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"God help us, it's almost summer!"

How is it possible that these children are going to be out of school in a matter of days? How?? Don’t get me wrong, I am literally dragging can to make lunches each night at this point, and thank God for the blessed teachers who have stopped giving homework because Lord knows this mama is basically over checking math facts and quizzing vocab words. But isn’t there a place that these little people can go until fall arrives again? Because quite honestly, it’s May 24th and I already want to staple all of their mouths closed.

“Shivonne, aren’t you overreacting just a bit?” some may ask.

Um, no. And go kick rocks, by the way.

So, Wyatt has taken to baby talking. Not just acting whiney, but all-out baby talking “goo goo ga ga” crap. That is, of course, when he’s not screeching at the top of his lungs like a little girl, mooing like a cow, or singing the ABCs… which I’m daily regretting having taught him. And then there’s the fact that this kid is CONSTANTLY talking about food being in my boobies and hugging my uterus with a weird kind of fondness in his eyes. This child, in his best baby talk voice, is asking if he can go BACK INTO my belly and be a baby.

Have I don’t something to traumatize him? I mean, is it possible that there is some kind of psychological damage that’s been done? Did I nurse him too long? Because honestly, what child asks to re-enter the womb? It’s creepy and disturbing… especially when he pats my chest and tells me he loves my “bellies” so much because they’re just so squishy. And then he thanks me for having them… because it was obviously my choice.

Yeah, these are things that could end any day now and I would be quite fine with it.

Cameron, on the other hand, makes me want to staple his mouth shut for multiple reasons. First of all, the kid is majorly obsessed with particular things for a few days at a time and can think of absolutely nothing else but his momentary fixation. Pokemon cards, bay blades, planting his 2x2 foot garden, fidget spinners, fit bits, geocaching… whatever the fad for that second is the only thing he will speak of for days at a time. It’s kind of like living with a redneck Kardashian, minus the nude selfies (thank you, Jesus).

Secondly, I would like to staple Cameron’s mouth shut because, for those brief moments he isn’t obsessing over things, he sits there with his mouth hanging open as if he’s trying to catch flies. He will quite literally sit like that and drool until someone tells him to close his mouth! My husband and I have affectionally labeled this “Resting Doofus Face”. (I know, we are horrible people… and yet we manage to still live with ourselves.)

My 11-year-old came home the other day and was telling me all about a girl in his class who “has the hots” for him and how they’re practically dating. I mean, I tried to be excited I guess, but really, all I could think was that this poor female child must be blind and deaf because no one could possibly be drawn to the drooling and all this obsessive prattling about boring stuff. It’s just not possible. So, until I’m proven wrong, this girl is nothing more than a figment of my son’s imagination – someone he has invented because he needed one person in his life who wouldn’t constantly nag him to close his mouth.

Then there’s Taylor. The girl child who talks incessantly about NOTHING. I cannot fathom saying so many words in a single day without having accomplished a single productive conversation. It’s incomprehensible how much she talks about back-handsprings and bracelets and her hair! Seriously, is there nothing else in her head? Is there nothing else of importance that happens on a day to day basis? Why would she think that anyone cares to hear her tell them 17 times in a row how surprised she is that her new shorter hair will still go up in a ponytail? Like, oh my gosh, right?

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I simply cannot and will not feign excitement at one more cartwheel. I just can’t. The quality of my life desperately depends on me walking away from her when she jumps for joy and wants me to do the same when she manages to flip or flop for the 274th time in a single afternoon. And it keeps her alive that I have restraint enough to walk away from her when she repetitiously states the obvious every few seconds.

“Wow, it’s raining.”

“Wow, it’s still raining.”

“Hey, did you see it rain?”

“Is it supposed to rain tomorrow?”

“I like rain.”

