Today is not a day I would like to repeat, especially because of how I handled things. I woke up to a VERY hyper Matthew--he had pooped and it was so "robust" it almost reached his neck (mind you, his poop is sealed in his backwards zip-up jammies as we have learned over time contain a LOT of bodily fluids and rinse easily). Problem was that when I tried to change him, he was so out of control that he was stepping in it, getting it on his elbows, hands, the floor, the toilet, the tub. He was literally flailing and it was as though he had no control over his body--like it had a mind of his own. I bathed him, and I'm not sure which of us got wetter. I got kicked, clawed, hit, bit, had his hands down my shirt feeling for cleavage, up the back of my shirt scratching down my back...and the list goes on. He would swipe his hand across the counter, sending all objects flying. He threw his breakfast, his drink, his fork, his books. He chucked the home phone, almost tipped over a chair he climbed on, tried to draw on the table, pulled his sister's hair, and screamed....literally screamed loudly and in a gruff, angry voice all morning. When he got on the bus and I was about to breath a sigh of relief, he clawed me across the face. And then I started to cry....
Here was the problem....the more he pushed for my attention, the less I gave him because I was too busy either chasing or running away from his aggression. But all he wanted was my attention. When he stuck his hand into my cleavage while I buckled him in the car to take Adi to school, I smacked his hand to deter him. When it didn't, I attempted smacking it harder and succeeding only in hurting my own hand. Then, the entire drive to Adi's school, I regretted slapping him, and could not stop thinking about how pathetic that was. I started to try to recall another human being in my life that has had the ability to actually make me yell--in my very meanest voice--or who has pushed my buttons to the point of me physically lashing out (or even wanting to). I don't think I have ever hit someone, and yet I could have easily hit my son--my flesh and blood, one of the people I love most on this earth. But today, I did not like him.
I went on a run (therapy) with a friend who has a son very similar to my Matthew. I asked her (even though I already knew the answer) if it is OK not to like your kid sometimes. She laughed at how lame that question was which, in a strange way, made me feel better. As I proceeded to talk through everything that had happened this morning, she listened and empathized, sharing my pain in a very literal sense because she has experienced almost everything I described. I confessed being at my breaking point and almost being able to understand how a parent can be pushed to abuse. She shared with me the story of a friend who adopted a child at the age of 5....he was a student of hers who showed signs of abuse which she had adopted and raised for 20 plus years. At the age of 25, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and had a part of himself that would hurt her to try to get her to hurt him back because it was what he had known in his childhood. The love he lacked during those formative years had defined his future. I can sometimes let myself off the hook thinking that, when I suck as a parent, maybe my kids won't actually remember this part of their life where I am still stinking it up. But they do. These are literally formative years.
She reminded me that Matthew has ME because I can and do handle it. Rarely perfectly, but never abusively or in a way that lacks underlying unconditional love. He knows I love him....I love him with every part of me. And most days I like him, but I can be forgiven for the days I don't, thankfully.
Here's the lesson, though, that hit me the hardest. To be a teacher as a parent, we are first a student. Matthew has the ability to bring out the worst in me, but he also, somehow, brings out the best. He has taught and continues to teach me lessons than none of my other kiddos would be capable of teaching me. I think we all have experiences that do that for us....everyone's path looks different. But it is through the crosses we are asked to bear that we become the people God wants us to be.
So from today, I am remembering I am more patient than I used to be, less judgmental, more educated, more tolerant, more flexible, less shockable, maybe a little kinder, and much much more grateful for the little things. My faith is stronger, my body is stronger (especially my biceps from all that lifting), my mind more focused on things that are important. I need to work more on embracing the gift that he is and being grateful for what I am learning and less self-loathing when I don't handle things as well as I know I can.
I may not always like him, but I love my lovebug....and pray tomorrow won't suck quite as badly as today. And P.S. my car got broken into today for the second time in three weeks which didn't really help me have a good attitude. Thankfully a goodnights rest can work miracles, right???