~My guest blogger, my friend, Megan, is bearing her soul. I will monitor comments and will delete anything that is tacky or rude. We, as mamas of RAD children, are open to answering honest, forthright questions. If you are curious, ask, but do so with tact and compassion…anything other than that, and I will block you. We beat ourselves up enough, we don’t need anyone else to do it for us. RAD is hard stuff…but God is still on the throne and He is still in the miracle making business. Now, go and gladiate :)~
One of my children is not like the others
RAD sucks, the end.
Ok, it’s not really the end but seriously RAD sucks. Reactive Attachment Disorder is, in layman’s terms, a diagnosable roadblock that doesn’t allow for “normal” attachment between the parent and child. It also comes along with a slew of other annoying little quirks. One of which is the constant need to suck the life out the primary caregiver, usually the mother—that’s me. RAD sucks the life out of me. I can’t lie, some days I want to just crawl into bed and never come out, but I don’t. If I did then RAD would win and I am way too competitive to let that happen. You hear that RAD???!! You may win the battle but you will not win the war! I know you’re not listening though because as I type this my daughter, who has RAD, is watching a movie in her room as quiet and good as ever…the calm before the storm. Great, crap, now it’s literally raining outside.
Well I was right…I’ve had to take about a week in between writing these paragraphs because of my daughter’s constant “fits.” She is 11-going-on-4 and constantly craves my attention. She is willing to do whatever it takes to get my attention even if that means being punished and throwing an all-out tantrum. Her fits break me, they make my arms and back sore, they take away hours of my time, but mostly they have me second-guessing her place in our family. That last one bothers me the greatest. The bruises I acquire and the physical pain I feel is nothing I can’t heal from, but the emotional toll from feeling like I made a huge mistake by bringing her into our family is what kills me most. Then the guilt of thinking such a thought creeps its way in and eats me alive. It burns a hole in my heart each and every time. I am her mother. I am supposed to love her unconditionally right? How could a mother feel such things for her own daughter? Well I do, a lot more than I care to admit.
In addition to feeling agony that is self-inflicted, I have to deal with the constant stares and misguided advice from strangers and even a few close friends. They all tend to say, “Maybe if you were a little more relaxed with her she wouldn’t want to rebel so much, maybe if you just walked away from her when she’s being rude, she’s just so sweet I don’t believe she could cause so much trouble…” Seriously? Well damn, why hadn’t I thought of that? Oh wait, I have been there and done that too many times to count. What most don’t understand is that my daughter’s “special need” is not one that can be easily seen, it’s not one that you would even know she had unless you lived with her or spent a LOT of time around her. She is a master manipulator, a liar, and the best at conning her way into your well-meaning heart. However, when you start to try and love her back she fights it with all her might. She punches, spits, curses, screams, and breaks things to get away from love. Like I said, it sucks.
I stress eat now. I know a bag of Oreos better than I know myself now. I yell more now. I say a lot more in my head than I do out loud now. I’ve fine-tuned the art of making fun of someone without them ever knowing now. Ya know, when you say something funny to yourself and are laughing so hard on the inside but all you show on the outside is a slow smirk? I’ve got that down pat now.
RAD has changed me. It has changed me possibly even more than it has changed my daughter. I see things differently than I used to. I used to have a perfect picture of what my family would look like. My kids would each be sweet and wanting to cuddle every day. My husband would be perfect and never falter, but mostly I saw myself as the world’s best mother. I would never scream, I would teach all of my children to speak three or four languages, they’d be kind little angels out in public, and we’d never turn on the T.V. Now, I’m ecstatic if we go an hour with no one yelling “mom!!!” a hundred times. I’m content if the only thing we spill during the day is the dogs’ water bowl. I feel accomplished when we can give the kids a hot meal at the end of the day, even if it is just Ramen noodles. I’m impressed with myself if all of the kids managed to get bathed each week. Hell, I’m impressed if I managed to get a shower longer than five minutes! Being a mother, being a mother to 6 children, being a mother raising a child with RAD, just being a part of my family from the inside, has changed me. It has made me stronger and weaker at the same time. I have the strength to admit my faults now, but I also have the strength to know that this thing called RAD, this thing called life, cannot break me. My strength as a mother is something that RAD can never take from me. It’s something that can never be taken away from any mother who has to endure the wrath of RAD. We trauma mama’s, as we’re so sweetly called, are gladiators (thanks Scandal for bringing that one back!) We manage to dust ourselves off each and every time we go to battle. We may end up with a scar or two, but we always get back up; because that’s what gladiators do. We stare fear in the face and duck…’cause RAD always comes out of the gate swinging.
For those of you who may not be dealing with RAD directly, but are close to a parent who is: Don’t abandon us because we miss a few play dates, or because we don’t ask you how your day was for the tenth time in a row. Most likely, we are tired and only surviving on whatever fish sticks our kids didn’t eat that day. We are carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders and when you stop caring we do too. We stop caring about ourselves. We need a friend who will remind us to put on deodorant if we forget. We need a friend who will hear us laugh and cry about whatever horrible thing our child did at school that day. We need you because some days we need you to be our gladiator. Currently, my knees are bruised from having to safely restrain my daughter yesterday, but today my heart is ok. My heart has lived to see another day because I’ve recently found some pretty great friends who get it and who can just be in the moment with me.
RAD sucks, but that doesn’t mean our lives have to too.