“Oooo, it looks like the rain may start back up again any second…or maybe just sprinkle…or it could thunderstorm…no, I bet it’ll just rain…”

This makes me want to throat punch her. She sees me working on bills or talking on the phone or choosing songs for church and THESE are the moments she talks the most about nothing. And the sad thing is, even if I gave her my undivided attention 24/7, it wouldn’t come close to being enough. So, I try to hide from her until she leaves for school each morning.

Except school is almost out! There will very soon be NO MORE hiding. There will just be minutes and hours and weeks and months of quality family time, filled with nothing but stupid talk. Babyish whines. Repetition. Drool.

I can only pray for patience so many times before all that’s within me is gonna hit the fan, so God help us all this summer. You, me, and all of these wildly loud and ridiculous children. God help us.





The Toddler, The Terror

So, I have this toddler. He will be 3 next month. And from what I’m told, 3 is a million times worse than 2 – it is, in a sense 2 perfected. Friends, this a thought that sends chills down my spine. Because I gotta tell ya, 2 has basically sucked eggs. Don’t believe me? Just read it for yourself!

Potty Training

This kid does NOT want to stop peeing in his diaper. Like, not at all. Putting my child on the toilet either leads to screaming bloody murder, flushing the toilet 27 times, or giving himself an erection – making it virtually impossible to pee anyhow. In fact, this child arouses himself basically every time his diaper comes unhooked! Now, whereas I try to discourage this behavior without shaming him, part of me wants to scream, “YOU’RE GOING TO YANK IT OFF AND PEOPLE ARE GOING TO THINK I’M A BAD MOTHER!!!!”

But instead, my kid sits there, beaming proudly at his accomplishment of making his weenie big, saying things like, “Mama! I DID it! That’s the biggest butt I ever seen!” (Because we still call our weenie a butt. Obviously, I’m going to have to homeschool my child because we are never going to be ready for kindergarten at this rate. I mean, yesterday I caught him eating a dead fly… come on!)

This week, however, I developed a Paw Patrol sticker chart. Each time he pees on the big boy potty, he gets a sticker on the chart. If he poops, he gets 2 stickers and a parade in his honor. Once each row is filled up with stickers representing his bathroom escapades, he gets candy… and yes, I am bribing my child with copious amounts of sugar. Judge me if you will, but it’s better than constant masturbation in my eyes, so your judgments mean nothing. Just saying.

We’ve had a decent amount of success with the sticker chart, although he gets awfully irrational when I don’t give him a sticker every time someone else in the house uses the restroom. After all, this isn’t a joint effort here! It’s certainly not worth the tantrums that ensue. Speaking of which…


Last week I missed half of my grandmother’s funeral because I had to remove my screaming/hitting/kicking son from the funeral home and literally drag him outside to the back of the building (using emergency exits that thankfully didn’t sound any alarms when I opened them). There I sat on the damp concrete in my black dress, showing all kinds of granny panty, as my kid threw rocks and screamed at the top of his lungs every time I looked in his direction. I wept like the worn-out mother that I am, silently cursing the child that I GAVE BIRTH TO and his erratic behavior that came from me. My other kids that I adopted? I don’t have to take ownership for their issues… but this kid is all mine from the DNA to the horrid behavior.

I felt like a failure for the billionth time that day.

Especially when the casket delivery man arrived and informed me that our hysterics were blocking his path to the storage room. I looked at him with racoon-smeared eyes and picked up my flailing child, trying to walk to a new location as my high heel broke underneath the weight of the two of us.

Later that day I threw my shoes away.  We repeated our tantrums and disciplines again and again for days and days – in restaurants, at the funeral luncheon, in the car, and in the house. I’m learning to view this new routine my son and I are in like I would a wild horse. We are constantly trying to break the stallion’s crazed spirit so that he can become an animal capable of fitting in with the rest of the tamed herd that is society.

