The Hepthalon of Parenting...
I am not ever sure where to begin. So I will start in a place everyone can relate to...parenting is hard. If your kids are good and do what they are supposed to do, parenting is hard. It is hard to be 100% responsible for another being for 18 years in a row. To be 100% responsible for making sure that they are potty trained, learn to eat a healthy diet, get enough sleep, learn to crawl, walk, bike, skateboard, run, and play whatever sport they might want to. It is hard to help them in school. It is hard to help them navigate all the pressures of the modern world. It is hard to help them through the teenage years which demand increased supervision while at the same time they rebel and think that pretty much everything you have to say is stupid. It is hard to parent...
It is harder still to parent in a pandemic. When everything that you’ve come to rely upon and they have come to rely upon is changed, different, curtailed. They can’t socialize in a normal way. They don’t leave the house very much because everything has been brought back to the home. The home life stress level is off the charts because you and they are in the home trying to work and learn on an often over extended bandwidth...literally.
Then add to the mix a kid with some extensive issues. Add to the mix autism and some other mental health issues that one dare not name because of the social impact they might have. People hear certain words and then they make sweeping generalizations and then you and perhaps your kid are left standing outside pretty much every social circle.
Do all of the above for years. Doing the best you can and never giving up...even though you feel like it way more often then you care to admit.
Do this while being a single parent with a more than full time job. Do it with a great deal of support and help from your parents and nanny. Be grateful to them every single day for giving you a break so you can go to work and keep a roof over everyone’s head. Be grateful that they are the providers of your sanity...as they spell you so that you an go out to dinner with a friend, occasionally maybe even have a date, and even rarer have a moment to yourself where you are not working, cleaning, shopping or parenting.
The hepthalon of parenting is made up of events...disciplining, loving, listening, cleaning/cooking, communicating, funning and teaching. It is a lot to juggle. It is way harder to juggle when your child’s issues up the ante and just getting them to eat three meals a day is a battleground of epic proportions...because they aren’t hungry right that second...but you know that if they don’t eat they are going to be hangry and then all bets are off and you are totally screwed.
I say all of the above not for kudos or for a medal. I am not a victim, I signed up to be a mom and I am happy that I did even though my particular mom’ness is harder than many. I also know that I have it way easier than many. I think of myself somewhere in the middle of the pack on the hard side of parenting...really.
But yesterday was a blow. I am still trying to recover and find myself bursting into tears and not really able to talk to anyone about it because I am ashamed and scared and lost. I was up half the night trying to decide if I would share this today because I really don’t want to but this is my life and I promised I would tell you what is really going on...even when I want to just hide.
So here it is people...
I was working from home yesterday and pretty much everything was on fire at work. I mean everything. Every case and client was in an uproar. I was swamped and putting out fires until 7:45 pm. So I was in my home office working when someone knocked on the door about noon. My daughter answered the door. She called me from my office. I went to the door and much to my shock and surprise there was a woman from child protective services standing on my porch!
I felt like someone punched me in the gut...which is ironic as you will see shortly...
She was very nice and warm and personable and I am super grateful for that...but she informed me that someone had called them to report me for abusing my son. That apparently on September 22nd I went into his room and punched HIM in the gut. And someone decided that CPS should be called to investigate this...
It bears mentioning that I haven’t punched anyone since March 21, 1995. But we all know, all too well, today that fact is something that doesn’t really exist anymore. And truth has only a passing acquaintance with our current world. So I know, all too well, that what really happened is not as important as the reality in which CPS is standing on my front porch.
Of course, I welcome her in. She apologizes for ambushing me telling me it is standard protocol. But I know this isn’t true...I work in the field and have clients that deal with this kind of crap all the time. CPS always calls the parents first unless they believe the child is in immediate danger and a tip off to the parent would further place the child in peril.
Maria is here and so is my daughter. I introduce her around the family. The dog jumps on her and licks her. She is good natured and I am immensely grateful for that lucky draw. I know it really could have cut the other way.
My son is in his room finishing up his class. We go to his room and I knock on the door. He yells at me then ignores me. I knock again. He comes crashing to the door, screaming at me “WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT!” This is a typical greeting when he is hungry. He is immediately humbled when he sees this stranger standing there. I make the introduction and he looks fearful.
I walk away so they can talk privately. His room is a disaster which make me nervous but there is nothing I can do. It isn’t like I allow the other areas of our home to look that way...but I can only fight with him about his room so often...then I just have to give up because I need the energy to go to work, or parent him when I get home. I have to pick my battles and his room is just not one that I can take on...anymore.
