Tuesday, March 12, 2013

the real reason.

it's good that i had so many pictures to post this morning.

it was cooling-down time.

because the real reason i came to this forum is something more than happy photos.

yesterday i came across a stack of paperwork that i've needed to fill out for ossi. questions like, "what are your most pressing concerns?" and "does your child exhibit the following behaviors? check yes or no." i feel as if i've filled out these same papers and surrendered them to doctors at least five times already.

if they were to check for inconsistency in my descriptions of the situation i'm sure they'd find every reason to suppose i am nuts. because it is just never the same with him.

so i sat with the papers sprawled around me and i kept thinking, "well, he was doing this, but that was a while ago, so do i put it down?" and "i think he's better now, so should i just call and cancel this appointment?" i talk myself in and out of getting help. getting help is hard. and there's always the chance that he's just fine and i'm just not strong enough to deal with his "strong-willed" personality.

a couple of hours after putting the papers down i walked into the kitchen and he was pacing across the counters, brow furrowed, hands like rocks. his words don't always tell the story. it's his body. he strains his voice to speak louder, angrier, to bully me. i have to stand in front of him and act calm and confident that he'll make the right choice, but inside i'm afraid he's about to hurt me. he won't hear me. suddenly he's invincible and all powerful. he demands to be the center of my universe. i try all of the tactics i've read about or learned in therapy, and thankfully, although nothing i do seems to help him, i keep calm until a half hour later when he unclenches his fists.

why did that happen? he's been doing so well. i haven't been feeding him junk. i've been taking time to make sure all of his needs are met. what more can i do? what's different about this moment?

he's back to normal. so we get in the car, hours later, to go on a little outing. he starts laughing manically. at first it's infectiously funny, but then the flags start to go up and i say to myself, "i think this is one of those things. i think he's about to lose it." i calmly make simple requests. he's not listening. he unbuckles, hops out of the car, runs inside and up the stairs. "we need to go now," i call up to him. i see his face and he's doing that laugh again. that's not a real laugh. that's something else.

we finally get him back into the car and we start to drive. suddenly he's out of his belt, balancing on the top of my seat back, laughing that horrible laugh. i grab him. i can feel myself starting to falter. i open the car door and step out telling matt that we're going home and we'll see everyone later. i spend a lot of time alone with just him while the others go live.

now we're home and he does everything. everything. he tries to lock me out. he tips over every chair. he moves the table and claims to have trapped me, threatens to break all of my stuff. i calmly respond, "nice try." this technique worked to deflect his angry words for a day but now he screams at me, "STOP SAYING THAT!"  he runs away, down the street. i go get him. somehow i'm still calm. he paces on the table while i try to cook him dinner. "i hate you," he says. "you are the worst mom, ever," he says. "when i buy my army they will kill only you." i ignore it unless he demands a response and then i say, "nice try" in my calmest tone. "AHHHHHHHRRRG!" he picks up a ceramic bird and quizes me about it. he's gaging my attachment to that possession. when he smashes it he wants it to hurt me, but not too much. as hard as i try to keep a poker face somehow he can tell. he just knows these things. he throws the bird to the ground and keeps his eyes on me as it shatters.

i think it causes me a great deal more stress than i realize trying to keep my emotions from bubbling over. i think if things keep going like this i might become completely callused. heartless. that's how i start to feel, like i'm cold inside. at least i'm not screaming or spanking. i just keep cooking.

then suddenly it's over. and at my request he puts the table back. props up the chairs. grabs the broom and starts to sweep bird chunks. he even realizes he's forgotten to put the broom away when he's done and goes out of his way to gingerly set it in its corner. "sorry i broke that." jovially. "i'll get you a new bird, mom. i think you would like a yellow one this time, because yellow is your favorite. i will keep my eyes open for one just like that other one only better because it's yellow." then the car pulls back up and everyone is home again.

did that really just happen? nothing has changed. except my bird is gone. unseen damage, though. a sliver of my love for my family is gone, too. the hardening of my heart isn't selective. i am plunged into depression. i retreat. how can i escape? i'll sit at the computer. or i might doodle a little (though that takes passion and i have none left). my body is awake, but my spirit has gone to sleep.