It’s just not working. Yet. Which leads me to the horribleness that is the final toddler topic for today’s post…

Nap Inconsistencies

As if dealing with the little maniac all day isn’t hard enough, my child is starting to break free of his previously consistent nap schedule. THIS, my friends, may be the death of me. Because after hours of cycling this boy on and off the potty, correcting tantrums, and cleaning up the giant-sized toddler messes that he leaves in his wake, this mama is READY for naptime! That was the deal. He can act like a colossal turd for some of the day if he must, but that means I get a couple hours of reprieve in the afternoon. But now, my son is struggling to hold up his end of the bargain and I find myself crying hysterically by dinner time.

My older kids are so frightened of my hazzardness that they don’t question me when I pack lunches that consist of 3 jellos and a peanut butterless PB&J sandwich. They see the crazy unfolding before their very eyes and I believe they pity me. But if we’re looking for silver linings, they have both informed me within the last week that they will never have sex because they are scared of having children.

So there’s a parenting win.

But seriously, this child is making my brain homicidal. I mean, I am walking around like a full-fledged Lewis Black impersonator all day long, grunting out strings of nonsensical words with barely a breath to speak them.

And then, minutes later, this same kid comes up to me and tells me he loves me so much. And then we load up his dump trucks with all his farm animals and pretend to take them to the jungle… until his toy crocodile comes along and destroys all the animals and fake-chomps the truck to bits. And for some reason, this makes my son very happy and cuddly. So, we sit and hunker down in a good snuggle amidst the carnage that was his plastic livestock.

In the moment, these day to day things feel so stinking insurmountable. This stage feels like it will last forever. And I know in my heart of hearts that it won’t. But if you say that to me, I’m liable to bite your head off, cry, and then apologize (you’ve been forewarned). I know deep down that my children will all grow up and be somewhat functional in society, hopefully potty-trained, and I will no longer have the need to make crocodile sounds.

I’m told this will be a sad day. We’ll see. Either way, this moment will pass. In the meantime, I will continue to talk my brain off the ledge of insanity each day, being as consistent as possible, and attempt to be more mindful while packing lunches for the big ones. Sometimes Hope means believing that one day, life may just be boring.



If Mom Ran For President

           The year 2016 will go down in history as one of the strangest and most controversial presidential elections of all time. I think it’s safe to say that, no matter which party you support, our country as a whole kinda looks like it’s playing a twisted game of Would You Rather…

            You remember the game from childhood, right?

            “Would you rather eat boogers dipped in gasoline or pluck out 10 nose hairs every minute for an entire day?”

           “Would you rather remove your own cornea with a rusted fork or pull off each of your fingernails with a pair of pliers?”

           “Would you rather chew on a ball of someone else’s hair for all eternity or have to dress like a member of Kiss for every formal function you’re invited to for the rest of your life?”

           Yeah, so that’s basically my take on politics… a big game of Would You Rather. So, instead of being bitter, I decided to create a new democratic party. The Mom Party.

           The Mom Party is a fantastic mix of all the other parties, minus all the stupid name-calling, lying, and cheating… because we all know our Moms would ground us for that kind of crap. And in honor of my newfound political aspirations, I decided to take a look at 20 of the most popular debates over the past several years and solve all the world’s problems, Mom Style.

           PS, for those who think women shouldn’t be allowed to run for president because we’d be “too emotional”, know that we wipe butts, don’t need a chauffeur, decipher daily lies, and sleep standing up… we don’t have time for emotions. And we’d do the job for free. Beat that.

           If Mom Ran For President – The Important Topics:

1)      Tough on Crime: Heck yeah, we’d be tough on crime! I’ve broken up more fights over senseless crap than the entire LAPD, and I don’t even get back-up, NOR do they let me carry a Taser. Ground the criminals to their rooms and don’t even let them think about asking for snack!

2)      Abortion: I firmly believe that a mother should only be allowed to kill her child after that child is born. (Too far? Too far. See Torture below.)

