Monday, October 26, 2009

Baby Steps

Before I understood my children, before I knew what Attachment Disorder was and that they had it, before I knew that literally 1/2 their brain didn't function like an emotionally healthy child's does or function at all!, before... when I was naive and ignorant about my kids and their emotional health, I felt...

  • like a horrible mother,
  • alienated from friends and family because of my kids behavior,
  • judged by those I love the most,
  • judged by those I didn't know at all,
  • misunderstood,
  • hopeless,
  • full of hope with a new idea only to have the hope and the idea smashed and thrown back in my face over and over and over again by the kids themselves,
  • incapable of loving like a mother should,
  • a longing to feel love from my kids who only showed me hate and anger,
  • that any small step in the right direction was immediately followed by 3 gigantic leaps backwards
I wondered if all parents got slapped in the face when bending down to hug their child, got yelled at when telling their kids how much they love them, got spit on while walking by their children in passing, were constantly cleaning up poop and pee all over their house, got kicked, got scratched 'til they bled...

Did all parents have to deal with full blown fist fights, 150 decibel screaming and kids refusing to keep their seat belt on and stay in their seat every time they were in the car? Did other parents constantly have to be on guard to make sure their kids didn't abuse, humiliate or molest each other? How did they keep their houses so nice when I woke up to a complete and udder disaster every morning. Pictures all over the floor, food dripping off walls and smashed into the carpet, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, and soap bottles emptied all over mirrors, toilets, walls, floors and clothes, and toilet paper rolls filling the toilets. After attempting to supervise clean-up each morning, I was already exhausted and it was only 9 o'clock!

I wondered why, when I was tired, the thoughts of getting out of bed to face another day with them sometimes brought tears to my eyes. I blamed myself, felt sorry for myself, got over it and had yet another 'brilliant' idea to help them. Time after time, my reward systems became fighting systems. My one-on-one time with them became a mom bashing session with name calling, telling me they hate me, they didn't want to be with me, being spit on, swung at, kicked, bit, etc. Trying to get them distracted with outside activities resulted in someone else's kids getting hurt, complete melt downs, and phone calls to "Come pick your kids up!"

Before I knew that all of these behaviors, all of this hate that was targeted directly at me (the mother figure) , all of this anger was NORMAL for an attachment disordered child, I felt ASHAMED and hopeless.

I didn't talk about it. I put up a facade that everything was okay. I didn't want people to think bad about the kids and treat them badly and I didn't want them to think I was completely incapable of motherhood even though that was just how I felt.

The few people I did open up to had no way of understanding. How could anyone possibly know what it feels like to live with 4 people who hate you and have a deep seeded rage? Often times a rage that is unloosed 3-4 times a day by each child! That means dealing with a raging (screaming, kicking, hitting, scratching, pooping, peeing, property destroying child) 12-16 times a day! These were rages that lasted up to an hour and a half. One of our kids could go for 4 and 5 hours!

I felt VERY alone!

Personally, I feel that I have made huge strides! We now have an attachment therapist who has introduced us to some interventions and therapeutic parenting. Finally I have someone to talk to who understands what all of these behaviors mean and how I feel!

I am now able to talk about it. I am doing something that has been proven to work for others, instead of something else I've come up with hoping maybe this one, this time would work. I am starting to see progress in the form of tiny baby steps. It's
progress and I'll take it!

Because of all the neglect, abuse and repeated moves in foster care the kids faced as babies and toddlers, they never developed a conscience. This means that they can steal, lie, hurt others and even kill without feeling any remorse. I have walked in on a kid trying to kill our family dog on more than one occasion. I've had a threat from one of them to stab Makenzie (the baby). I understand that this must be difficult to comprehend to someone who has never seen it, it's even difficult for me to comprehend.

It is because of this, living with these kids for the last 2 1/2 years, watching how their minds work and seeing how sick they are that makes the
sweet little things they do actually HUGE things!!

On most mornings, I do a 'Feelings Journal' with each of them to help them become more attuned to their feelings. I ask them what their worst thing and their best thing was from the day before.

The other day Kishawn's answer for his worst thing was:

"The girls were screaming and I could feel the Holy Ghost leave. I felt sad."

His response for his best thing was:

"I didn't join the girls screaming during quiet time and I got to come out on time. I felt good about my decision. I felt proud of myself."

WOW!!! I had tears in my eyes!
That's more than a baby step in my eyes. I'm so proud of him!


Laurie said...

Heather, you continue to amaze me! It has to be hard going through something that no one around you understands. You really are amazing!

Tell Kishawn I'm proud of him!!!

Tanner and Shasta said...

Oh my gosh, when you adopted the kids I was so amazed. I knew then that you are one of the kindest, most loving and unselfish people that I know. Those kids are so so lucky to have you. Now hearing all that you've been through, there are no words. You are, in my book Mother of the year. I'm so glad you have help now. I can't wait to hear as they continue to improve. I know they love you, they probably don't know what it means or how to show it. You have a beautiful little family.

Janalie said...

You alwats were strong, but I had no idea you were wonder woman! Keep up the good work! I appreciate your blog and your willingness to share your story.

Taz's Mama said...

i've felt many of those same things. not all, but many. we tried every parenting technique we could find. i have a whole collection of parenting books on my shelf. i had someone in my family that told me we needed to call supernanny. when we found out Taz had bipolar disorder, it all clicked. then we knew why nothing was working. my son told me a tree cutter was going to cut his sister's head off. and that he was going to kick it off. when i asked him what his favorite family activity is for a school project (before we homeschooled), he told me shooting people. so i've heard a lot of shocking things coming from a tiny 3 year old. my 1 yr old is starting to get very anxious when Taz is raging or even just a little upset. she suddenly gets very clingy. then i have two crying children both needing my attention and reassurance. it's very very hard. anyway, sorry to ramble. i'm enjoying your blog. we may have different kids but it seems like we have similar feelings.