matt tells me to go ahead to bed. he wonders why i am acting so weird. and i just can't explain it.

in the middle of the night ossi wets the bed. i am not actively employing my patience powers. i can't remember plan A, B, or C for all of his crap. i tell him to go change his clothes. he won't without me. he threatens, "i guess i'll just go wake finn up." again, it's not the words. it's not about the scenario, it's about the weapons he deploys and about my crumbling defenses. matt had last nights shift and turns to me, "it's easier just to do what he wants." i get up. i look everywhere for some suitable attire but his tastes are too selective for the current availability. i toss some shorts his way and head toward bed. he yells, "you never do ANYTHING for me!"

that breaks me. so i climb into bed and tell matt i'm tapping out. he tells me i'm just not being patient enough and he gets up and does a marvelous job with him. then i lay in bed and imagine terrible things like what my life would be like without ossi. i imagine opening up my window and jumping out and not coming back. i imagine my options, as if i had any. i think, i should read the scriptures and immediately the verse, "if ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren  ye have done it unto me" comes to mind and i never want to touch the scriptures again.

this is about to sound really "messed up" so you may want to check out if you want to go on thinking that i'm a nice (albeit frustrated) person.

i'm beginning to postulate that there are some disabilities that are difficult but very rewarding to deal with. like if you have a child with a physical handicap i'm sure there are so many heartbreaking moments, but you'd know that everything you were doing was for their benefit. people would look at you and say, "well, what a sweet mother, taking care of that precious child."

you know those videos that circulate like the one on facebook with a brother who pulled his disabled sibling through a triathlon? isn't it inspiring? my kids get verbally abused and attacked by their brother and forgive him every time. wouldn't that make a great video?

ossi's disability (if you'll indulge me while i call it that) is not cute. my parenting doesn't look sweet. usually it looks like i'm ignoring him and letting him get away with being rude. it's not inspiring and i'm so, so tired.

i have prayed about it many times and i always get a strong feeling that i was meant to be his mother, that Father entrusted him to my care for a reason that i can't totally understand right now.

but it still totally sucks.

so there are those papers that i filled out. and a meeting with a therapist tomorrow and an evaluation with several doctors in portland on thursday. and he might act totally normal and they might tell me that there's nothing wrong and that i'm not being patient enough.

but maybe not.

here's a lighter post from happier times.


Katrina Hayes said...

Good for you, learn, teach, be proactive. If i can offer just a sliver of advice it is this: (bc i have a "strong willed" child myself) dont be afraid of your child. YOU actually ARE in charge. Be assertive in your actions; he smashed your bird, in what reality is that remotely acceptable you ask him? YOU are the boss, and you are strong. Good luck.i hope you find answers.

KT said...

I am so proud of you for posting this. My family has similar issues and it's so incredibly hard. You are really brave for opening up about this. It's very refreshing.

Cody said...

Megan, you continue to inspire me. You are a great mother and I truly admire you. Hang in there =)

Teresa said...

I had no idea that you were going through such intense things. I wish I were there to sit and listen while we fold clothes. I love you, and will be praying that God will give you the strength that you need. I hope that the therapist and doctors are able to help you this week. I will be thinking of you guys...

Anonymous said...

I am a regular reader but have never commented before. But I just have to say that this piece touched me to my very core. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your experiences. I have a child with very similar issues and it is so exhausting and incredibly difficult. Just know that you are not alone.

Angela Brown said...

You are amazing. I'm sure you don't feel like you are. There are days I feel like I just did OK and that's as good as it gets. Sometimes OK, sometimes just getting through it without screaming or throwing something is a victory. And you have to accept the small victories where you can get them.

I'm sorry you are going through this. I think you are wonderful. I also think you are normal. I want to run away and never look back sometimes and I don't have to deal with that difficulty.

Matt is at work all day (yes?) so him being able to handle Ossi at night better than you is probably Ossi just liking the time he gets to see his Daddy (he sees you all the time).