She spends a few minutes with him and then returns to the house. He has denied that the incident ever happened. He has told her that I would never and have never punched him or been abusive to him. Thank fucking God! But I also know that the fights that we get into and the way that he yells at me and sometimes I yell back isn’t healthy.
She tells me the complaint will be unfounded and the case will be closed. I feel relief but not really. I do not know who called and said this about me...and that makes me uneasy. I immediately think of my neighbor as she has already called the county on me. She hates me and lets me know with her venomous passive aggression every time she is in town, over the fence in hateful bursts of vitriol. I hate living next to her but I am not moving. She could have filed the false report. She is awful and miserable and will seemingly stop at nothing to injure me even though I have never done one thing to her. Again, reality and fact are completely lost in that dynamic. So it could be her...but the actual allegation seems a bit far even for her. To allege punching - how would she have witnessed that? Would she make up a complete lie? Maybe but I am doubtful, still willing to give her some grace even though she gives me zero.
I think that it could be the school. Maybe my son said something and they had to report it. I think they would have told me. But that doesn’t seem plausible because I got to see the report for like 5 seconds...that wasn’t how it was written. It wasn’t written like an adult reported what a kid said...it was reported like a kid said it to CPS.
So that left me with my own child...and his friend. And that is where I remain...in this place where either my son and his friend, his friend or just my son made the report. My son denies it and says he knew nothing about it. The look on his face when I told him who was standing outside his bedroom indicates that he didn’t. He was pretty upset and shocked...but I also know that he lies to me all the time about everything and has nothing but a flagrant disregard for me, my rules and the truth.
So we are left with the friend...a child who has a lot of issues and his own family dysfunction. He had motive as I recently banned him from the house due to his disrespect of the boundaries I set and for providing my son with vaping pens. But I have a hard time thinking why he would do this to me. I have been nothing but kind and helped him when he needed help. Allowed him to come to my house when his own home life was in turmoil. Then I remember hurt people, hurt people.
I may never know who called. But I am not going to allow a possible reporter to come into my home again. I text the kid and tell him he is no longer welcome, to not have contact with my children, have my children block him on their phones, call his mother to tell her all of the above. She doesn’t even argue with me or offer up any kind of defense, she just says “ok, thank you” and we end the call.
I go into my office and sob at my desk. I feel so defeated. I feel so alone. I am tired from my daily hepthalon of parenting and now feel like I was forced to run a marathon immediately after my seven track and field events...I am spent but I have another 8 hours of work to do and I can’t fall apart...I just have to persevere. So I do, because I always do.
So I make it to 8 pm with intermittent jags of tears. I am too tired to reach out for support. I call my mom because she is my mom. But she already knows because my son told her. I text The Tribe and I talk to a friend briefly. But I am too spent. I have nothing left...I am beyond help because I am beyond tired. So I just go to bed. I feel alone. I feel lost. I feel like I am stuck in a situation that I cannot right. I feel like I want to run away. I feel like a failure...I keep replaying the part where she asks me for my date of birth so she can check to see if I am on probation or parole...I know she is just doing her job but that just kills me. I have been trying to live a good life and somehow I have managed to land myself in a situation where someone in authority is asking my date of birth so they can check to see if I have a criminal record....I feel completely demoralized and I can’t let it go. I have never even been arrested...even in my younger years, for anything, ever.
I went to bed despondent and woke in pretty much the same condition. I feel like I am in a trap I cannot spring. Trying to parent a kid who is against me at every single step of the way. But what can I do? I am sure there is a way through this, there always is, but I can’t see it now. I am too lost and too failing to be able to see anything but the betrayal and its most bitter sting.
So here I am. This is my reality. This is what I am up against. This is how I feel. This is how I am living my life. This is what it looks like. Judge if you will. But I hope that something I have shared hits a cord in you and you can relate on some level...hopefully you have never had to answer your door and see CPS standing there. But perhaps you can relate to a feeling. Or perhaps you have had a hard day parenting or working or living. I share all of the above in the hope that someone else is given a little hope that there is another person out there that has had a hard day parenting, working and living. It was just a day after all. Today is a new one. I am going to do my best to let yesterday go and focus on what I can do today to improve the situation for myself, for my children, for my co-workers...for all I encounter. Because that is all I know to do. Being of service is the life giving rope out of self-pity...every.single.time.
So if you are suffering today, please give me a call. I would love to help. Seriously, in any way I can. You would be doing me a giant favor, helping me forget about all of the above for a little while. Please. I beg of you.