I got an email from a reader questioning my choice to take two of my daughters for pedicures on their day off yesterday. I just want to take a moment to assure you that I'm not squandering money on spa days. The little nail salon by me offers specials on Mondays and I really wanted to do something special for Lexi especially, who breaks down crying several times a week, but won't complain or ask for a thing. Yes, I'm aware that I can spend special time with my kids without spending even the little bit that the pedicures cost. But sometimes, a little something that puts a smile on my kids' faces in the midst of turmoil and pain is worth more than you might imagine. And, in case anyone was wondering, I've gotten many gift cards for restaurants and stores, as well as donations of money, with the instructions, "Please use this to do a little something for your kids", or "Please use this to put a smile on the kids' faces and add a little fun back into their lives."
I actually haven't touched a penny of the donations, but would like to use some of the money to have some repairs done to my bathroom. When my ex installed the shower some time ago, he didn't do a great job and it has been leaking for years. The walls are spongy and covered in black mold. I've wanted to fix this for some time, but the money just hasn't been there to do it.
Some of my best friends in the world, Jen and Chris, are going through some tough times right now too. Jen and I have been friends since our freshman or sophomore year in high school. I think we met when I made her laugh in our history class. And I met her husband, shortly thereafter because Jen and Chris were highschool sweethearts. Chris has been out of work for over a year. Thankfully, he's had some consulting work and Jen has had some babysitting jobs to keep them afloat, but I know that it's been hard. Anyway, Chris does this kind of work on the side so I asked him if he had time between interviews to fix my bathroom because I'd much rather the money go to them than some random company.
I clean it with bleach often, but the shower needs to be replaced (you might remember back when I wrote about how my kids insisted the shower door just fell off with no help from them.) And now the drywall needs to be replaced because it's spongy and moldy.
In fact, the walls are so bad, that this happened this weekend.
Jackson, who can be the most compassionate, awesome, caring, funny, wonderful kid, can also be just plain horrible. And, unfortunately, his behavior has gotten worse over the past several weeks. I don't know if it's the meds he's on or what exactly is going on with him right now, but he got so mad at Clayton on Saturday because Clay didn't want to play a game with him, that Jackson ended up trying to beat the snot out of Clay. Thank God I was right there to intervene and I took all the punches and kicks. Sunday, Jackson destroyed the boys' bunkbeds (My friend, Eric, is on bunkbed rebuilding duty), took a knife and cut up his mattress and decapitated some stuffed animals. This morning, again, Jackson got bent out of shape over nothing and tried to strangle Clay, lifting him off the floor with his hands around his throat. Jackson's back in the hospital inpatient again. This is his third admission in a month.
I don't even know what to do. I hate not being able to fix him. I hate seeing Dr. Jekyll turn into Mr. Hyde. And when he's Mr. Hyde, there is no reasoning with him. There is no taking a minute to stop and think. There is no recalling everything he's learned in the hospital. There's nothing but rage. And I hate walking on eggshells with my stomach in a knot, wondering what will set him off next. It's scary. And with everything else going on, I feel like a cartoon that's hanging off a cliff and someone keeps peeling my fingers away, one at a time. I don't have many fingers left.
And it doesn't help when family members bring up the times when I've lost it and yelled at Jackson. I have a fair amount of patience, but everyone has a breaking point. When faced with this behavior day in and day out for years, when doing it all on my own (because even before I was divorced, my ex was never around and all the care and discipline of the kids was my responsibility), when combining that with other stresses and five other kids who need attention, it's hard to not lose it sometimes. But there's really no reason to bring it up and make me feel crappier than I already do. Believe me, I beat myself up enough for the times that I've yelled and said horrible things like I'm ready to put him up for adoption. I would take it all back if I could. I'm doing the best I can with what I have to work with. I'm trying. I'm not perfect. Not even close. But I love my kids and I'm doing my best.
I know I'll have people tell me that I shouldn't write this here. This isn't the place for family problems. But I'm writing it anyway. I'm writing mostly because I know there are people out there with children who have difficult behavior problems and I know that those parents probably feel like failures. If Jackson was my only child, I'd feel certain that his problems were 100% my fault and I was a complete failure as a parent. That's the thing about ADHD, depression, and other mental illnesses. They're treated like something bad. If your child had diabetes, you wouldn't try to hide the condition. You wouldn't think you were a horrible parent if your child had diabetes. But it's different with mental illness. Since I have five other children who don't act like Jackson does, I can see that it isn't just poor parenting on my part. But my heart breaks for parents going through similar situations and believing that it's all their fault.
I just want parents of kids who are struggling with similar issues to know they're not alone. I understand how it affects the whole family in profound ways. I know how it drains you emotionally until there's nothing left. You're not alone.
I understand if someone who donated money is concerned with my use of it. I may not agree, but I understand. I'm sorry if I came off sounding nasty. That wasn't my intent. I'm just tired. So tired. Like my title - I'm drained. I don't know how much more I can handle without slipping under. I hope I didn't make anyone mad.