I'll keep you in my prayers! I hope things get better for you guys!

Heather said...

I don't comment, but read regularly and I just wanted to say how brave you are for posting this. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to go through this. You're a strong woman and it would be hard to find the patience and strength every day to handle the situation with the grace that you do. I hope you can find the help that Ossi needs.

Stephanie Kelly said...

I adore you Megan... I don't know why this hit home to me. I cried. You are a bigger thing in this little world then you'll ever know.

Anonymous said...

You are definitely patient enough. Thank you for sharing this post. I connected with your feelings and thoughts.

Natalie said...

You spoke of very difficult things. Probably some of the most difficult things that some people experience.

I grew up with a sibling who reminds me so much of your Ossi, and what he's/you are going through. When you wrote of his siblings forgiving him over and over, it helped me remember how often we forgave my brother, and continue to do so. We are still all close and still love each other. Our family could have been fractured permanently, but something in the way my parents helped us handle it, forgive it, and not swim in it, has become a strength in our home. My brother is now experiencing some very similar things with his son.

I'm hopeful that you'll get the help and strength you need to get through this. Especially in the day to day aspect. That's the hardest part - before perspective dawns.

Marie said...

My heart is breaking for Ossi. Unconditional love. Meg call me when u have a moment. Love you. Mom

seabirdfly said...

Hi Megan,we don't know each other but I have been reading your blog for a few years. I am not a parent, but I have a lot of experience as a nanny and I am minoring in child development. Based on what you are saying, I really don't think Ossi is "normal", and it probably has little to do with your parenting. You are strong and patient with him but there seems to be something else going on. i hope that you are able to find help from doctors and therapists.

There is one method I would try, but I don't know how well it would work. When he is beginning to get frustrated, you could try to acknowledge his feelings right away. This used to work with a girl I babysat that had a terrible temper, and within a few weeks of trying this method, she completely forgot about screaming and kicking me. Often we want to minimize children's anger by telling them how they should act, or by not responding to their anger by acknowledging it. For example, maybe as Ossi gets frustrated, you could say "wow Ossi, that sounds like it would be really upsetting!" or "I think anyone would feel frustrated by that!" By acknowledging his feelings instead of downplaying them or responding without emotion, he feels listened to and that being himself is okay. this method is from the book "How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk". Here is what the authors say: "When I’m upset or hurting, the last thing I
want to hear is advice, philosophy, psychology,
or the other fellow’s point of view. That kind
of talk only makes me feel worse than before. But let someone really listen, let someone
acknowledge my inner pain and give me a
chance to talk more about what’s troubling
me and I begin to feel less upset, less
confused, more able to cope with my
feelings and my problem." Another option they say is to give your children their wish in fantasy and be silly with it. Maybe Ossi wants a certain kind of cereal but you don't have it. As he gets frustrated, you could say "This is such a bummer! I wish I could give you cocoa puffs right now. I wish we had so many cocoa puffs that we could swim in them, like a chocolate sea!"

this might be completely irrelevant, I don't know. I just found that this really works for me when dealing with children who can become terrors when they are angry.

Anonymous said...

Everyday I feel the words from President Monson... about how sometimes courage is saying I will try again tomorrow. My Landen makes me want to trade him for a family of wild dingos daily. I hope you will continue to find ways to help him. After his out of body tornados... (which he talks about like a spectator not the tornado).... we have story therapy... basicly I tell the days events like a story.... and have landen insert the "emotions" he felt before, During, and after. Ex: this morning I woke up and made breakfast. The breakfast was Andrews favorite and made Andrew very happy, but landen doesn't like French toast, so having to eat it made landen ---------. Then landen had a hard time. Ect.....

It isn't a magic solution, but I helps him connect with his good choices and/or mistakes of his day. And think about how he could have done better, or celebrate the moments he really shined. I honestly think mine disconnects during his rampages.

Much love

-Shelley walls

Grati said...

