Parenting, Stress, Mourning the Dream

Stress.  It is one of those words people hear and say often, but when you are really feeling it, you may not know what hit you!

Many causes can increase it; the economy, home budget woes, war, raising children. . .  I never knew that sending my child to school could feel like war.  There was a time a bit over a year ago that I was nervous, angry, confused, forgetful, overeating, overreactive mess.  Surprise!  Stress!  And for a while I actually thought, "What is wrong with me?",  "Is it me or are the teachers looking at me with leery eyes?"  I am sure I appeared like a wild eyed maniac to them then.  I am absolutely sure.

What concerns me is noone seemed to wonder why.  Noone asked, or checked in.  Perhaps they thought my son was making me as crazy at home as he did them at school, (not usually the case)  Or perhaps they thought "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree".  I started to wonder that too.  Did I make it as a highly functioning, career building, job holding adult and just not know I suffer from some mental illness or syndrome? 

If you have read earlier posts you may know my son has struggled in the school setting.  He has the misfortune of having a combination of gifts and challenges that were mistaken by the school as  "bad attitude", "manipulation" and "unacceptable behaviors".  As a result of those assumptions one teacher saw fit to give me a daily report of my son's shortcomings in front of siblings, classmates, teachers and parents alike.  The principal felt justified in following my son out the door to scream at him (then 7) in front of the same rotating audience of our community.  Even the school psychologist fell into this ridiculous example of adult lacking self control, but that time I just grabbed my son by the arm and walked away as she squawked open mouth, eyes gaping.  The next meeting we were met with, "We feel you parents are not being supportive of the school" Bwwaaaaahaaaahaaaa!!  What??!

But perhaps they had never read the book.  A book was recommended to me shortly after these incidents took place.  A book that titled Help Your Child or Teen Get Back on Track by Kenneth Talan.   The therapist could see I was stressed, I am sure.  At that point, I could not even walk my kids into school or answer my phone without shaking, literally, shaking.  I couldn't sleep at night, so instead I read obsessively, searching for strategies and information that would be the key to making all this go away, setting my world right side up again.  When I read this book, I found a chapter with advice for parents.  And did you know, because I sure didn't, that finding out your child has a special need can throw a parent into set of stages that mirror mourning?  Wow!  I was mourning.  Denial, fear, anger, depression, acceptance, blame, all mixed up and popping up all over the place.  Mourning.

Tie this in with something I read on a support list recently.  I am not sure the origin.  Picture a pot of water, and a frog.  You have hot water, the frog jumps in and jumps out because, duhhh, it's Hot!  But put the frog in cold water and turn up the heat.  He just sits, and sits, and sits, till bye bye froggie.  Poor frog doesn't notice the water is too hot till it's too late.

I am pretty sure that no one at my son's former school read this book.   Or thought of parents of children as frogs in a pot of water.  If they had, wouldn't they have treated us all with more compassion?  I have to wonder how many school teachers, school psychologists, school nurses, and principals know that they are turning the heat up on us poor unsuspecting parents (frogs).  I wonder if they would realize that when you turn the heat up on one parent or child, you turn up the heat on the whole family, especially if the lead frog is not wonder frog (jumps out at the nick of time in spite of statistics) or damsel frog (rescued by a therapist with a book)  I wonder if they would realize that it is crass to sit back and smugly say to themselves, "I help so many kids it is my life's work.  I am good. That woman is just a nut job."


Theresa said...

Though our situations aren't the same Amy, I can sympathize with the process. I spent a time mourning my own loss when I realized I needed intervention for the PPD and wasn't able to fix it myself. But always remember, making it through the process has made you stronger. You have become a knowledgeable advocate for your child(ren). And BTW, I know of one school nurse who would have read as many books as you did trying to help you facilitate a plan to help your child :) They're not all bad ;)

Amy said...

She is a gem Theresa! And I know other school nurses who are much more compassionate and understanding, teachers and principals and psychologists too. And to be sure I am betting no one involved is particularly proud of their actions last year. I have even sensed some regret, but I won't be holding my breath for an apology either, and to me that is a big problem this day and age, with an apology comes legal recourse, an admission of guilt. It is too bad an apology can't be just that and given freely.

mwr2sbr said...

Well written and poignantly dead on. I love how you are purging yourself of all this pent up (what???) sorrow? disgust? remorse? anger? STRESS! All of the above. You are a lovely woman with a mind and a heart that deserves to be heard. Good for you. Keep writing, even if it feels um... challenging to find the time (that was my nice way of putting it! ;)