Recently I sat with a Social worker who is fairly new to our family but who, thankfully, is not new to the world of adoption and attachment issues (its HIS specialty!) and who also “gets” kids like our C. The whirling dervish little guy, the toll it takes on our family and yet the depth of our love and devotion to him. This man, lets call him Dave, had commented before on my resiliency and we were talking about the level of parenting it takes for a kid like C. I told him that over the years I have very much felt I was in “in the trenches” in a parenting war. I even envision myself decked out in full army fatigues and gear. Some of this might have to do with C’s obsession with the military (he wants to be a US Navy Seal when he grows up, despite the fact that we are Canadian) because I actually do not like anything to do with warfare. But that is how it has felt over the years – waging small and large battles. Winning some, losing some. Winning some but with HUGE costs that make you wonder afterward if it was worth it.
Usually I feel like I am waging the war on my own, defending the precious soul that is my son. Knowing that I have A in the background to swoop in with heavy guns only when absolutely necessary – afterall, someone in this family has to stay sane, go to work and take care of the mundane but necessary life things like banking and car repairs. Occasionally I get reinforcements in my war. Usually however they are new recruits without any fire power and it is still up to me to coordinate and lead and in the end to throw myself on the hand grenade should it come close to my boy. And man has it come close way too many times to count.
Eight years later I am tired and battered and worn out. Months ago C’s mental health issues really ramped up and I began waving the white flag. Still the war waged around us. Seemed no one knew what the white flag was or perhaps I was waving it wrong but it went unacknowledged. I thought people not seeing the white flag was the worst, it wasn’t. Even worse was when people finally began to see it for what it was but still failed to do anything about it. After all, I’m sure they thought, this was the infamous Military Mom who excels in Extreme Parenting – she’ll get back up on her horse in a couple of days. I called for reinforcements, they didn’t come. Finally I beat down doors and finally some people listened. They have closed ranks around C and they are keeping him safe and helping us all sort things through.
Through all this, this cease fire of sorts – I am trying to find myself again. I am trying to leave the military gear by the back door. I am trying to figure out how to go forward in a kinder, gentler way for all of us. I cannot keep up this level of intensity – it is just not possible. As I have begun to over function less it is wonderful to see family and friends start to step up with offers and real actions to help. We are trying to redefine what our family is and how it will work. It is all very hard work but I am so proud of all of us.
I am thankful for the ceasefire.
I think sometimes the enemy I waged war against the most during the eight year campaign was myself.