295 days of not yelling, 70 days of loving more to go!
Dear Orange Rhinos,
Monday night I took #4, now 16 months old, to the hospital via ambulance as he had another seizure. This one was worse than the one three weeks ago, and that one was worse than the one three months ago. I was hesitant to go but the Pediatrician insisted I call 911. 5 minutes later 4 EMT’s stormed my house. Two minutes later as the ambulance tore towards the hospital we were cut off by the paramedics who jumped in the ambulance, kicked the EMT’s out and started attaching little man to machines and oxygen. Soon after we had arrived at the hospital and I shared all that I had just witnessed (excessive drooling, a twitching left hand, a vacant stare that can only be described as, it looked like my son had no soul behind his eyes for 10 minutes) the two pediatric doctors on call agreed that a trip to the Neurologist was now necessary. As in, the next day, pronto.
I asked the doctors all sorts of questions: would he be safe at home? Should I sleep in his room? What happens if he seizes again? Will he be okay? They answered my questions calmly and thoughtfully and I bundled up my love and walked out of the hospital in a complete and utter daze. I remember getting in my neighbors car to go home. That is the extent of “feeling” I remember from that part of the evening.
The minute we got home I settled sweet #4 into his crib and then settled myself into my porch chair, big glass of wine in one hand, baby monitor in the other, and a heavy down comforter on top of me. It was 37 degrees out but I didn’t care. The cold air and the twinkling of the Christmas lights brought me the calm and peace I so desperately needed at that point.
Because you see, there are three words I don’t like together: Baby, Neurologist and Pronto. The combination successfully freaked me out and while my son’s nervous system had gone under attack earlier, now mine was. My brain was firing off all sorts of thoughts. I was simply scared shi*tless. But not much I could do at that point. So I slowly sipped my wine and breathed in whatever fresh fair I could knowing that tomorrow could very well be a hard, long day.
Last drop gone I then settled myself into my make shift bed – an air mattress outside #4’s door so that I could hear if he started seizing again (he moans and groans in a way that is unsettling beyond words.) I woke up the next morning to the sound of #1 and #2 asking each other “do you think mommy is back from the hospital? She’s not in her bed. Do you think baby is okay?” Reality hit. I needed to get up and face the day. I needed to be as strong as I could muster for all my boys that day. I needed to fight my desire to cry and stay cuddled up in bed. My boys needed me.
My boys were awesome yesterday morning. No fights over getting dressed, who got what cereal bowl, who gets to sit in the back car seat, etc….It was just the peace I needed to start the day, the peace I needed to stay calm for all of them and myself. Well, as to be expected, the peace was somewhat short lived as when it was time to go to school no one wanted to because they all knew mommy couldn’t pick them up because #4 had his big appointment. Tears fell. And fell. And fell. Legs kicked and kicked and kicked. Screams yelled and yelled and yelled. “I want mommy!”
Oh yes, the house was filled with chaos, and noise, fear and sadness. And I just wanted to scream. Scream out my worry, scream out my frustration. I wanted to scream at no one, yet I also wanted to scream at them, for no reason.
But I knew that would do nothing. So I did what I have taught myself to do.
I talked. I listened. I empathized. I treated my boys with respect and told them all they deserved to hear.
“I know you are angry. I know you are scared. I am too. I wish I could take you to school. I wish I didn’t have to take baby to the doctor. I wish I didn’t have to go to the hospital yesterday.”
“But it is not fair. You’re spending all your time with him.”
“You’re right. It doesn’t seem fair. It is all kind of sucky. But I love you. And as soon as I can get home I will. And I will hug you and love you. It will be okay. It will be okay.”
And then I cried with them. I just couldn’t help it. And you know what? I was okay with that. Because through this all (this Challenge) I have learned that of the many things I am learning to do, I am learning to teach my boys how to handle emotions. And that means feeling them. All of them. Even the ugly ones. It means showing them that yelling at people isn’t okay, but that it is okay to cry, to be angry, to be sad and to SAY SO. Nicely. And it means learning to handle those emotions so they don’t bring you down. It means talking about them.
And that is what I did all day, and that is what I have done for the last 290+ days (albeit with a slight filter to keep my boys anxiety down and a simplified manner, but still.)
When I came home from the neurologist yesterday I was a mess. I pretty much still am but I am not talking about that. Yet. I’ll talk about it when I have something concrete to share. The appointment wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either so when I walked in that door I didn’t feel like being a parent. I didn’t feel like being responsible. I just wanted to curl up on my porch and feel the fresh air and pray that it brought me peace again. And cry. And cry. And cry. I wanted to feel scared and sad. I didn’t feel like dealing with all the energy that my boys had at that moment – all the excitement they had to see me after a long day. And yet, I wanted to be there for them at the same time. I wanted to hug them and love them and feel the goodness that was real in front of me at that moment. I was so conflicted with emotions. Wanting to hide but wanting to be present. And that overwhelming confusion actually made me want to scream at them to stop running around and to stop jumping on me.
So I did what I did earlier. I talked and I told them where mommy was at.
“Hi guys. I am excited to see you too. I love you so much. Listen. Here’s the thing. Mommy has had a long day with the baby. I’ve missed you tons but mommy is tired and feeling a little stressed. So I need you to help me. I need you to play loudly in the basement or quietly up here. I get cranky when I am stressed and I don’t want to get cranky with you. I want to love you lots. Can you help me?”
It worked. It works. It makes me feel better and my boys got it. It being openly sharing my feelings instead of keeping them inside until I scream.
I openly share my emotions with you, my boys, my friends and my husband. With everyone including the wall. Some people think it’s too much. But I’ll tell you what? It works. It keeps communication lines open, it helps people know where I am at, and I truly believe it prevents big blow up fights and screaming. And you know what else?
It is teaching my sons empathy and the more proper way of how to deal with emotions than yelling.
So, so be it if it is too much. To me, there has been nothing but upside. It has kept me “calmer” and closer to all my sons during a very trying week. And it turns out that is what I needed more than a glass of wine and a trip to the porch. I didn’t need stress from yelling and feeling crappy about yelling. I didn’t I feel crappy enough as is. I needed to love and be loved by all my boys. And I got it.
So yeah, this week has been tough. And tomorrow and Friday will be equally tough as I sit in the hospital for 48 straight hours watching my baby go through seizure tests galore to rule out all the bad stuff. And yeah, I wanted to go out to my porch tonight and cry instead of packing for the hospital. But I needed to get this out. I needed to set my feelings free. I needed to admit I was having a hard time.
It works wonders you know, sharing your feelings with adults AND kids alike.
(Now let’s hope our Neurologist can work some wonders too and give me good news.)
The Orange Rhino