I’d like to say that the last straw was the banana getting thrown at me.
But before that, it was the banana peel getting thrown at me.
And before that, it was the 20 minutes of his screaming upon being told I wouldn’t dress him because he knows how to do it himself.
And yesterday, it was when they told me he was throwing furniture in the nursery at MOMS.
And the day before that when they told me he couldn’t come back to school while the principal was out of town – after he physically assaulted four other children over the course of two days.
I wish I could quit. Just lay down and say, “That’s the last straw. My back is broken. I give up.”
But with this job, there is no laying down. No quitting. No giving up.
So the straws just keep coming and coming and coming and with each hour that passes the camel’s back just keeps on breaking and breaking and breaking.
Tomorrow, we gather with his closest friends to celebrate his birthday. But this broken back hasn’t had the spirit to wrap presents, or express excitement…or really anything.
Today, I found a stack of photos taken on a disposable camera over the course of his first eleven months. I tried to remember what it felt like to love him so wholly and completely. To see cuteness and rolls and sweetness instead of a living terror.
And I just couldn’t feel it. Because he had just screamed at me to leave him alone. Then screamed even more when I complied and locked myself in my bedroom.
I hate myself for every moment I’ve yelled and screamed back. But there’s only so much a mommy camel can take.
I leave tear-filled voicemails for the people who are supposed to be getting us answers. I tell them we need help. Today. My fingers pound out an email to a behavioral therapist while tears drip from my eyes:
“I love my child but right now I don’t even want to be around him. I am literally at my wits end. I am crying as I write this. I need some help.”
She lights a fire and gets people to call me back and an appointment is set for Monday. Help is on the way. There is a brief moment of relief.
Then, I wonder how to make it til then.
I spend time throughout the days making a video of the last year of his life. There’s dancing and singing and talk about poop. There are happy moments for sure. I try to feel happy about this four year milestone as I watch him dance across the iMovie screen.
But I’m just exhausted.
It shouldn’t be this hard. Motherhood should be getting easier as he gets older, not harder.
I ask God why. Why from the day he was born does this one have to be so so hard? Why a broken birth experience? Why the recovery complications and postpartum depression? Why breastfeeding struggles? Why nineteen months of sleepless nights? Why the moments of near insanity? Why the turbulence? Why the potty training problems? Why the crying at bedtime every. single. night? Why oh so many days when I simply wasn’t enough?
I pound the wall of the breezeway at church with a clenched fist and push back the tears before returning to my seat at the table at MOMS…too tired to get into it with anyone. Too ashamed to even tell them why he’s here and not at school. Unsure how to explain the yelling-and-screaming, friend-hitting, furniture-throwing tiny human who is mine.
The good-little-Christian in me says that there must be something to learn from this – some uber-spiritual reason for this fiery trial.
I’ll tell you one thing I’ve learned:
A mom can only take so much before she breaks. And after that, she just keeps breaking and breaking and breaking.
And so tomorrow, I’ll get up and wrap a few small presents. His daddy will take him hiking. I’ll curl my hair and throw lipgloss on lips that I will try to make sure form into a smile at least a few times. I’ll make sure my camera battery is charged. I will breathe a silent, wordless prayer that in that moment when he sees Cow and the balloons and his closest friends, he will know how very loved he is.
He’s still my kid. I’m still his mom.
…no matter how broken my back and my heart.