Friday, November 30, 2007

Spewing Some Volcanic Gunk

I wrote this post a few weeks ago and waited to post it because I wasn't sure if I wanted to. But I think I will. Just so you know that I don't happen to be exploding at the moment.

* * * * * * * *

I think I generally come off as a fairly together mom, in person and in my writing. One of the ways that I maintain my sanity in the face of a very challenging child is to try to keep a veneer of calm, even if inside I am screaming. There are cracks in that veneer, usually small--a tense voice, a hand too tight around a little arm. Sometimes, usually when I am tired, these cracks become larger. I yell at the kids, or cry a lot, or say mean things. Less a crack, more a fissure. This usually relieves some stress and I'm able to go back to the calm.

Sometimes, though, the lurking fear and darkness inside become difficult to manage. They never go totally away. And it is just primal and raw, this stuff that sometimes comes spewing out, and I can't even really write about it, as much as I want to. But of course I will try.

It is fear--fear that I am doing everything wrong, fear that Luke will turn out to be a horrible person and that it will be all my fault. It is childlike insecurity, it is a feeling that no one understands what I am going through, that everyone wonders what the hell I'm doing to my kid that makes him scream and thrash around (at age five) this day, try to steal something from my friend's house the next day, bite his little brother (at age five) still the next.

It is fear that people don't know that I know. I know. I know. I know and I read and I talk to people and I think and I pursue labels or don't pursue labels and seek professional help or don't seek professional help. I've time outed and time inned and sticker charted and spanked and talked, talked, talked.

And you know, it is really tiring. It is exhausting. And I know it is life. Repetitive, ongoing, challenging. But this life with Luke is life on fast forward, life special edition, life warp speed. I know, because I have another child that shows me what an easier, slower life could look like.

I'm not saying easier and slower is what I want, necessarily. Because then I would have a different child. I would have a different life. But sometimes, just sometimes--usually when I'm tired, when I've just recieved, as I just have, the fourth phone call in a week from Luke's teacher--I wish that I could maybe just pause this life for a little bit. Slow it down.

Maybe I'm being overly dramatic because I'm frustrated and I'm tired. Or maybe not. It is simply impossible for me to tell, because I'm in it. It is what it is and usually it is okay, even fabulous and joyous and wonderful. Because dayglow life is really great sometimes.


Molly Sabourin said...

Dearest eloquent and courageous Ser,

There was a time, not so long ago, when I would have prefaced my following comment with "Not to get overly spiritual or anything,,," but now, since I, too, have been worn to the bone on many (many) mothering ocassions, "spiritualzing" seems the only reaction that makes sense anymore. "Let me not forget that all things are sent by You," says the Morning Prayer of Met. Philaret, including humiliating parenting scenarios and difficult children. My tears of frustration, back-talking son, and shameful mommy temper tantrums, do such a very effective job at keeping my humble. I really don't think my flimsy soul could overcome the pride of being perfect.

Cheers to you for claiming, exploring, and sharing your irritation, then moving forward!

nancy said...

Do you think you would be more apt to forgive yourself if he were adopted? I wonder this sometimes...I can't figure out if I fear that I'm held responsible for my parenting techniques, or if I fear that they are *like me* in some trait that I don't like to see.

I have been talking about genetics some with my students, about how each mating is a roll of the dice, but lots of dice, all at once. Lots of traits.

Yesterday I talked to my uncle, and he read a letter written by my bio dad. In it, bio dad talks about his career, reflectively, and it is absolutely scary how much it fits my own feelings. Quite different from my own dad, who influenced me. I think of heritability being eye color, hair, health issues - but attitudes? Wow, I would have put that firmly into environment, without this experience.

Anyway, you have the child you have, and I've seen you enough to say you're way more patient than I am with my eldest, and I think you're a parent who really understands Luke and can help him be the best Luke possible.

Ser said...

Oh Molly, thanks. Yes, this all is helping me grow so much, I know. I remember you saying something to me (a blog comment or in person, I can't remember) about how God gave us Luke because he needs us and we need him. I truly do believe this.

And Nancy, your comment helped me to realize that there ARE two parts to this all, the "how much of this craziness did he inherit from me?" bit and the "how much am I shaping him this way?" bit. Both of which are part of the volcanic gunk. So thanks for your kind words at the end.

silver lining said...

Ser, I finally got my blog up and running because of Luke. I feel strongly about Luke and you. His life and yours are bold. Luke demands a reaction. He is taking on life and saying, whadda ya think about that? It is utterly exhausting and heart-wrenching and so fabulously worthwhile. Think of all the people you know or know of who have made a difference in the world. You and Luke are on that list. He will not go quietly, he will not go unnoticed. He will be himself. This is actually a very mature way to live a life at his age. Many of us are not who we are in public or private our entire lives. Rock on Luke!
As for you, Ser, being the mother of a socially advanced radical thinker may be a new way to visualize yourself.
-- Marji

Jenny said...


You're my hero. I watch you parenting Luke and Henry and I take mental notes. Lots of them. You could be a parenting coach. Actually, come to think of it, you are my parenting coach.

I see you managing an intense situation with courage, grace and honesty. I see you rising to new challenges without despair. I see you voicing your fears and your rage and also letting them go and moving forward. And I see you, in the midst of all this--always open to every good thing, to each humorous twist of plot, to the real child you've been given, dynamic and powerful, articulate, brave and compassionate. He's not a tame Luke--but he's wonderful. We love him, and we LOVE you.


Julia said...

Hi Ser,
The one short time I spent around you and your boys it was obvious that you were pouring yourself out over them (via shrinky (rinky?) dinks on that particular day). Jenny told me about how you wake up with them at 5 a.m. every day and all I could think was how easy it would be just to plop them in front of a cartoon and go back to bed, but instead you choose to actively engage them at that hour. I'm sure it's hard to persevere in all of this daily work and self-sacrifice, but I feel really sure, speaking as someone who's not "in it," but on the outside looking in, that what you're doing-- the mere fact that you care so much and are so present to Luke and Henry, even while annoyed-- is going to effect wonderful, holy things in them as they grow, even if you can't see the reward in the short-term.

Lucy said...

This might sound like a weird remark, or maybe it just shows my own cluelessness (yes, I'm sure it does) but sometimes I'm jealous of you because of Luke. I assume if I ever have children that they will be quiet introspective children who will be normal and relatively easy to raise until they turn 13. Luke, on the other hand, is a brilliant little bit of a human, burning with some sort of world I cannot imagine. I adore and admire him, via your blog, and other children like him. They are mysteries and puzzles--albeit difficult ones--who refuse to merely be an explainable bit of nature and nurture.

Anyone who knows you even tangentially cannot question your ability to be a good mother to Luke.