People who know us best know that our house is full of chaos. There are children running, children screaming, children laughing, children playing and sometimes children fighting. Our youngest two, ages three and twenty-one months seem to be constantly at each other these days. If one has a toy, the other one wants it and takes it forcefully! If one is on my lap the other one decides they want up there too. Of course both of them sitting up there together doesn’t seem acceptable to either. They express themselves by pushing, kicking, screaming, scratching me and trying to scratch each other. Timeout is a regular occurrence these days. It seems that as one is getting out of timeout the other one is headed to timeout. Sometimes it feels just endless. Why can’t we all just get along?
But then there are those moments, those precious precious moments. We had one of those this morning. Baby Girl was sitting on my lap snuggling and trying to wake up. Little Man was eating his breakfast at the table next to us. Out of nowhere, he ran to the back of the house and came back dragging a large warm blanket. Coming over to where Baby Girl and I were sitting he gently laid the blanket on top of her. He then climbed up into the chair and sweetly kissed her cheek. O, the sweetness of that moment! Did it last long? No. She grunted at him and pushed him away, but I praised Little Man for being so sweet and loving with his sister. I was so proud of him!!!
I had to run into the store real quick this afternoon to grab a few essentials. I had paid a babysitter for two hours and the time wasn’t up yet, so I thought it was the perfect time to run the errand. Shopping with Little Man is very difficult. If you haven’t read past posts, I’ll catch you up. In the last 14 months at the grocery store Little Man has…
-Thrown cranberry juice from the shopping cart (which exploded and went EVERYWHERE!)
-Hit a fellow shopper in the face.
-Pulled things off of the shelves.
-Thrown canned food at people.
-Screamed and screamed throughout the store.
-Hit and Kicked me.
-Opened grocery items and spilled them on the floor.
Reached out and pulled a stranger’s hair.
And the list goes on, but you get the idea. I have learned to plan ahead, make lists, and to take every opportunity to do my shopping while Little Man is home playing with a babysitter or at school. We have a four day weekend this week, so this was my last chance.
I walked into the store and immediately heard a familiar sound. It was a screaming, yelling, wailing toddler. I grabbed my basket and headed to get my first item on the list. As I filled the basket, the sounds grew louder and louder until in frozen foods, I saw them. Mother and child. Mom looked exhausted. She had an expression on her face that showed she knew people were looking. She had her arms around her daughter, trying to console her to get the screaming to stop. It wasn’t working. I felt an immediate connection to this mother. She was just trying to grab stuff for dinner. She wasn’t trying to ruin everyone’s day. She was a mother of a toddler, very similar to mine. A child who is dis-regulated and cannot “just stop” or “calm down.” Maybe her mama gave her the wrong color sippy cup or maybe her pants felt weird or maybe the store smelled funny! Whatever it was, this child was not happy and there was nothing that mama could do about it. So, as I walked briskly by her I made eye contact and smiled. Not a pity smile, but a real smile. One that said, “I understand, I’ve been there. You may not feel like it, but you’re doing a great job!”
Little Man has tantrums, outbursts, and meltdowns. Whatever you call them, they are unpleasant. The people around us don’t always know what to do, let alone what to think when he starts down that path. If we’re in public, we try to leave fairly quickly. If we’re at home he goes in time-out or time-in depending on how bad it gets. When he is being watched by someone other than a family member we just pray it doesn’t happen and if it does we come back quickly to take care of our little guy and relieve the caregiver who simply can’t or doesn’t want to handle it. There are a few people who, I feel really really try and who really really love our little guy. Then, there are those who look at me with huge sorrowful eyes as I am taking my Little Man home and say in an exasperated tone, “what are you going to do with him?” Today, I responded, “I’m going to hug him, and kiss him, and put him to bed.” What else could I say? I didn’t have time to explain that we are in therapy and that I too desperately want to know what to do! I didn’t have time to say how scared I am that he will never get over these types of outbursts. I don’t want to even think about the very real and soon approaching possibility that he will have to handle being ripped away from me after I’ve been the only mommy he has known for the last 14 months. Any biological family member who “could possibly” raise him has poverty, drug history, mental illness, troubles with the law and/or bad life choices to overcome in addition to then adding a very traumatized toddler to the mix. Will they or can they handle him? Will they be patient and kind? Will they spend hours holding and cuddling him after a meltdown? Will they tuck him in “just right,” so that he feels safe and comfortable enough to sleep at night? All of these things, we do as a family each and every day for our Little Man. It is a kind of a “dance” that we do to keep him happy and calm. Oh, how heavy my heart was tonight with all of this on my mind. I have been reading and searching the scriptures about prayer and worry this week and here is what I’ve found.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”
So, I found my encouragement for today! I will lean on HIM, my holy savior and trust HIM to make the right path for me AND for my Little Man.
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