I really feel for you. I'm a kindergarten teacher, and I have dealt with children with all sorts of crazy behaviors. What I truly believe is that no child would sincerely try to hurt someone else "just for fun". I think Ossi has a build up of frustrations, and he just doesn't know how to deal with them. Talk to him, talk a lot. See if you can get inside his soul, and find out what hurts so much that causes the nasty behavior. Ignoring is not a solution. I recomend Aletha Solter's books. I have seen children who push and hurt and beat other kids simply because they are afraid of creepy characters from cartons, and by hurting someome else they somehow feel powerful enough to beat the monsters. I hope it helps...

Jennifer Tonks said...

Megan I love your courage to share real trials that you face! You always have a way with words!

amateur idler said...

I read all the comments, and the refrain kept repeating - "I know just what you're going through," "This moved me." I don't know what it's like to deal with what you're going through with Ossi, but it sounds heartbreaking. You don't have to be perfect or do everything exactly right. Being a mom doesn't automatically make you the all-knowing parenting god. Try to give yourself some grace.
I'll pray for you for sure.

You know, I can only imagine what a picture of unconditional love your children are seeing in your actions.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Grati and from what you said, it seems like he has a lot of built up anger and frustration. All I kept thinking was that is there a correlation between Ossi's behavior and your schedule? Do you notice an increase in Ossi's unruly behavior when you become preoccupied with other things in your life. You said that you feel you're meeting all of his needs, but it seems like your family has been really busy: road trip, dance, and wedding planning. I wonder if all of this is having an effect on him. I don't have the answers but, I think getting him to talk to a professional may help you get some insight into his behavior. Raising children is hard; at least you're making the effort to try and understand him.

Lydia said...

Once upon a time your family sent my little boy a crocodile valentine. We still have it. And today, while looking at your other post, my little boy pointed to a picture of Finn and asked if we could visit him. After reading this post I wish we could visit your family. I would give you the biggest hug. But since we are states away from each other, and I don't know if you want a hug from a stranger, I will pray that the Lord wraps you in his arms. And that you may feel the Spirit enough to find a way out of the darkness of depression.

Karen said...


I have always admired you. You have a natural gift for compassion, and I can see why you are the right mom for Ossi. No matter the gift, it's hard to be "on" all the time. I'm impressed at your self control to try to stay calm through a tantrum.

I also appreciate how you tell the real deal. So many people can connect with your trials that you may never realize.

I read this yesterday and then in the car heard a commercial for the "Total Transformation." I always wondered if that would help our tantrums. They said it's free right now if you tell them if it's helped. Totally not an endorsement. I know nothing about it. But maybe the web site might even have tips to help strengthen you.

Matt being gone all day probably helps him not burn out on the behavior as much and he can have more patience when it's his turn. You're probably tapped out by night. I admire you for not yelling and spanking. But I hope it gets better-- so your love for your family can thrive and you can feel more peace in your home, with all of your children happy and feeling like their needs are met-- and with you feeling like your needs are met, too.

Hold on. You have help bigger than you, and bigger than all the behavior and challenges and darkness and depression. You may not feel Him all the time, but He's there and notices you.

Holly said...

Hang in there. Thank you for your post. My son tells me daily that he hates me and that I'm the meanest mom ever. It's rough to hear that as a mom and while it's nothing compared to what you're describing, I can somewhat empathize. I hope you are able to get the help and support you and your family needs. I don't have any advice to offer except make sure you open up to your husband about this. I hope he will read your post and know what you are going through. If nothing else, know that you have the love and support from other moms. And, of course, keep praying! You are loved. - Holly (Rachel Meynders' cousin)

Audrey Christensen said...

