so it was all new to me. I made an appointment for late July and waited.

Also, in early July, I got a prescription for Prozac from my doctor. I decided to go ahead and fill it and I'm glad I did. At first I couldn't notice any difference but now I notice that I'm still having hard days, but it doesn't feel like I'll die from being unable to cope with the stress. I can deal with the daily messes and not fall apart. Plus (and this has been wonderful) I used to wake up every single morning with the full weight of the world on my shoulders. I would start every day with thoughts like, "Is that person mad at me? Did I pay that bill yet? Do I have any overdue library books? What am I going to make for dinner tonight that my family will actually eat?" But now I just wake up happy, ready to handle the day. That one result is worth taking the medication for now. I'll have to re-evaluate later, but right now it's working for me.

So, fast-forward to the psychology appointment. It actually was not an appointment for Linus but rather a parent-interview for me and TP. I was afraid I'd have a big fight on my hands with him... that he'd go on about how psychologists are quacks and they only want to fill Linus up with meds so that they can say they've diagnosed him. I just wanted someone with an objective point of view to look at what was going on and give me some advice. It's so hard to be objective about my own kids and I needed someone to give me some direction about what the range of "normal" is and where did Linus lie in that range. Surprisingly, the appointment went really well. TP was open to answering the doctor's questions (Yes, she was a Ph.D.) and very forthcoming about our personal family history. Not that we have any skeletons in our closet, but everyone has things they don't like to discuss unless there's a good reason.

And, at the end, the doctor told us, "Well, you were referred to me because I thought you wanted your son tested for ADHD but from what you're telling me, he doesn't really fall into the ADHD category. I mean, yes he's impulsive and yes, he has some issues dealing with his anger. And if you want him tested of course I can always test him for ADHD along with many other things. Or, if you want, I can refer you for counseling. Whatever you want to do." I just asked her opinion, do you think he's dangerous to himself or others? Do you think this is something I NEED to do, or would it just be helpful? She said, "No - he doesn't sound dangerous to me, especially since he's never even come close to acting on anything he's said. It sounds more like the issue is not with him being violent, but rather that the issue is with his older sister" (since he's never threatened anyone else in our family or outside our family). WHOA - lightbulb moment.

So, here's what I kinda decided to do, since Texan Papa has said from the beginning that he is just interested in supporting me in this journey. He doesn't think we need any intervention at all. At least he's supportive though: I am going to wait until school starts and everyone gets back into a regular schedule. I'm going to watch Linus' behavior and try to give him a bit more positive attention. And, I'm going to try to instigate some fun activities for Linus and Peppermint Patty so that (hopefully) their relationship will improve.

School starts for us in two weeks (August 24th). I'm so glad. As of now, I feel a little bit more relaxed and not so sad anymore. Actually, as I'm typing, I am realizing that it's been a while since I've cried. Earlier in the summer I was a blubbering mess about 40% of the time. I think it's great that I can now control my emotions a little better. I don't know if that makes me weaker that I can't just "will myself" into better control of my emotions, but I'm so tired of finding new ways to blame myself for my failures that I'm just going to let this one slide. Instead I'm going to be happy and thankful that I was able to get over my stereotyping thoughts about "people who take meds". I'm grateful that my child is full of life and not suffering from some terminal illness. I'm learning from him, maybe more than he is learning from me. And that is one blessing of motherhood that I never expected.


stephanie (bad mom) said...

All of these things make my heart happy this morning. Which is, I'm sure, your goal everyday - make me happy.


But truly, so relieved & pleased you have found solutions that help you breathe and see the blessings through the stresses.


jori-o said...

Three cheers for you! I'm SO glad you're feeling better! SO GLAD!! =)

lov said...

this makes me so happy!
as a teacher, having a child in my class that is emotionally draining is soooo hard, so i can only imagine how it is at home!
i'll be praying for you, and linus, and i'm so glad that you are feeling so much better about everything these days!!

Gigi said...

I'm so glad that you are feeling better; I know how hard it is to have a "busy" boy. I don't know how old he is - but keep working at it and soon you will have a decent young man (albeit with his "teenage" moments - but on the whole a good kid).

BTW, I'm from Texas too - how fun that we get to connect this way. So I know exactly what you mean about gettin' all Texan.

Jen said...

I am so glad that you wrote this. I have been praying and its good to see that you have some relief.

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

I am so glad things are better---only a few more weeks til school ;)

Jennifer said...

Awesome! It sounds like this is working out great. I'm glad you were able to get an independent opinion.

Bridgett said...

Good. It's so easy to lose perspective (especially when pregnant!!) and when it's restored, it is like a weight being lifted. It reminds me, in a less urgent way, of how I was so worried about Sophia's dyslexia and what that was going to do to her and would she ever read and make friends and etc. And then this summer, it straightened out. I know it's not quite the same category, but just to say it resonates for me.

anymommy said...

I am so glad and I hope things get even better when school starts again.

Janie at Sounding Forth said...

Wow. Sounds like you're very observant and watching for perfect opportunities.

I'll be sending good thoughts your way!

McVal said...

I'm so glad! Every once in a while I get an aha moment about my kids and why they act the way they do. It makes me feel so much better as a parent.
My son is 18 and pushing the envelope these days. He was so rude to me yesterday morning that I was daubing my eyes with kleenexs all thru church. Then at lunch, he gave me a sucky apology... "I'm sorry we had a bad discussion this morning mom, but we need to get past this." word for word. I burst into tears again and took my lunch to the livingroom.
Sorry - I guess this wasn't exactly an aha moment, unless the aha moment was to show me what a jerk my son can be at times...

Aleta said...

I greatly admire your honesty in this post and the linked one. I didn't read it before, because I was out of town. But wow. I read it and wanted to cry for your frustration.

This post is much calmer. I think your meds are helping you to cope and might help change the atmosphere for your children as well.

I don't have any children. I don't have any advise.

I will pray for you and your family and send positive thoughts your way.

I'm often curious how parents handle situations and this is a whopper of one.

Emily said...

Thanks for updating. And thanks for being so honest...these trials are so difficult to live through and to discuss. I'm glad you have some possible solutions in place!

Wendy said...

Thank you, God, for taking care of Texan Mama & her family.

I'm so glad to see this post.

Michelle said...

I am newer to your blog and just read through the previous post. My heart goes out to you. It sounds like things are settling down. I hope they continue to settle down or if not counseling can help Linus.

My oldest is my bio child and my two younger were 5 and 3 when I met them but 4 and 6 when we all began living together and I was a full-time parent to them. I struggle with the different relationship I have with my son (oldest) and my daughters. I know I am more bonded with my son since I have known him his whole life but I think it is more than that. At first I thought the way I was feeling was because they were my stepchildren (although they live with us all the time and I consider all three OUR children at this point) and I hadn't known them their entire lives. I am beginning to realize that each relationship is unique. It is not more or less love but different love.

I am currently reading "The Shack" by WM. Paul Young. Last night I read the following part which hit home: "Each realtionship between two persons is absolutely unique. That is why you cannot love two people the same. It simply is not possible. You love each person differently because of who they are and the uniqueness that they draw out of you. And the more you know each other the richer the ... realtionship." I know it is fiction but that hit home with me.