3)      Animal Rights: Yes. To all the animals that my children will ever see, the answer is Yes. We are practically running a zoo anyways, so every stray, missing-limbed, scraggly, flea-infested creature is basically welcome. We do not discriminate.

4)      Drug Legalization: Wait, for my kids or for me?? Ok, so for Moms, we should get coupons that reduce our co-pays for all anxiety medication. In fact, scratch that. We should get CASH BACK for taking our medications like good girls. And for our kids? After a birthday party, I would legalize Benedryl… you know, to help wean them off the hard stuff (ice cream and cake), but for recreational use, Melatonin should do the trick.

5)      Affirmative Action: I’m sorry, but there ain’t no one getting special permissions in this house over here. Whatever your race, gender, or favorite color, EVERYONE is scrubbing a toilet and taking garbage out for the same allowance, PERIOD.

6)      Homeschooling: Oh my gosh, NO! I mean, that should be left up to each individual household but, still… oh my gosh, just… No.

7)      Building a Wall: Only if we make the children build it. Heck, tire them out! Let them build it as high as they want, paint it crazy colors, and then just MAYBE they’ll sleep a solid 8 hours each night!

8)      Torture: Definition = Parenting. If they’re allowed to do it to us, shouldn’t we be allowed to do it to them? Well, I guess if we’re being presidential and all, perhaps we should limit it to only when it’s absolutely necessary… like when you have to figure out who broke the television and neither child will spill the beans.

9)      Term Limits: Yes. 18 years, MAX. Then, it’s time to help little Johnny find a house, apartment, nice van by the river, whatever. No matter how much he begs to stay and even “pay rent”… I mean, what can we do? It’s the law!

10)  Common Core: Burn it. Burn all the books, all the lesson plans, all the “studies”. Light the fire and I’ll provide the gasoline. Mothers of the world who have to help their children with homework while they cry and scream, You’re Welcome.

11)  Social Programs: Ok, so yeah… there definitely needs to be more. Like one where Moms can go to socialize with other adults and they’re not allowed to wear make-up, bring diaper bags, or talk about their children. Oh, and they can’t look good in yoga pants. BYOC (Bring Your Own Chocolate).

12)  Minimum Wage: For crying out loud, leave it where it is. I’m not raising allowances so my kids get MORE money for haphazardly taking out the trash and shoving their toys under their beds. And I’m certainly not giving them the chance to purchase even MORE toys that require batteries… because then we’d just need another social program that provides batteries in bulk to families across the globe. No raise. Problem solved.

13)  Gun Rights: My children are crazy so guns are gonna have to be limited to Nerf and Water. I will allow special permits for hunting video games if your child really feels the need to start killing things… but then again, maybe we need to go back to Social Programs on this one.

14)  Death Penalty: This should be reserved only for waking up Mom in the middle of the night for a non-emergent reason. If there’s not blood, puke, an intruder, or an asthma attack, know that you will be shanked on site.

15)  Going Green: I’ll be as organic as I can afford (I AM willing to run the country for free, if you do recall). I’ll turn off the faucet while I brush my teeth and I’ll recycle as much as I can. But just TRY to enforce kids shutting off lights when they leave a room. I dare you. We would have to increase our military spending to do so, and I’m pretty sure that the people would revolt.

16)  Free Trade: Uh, NO. It leads to Indian giving and “No Take Backs” being screamed at volumes that make my head split in half. There will be no trading, ever. Eat the sandwich that was packed by your own parents, I don’t care if it’s tuna fish on rye!

17)  Internet Censorship: This is obviously a must. There are too many crazy people out there putting crazy things on the internet just waiting for my crazy children to happen upon it. Minecraft Only, thank you very much.

18)  War on Terror: Daily. It’s called Motherhood.

19)  National Health Care: I feel it’s only humane to give Band-Aids to any child that’s bleeding, not just my own. And I will pull a sliver out of any finger, hold back the hair of any puker, and give an ice pack to any bumped noggin. But I will not give out my Epi Pen… that’s basically gold and ain’t no one affording that anymore!