I grew up with not only a brother like this but also a sister. It was a struggle yes but I will always remember the strength it gave me not only then but now. I will remember the strength my mother had who stay home with all 6 of us and teaching us love for each other through the hard times and teaching us joy when we had the good times regardless of their issues. I know its difficult and I know that regardless of what we all say it will be hard to feel like there are others out there that can relate but there are. I am older now and understand a whole lot better of what it was like as a child and my relationships with my siblings are good great even and I love them and couldn't see my life with out them in it regardless of how it was then and how it is now. I am a better stronger more loving mother because of how they were and still are today. As I grew I made the choice to marry a man who deals with emotional issues because I knew that I could help and handle it and because I loved him and I also have a child who has some of his same issues that my husband has and I know that I was choosen by god to help them because he strengthed my soul as a child dealing with siblings who struggled. So you are where you need to be you are where god needs you to be you are the best mother to handle this you are. I have read for a long time and feel like your sense of adventure love love for your family and love for your church will help him grow into a man that god knows he can be and a mother, women that god knows you can be. Best of luck. - Audrey

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post. I love Ossi, I love looking at his face and wondering what's going on in the head of his.
I love you, I love seeing the woman and mother you have become. I love your children, they are each different and yet the same.
I love my mother who is a grown up Ossi. I have lived with her struggles somedays better than others, sometimes weeks at a time that were good. I have ached for her to love me the way I thought mothers were supposed to love their children, however that is. My dad knew how to handle her and was the buffer between her and the rest of the world. I know that somewhere deep down inside she knows that something is not right and it's her trial for this life. I know that I choose how I act or react to her. I know how I feel and how frustrated I get and how angry. Now she has a new trial to deal with or maybe it's a tender mercy to allow healing before she is gone.
You are not alone. You will be okay. The scriptures also say that Jesus wept.

Brooke said...

Megan, we've never met, though we have several mutual friend (Megan, Samantha, etc.). My nephew has similar issues, and several others have commented about their own experiences. You are not alone. Just know you and Ossi are loved by so many. Motherhood is HARD. I have two little boys and wish I could help. My thoughts and prayers for you and your family.

kaitlyn said...

I am writing to let you know you are in my heart and in my prayers.

Rachel is our mutual friend and I had recently read your blog about your depression which I really identified with.

You ARE meant to be his mother. Only you (and your husband) can handle and know the right way to parent this particular spirit. You are strong and amazing and a wonderful mother. The best that you can give is what he needs. You are doing the right thing by seeking professional help. you are not crazy.

Just know you are loved. thank you for your honesty.

Tif said...

You don't know me, although we have met before. Found your blog through Rachel Meynders. My husband was in the roadshow with you over the summer-John Calder. We're in Fairgrounds Ward.

I don't know where you live, but I know it can't be far. I know you don't know me, but I want you to know that as much as another person living another life can, I know your pain. I know how it is to think about all the other possibilities your life could have held if not for one certain detail-your child. I know how it is to fill out the forms again and again and again and wonder "is it just me???" I know how it is to have a husband who doesn't quite understand why this situation, this time, has tapped you out. I know how it is to cry myself to sleep at night, to think about doctors and diagnoses and wonder if it's the right thing, the wrong thing. To look back on what I've fed my children and analyze it and see if there's anything I can change.

As different as my struggles have been, in many ways they've been the same. Are the same. And so while you don't know me, probably wouldn't recognize me as we pass in the church halls, I want to reach out to you. Offer you what I can-an ear, if you need one. A shoulder. Something. Rach has my number, it's in the stake directory, I can give it to you if you want, whatever. But really, if you need someone, a stranger even. I don't know your struggles exactly, but I do know how blessed I've been by strangers who have offered to help when I've needed it.

Prayers that you can feel the arms of your Saviour around you and your little family.

Andrea said...

I have left a comment on your blog one other time. I think you are an amazing woman, mother, and writer. Thank you for your honesty in your posts. You are a brave woman and I so much admire your courage and patience.
Thank you for your perspective. I have 4 young ones as well and I am dealing with some of my own trials and this post really slapped me in the face. It made me feel sheepish for complaining about the things I am dealing with and it made me grateful for other women and the strength we have been sent here with and the power for good we have. You are doing good! Hang in there.

Krista & Tyler said...

There is never shame in asking for help. Or a second opinion. Or a diagnosis. Or help. You are in my prayers. You are loved. And you are wonderful.

Richard and McKenna said...

