By definition Perseverance is:
steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
Also notice the word "severe" is in there right in the middle of it - just saying;)
One thing I know - parenting is hard and will use up every ounce of creativity, energy and patience you have. Sometimes all in one night.
What I'm learning (over and over and over again) is that if I can stay calm and not be triggered by my child's triggers and meltdowns - things go much better. The fits may still last 1 hour and 30 minutes and there literally be nothing I can do to make it better (a fact that is still hard for me to grasp cause I want to fix it). But if I ride it out and stay level headed, speak calmly and lovingly. If I can breath and talk myself out of the feelings that all this noise and chaos means life is out of control. If I don't engage or let his attempts to push my buttons actually push them or even if I fake it really well and pretend I'm not cringing inside - and I just press on, keeping repeating myself calmly and kindly, keep meeting his needs for food or warmth - dry clothes the other day after the pool, whatever it may be - and sometimes I have no idea cause I try it all and nothing works - IF I can do all that and just stay regulated - all goes so so so much better. It may not blow over any quicker. It may not instantly take the rage away. But when it finally blows over - there isn't a need for me to appologize for losing my cool also. There isn't the nagging guilt that brings me down for days. There is instead connection and peace and even sometimes a very sweet little boy who wants to snuggle up and act like nothing ever happened. Last night there was even a very brief "sorry" in there which I didn't prompt and has never been something he has liked saying.
I know all this in my head. And yesterday I stayed the course. Last week, I stayed the course 3 out of 6 days and lost my mind the other 3 out of 6. It's those times that frustrate me the most. Far more than his behavior or the fact that we're even dealing with going on 3 weeks of almost nightly meltdowns. I'm frustrated with me, with my triggers, with my baggage, with the fact that I'm not acting like the adult every time, that I do and say the things I don't want to and the things I do want to do and say - I don't do. Sounds like a scripture I know.
14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
It is hard. Just when I think we've gotten through the hard - a new season comes and a different version of hard hits. This is parenting. I know that it's hard regardless. But what I don't have it to compare to personally but what friends who have bio and adopted kiddos tell me is that trauma makes it harder. I believe it. I know my own junk reminds me of that. How hard it is to reprogram the brain. Years of counseling and I'm still working through my stuff. And I didn't even spend my first 3.5 years in an orphanage. When I stop and realize the reality of where my son came from and how those first few years must have been for him, I am amazed at how well he is doing. Those scars don't just go away. The way his brain was wired early on, whether he remembers any of it or not, it's still in there. And when he's tired or hungry or cold or just over stimulated - that flight, fight or freeze part of the brain kicks in and all reason goes out the window. I've been trying to "talk" him out of it - spewing words and explanations and reasonings at him when really I just need to shut my mouth and ride it out with him. Seriously, this is one of my biggest struggles since I'm a verbal processor and all about talking things out. It doesn't work with him. Not in these moments. It makes it worse. His response is fight. My response I would say growing up was sometimes a little of each but as I grew older - it was definitely fight also. I'm also extremely stressed out by loud noises such as a child screaming and raging for any length of time. Any kind of chaos gives me a panic reaction inside that makes me feel like danger is coming. I'm sure it must be the same for my kiddo. So imagine me and my son - both triggered - both going to that fight part of the brain and you'll quickly see why there is a lot of yelling back and forth going on and a very unpleasant scene. Our neighbors must think we've lost our minds. If I'm struggling to keep myself regulated and I've been through years of counseling and have a very keen awareness of my issues - how much more difficult is it for him? No wonder we've had a hard 3 weeks.
I keep praying. I keep talking myself through it. I keep reminding myself not to "talk at him" in those moments (or hours). I keep reminding myself that it's ok that it's loud. It's ok that I can't instantly calm him. I just need to be present and calm and loving. I just need to ride it out with him. I don't need to enter into the trauma with him. But I do need to love him through it and do every single thing that I can to not engage in a negative way. Yelling isn't helping. And I hate it anyway. So my prayer daily is Lord help me. Help me be a better parent. Help me not get triggered. Help me to stay level headed. Help me to ride it out with him. And most of all - help me to help him. This is the most important job I will ever have - being his mom. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has big plans for him. I want to help in any way I possibly can to help shape him into the man he will become. And help him through his triggers and trauma. And I can see how God is trying to show me that I still need to get some healing of my own in those areas.
I am grateful for my faith. Grateful for the power of prayer. Grateful for a few close friends that I can be real and raw with and text and say "pray right now" and I know they do. I can feel those prayers. I am grateful for people to be honest with. To be able to say "I'm struggling" and not feel judged. To even have other parents share their struggles with me. This is what is needed friends. Community. People to do life with. To be real with. Maybe every parent doesn't struggle in this exact same way but if we listen to those lies playing in our mind when we mess up - those lies that tell us "You're the only one with this issue. You're the worst parent. You're a failure." and if we keep listening and believing all those lies and we don't tell anyone of our struggle - then we don't even know the truth - that others are struggling too. Some in the same ways. Some in very different ways. But so many, maybe even all or almost all of us, are struggling. We don't have to be afraid to say it. I'm sick of the world telling us we have to pretend we have it all together. It's all an act. It's all a big fat lie. And you know who the father of lies is? Satan. Yeah, that's who. Getting into the light is where the healing comes. Being real. Being honest. Not pretending you're fine if you're really not. You don't have to write it in a blog for all the world to see - that's surely not everyone's style or comfort level. But do you have at least 1 or 2 people you can sit down with and be raw and honest? Maybe for you married folks - maybe it's your spouse. For us single mommas, we had better have some close friends cause everyone needs that kind of safe place to take your struggles to. I cannot imagine parenting or doing much else in life without that. I'm grateful for my people. And grateful to my Jesus for not leaving me where I am or where I was - for constantly teaching me and showing me and even revealing my junk because that's the opportunity for healing. Healing for me. And healing for my son. It's a lifetime journey. And that's why my favorite scripture is still:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
EDITED ON 7/12/2019 TO ADD:
One thing I haven't blogged about since it's been literally 2 years since I last even posted a blog, is that sometime in the last 2 years (I think it was late 2017, early 2018 but not exactly sure) we discovered that Mihretu is extremely sensitive to artificial food dyes. I came across a TedTalk of a mom talking about how her kid acted when the child had food with dyes in it and it was literally describing my kiddo's behavior to a T. Everything I thought was trauma related - not so sure it really was at all. After months and months of rage like episodes that would end up in throwing up, and then coming across that TedTalk - I began to figure out that artificial dyes might be playing a roll. We cut it out and I'm not even kidding, the behavior improved within a matter of days. He's gotten really good at reading labels and avoiding stuff with dyes also and it's been over a year and a half since we cut it out. Once in a great while, we miss that something has dyes in it and several times Mihretu ends up throwing up. This has happened a few times when he got cheese on a burger at a restaurant or one time when we went out for Chinese food for a friends birthday and shared orange chicken and he went to the bathroom to throw up a few minutes later. Duh, of course that has coloring in it - it was orange. That was a mom fail moment. Thankfully his body just rejects it now, he throws up and then he's fine. But man, I look back at all those years and all those tantrums and wonder how many of them might have been because of food dyes or may have been worse because of them. I'm just so grateful we figured out that this affects him so much and were able to cut it out of his diet. It's banned in a lot of countries so I don't even understand why it's still even allowed in this one. Nevertheless, we no longer ingest it. I don't either cause it's obviously not good for you. I wish I would have known sooner but I'm thankful I found out when I did and we could do something about it. It has made a world of difference!