20)  Changing the Constitution: I would like to add just a few amendments here, please.

A) We the people have the right to sleep for 6 hours each night…

B)  To use the restroom in peace…

C) To go to the store ALONE…

D) To shave both legs in the same shower…

E) And to pray that our children will one day rise up and call us blessed.

"As President of the United States of America, I promise to train my children to be productive citizens, I promise to hold other parents accountable when they are faltering and to lift them up when they are struggling. I promise to show love indiscriminately and, when necessary, let the punishment fit the crime. I would honor and respect each and every parent out there, knowing that they’re doing their best and that they probably just need a nap."

Because after all, shouldn’t we always want a Mom for the job?

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Redefining Greatness

           Each summer, I have high hopes of achieving greatness in motherhood. And each fall I realize that greatness is highly overrated. Sometime in August I become very okay with mediocrity and the whole “just keep them alive” method of parenting. (It’s okay to judge me if you must. I’m far too tired to care anyway.)

            I start out the summer being a “Yes” Mom. I tell the kids they can have the second popsicle, that they can use the playdough without supervision, that they can stay up late to catch fireflies. And by August I am back to my “No” Mom self, swiftly denying all access to Dad’s tools, things that require all of my batteries, nail polishes/paints/anything that stains, and all things that are sugar-based.

            I’m unsure why I feel that each June will be different than the last – that my children will have matured magically in the previous 9 months, that they won’t fight incessantly, or that they won’t suck my love for summer away once again. But each summer I test out my re-found optimism, only to realize that it doesn’t quite fit in with me and my special needs family. Because in a home filled with our specific kind of nuts, we don’t have the strength for continual optimism.

            No, in our home, we have roles that we hold tightly to – ones that don’t allow for much deviation from out callings. We have myself, The Enforcer – I’m the rule-setter, consequence-maker, and death-glarer. We have my husband, The Worker – the one that is gone all day and then gets to play with our spawn, giving him the extra title of The Fun One. Then there’s my oldest, The Bully. He’s the one that taunts, teases, and pinches the minute my back is turned. But its okay, because my next oldest is The Tattler, also known as The Instigator. She is the reporter of all things (necessary or not), the one that loves to hear her own voice, and the little shadow that begs to be pinched so she has something else to tattle about. And finally, we have The Toddler. He’s 2, he tantrums, and he’s supposed to be my “normal one”.

            Yeah, optimism is quickly replaced by realism each and every summer. But before you think we are too pessimistic for your taste, let me give you a glimpse into one particularly warm July day…

            The Toddler woke promptly at 6am, ensuring that he could start his energetic throwing of toys before the heat became too great. But hey, since he wasn’t throwing the toys at the dogs or the television, I continued to pay bills and do laundry before the Bigs woke up… which was naturally 20 minutes later. The rest of the morning was spent reminding children to do their morning routine, the very same routine they’ve been doing every day for years. I stared at their shocked faces when they were informed that yes, indeed, their underwear needed to be changed every day. For always.

            We did daily homework assignments to ensure that no one became stupid over the summer… this meant that I spent an hour arguing with The Tattler that 10 +23 does not equal 1023, all the while The Bully wailed that he couldn’t understand his story problem: “Billy had 18 apples and gave Tommy 6. Tommy then gave 3 apples to Judy. How many apples does Tommy now have?” Meanwhile, The Toddler ate all the crackers and screamed every time a commercial interrupted his Paw Patrol marathon.

            We finally finished all the assignments and my bills got paid (sort of) so we promptly got ready for The Tattler’s library program that morning. Only, where was my phone? I had it earlier while I did the banking, but where was it now? No worries… we found it a half hour later… in the refrigerator, courtesy of The Toddler.

