Butting Heads

  I have so many blog posts in my drafts file that I could be sharing- the one on making baby food for Water is almost ready to go.  I finally go the pictures loaded for the post on Water's baptism, only 3.5 months after he was baptized.  There's an update on the kids and a post about how we handle TV in our house waiting for some editing but none of those feel really pressing to write about right now.
  What I do want to write about is my relationship with Sky.  I knew that it might would be challenging for us to be together while D and Fire are in Hono.  I hate it, from the bottom of my heart, let's be honest, I knew in advance that she and I would fight, I just didn't think things would come to a head quite as quickly as they did. She loves D, likes him better and is missing him fiercely.  I tried, I promise, to avoid the fights, to not rise to her button pushing.  I made plans, relaxed some rules but kept the usual daily structure, and tried to be understanding, and we still only made it to 4pm on Sunday before we had a fight.

  I let it happen.  I'm the adult and I should have handled things better.  I should have let things go- why, why WHY did I push back when she started pushing my buttons?  I know hindsight is 20/20 but we've been on this stupid trauma/lash-out/make-up roller coaster so many times that you'd think I would know better by now.  I was tired, the baby was (and still is) a sad, missing-daddy piece of Velcro that sobs any time he's put down, and Sky was being antagonizing. Her afternoon quiet time was just about over and I had the idea that we should rent a cart and go for a drive, something Sky loves to do.  I told her we could go as soon as she cleaned her room (crayons, legos, Barbies all over the floor), something she knows she has to do at the end of every quiet time.  She started to make a fuss about having to do everything so I left the room (it takes two to fight and I wasn't going to bite that hook!). When I came back 5 minutes later, she hadn't cleaned up anything except a few crayons.  I should have let it go, said, "Who cares!" and just left the mess but I didn't.  One of our house rules is that if you take out a toy, you clean it up when you're done and Sky knows that.  She finally started picking up her crayons but was doing it at a snail's pace, one crayon at a time. 
  That was the last straw for me.  I just snapped, came into the room and started cleaning things up for her.  I wish I could write that I was kind and gentle, that I said, "Here honey, let me help you so we can both go have fun", but I wasn't.  I wasn't any of that.  I was angry.  The baby cried, Ciela yelled at me to stop and started throwing things.  I grabbed the book she thrown and threw it on the floor hard and said something how I was going to treat her things the way she did.
  Please don't judge me.  I'm dying inside right now just sharing this with you.  It crushes me that I behaved that way.  That's not the mom I want to be.  I spent part of my childhood living in fear of an angry parent and I don't want it to be that way for Sky. 
  It was so momentary, that rage I felt.  I knew what I was doing was wrong but ...  Right after I threw the book, I grabbed the baby and left the room.  I actually left the house and took the baby to the back porch, to create some physical distance between myself and Sky.  I pushed Water in the swings for a minute and wondered what I was going to do.  I felt so helpless to help her, or myself.  I thought about calling someone but there was no one to call- all her friends were at playdates (one of the reasons Sky had been upset earlier was because she couldn't go to her friend's houses) or on vacation.  There literally was no one.  We were going to have to find a way through this.  I felt so overwhelmed that I started to cry.  I could hear Sky inside, banging on something, her way of telling me that she was still angry, so I took the baby out of the swing and went back inside.
  Sky was sitting in the living room, hitting the coffee table with a toy.    Her eyes were so angry and so sad, all at the same time.  I knelt near her and held out my arms but she turned away from me.  I just sat there quietly for a minute and then started talking, saying how sorry I was, that I shouldn't have reacted the way I did, and telling her that we're in this together.  I told her that I miss D and Fire too and that I was sorry her friends weren't available, and that I want us to come out on the other side of this still liking each other.  While I was talking, she turned around and saw that I was crying, and she started crying herself.  She finally let me hug her and we were able to talk, just a little bit, about what happened.
  We were able to put ourselves back together and to forgive each other enough to get through the rest of the evening.  We rented a cart, drove around the island, did dinner, baths, and bedtime.  We were gentle with each other the rest of the evening, and I was hopeful that maybe we'd gotten the worst out of the way.
  Monday (we work Tuesday through Saturday here) went well, mostly because Sky had a playdate and birthday party scheduled for the afternoon.  We spent the morning making cookies and a card for her friend and made it through all that just fine.  She did great at her play date and had a blast at the birthday party.  Our evening went great and I went to be relieved.  Things kept going well until it was time to go take her to school this morning.  I had warned her in advance that we would be leaving as soon as Water's nanny arrived but when that time came, she didn't want to go.  Sky hid under a blanket so I made jokes, tickled her out, started carrying her to the door.   Once we got outside, she refused to put her shoes or helmet on and started crying and saying she didn't want to go to school. I'll save you the long version but it ended with me physically putting Sky in the trailer and taking her to school.  I kept my cool this morning and did all the things the books say to do: going around the situation, playing, trying a different tactic, offering choices and none of it worked.  I know that Sky saying she didn't want to go to school and being obstinate about it was her way of expressing how much she missed D and Fire but nothing I did was helping.  I dropped her off at school and left, feeling even more helpless and empty than I had after our fight.
  I feel so amazingly ill-equipped to help her.  I want to, so badly.  I want to help her find ways to channel her energy, for her to be able to express herself in healthy ways, for her to be able to ask for the attention she needs and to be able to give it to her, but I have absolutely no idea how to do it.  We've never had any support through our adoption processes.  I read the one and only book directed toward toddler adoption (The Weaver's Craft by Mary Hopkins-Best) before we brought Sky home. There is one therapist here but kids aren't her specialty and she has no real experience with kids coming from the place that Sky comes from.  I've never been able to talk to a specialist about the behaviors we see and to have someone outside the family give their opinion.  I feel like I'm at the end of my rope and there's a long way to go. Our insurance doesn't cover psychiatric care, one of the reasons we haven't gotten any but I finally called for help, literally.  Through the internet I found an organization that offers family and child counseling services for free and I called and asked for help.  The woman I spoke to was very welcoming and was able to give me some advice on how to help Sky in the short term.  Someone is going to call me again tomorrow so that we can formally enroll in their program. 
  All that to say that Sky and I are butting heads.  Hopefully we'll get through this with out too many lasting bruises and maybe even find a way to meet in the middle instead of continuing to run into each other.


  1. Thanks for your vulnerability in sharing these stories Amber! You are not alone in these feelings and frustrations. Parenting is the hardest job I have ever done. My daughter can push my buttons perfectly, and at the worst times it seems! The book by Henry Cloud - Boundaries with Children (or kids) has helped me some. Celebrate every little victory! You are showing up every day and loving your children deeply! Lois P.S. Camp Iakwe this past weekend was fantastic!

  2. Thanks Lois! It's so helpful to know that other parents have some of the same struggles that I do. I'll look for the book you recommended when I have a chance- I can use all the help I can get!
    I'm glad to hear that camp was fun. I'd love to hear more about it if you have time to send an email.


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