Saturday, July 2, 2011
I have three amazing boys. I love them unconditionally regardless of what they do.
My boys are 15, 4, and almost 10 months. There is a reason the first two are 11 years apart.
My oldest is a good boy with an amazing heart. He also has Absant Seizures and ADHD. Absant Seizures are seizures of the brain. Meaning that my son didn't have physical signs of the seizures since it was just his brain that was seizing for many, many years. So for years, we had no idea that there were physical causes for my son's behavior. He was impulsive, angry, energetic, and had trouble in social settings or while under the care of anyone outside of our house hold. He required structure and if anything in his little world changed we braced ourselves for the fall out.
Over the years numerous day cares and schools worked closely with us to try and figure out what was driving these issues. I am thankful to each of these places for not giving up on him. My husband and I worked day and night to try to teach him the steps to making better decisions, control his impulsivity, and be a better self manager. And he made great progress. But when he had an episode it was horrible. I remember sitting on the edge of my bed crying my eyes out and telling my husband "We can't have any more children because we fucked this one up so bad!". That may sound irrational to many but when it's YOUR kid and you just can't figure it out, YOU take the blame. YOU shoulder the guilt and burden of each thing he does.
I need to clarify that he wasn't a monster child. I would say to people that 90% of the time he was the most amazing, funny, happy, loving kid you would meet. It was just the 10% that people never forgot. I think that's what caught people off guard when he'd act up. They just couldn't understand where it was coming from. This wasn't the sweet boy they knew.
Well many tears, lots of doctor's appointments, a couple of therapy sessions, and a whole lot of tests later we got closer to taming the beast when he was diagnosed with the seizures. At the time of diagnosis he was enduring upwards of 20 seizures a day and who knows how many at night. That must have been exhausting for him. He got to the point, at about age 8, where when he had a seizure his eyes would slant shut and he'd just check out for a minute. He'd been doing this for years, in a subtler form, and we just thought he was shooting us dirty looks. We called them the snake eyes. Once we got his seizures diagnosed and he was on steady medication for that, the behavior greatly improved and we exhaled thinking this was what was causing him to act up all those years! But while the behavior got better, he still had a few severe episodes and was ultimately diagnosed with ADHD as well.
The two conditions had been fighting each other for years. For years I cried thinking I had done something wrong. For years I carried the burden of believing I was a horrible mother. For years I felt the eyes of the people around me as they judged my child. For years my poor son probably couldn't understand why he couldn't just act right. So now that we had answers we could fix it.
For several years now my son has been on the right medications to control both issues and is finally the kid he is meant to be. I am happy for him. But I still carry the demons. I still feel the effects of the years of judgement and the feelings of inadequacy as a parent. I still hold my breath and wait for that phone call that he's hurt someone or himself. I wonder if our other two boys will suffer the same fate. Most of the time I can talk myself down and know that we are great parents who trudged through the muck of parenthood and came out the other side. That he is a good kid going through normal kid stuff now. But then there are the other times. When he has a bad day and gets angry or moody. I question him, me, the meds, his hormones. I go into that old problem solving mode where there's a reason for this and I need to fix it before it's too late and he ruins his life. I have a hard time differentiating between an ADHD episode and a regular old teen mood swing.
This is my scar. I am a different kind of mother because of what we have gone through. I don't have the luxury of saying "He's just a boy." or "You know teenagers." No. I have to wonder if everyone around me is looking at me like I have failed him. I have to hope and pray that he will be a good person and a successful adult despite the things he had gone through. I carry the blame despite the cause. This is what mothers do. And until you have been in these shoes, you don't really know just how much it hurts.
I don't know if I will carry these demons forever or just until he turns 18. I don't know if these demons will continue to make me question myself until all of my children are grown. But I know that they are here each day.