            We were the family running into the library drenched in sweat, A) because we have no air conditioner and B) because we are incapable of attending any library program on time. I don’t know why and I no longer have the motivation to care. I handed my middle child over to the sweet ladies in charge as I avoided the irritated glances at their watches. The Bully began looking for a new book while The Toddler attached himself to a handful of cars at the train table.

            I sat anxiously, waiting for the inevitable tantrum that The Toddler throws each and every time we enter the library. It’s the place where he had his first injury (last summer, banged lip off the train table, bled all over their carpet), where we screamed bloody murder in the bathroom for ALL to hear (two summers ago, while trying not to smack his head off the toilet paper holder as I had to nurse him in the bathroom because I was asked not to nurse him in the children’s section), and where he continues to dominate all the toys because by being the baby of the family, it’s basically survival of the fittest.

            That day was no different. I watched in slow motion as my small child grabbed a toy away from a sweet little boy with Down’s Syndrome. The boy tried to get his toy back, but my child in turn hit him with the toy. It was like I was moving through jello, unable to run through the sea of scattered toys fast enough, when the other boy began to scream a high-pitched wail that was not only warranted, but appreciated (because, hey, it wasn’t my kid screaming for a change).

            I promptly grabbed up The Toddler, apologizing profusely as I handed my purse off to my oldest. I ran my now-screaming baby out to the parking lot as he hit and kicked, flapped and hollered. Outside it was a balmy 831 degrees and my child’s sweat was making it impossible to hold him as he raged. And, as I fought to control a person 1/4th my size in the public library’s parking lot, a police officer pulled up alongside me.

            “Everything okay, ma’am?” he asked with concern.

            Sweat dripping into my eyes, making my hair stick to my running make-up, I tried to smile as I responded, “Oh, of course! Just a bit of a toddler tantrum is all!” I made a slight attempt at a chuckle, but it ended up coming out as more of a maniacal laugh than anything.

            Twenty minutes and a two walks around the block, The Toddler was still being a jerk, but it was time to go in and claim my daughter from her program. It was then that I looked down and noticed that, amidst the struggle with my youngest, my wide-necked t-shirt somehow had managed to be pulled all the way down, underneath my left boob. I had talked with our local law enforcement and walked two blocks with my one of my breasts completely hanging out. (And no, I didn’t feel a breeze, thanks to my super unattractive full-coverage mom bra.)

            Defeated and repositioned, I threw my kid over my shoulder and marched through the library to claim The Tattler. The sweet librarians once again eyed me with fear because my child’s screaming was interrupting their announcements. I forced a smile and said something clever like, “Kids, what do ya do, right?” before grabbing all of my children and running-not-running for the door.

            We arrived home just in time for The Toddler to take a nap, which means that he pulled his weenie out and peed through his crib like a boss just before drifting off. But I didn’t care. The pee would still be there when he woke up and there was no way that I was going to wake him to change his sheets. So I turned the fan on him in an attempt to dry up some of the wetness, like any mediocre, realist mom would do.

            I came back down the stairs to see The Bully pinning down his sister as he wrenched her arm behind her back. Grabbing him up by the scruff and then swatting his bottom, I sent him immediately to his room. The Tattler proceeded to tell me that her brother had just pinned her on the ground and wrenched her arm behind her back. (Yes, thank you for stating the obvious. Would you care to do any other work for my eyes, like tell me the color of the walls or describe to me my own outfit?) But because I still had just a smidgen of Good Mom still in me, I refrained from the sarcasm and reminded her that I had just taken care of the issue, assessing her arm as we talked.

            It was then that I noticed the dog poop on the floor. Just because of life.

            Meanwhile, The Toddler was awakened from his nap by a mooing Bully who refused to calm himself down. Not that it mattered, because we had a church event to leave for and there was still the whole pee incident happening upstairs in the crib.

