This is the Face of A Mom who is Absolutely Terrified.
As a parent, we are forced to face countless fears that just weren’t as prevalent when we were kids growing up in the 80s and 90s.
Sure, there were likely windowless white vans and schoolyard bullies then, just as there are now, but thanks to social media everyone knows about it in seconds. The depravity is videoed and posted and the parenting pressures are arguably at an all-time high.
When you’re responsible for any kid, this baggage can feel too heavy for one parent to carry.
Raising an extreme child–one with mental health and/or behavioral diagnoses–heightens and magnifies these fears in a way that feels impossible to fully explain because our kiddos are at an incredibly higher risk for things like high-risk behaviors, addictions, risky choices, and even abuse because their lack of impulse control makes them easier targets.
Friends, today my heart stopped.
Yesterday was a hard behavior day for our boy. Diagnosed with five different mental health struggles, our boy can become easily overwhelmed and anxious, leading to self-depreciating thoughts and feelings and heightened impulsivity.
We keep a very open house where both of our kids are welcome and encouraged to ask anything, say anything, and are never given harsh consequences for telling the truth, especially when their honesty requires courage.
Yesterday, after several meltdowns, countless tears, and a twenty minute walk of stomping and heavy work up and down the street, he was ready to talk…to unload, really.
Our boy–only nine–small, strong, kind, and tender-hearted, had been carrying around self-judgment and harsh criticism that was making him feel like he wanted to runaway; not to escape, but to help his family.
In his words, he felt like he couldn’t control making better choices and he didn’t want to treat us poorly anymore.
Of course I cried.
We talked with his dad, because our kids know we are a team.
We put specific strategies in place,
And I thought we were in a good place for today.
And then this morning happened.
He was upset he couldn’t do something he wanted to do so he’d been sulking, stomping, and isolating himself. This is relatively typical so I didn’t think much of it.
Until I did.
I’d said his name twice.
I’d yelled for him.
He didn’t come.
He didn’t respond.
I heard nothing.
Then it hit me.
I tore through the house.
Pillows were thrown from the bed as I looked in blankets,
In the couch,
In the closet,
In the bathroom.
He was nowhere.
My heart stopped and I said in the shaky, terrified voice of a mama who can’t find her kid and has–in a matter of seconds–imagined every worst-case scenario, “Babe, I can’t find him. He’s not here.”
Just then, he came around the corner.
“What’s wrong, mama?”
My nine-year-old boy,
In his Spiderman hoodie,
His baby-faced blue eyes,
Looked at me confused.
I burst into tears and hugged him tighter than I maybe ever have, kidding the soft hairs on his neck.
He’d done nothing wrong.
He just hadn’t heard me calling and when he came to find me he went one way around a wall while I was walking the other direction.
We’d just missed each other.
But for those brief moments, my baby could’ve been anywhere,
Anything happening to him.
Friends, parenting is hard,
Parenting is sometimes allllll of those things.
But today, in the midst of the meltdowns and in the middle of the madness, I’ll be trying to just be grateful.
Grateful for my wild boy.
Thankful for my independent girl.
Filled with gratitude for their health and their safety and that I have them in my arms (and likely crawling all over me and laying across me while I try to sleep).
Because they are with me.
And even when they are at their worst, I’ll love them harder.
Because they are mine.
And I am so, so grateful.
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