sometimes i’m really, really good.
there are days, weeks even, where i feel like i have this parenting thing down. although i have sole custody (legal and physical) and the ex-spouse has very limited involvement in the kids’ lives (and since he lives several states and 700 miles away, that’s to be expected), i have a lot of day-to-day support by way of my mom, dad, & sister. sometimes i even kind of forget that i’m a solo parent. and i think, “i got this. the boys and i are good!”
then a monday like yesterday happens and i’m positive i’m failing my kids in the most spectacular ways and one day they’re going to need all of the therapy ever to make them ok.
that’s probably dramatic. but it’s also true. and i’m about to get really real here, and i’m terrified.
last night after i put him to bed–back rubs, prayers, hugs and kisses, and sitting-quietly-by-his-bed-time-with-him-time–wildboy™ #2 proceeded to pull out almost all of his eyelashes on his upper lid. i didn’t know until i saw him in the morning.
a few weeks ago i noticed that every now and again, i would catch him touching his eyelashes. at first he wasn’t pulling them out, just kind of compulsively running his fingers over them. then i noticed on a couple of occasions that he was pulling them out–1 or 2 at a time. of course i stopped him, and we talked about it. and that was that. or so i thought.
there’s a family history of ocd, and i highly, highly suspect he has adhd. (wildboy™ #1 and i have both been diagnosed with it, so i can say that i’m highly familiar with the signs and all of ’em are pointing to kid 2 being heavy on the ‘h’ portion of adhd. sigh. that’s also a tale for another time.)
so i freaked out. he didn’t see me freak out exactly, because after i pulled him close and asked him why he pulled out all of his eyelashes (“i don’t know, mommy.”), i sat him down to do his math, and then i ran upstairs to my mommy to tell her what happened, proceeded to hyperventilate to the point that i had to sit down with my head between my legs because i felt like passing out, and then i cried. and cried. and cried.
because what in the whole entire hell am i doing and why did i think i had this parenting thing down?
so my mom hugged me. and assured me that we’d get through it (“…together. because you’re not alone, sweet girl, and i want you to remember that!”) and suggested i take my beautiful wildboys™ out for a walk. so we put away all of our school, and put on hoodies and gloves and gym shoes, and they raced, and we trudged through leaves, and they climbed trees, and for about an hour i didn’t obsess over the fact that i really have no idea what i’m doing, and just enjoyed my sweet boys being the wild and wonderful people they are. and we laughed and they squealed but in the back of mind i wondered if i really could get them through childhood relatively unscathed. and i wondered if all of the dysfunction they saw between their dad and i–even after we no longer lived in the same house–will continue to affect them. and i mourned the fact that some of this shit is just genetics and i gifted them generously.
and when we got home, i made lunch, and texted a dear friend who went through a similar thing with her daughter, and i googled ‘trichotillomania” and “adhd” and “ocd” and “co-morbidity” and i actually didn’t obsess. and then i sat down with my wonderful mom and we made an action plan to give both of my boys a little bit more structure and support, and then i texted the therapist who got us all through the divorce and the chaos surrounding that.
later we (almost) finished school. wildboy™ #2 got a fidget toy and i asked him to tell me any time he felt like pulling his eyelashes…even if it’s after bedtime and he’s supposed to be going to sleep. and he promised me he would. (and he did. twice.)
i’ve cried more times than i can count today. and even though i know, intellectually, that if his hair-pulling is a side effect of either adhd, ocd, or some other thing, it isn’t actually my fault, i still feel like i’ve failed him in some fundamental way that scares me. and i feel like me, being his mom alone, won’t be enough for what he needs. and i feel like, while some women boldly make the decision to parent alone, i’m not cut out for this and why-oh-why does God think i’m capable of doing this because i’m absolutely not. (and i’ve also maybe considered keeping a bottle of vodka or whiskey on my person at all times, for times such as these.)
and that doubt weighs heavy on my heart.
but tonight i’ll say my prayers before bed. and i’ll be honest with God as i always am. and after my lamenting, i’ll thank Him for my many, many blessings, and beg Him to help me do right by my boys. because if He gave them to me, He must know something i don’t about what i’m capable of, being their mom and all.
and i hope when i wake up tomorrow morning, my boy won’t have pulled out any more eyelashes. or any other bits of hair.