            All bodily secretions sufficiently cleaned, we managed to make it to the church on time. Naturally The Toddler proceeded to push down another baby in our church and scream at the top of his lungs when redirected. To keep the peace, I put him in the nursery's pack-n-play for a time-out. However, The Tattler proceeded to inform me that I was a bad mother for just leaving him to cry without getting him out. At that point, I gave her one of my infamous death glares, reminding her that she was insanely out of line and should probably keep her well-researched parenting advice to herself.

            The Bully sulked in the corner and refused to talk to anyone, The Tattler cried for being glared at, and The Toddler’s screams could still be heard 3 rooms away. It was then that a sweet friend of mine from out church mentioned that I should get my youngest checked for autism.

            Tears welled in my eyes, not at the thought that my son could have autism, but at the fact that I had already asked his pediatrician this very question and was assured that he was completely NOT autistic – leaving 2 options: He was either a terrible child, or I was a terrible mother. Either way, the tears were there and I did my best to hold them at bay while I made small talk and acted like everything was fine.

            We left the event early because… well, because I have kids.

            Upon arriving home, I noticed that the temperature had cooled ever so slightly, so I told the kids to play outside. And as I stepped through the grass to set my purse on the patio, my foot got stuck in a hole that one of the dogs had dug and my ankle painfully rolled until I heard a snap. Since I was in my own yard and there was no sense in holding back anymore, I cried until I couldn’t breathe.

            Terrified, The Tattler ran inside and got me every ice pack we own. The Bully attempted to keep The Toddler from crawling on me like I was a jungle gym… because normal toddlers take crying as a call for playtime, apparently?

            My husband arrived home minutes later to me sitting in the yard with ice packs surrounding my swollen ankle. He saw my puffy eyes and listened as I told him about the library and my boob, the police and the wrenching of the arm, the poop and the pee, the church and the hole. I told him that I was a bad mother, incapable of achieving greatness.

            After sending me to my room to recover, The Worker/Fun One played with the kids in the yard. I heard them laughing and following directions. No one pinched or peed on anything. No one screamed or tattled. Everyone just played. In the distance I could hear a dog vomiting, but I didn’t go downstairs to clean it up. It would inevitably still be there in the morning.

            Two weeks later, I went on vacation with my kids, my parents, my brother and my nephew. I did a lot of sleeping and a lot of unwinding. The Toddler only peed on things twice and my parents took over when The Tattler and The Bully got into it. I relinquished my crown as The Enforcer for almost 9 days and found myself laughing with my children. I even got to be The Fun One a few times!

            So, as August has begun to wind us down to those last few moments of summer, I am okay with my mediocre status. I realize that it doesn’t make me a failure to not reach greatness each summer. It’s okay to say “No” and to hide the hammer and nails and to take naps when The Toddler finally goes down for his afternoon sleep. It’s okay to reclaim my batteries and make bedtime earlier. And it’s certainly okay to be The Fun One sometimes.

           But whatever the role, whatever the situation, whatever the daily liquids I get to scrub… I can rest easy, knowing that I kept them alive for one more summer. And that, my friends, is greatness redefined.



Less Than Quality Time: The RAD Dilemma

            Raising children where quality time always ends in tears? This is my life. This is their lives. And maybe this is your life, too. I’d like to think that after 4 ½ years of living with me and my husband, I would be able to do JUST ONE activity with my kids without RAD showing up to join the party. But sadly, that is not our reality.

            I’ve noticed that I’ve been conditioned by their emotional outbursts to avoid quality time at all costs. It’s my survival mechanism. Now, as their mother, I obviously can’t do this. And as a therapist, I obviously know that I shouldn’t do this. However, deep inside, I know that if I engage with one or both of my older children doing something they’ve requested, inevitable tears or tantrums will follow. It somehow won’t be good enough, I won’t have helped both children “equally”, or their high expectations will be disappointed with my imperfect parenting performance.

            Therefore, I feel exhausted before we ever begin a craft, a Lego project, or a tent made out of blankets. I am often ready to quit by Step 1, even though being the Keeper of the Children, the one responsible for teaching them all these seemingly impossible things, doesn’t allow for me to be the one to quit.

