This week has been trying. If I’m being honest, the last several years have been some of the most emotionally difficult years of my life. I’ve become much more thick-skinned and much stronger than I ever knew I could be. But occasionally things pile up and the load becomes too heavy.
Within the last week and a half, I have seen multiple effects of the reality of my life and current situation and it’s hard to look at.
Since the first overnight visit with my son’s dad back on New Year’s Eve, Connor developed a stutter. At times, it’s so intense you can’t even understand what he’s trying to say.
I worried, and then I stopped worrying. It got worse, and then it started to get better. It got better when there were weeks without them seeing their father. But in typical standards of my ex, he showed back up ready to be father of the day because something made it convenient for him to do that right then. So for the last 5 weeks, he has consistently done his court ordered Wednesday night visits. Nothing else beyond manipulative games and accusations all other 6 days; but the Wednesdays have stuck, for now.
I want to say the right things and say that it’s better than nothing and that I’m grateful he’s at least doing that much. And I am, sort of. But in these last few weeks, while my boys get very excited to see their dad, effects of both his absence and his presence are increasing.
Connor’s stutter has escalated, and now, Ethan has developed it too. According to my ex, that’s my fault because “I’m tearing apart their family.”
There are other things that have popped up with my boys lately. For example, they’re afraid of everything, and I can’t so much as think about leaving the room for a few seconds without everyone panicking like I just told them I’d be leaving them at Wal-Mart to live on their own forever. They now want the door opened at night when they sleep and they want me to stay in their room with them until they fall asleep.
For a while, my youngest was being extremely aggressive. Like, an exorcism was occurring inside my sweet boy and demons came out occasionally. He became mean and demanding and was honestly scaring me there for a minute. He’s actually doing (relatively) great now, thank God.
I understand some things are normal 1, 2 and now 3-year-old behaviors, but a lot of this is also stress and transition induced issues. And again, according to their dad, when he comes out of his drunken haze long enough to throw a twisted jab my way, these things are my fault because “he wants our family, but I gave up.”
To add to things, 2 weeks ago our babysitter moved. She gave me 2 weeks notice and I had to find someone new. I fell apart for about 5 minutes, and then I jumped through the same hoops I jumped in the beginning of my work journey. After lots of phone calls and searching, I found someone who I thought was an answer to prayer. I had a few reservations about the fact that she took care of several other children in her home, but I hoped it would be a good thing and life would be fine.
The boys started with her last week, and it was a bumpy beginning. She reported often that someone was crying uncontrollably and nothing she tried worked to calm them down. They were fighting. They weren’t listening. They were defiant. They were waking up the sleeping angels in the next room with their tantrums. Connor was continually pooping in his underwear. The neighbors came over to ask if everything was ok because my son was screaming so loud it sounded like he was being harmed.
I tapped into my mommy powers and I remained as calm and stoic about it all as possible. I apologized to her and tried to convince us both that it was just going to take a minute for them to transition since they’ve been through a lot. “Things will get better,” I told her last Friday. And I believed that to be true. After all, these behaviors she described were rather out of the norm for my boys and I knew that while they’re not perfect, they’re not hellions either.
We had a beautiful weekend together for their 3rd birthday and I was hopeful for the week.
But then, Monday came. She kept saying things like “I’ve tried everything and I’m just not sure this is going to work out.” When I got there to pick up my boys Tuesday, she informed me that it was a horrible day, all day long. They screamed and cried, fought continuously, and Connor bit my youngest son and broke the skin.
In 3 years, none of my children have done any biting. My youngest has opened his mouth and lunged a couple of times, but that gets stopped on the spot and that’s the end of it. I was emotionally spent and honestly, devastated by this whole scenario.
She was nice about it, but it became clear that day that she was no longer willing or able to watch my sons.
So there we were. Second day of the second week and my second babysitter in a 1 1/2 week period was quitting on us and I now had to figure out another option for the rest of the week at 5:30 pm on a Tuesday.
Luckily, I’d been in touch with a daycare that has been my back up plan since the beginning and they were willing to take the boys with a last-minute notice. I went straight to the daycare from picking them up Tuesday, filled out paperwork, and they started this morning, Wednesday.
I’ve avoided daycare like the plague since the boys were babies. I can’t really afford it and it’s a 12-1 ratio. As in 12 children to 1 provider. Now I don’t know about you, but those numbers don’t sound good to me.
It’s not what I want. But like has happened so many times over this last year, my back is up against a wall and I am out of options.
As we drove to the daycare yesterday and I tried to choke back my tears of anger, frustration, sadness, guilt, and every other feeling in existence, while talking to my sons about what happened that day at the babysitter’s house, the weight of the last few weeks came spilling out of my eyes.
My son said, “Mommy, why are you not laughing?”
I had to explain to him that I was not happy with their behavior while also telling them that the next morning, they’d no longer go to that babysitter and would be starting a “new school,” without making it feel like a punishment.
The bottom fell out.
I had to stop for gas, so as I filled up my empty car, I allowed my tears to flow and asked God to fill my empty hands.
That’s all I had.
Somehow, I was able to pull myself together in those few minutes and I regained my mom strength for my boys. They needed me to be calm. Together. A strong force. And I needed myself to do the same.
The transitions continue to flow, and the problems are not going away. After my sons had their very first day in a new daycare today, they are now spending the night with their father. They’ll stay with him during the day tomorrow, and then Friday they’ll return to their new daycare. They are being tossed about like feathers in the wind, and there’s nothing I can do about any of it but trust.
So that’s all I’ve got.
I have to watch the bottom fall out and trust it’s somehow all going to be ok anyway. And I know it will.
“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.” J.R.R. Tolkien