About Me


I am a single mom of three amazing boys!  All three of my sons entered my family through adoption.  All three of my boys have developmental disabilities. My oldest son, Matthew has been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder. David, my middle son, has a genetic condition, he has a duplication on his 15th chromosome which leads to autism like symptoms, seizures and learning challenges. My youngest son, Jacob has learning disabilities. Each of my children bring unique challengs to our family and also bring their own personality and joys to our everyday life!

Monday, January 21, 2013

you have to pick and choose your battles

There was a time in my life where I could not have imagined anything that could happen within my family that would have me calling the police.

There was a time in my life where I could not imagine calling the police on my own 11 year old child.

There was a time in my life where I could not imagine knowing the name of a police officer who could come to my house and would know my son.

There was a time in my life where if I had to imagine calling the police on my son I would have assumed that would be the worst day of my life.

Sadly, today I learned that calling the police on my son does not make it the worst day of my life.  It sadly was just a blip on the radar.  Kind of like, what is our plan for the day?  We are going to get up, have breakfast, go to a few appointments, come home, play, Matthew will get angry, I will call the police and then we will go to karate.

It is just another thing that is becoming "normalized" for me.  When you are raising a child with mental health issues, this is sadly just something that becomes par for the course. 

Jacob was having a playdate today and as the time for the playdate got closer, Matthew became more and more on edge.  I was hopeful that he would settle in, but as the playdate started, it became clear that this was not going to be the case.  As the little guys started playing first, Matthew started trying to play with them. Jacob quickly got upset and I suggested that Matthew try playing in another room.  He did an awesome job at first, he settled into playing music on the computer and seemed to become calmer.  Then, after being on the computer for a little while, Matthew went upstairs.  He came down carrying a toy that shoots out balls, that I knew  Jacob would not want Matthew using.  I told Matthew he had to put it away. 

That simple sentence was the beginning of the battle.

After that he ranted and raged.  He threw a bottle of lotion down the stairs, he screamed, he punched, he raged.  It got to the point that I was embarrassed to have another family here and I also knew that it was too much for the younger boys to be around, so I asked the other parent to please take her son and my two to her house.  As they were leaving, Matthew was screaming to go with them.

After they left, I tried to give him space but he kept on raging.  He would come close and threaten me, he was so angry and full of rage that it was almost like he couldn't see straight.  This is the problem, my son, in his right mind, is the calmest, gentlest soul.  However, when his rage takes over, he is out of control. 

My biggest fear is that in a rage he will hurt someone and he will have to live with the consequences of that.

As the rage continued, I was at the point that I didn't know what else to do.  I felt like he was too out of control, and I was unable to calm him down by talking to him.  Giving him space hadn't helped the situation.  Finally, after he threw a few shoes at me and tried to throw other things, I called 911 hoping that they could help.  He had taken his emergency medication, which is supposed to help calm him, and it didnt seem to be working and I felt like just another pair of hands, and another voice could help settle down the situation.

The police arrived and I filled them in on what was going on.  They were wonderful.  They listened, they offered no new advice, but mostly just reiterated what I already knew....there is no support in the system.  They could call  the mobile crisis unit, but all they would do would be to come and see a now calm Matthew.  They reiterated to Matthew that the behavior was unacceptable and inappropriate....blah, blah, blah.

As they were doing paperwork I told Matthew he had to clean up the mess that he made and he happily did so.  See, he had returned to a calm state.  For him, it was over, the situation had ended.  He was calm.  Now the problem is, I was NOT calm!  I was sad, I was hurt, I was frustrated.  I had just wanted a playdate.  I wanted time to hang with another mom while our boys played together.

As the police were leaving they commented that they see many calls a week just like ours.  Children with mental health  issues who are struggling and they are frustrated that they have no answers.

The police also suggested that I "choose my battles".  What he doesn't know is that I did choose my battles!  I have decided purposely that I will always hold Matthew to a high standard.  The toy that he wanted was not an appropriate one to play with for many reasons.  It was not his.  It was not a play date toy.  It was not a toy he had asked to use. 

If I don't have a high standard for my son, I am creating a false reality for him.  You see, the world will have a high standard for him.  Regardless of what his limitations are, the world will expect him to play by the rules of his community, therefor, I am expecting the same.  I expect that he will ask before taking.  I expect that he will put things away if they are not his.  I expect that he will always listen to the authority figures in his life.

We are ok.  He is ok.  Likely after today he will again have many good days, that seems to be our current cycle.  It is a matter of me constantly remembering that all of the things that are going on are often not in his control.  Today he was crying for help.  Friday we will see a new psychiatrist.  Hopefully the new Dr will help me to help Matthew.  Hopefully he will have fresh ideas and thoughts so that the good days will become more frequent.

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