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twin sisters. living abundantly. loving extravagantly. leading boldly. leaning deeply on Jesus.

Difficult Children and Challenged Parents, Jenny Price

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Sometimes, I’m the difficult one.

Sometimes they are.

The real fun and adventure is when BOTH of us are!

Raising difficult kids has shaped me more than I want to be shaped.  It’s grown me in ways I truly did not know I needed to grow.  It’s kept me humbly on my knees, and it’s broken my heart, and it’s tattered my soul.

Each of my five kids teaches me deeply.  My oldest reminds me to slow down and savor and see His miracles.  Second born keeps me laughing and playing and trusting.  Third born models exceptional patience and deep water compassion.  Fourth “born” (adopted girl twin) glows in glorious ways and fights for the best around her, even when it’s messy.

Fifth “born” (adopted boy twin) teaches me 100 truths in one given moment.  That’s where my heart is landing today.

He doesn’t mean to be difficult.  He doesn’t even know he is.  He’s simply fighting to stay alive – so when I’m confronting his lying, he’s in a life or death battle to just be breathing at the end of our conflict.  Again, he’s not aware of his internal fight, and as soon as I forget it, and press on him harder to tell the truth, the further he gets into his fear, and fight or flight mentality.  (more about attachment issues)

His wounds are being healed in ways now that my husband and I simply couldn’t continue doing (for a time).  As he is away in residential treatment for Reactive Attachment Disorder – healing at a VERY special place designed to heal kids with deep trauma histories (called CALO) – I too am healing and recovering as his mommy.

My very specific prayer for his return is that he will come home as a newborn babe and I will receive him as exactly that – desiring and knowing exactly how to cuddle and coo this 11 year old precious life.

Placing my child in a full time treatment program was something I fought hard on for months and months.

“Why was I failing as a mom?”

“Why can’t love fix his heart?”

“Why are we working so hard to raise him up and why is he resisting every piece of love I give him?”

It’s not a dream for any mom to get to say, “I have NOTHING left.”  And for me, that was exactly the truth.  I’d given all I could.  And I needed the professionals and the training for myself and my child.

Four months in, I am falling in love with his heart all over again.  When children come to your family via foster care, and the first two years are all about going home to their first mom, bonding is not a natural.  And when it’s a child who was severely neglected or abused, falling in love with a child is even trickier.

I miss him a ton.  He’s learning to miss us.  He REALLY misses the dog.  That’s not unusual.  Dogs are not threatening to RAD kids.  Dogs are easy to trust.  Ironically, some kids, once they really learn to trust their animal, even start hurting that same animal.  Trust feels so scary – so risky – so “wrong” – so they desire (again unaware of this desire) to hurt and wound the one they trust.

So, that’s the dance we do – me and fifth born son:

I love deeply, and he pushes desperately away.

I protect fiercely, and he projects further from my heart.

I hug and touch and hold, and he instinctually pulls away, as if my touch is a burning fire that might brand his skin with love.

My journey as the mom is mine.  His journey as the child is his.  And yet, my mommy instinct would like to heal him and love him enough to get him well.  So, the hardest love to express was letting him go to heal away from my heart for a time.

I hear songs often that reflect this very awful and beautiful journey.  Rachel Platten “Fight Song” and her “Stand by You” (Below with my ALL CAPS commentary within) are my go-tos for this time.

Hands, put your empty hands in mine
And scars, show me all the scars you hide
And hey, if your wings are broken
Please take mine so yours can open, too
‘Cause I’m gonna stand by you

CHILD, LET ME HOLD YOU, EVEN WHEN IT FEELS SO FOREIGN. LET ME LEAD YOU TO THE ONE AND ONLY HEALER OF YOUR HEART. MY HANDS WILL NOT HURT YOU. LET’S WALK HAND IN HAND TO THE HEART AND HOPE OF HIM WHO LOVES US MOST

Oh, tears make kaleidoscopes in your eyes
And hurt, I know you’re hurting, but so am I
And, love, if your wings are broken
Borrow mine ’til yours can open, too
‘Cause I’m gonna stand by you

I LOVE YOUR TEARS.  SEEING YOU LET IT GO AND RELEASE AND FEEL IS ALL A MOMMY WANTS. WHEN YOU ARE HURTING, I WANT TO COMFORT AND BE THERE.  CRY, MORE AND MORE, CRY AND ACCEPT THAT WE ARE ALL BROKEN, AND THAT OUR BRAVEST MOMENTS ARE WHEN WE STOP DOING IT ALL ALONE.
And the heart—sometimes it’s unclear why it’s beating
And, love, if your wings are broken
We can brave through those emotions, too
‘Cause I’m gonna stand by you

HOW DOES AN 11Y/O CHILD FACE THE FEARS IN HIS LITTLE HEART?  YOU DO IT WITH US, THE FAMILY THAT LOVES YOU AND TREASURES YOU AND ADMITS FULLY OUR BROKEN WINGS, AND YET, WE WILL HOLD YOU UP – WE WILL!  THOSE FEELINGS THAT YOU FEAR AND THOSE PLACES THAT YOU’D RATHER KEEP DARK, WE ARE WITH YOU, WALKING INTO THE LIGHT WITH YOU.
And I know now, love, if your wings are broken
Borrow mine ’til yours can open, too
‘Cause I’m gonna stand by you

Even if we’re breaking down, we can find a way to break through
Even if we can’t find heaven, I’ll walk through Hell with you
Love, you’re not alone, ’cause I’m gonna stand by you
Even if we can’t find heaven, I’m gonna stand by you

WE WON’T GET IT PERFECT.  THERE WILL BE MORE MOMENTS IN THE NEXT DECADE OF YOUR GROWING UP WHERE WE ALL BREAK DOWN, AND WE CAN KEEP HAVING BREAK THROUGH MOMENTS.  I’VE SEEN SEVERAL OF THESE BREAK THROUGHS IN THE LAST FOUR MONTHS – YOUR HEART REVEALED.  YOUR FEARS SURFACED.  AND WE ARE STILL HERE.  WE ARE YOURS.  YOU BELONG.  YOU ARE SAFE.  IT MIGHT FEEL LIKE HELL, AND WE’RE ON OUR WAY TO HEAVEN TOGETHER.

I’ll be your eyes ’til yours can shine
And I’ll be your arms, I’ll be your steady satellite
And when you can’t rise, well, I’ll crawl with you on hands and knees
‘Cause I… I’m gonna stand by you

I’D DIE FOR YOU SON.  YOU ARE MINE.  MY BLOOD.  MY CHILD.  I’D DO ANYTHING TO SEE YOU FREE.  I’D EVEN LET YOU GO, AS I HAVE, TO SEE YOU FIND THE TRUEST FREEDOM OF ALL.  WHEN YOUR EYES WOULD RATHER LOOK FAR AWAY FROM MINE, I’LL NEVER STOP ADORING YOURS.  WHEN YOUR ARMS CAN’T CIRCLE INTO THE HUG, I’M STILL STEADY RIGHT NEXT TO YOU.  I LOVE YOU SON.  I’M IMPERFECT IN EVERY WAY, AND TRULY, THERE IS NO MOMMY ON THIS PLANET WHO COULD LOVE YOU MORE.

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twin sisters. living abundantly. loving extravagantly. leading boldly. leaning deeply on Jesus.

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