I am so sorry. I know we have never met in person, but I am praying for you! Just from what I have read on your blog, I know you are a wonderful mom and a great inspiration to me. Keep up the good work :)

April said...

Megan, I love the Spirit you have and the wonderful example you are. I have never met you but I feel it through your words. you are an example of a good mother. I really feel that these words you wrote were inspired. I am the mother to 4 young boys and I know what it is to feel so burdened with trials. I know what it's like when the last thing you want to do is pray or read some scripture that once warmed your heart but now just makes you angry. You question God's love for you. Earlier today I was talking to my sister about how there are times in our lives when we think life is so easy and other times it's just plain HARD. I have felt like wanting to take a vacation from my life too. It is not easy being a mom. I hope you feel the Lords love for you and that you receive the strength you need to get through this trial. I will be praying for you.

joolee said...

hugs and prayers going out to you, Megan, and your beautiful family. hang in there, keep doing all you're doing and the Lord will provide some help and answers.

Jessica said...

You are not alone! I am praying that you will feel that you are surrounded by many of us that have experienced these situations as well, in your darkest times! Saying this out loud is not only good for you, you have given many of us a voice that have t used it yet.

Jenny said...

My uncle sent me the link to your blog because he recognized my experience in your post.

Indeed, every feeling you expressed has been mine. My "difficult child" is now 20 and a wonderful person. I tell you this in the hopes that on those days that you want to run away, you will have a shred of hope that your cumulative efforts will produce a positive result, even though you're sure at the moment nothing is working. When she was 3 as I held her door shut while she tore apart her room and screamed every venemous, vile thing she knew, I was sure her future would be in prison for murder.

For the first 7 years of my daughter's life I used to ask Heavenly Father if He made a mistake sending this child to me. My background in behavioral psychology had me racking my brain constantly to figure out what I was doing wrong to make this child so angry and frustrated all the time. It wasn't until I read "The Explosive Child" that I got both a different perspective and some concrete techniques that actually helped and learned why the standard parenting techniques I was trying to perfect were an abysmal failure. Those SPT worked perfectly for my other children, so why didn't they work for her?

I am a talker, so when telling other people about my struggles and the outrageous behavior of my daughter I often got looks like they were sure I was crazy, because my daughter was such a beautiful, darling child and NEVER acted that way in the presence of other people. Usually not in front of my husband, either. I felt it was a special problem I created in her. Her siblings also received huge doses of her wrath and manipulation, for which I also felt very guilty.

Unlike you, I never received the assurance from the Spirit that I was supposed to be her mother. However, I had a sister-in-law who was also going through similar experiences with her daughter and although we lived two states away, we would occassionally spend a few hours on the phone commissurating, which at least made me feel like a wasn't crazy. Once while expressing the feeling that I was the wrong mother for my child my sister-in-law rather bluntly stated that of course I was the right parent for her because someone else would have abused or killed her when she was a baby. That rather shocking statement made me realize that this child's difficulties, no matter the outcome, were her life struggle and as her parent I would do my best to help her navigate them. No perfect parenting award, no recognition from anyone, just do what I could and that would be enough.

Having not read your previous blog posts, I don't know if you've already read "The Bipolar Child", but if not, you may find that helpful.

Also, I have been studying nutrition for several years and have found "12 Steps to Whole Foods" on greensmoothiegirl.com to be the most comprehensive approach to putting all the best research on nutrition into daily practice. If it seems too overwhelming to you to even think about making big changes in your diet, just tuck that information away for someday.

Please know you are not alone. This is a lonely, thankless, exhausting job. I used to envy the women working in the dentist and doctor's offices I'd go to. Working in a quiet, organized, scheduled environment; how easy would that be?

Keep up the good work. You are doing a great job.

K Grace said...

You are inspiring. I cried as I read this and saw how strong you are. You may not feel strong, but you are. I can see it. Keep your head up and always rely on God's strength, not your own. I believe that someday you will see the rewards of sticking with this and doing your best by your son. You can do this! God bless you, Megan.