Warning: A pity party to follow.
Every so often it just builds up. Everything in our life requires so much effort and energy. We are limited in what we can do. And when we do attempt typical family outings, we often times pay the price. I get tired of being the face of strength and grace.
I just want to quit being a mom!
I don’t want anymore calls from school saying your child has been restrained, you need to come and get him. I want to go on a date with my husband without worrying about what is happening at home. I want to have friends over and laugh without Ben becoming completely dysregulated.
I don’t want to go through any more psychiatric hospitalizations or spend more time researching residential programs. I hate that I ever had to go through restraint training. And I hate that I have gotten really good at patching walls.
I am tired of others thinking they could whip our kids into shape. Or those who think “we have no control” over our children. And then there are the “lovely and helpful” stares when a tantrum is in play … UGH!
I am tired of walking on egg shells and tired of having to plan for every contingency.
There, I said it. I want to quit being a parent of these two amazing, yet very challenging kids with a variety of labels after their names … ADHD, autism, mood disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, Tourette’s, anxiety, and the list goes on.
When my father-in-law turned 80 years-old, there was a small family gathering in Florida. Ben had been taking about wanting to go to Florida to visit his grandparents. He had been doing well and I had confidence that with some minor anxious behavior, a quick weekend to Florida would be a success. I felt as if it was low risk with planning and the right thing to do.
I planned the 36 hour get away with such detail in order to minimize the anxiety for Ben. The mistake I made was telling him about the trip the day prior to departing. Anticipatory anxiety kicked in with a vengeance. By 10:00 AM on the day we were departing, I received two calls from school sharing that he required two separate restraints (first time in over 10 months), broke his glasses, and was threatening staff and students. He was suspended from school for a few days. My punishment, not his!
When Ben saw me his first comment was “so I guess we are not going to Florida.” I drove quietly from Massachusetts to NH thinking about what I should do. I wanted to quit and drive straight home. Instead, I made the decision to proceed as planned.
Ben ended up having a great day with family. He was genuinely happy and proud of himself. He apologized for his behavior and thanked me for bringing him to Florida. We talked about feelings, choices, and the power of words – hurtful and kind. We talked about what we would have missed if we quit because of anxiety (Ben) and exhaustion (me).
We agreed to help each other and not let the anxiety and exhaustion sabotage fun and important moments with family and friends. Trust me, there are still plenty of days I want to quit being a parent. I will forever wish our life was easier. I am proud of my family for how we navigate the world of mental illness. However, the energy it takes to get through a day, coupled with the ups and downs, takes its toll. A break now and then is a requirement for MY mental health.
So for now, I will take an unapologetic couch day with a cup of hot tea, a cozy blanket, and a good movie (or two).
Tomorrow is a new day. I have all the confidence that I will approach it once again with strength, grace, and humor.