I’ve debated writing this for months and months, maybe even years. When it comes to sharing my life openly on the internet, I’ve always tried to be vulnerable and honest while still protecting my family as much as possible. When it comes to writing about my kids, I started to be more careful once I realized people were actually reading what I wrote here. Maybe this is the real reason why I don’t identify myself as a “blogger” any more. The truth is that I’ve been through the hardest part of my entire life the last couple years and instead of opening up and writing it out on here, I alluded to it from time to time, but existed in my own little nightmare and chose to keep it to myself and close friends and family as much as possible. After all, what sort of mother am I if I air my child’s dirty laundry for the world to see? Well, I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that I want to share our story with you. I’m sick and tired of pretending things are good when they aren’t. And I want to gift hope to any parents out there whose previous dreams of what parenthood would look like for them have been shattered into a million pieces.
My son Landon is five and a half years old. He was the fattest, cutest baby with his blondish curls and bright blue eyes – he really didn’t look like he belonged to my husband and I. He was so easy going and honestly hardly cried. I remember as a toddler he would run and fall and not cry. If he did cry, he wouldn’t let us comfort him. That was my first indication that something was “off” with him. By the time he was two, he was throwing epic “terrible-twos” tantrums. I remember being pregnant with his baby brother and having to climb up into the car and knee him down into his car seat just to get him buckled in. Leila (his big sis) never did this – she was and still is the easiest kid ever. I just assumed Landon was “normal” and friends and family reassured me that his tantrums and difficult behavior were “boy things” and because he was two. Well, around the time that Landon’s behavior really started escalating and I started being concerned about his late speech and some other odd repetitive behaviors he was exhibiting, I gave birth to Roman and became a stay-at-home-mom. As many of you know, Roman was born with medical issues and it was a hard time for Andy and I – running him to appointments, surgeries, and adjusting to life with 3 kids. During this time Leila also started kindergarten which was a huge adjustment and my emotions were a mess postpartum. Through it all, my mom instinct was telling me something was off with Landon, but I kept pushing it aside and attributing it all to his personality while focusing on all the other craziness simultaneously going on in my life. Looking back, I was selfish and in denial.
By the time he was three, he still was hardly talking and had extreme social anxiety. We would go to the park and he’d refuse to play if there were too many kids there. Again, I told myself and was told by others that he’s just shy. I googled things we were experiencing with him and kept coming across autism websites and going through the checklists, but he wasn’t that extreme. At well-child checks, he always met the standards of “normal.” Before he started preschool as an almost 4-year-old I voiced my concerns to our pediatrician and she said to see how he does in preschool and we would go from there. By that time he was starting to make sentences and his language really took off. He started preschool and was so nervous that he didn’t speak to his teacher or classmates for the first few months, BUT he loved it and thrived on the routine of school and it even improved his behavior at home. That’s when I wrote this post and thought our struggles with him were over. We had a 6 month break and then everything I knew about being a parent was challenged.
A year ago the extreme violence began. When you give birth to a sweet, snugly baby the last thing you ever imagine is that your baby is going to want to hurt you. You look at that innocent babe and you have all the hopes and dreams in the world for them – you swear to yourself to be the best momma you can be and you love and protect them with your whole heart. I always thought I was a really good mom. And deep down I do still believe I am. But when your child screams how much he hates you and wants you to die constantly, it’s hard to not believe it. And when he is throwing things at your head and ripping your hair out and biting and clawing you until you bleed, it is beyond the physical pain that you feel – it is your heart literally being ripped out of your chest. It’s honestly hard to look at your child as your child any more when they seem to be possessed and a million miles away from the soft, squishy baby you brought into the world.
Over the past year we’ve spent thousands of dollars on therapy. We’ve been told he has Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD), anxiety, OCD tendencies, selective mutism, an attachment disorder, sensory processing issues, slow language processing, and we’re still figuring it all out. I’m finally starting to understand my son and how he views the world and I’m now able to separate my sweet boy (who he truly is) from this “monster” that occasionally comes out. That’s not my son, that’s just his fight-or-flight response overreacting to his anxious feelings about life. For Landon, life isn’t just fun and happy, like many children innately view their world. And it is so hard for me because all I want is for him to be happy and have fun.
I remember one night on my knees in tears in my bedroom when Andy got home from work. It had been a regular rough night in our house with books torn apart, new holes in the walls, scratches down my arm, just because of bed time. I told Andy, “I almost think it would be easier to have a child with cancer. We would understand the cause of his pain and would know there would eventually be an end to it either through a cure or death.” With Landon, I have often wanted to take his internal pain and stress away, but I can’t. I’ve felt like it’s a battle he’s going to face his whole life and if he can’t be happy as a little kid with no real stress in his life, how is he going to handle grown up stress down the road? I’ve never felt more helpless, lost, sad, frustrated, angry at God, sorry for myself in my whole life.
You can plan the perfect life. You can read all the books. You can prepare and pray and hope and dream, but when you become a parent, through biology or adoption, you never know who you will be called to raise. Parenthood is no joke people. It is not something to take lightly. It will make or break you, that’s for sure. To be brutally honest, I’ve had very real moments over the past year where I’ve regretted my decision to even be a mom – moments where I felt like I was the worst mother in the world. But those were in moments of selfishness and feeling sorry for myself. We all have our crosses to bear and this just happens to be mine.
I love my children fiercely and I’m determined to be the best mom I can be for them. I’m going to work hard to help Landon grow up strong and happy and secure in himself. I know this post is about sadness and struggle, but most people who know Landon in real life and have never seen our day-to-day struggles only know him as the goofy, kind, energetic little boy that he truly is (in fact, many of you who are friends of ours may be completely shocked to even read this!). He is so much more than what he struggles with. We are each so much more than our internal battles!
Two months ago we started with a new therapist who is literally a Godsend (that’s a story in and of itself for another day). She is working with our whole family and for this first time in a long time I feel full of hope! I feel happy. I have so much more to say, but will stop here for now. Thank you to all of you who have been a support to me through this all and those of you who I don’t know, but have taken the time to read my words.