One-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand, four… Breathe. Just breathe. He doesn’t mean what he says. He’s not trying to hurt you.
Five-one thousand. Six. Sigh… You’ve got this. Stay calm.
Seven-one thousand. Eight. He loves you. He needs you.
Nine-one thousand. BOOM!
When dust finally settles, you appear from the wreckage. You dust yourself off. You check your battle wounds. A kick to the shin. A punch to the gut. A bite to the arm. Not bad. Those will heal.
You check him. Okay. He’s breathing now. He’s not screaming. In fact, he’s asking for hugs. Maybe, the coast is clear? Maybe you can start the repair?
Parenting an explosive child is like living in a battle field. The only difference is that there is no combat training. No assault preparation. No heavy artillery to back you up. You are all alone when the time hits. With one mission… make sure everyone comes out on the other side safe.
All the hours you put into scouring the internet for calm down tools, and emotional regulation strategies. All the sleepless nights reading up on your explosive child and learning about his fight or flight response. All the money you’ve spent on countless hours of lessons and therapy sessions… none of it is there when it really matters. None of it is there when you son explodes.
There’s one thing for sure. There are casualties from each and every explosion whether you can see them with your eyes or not. In fact, I’ve come to learn that no one talks about or wants to admit these casualties because they are quite frightening.
After the battle I just fought tonight, I want to let the world know about what it really means to parent an explosive child. But more than anything… I want you to know you are not alone if you find yourself in the battlefields, because honestly… it’s one of the scariest places a parent can find themselves.
8 Unspoken Casualties of Parenting an Explosive Child
Casualty #1 : Your Relationship with Your Child
You can remember the day you brought him home from the hospital. He was so small. So breathtakingly beautiful. All he wanted was you and all you wanted was him. Now, years later, you find yourself having to sneak yourself into his room when he is asleep to get that same caress and snuggle. You know that with each and every battle you are slowly slipping further and further away from that small child that once snuggled to your breast.
Casualty #2: Your Relationship with Yourself
You used to go to the gym. You had a pretty cute figure if you ask yourself. Now, now you can barely muster a shower. By the time you have put out all the fires, repaired all the wounds, and cleaned up the mess, you simply sink into the couch or bed and get ready to do it all again the next day.
Casualty #3: Your Relationship with Your Spouse or Partner
Even the best marriage or relationship on Earth cannot withstand constant firing at the village gates. Without fail, one of you will get tired and weary before the other. One of you will want nothing more than to protect the family. The date nights turn to therapy nights, and the late night cuddles turn to late night tears.
Casualty # 4: Your Relationships with Your Other Children
When you pictured your family, you never imagined your family would create memories by learning crisis control. You never thought you would have to head into the bunkers or worse, send them into the bunkers alone so you could fight the battle alone. You dream of the day you can give each child the same undivided attention, yet, you know this might never be possible.
Casualty #5: Your Friendships
Your friendships suddenly begin to fall into two categories. Those that try to understand with all their might and those that slowly drift away because you have no time to check in and give them the attention they deserve. You find yourself crossing your fingers in hopes that your next conversation doesn’t begin with “How are things.” Because, honestly, you hate lying, but you know they don’t really want to hear what its really like.
Casualty #6: The Ideas You Once Had of “Normal”
I know. Everyone has their own “normal.” However, this is different. You yearn for the day, the week, the year, you can actually predict what your “normal” will look like. You mourn the family picture you thought you would create and you shed tears over the memories you see others making.
Casualty #7: The Resemblance of the Parent You Thought You Would Be
You’ve read the books. You’ve done the research. You knew exactly what type of parent you wanted to be. And this… this, is nowhere near what you pictured.
Casualty #8: Your Ability to See Yourself as a Capable Strong Parent
Battle after battle, decision after decision, it starts to wear on you. Well meaning friends tell you that you are an amazing parent and doing the best you can. But you don’t feel anything like a good parent. You don’t feel strong. You don’t feel capable.
At the end of the day, each and every casualty is worth it. After you slump outside the bedroom door and lay your head against his door, you close your eyes and remember back to that first night. His skin, his smell, his undeniable love for you from first sight. That. That is what prepares you for the next battle and keeps you strong. That is what pushes you into the battlefield once again. Your baby needs you.
Remember, you are not alone in this fight. You are not going to battle without an army behind you. You might have never met your army, you might not even know they exist, but I promise you… you are not alone!
I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do want to be that army for you. If you need an army and you need a bunker to stay in after your next battle, you can sign up below to join my weekly newsletter (with all these battles I face it tends to be more like monthly). I’ve also started a small group on Facebook that can be your refuge, your safe haven, your calm away from the storm. One thing can be for sure, we will be connected and together, we don’t have to feel so alone any more.
More Adventures In Parenting In the Trenches
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