Today I spoke to a counselor about our son, Hudson, and we're taking steps to see her in the next few days. Everything I've poured my heart out to my girlfriends and parents about has suddenly become much more heavy and real. I'm nervous about taking this step when I feel like I should be relieved and excited to finally talk to someone who seems to grasp the gravity of our situation and who genuinely wants to help. Someone who might actually help me become a better mom all around, not just a better mom to Hudson. Why then do I feel like such a failure instead?
After years of working around symptoms of everything from social anxiety disorder to Asperbergers, I'm completely at a loss. My descriptions to the counselor are all over the place, but the underlying theme is helplessness. I'm almost numb to Hudson's declarations that he hates me, and unfortunately, he is perceptive of this fact. His angry words have manifested into a game of sorts, where he dishes out various insults throughout the day to figure out what does and does not impact me.
Two nights ago, I listened from the kitchen as he screamed at his father, called him a coward and an idiot, and then retreated to his room in a torrent of rage and physical violence (inflicted on his bedroom door, not on his family). We never really know what to anticipate as triggers to his behavior and often watch as our sweet, quirky, sensitive kid morphs into a monster even he himself despises within a matter of seconds. The fits go as quickly as they come, and Hudson is often left sobbing in frustration at his inability to control his emotions.
Whether your child's pain is physical or emotional, the effect is just as debilitating. When my children hurt, I hurt. After I launched my latest campaign against Hudson's cruel verbal tirade (spending the day in his room until he learns to speak respectfully), I walked away to calm down. I stepped into the garage to turn out the lights and was stopped in my tracks by my child's heartbreaking sobs. His room sits right above the garage, and the pain in his crying was unmistakable.
I crept slowly up the stairs and listened outside his door as he sang to himself (still choking on sobs) and then talked quietly to himself about what a bad boy he is. Never in all of his six years have we ever told him he is a bad boy. This conclusion is one he's drawn himself based on what our actions and handling of his situation are saying to him. My heart aches knowing he sees himself this way instead of the beautiful, enigmatic little man I see. He recently told me he was never going to be able to stop having outbursts because he was only six years old and didn't know what to do. All of his actions once the fits have passed are saying what he lacks the maturity to say. "Mom and Dad, I feel helpless. Please do whatever you can to help me say what I need to say."
My husband discovered a line in a book he had given after the birth of one of our children and left it lying on the bed that night for me to find. The line was "I need you to love me the most when I don't seem to love you at all." My husband is my true parent-partner, and his subtle, gentle reminder gave me the push I needed to call in reinforcements. Even though I'm human enough to wish I could have figured out the right answer for myself, Hudson's health and happiness far outweigh any egocentric notions I'm holding on to. I do know that God created and loves my wonderful Hudson, and he chose me and Jason to be his parents for a reason. Until the counselor tells me to do something different, I will respond to every outburst with a hug and an "I love you."
We're going on a journey into the unknown, and we're going to need lots of prayers and encouragement as we move forward. Today the counselor threw out the word "emotional and behavior disorder." I cringed as I flashed back to my first year teaching resource classes with students enduring varying degrees of EBD. Many of those closest to me know about the challenges we've faced with Hudson, but this step is different. I will try to open myself up a bit more in the hopes that what we face and find will be helpful to other parents. Writing about it will hopefully help me, too, since my feelings of confusion always seem less muddy once I've written them out. Often the solution to a problem reveals itself to me in my writing, or anger and pain ease just in the process of letting my emotions flow through my fingers as they scramble across the keyboard.
Go on this journey with us, but please understand that mocking the field of child psychology when you don't understand it or smugly assuming what Hudson needs is old fashioned corporal punishment will raise my hackles and defenses quickly. If there is anything my years as a mom and as a teacher have taught me, it's that you can't presume to know the answer to someone's problems if you've never walked a mile in their shoes. It's age old advice Atticus Finch relied upon, and it's good enough for me. After trying in vain to find the right solution, I'm putting my faith in someone who has insight into Hudson's mind and training in how to help him that I lack.