            Here’s what I know about my kids and their Reactive Attachment Disorder issues:

1)      Self-sabotage is REAL and it shows up whenever we do anything that requires thought, creativity, talent, or social skills.

            All things that my children perceive they may fail at becomes an instant enemy… even if it’s something they, themselves, have chosen to do. A perfect example of this is my son. At 10-years-old, he has struggled to find his strengths in life. Sure, he brags to his friends that he can do this or that, and he tries to show off in the most awkward of ways, but in his heart, he believes he is a failure. So when we attempted to do a craft of his choosing this afternoon, he blew up within the first 3 minutes. After he “calmed down”, he then proceeded to work far below his capabilities on the rest of the activity. Finally, after I’d helped him and assured him that it was wonderful and that he is talented and that he is loved and ALL the things that he needs to hear each and every craft we do, he tossed his finished product into the trash.

           It is easier to sabotage their work than to try their hardest and others realize that they aren’t perfect.

2)      Sabotaging others is a definite, particularly if the other person is currently receiving praise or attention.

           This is the case with my children, 100% of the time. When one is accomplishing something and gaining praise from an adult, the other “accidentally” breaks the successful child’s trophy, art project, report card, or fort. Without fail, if one child tries and succeeds, the other child tries even harder to spoil their efforts.

            It feels better to know that someone else is miserable right along with them, even if they have to create the misery themselves.

 3)      The more love they’re given, the more they believe they are unloved.

           I know, it makes no sense, but it’s true. When my children are given any amount of extra attention, it somehow serves as a mirror to their pasts – reflecting back to them any other moment when they felt betrayed, cast off, or unwanted. So, the more I cheer at a swim meet or gymnastics event, the less my children try – the defeat dripping off them with slumped shoulders, frowns, and all-out quitting. Immediately following a good report card, I am constantly peppered with self-deprecating statements such as, “I know you like her better, don’t you? Just admit it!” or “I’m stupid and you know it. That’s why you wish you never would’ve adopted me.”

 Believing they are unlovable is easier than believing they’re capable of being loved.

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           Parenting a child with RAD often means choosing not to get overly excited when they do something well in order to prevent the self-sabotage.

           It means celebrating holidays and birthdays with minimal excitement or stimulation in order to prevent tantrums.

           It means keeping my own emotions level, even when I want to show excitement, grief, anger, or happiness during basic life events. I do this in order to keep them from ruining the moment with their need to try to mimic my emotions inappropriately or, worse, act out behaviorally so that the attention is back on them.

           It means loving them carefully, almost so they don’t know they’re slowly being loved and the self-deprecation can’t take over.

           It means making myself still build forts and Lego constructions and art projects, despite knowing that it will likely end in disaster.

           It means preparing for fall-out when a stranger compliments one of my children and not the other.

           It means gluing together all the broken things that were ruined by a jealous and insecure sibling.

           It means choosing the days wisely – picking quality activities on days with enough time to also deal with the following melt-downs.

           It means looking at other families and being envious that they get to go on vacations and holidays and day trips – jealous that they get to enjoy their children, not just survive them.

           And it means saying “I love you” even when it will be returned with “No you don’t.”

           Parenting a child with RAD means writing blog posts and hoping that someone else out there will say, “Yes! Me, too!” and that we can be a reminder that we’re just doing our best – trying to love and teach kids that don’t always know how to accept our offerings. Because at the end of the day, we actually aren’t responsible for their successes or their failures. We are only judged on our own actions and efforts – our choices to build the forts and create the weird-looking art projects that would NEVER be shared on Pinterest. We are accountable only for our love, not theirs.

           And parenting a child with RAD means building up those walls of support, speaking those words of encouragement, providing those breaths of fresh air to our fellow parenting Warriors.

We love. And that is enough.