One of the things that I have realized about Jacob,and to a lesser degree myself recently, is that as life with Matthew has settled down, he has started to be more on edge. In some ways it seems as if all of the stress over the last few years that there was not time to process or cope with is finally being processed. Jacob is responding to Matthew recently like he is being poked with a red hot poker. A two week winter vacation was the straw that broke the camels back for Jacob, and for him family bonding became too much togetherness. Since vacation,all Matthew has to do is walk by and Jacob is screaming.
Two weeks is a long time to have all 3 boys without their normal schedules, especially because both Matthew and David truly depend on their routine and structure. That said, I tried hard to create some structure to each day and to ensure that we had an activity each day that got us out of the house and active and on our best days, we were with friends. Even with daily activities though, there was a lot of togetherness and a lot of time at home for the boys to just be together.
Over the course of the 2 weeks, Jacob's ability to cope with life deteriorated. I truly think he is just exhausted. I think Jacob is more a child who likes to think, and create, and like many good artists, he enjoys the quiet and he could spend hours just creating and being with his materials. Unfortunately the being that is Matthew, doesn't allow for the quiet that Jacob requires.
When Jacob saw his therapist tonight he told the therapist that he is scared; always scared when he is with Matthew without a grown up. As a mom, this is heartbreaking. What is hardest is that every parent has moments when they leave the room or their children are not being supervised closely, especially when the children are 12, 10 and 7 years old. It would be impossible for me to cook, do the laundry and do all of the other things moms do and have my eyes on the boys 100% of the time. However, to hear Jacob describe it, this is essentially what he needs. Whether it is real or not, Jacob is afraid whenever I am not in the room. He says that this is when Matthew teases him or picks on him and then when he tries to tell me or get help, Matthew hurts him or threatens to hurt him.
As always, I am trying to balance the fact that all boys fight, and tease, and threaten each other with the fact that I have a 12 year old who has been aggressive, and a 7 year old who feels scared. I am consistently trying to ensure that Jacob knows that I am here for him, while also realizing that in every family there will be a certain amount of rivalry.
What amazed me, and the therapist tonight, was when we were talking about Matthew, and how we were going to implement some techniques to help Jacob to feel safe, Jacob told the therapist that all we have to do is get the alcohol out of Matthew's brain. I have been honest with Jacob about Matthew's struggles, so I knew that he knew that Matthew's challenges were caused by his birthmoms use of alcohol during her pregnancy, but I didn't realize that in Jacob's mind he thought that if we just took the alcohol out of Matthew's brain it would all get better.
The therapist explained to Jacob that you can't just take the alcohol out and that the challenges for Matthew will always be there, but that we are going to all work together to help everyone be their best. I promised Jacob that I would be more careful to keep Matthew and him separated. Most nights I try to clean the kitchen while the boys get their pajamas on, but from now on, I will send Matthew up first and then I will send up David and Jacob to get their pajamas on.
I am so lucky that Jacob is able to express clearly, when he is calm, what he is thinking. I am beyond thankful that he could tell me tonight what he needs and how I can help him to feel safe. Every person should feel safe at home. This is a basic human requirement. Home is where you rejuvenate, kick back and relax. At this point I need to focus on ways to build Jacobs feeling of safety at home, and to build his confidence that he is safe. I also need to help him relax and continue to build a bond between Matthew and Jacob that is built on a premise of kindness, safety and brotherhood.
- 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!