Some days, when our kids are raging, punching holes in the walls, attacking us, shattering windows, when we’re calling the cops on our 8 yr old because he needs to be readmitted to the psych ward, or we’ve discovered our 7 yr old is cutting herself again, or our 15 yr old has been kicked out of yet another RTC for dangerous behavior – as parents, we feel like failures. As people, we feel like failures. As human beings, we feel useless.
But there are other times, those times when our child hugs us for real, when our child smiles a real smile, and not the fake one, or when we get a glimpse of the real child inside that mess we see most of the time, those moments, when our hearts well up with joy because we see progress, or we see a real emotion, or we have a real moment with our kids, those are the moments we live for. They happen a lot less than the first kind… but they do happen.
For the times when you’re fighting the hopelessness, the depression, remember the other times. If you’re like most human beings, it’s easy to forget those short “good” moments. So when they happen – write them down. Put them in a jar (or a coffee can, or locked up somewhere where only you can get to them) and pull them out when you’re in those bad moments. Remind yourself that there HAS been progress, that there have been moments in the past where your child has connected with you. Maybe it’s a time when your child told a funny joke. Maybe it’s when he spontaneously gave you a hug before he ran to the school bus. Maybe it was a time when your child went an entire week at school without getting suspended/detention/sent to the principal’s office. Whatever it is, if it gives you happiness, a moment of warmth, write it down and preserve it. It can even be a funny picture you took of your child, a moment in time where she was just being a kid, a normal, non traumatized kid moment. We need to remember those moments in order to get through the harder moments.
So go make your Jar of Joy. Record those moments. Make sure you go back and reflect on them, to remind yourself that baby steps are happening, this is a helluva marathon and not a sprint. You’re the turtle, not the hare. Just keep going, doing the best you can. That’s all anyone can do!