...and the walls came tumbling down...
What is the origin of that phrase? Nursery rhyme or biblical quote? I'm sure I can't remember the source - but that is the phrase I can't get out of my head... the day the walls came tumbling down... otherwise known as the day I lost my shit. The day the facade of a mom-who-has-it-all-together crumbled into a heap on a tiny sofa outside of my Sunday school classroom.
I'm not entirely sure what prompted it. I can't tell you one specific thing that happened or one event that made me say 'that's it. No more. I'm done.' Rather there was a whole lot of crazy building up to this day. This utterly embarrassing and sad, sad day.
'I don't know how you do it.' I'm told that a lot. On a very frequent basis - daily it seems. I'm not sure if it's a compliment or a statement from the person saying it to themselves of 'thank God I'm not her and I don't have to do it.' My reply? 'Well, I just do it.' There isn't another choice, really, other than to let my kids skip school and fend for themselves in the manner of feeding and grooming. But scenes from Lord of the Flies come to mind - and as much as I detest certain aspects of my daily life - I just can't let my off-spring fight it out among themselves to determine who really is in charge.
So I do it. Every day. By myself. And it wears. It wears thin. Apparently so thin that the threads holding my sanity together start to give - and then break.
Now - I know that my life and my struggles are insignificant on the grander scheme of things. My kids don't know hunger or cold or horrible child abuse. They want for nothing - and have very privileged lives. And I don't know hunger or cold - and I'm not the victim of domestic violence.
But still, this is hard. Really hard.
Exacerbated by my daughter - who I find myself in constant battle with. It's such an odd place to be. To want to grab her, hold her tight, love her and kiss her and protect her from herself. While wanting to throttle her and lock her in her room or sell her to the circus (if they'd take her.)
I know there's a clinical reason why she struggles like she does. I know. I realize her lashing out and mean behavior is the cause of her inner struggles and frustrations. I know this. But it does little to settle my heart when I'm burning with anger at the latest mean thing she's said or done.
It seemed we'd come to a sort of impasse for a while. Where I succumbed to the fate of single-parent-of-ADHD-child. Where I admitted defeat of having a relationship with my daughter where I could truly enjoy her. A relationship where we could talk and laugh, share and giggle, hug and commiserate about the ups and downs of girlhood. You know - like normal mothers and daughters.
I guess I thought I sort of gave up on that dream. Admitting that I might never be able to have that with her... that I'd never be able to share in that deep bond and eventual friendship, akin to what I had with my own mom. I listened to Deonne - and admitted that he was right - she is not me and I am not my mother. I get that.
I thought I'd moved on from that - and accepted and loved her for who and what she is.
And then she had a friend spend the night Saturday night. Her 'bff' who she's been friends with since before the two could walk. The little girl who I treat like my own - because I've known her for her whole life - and sort of do think of her like my own.
And I saw in an instant how different the two are. Yes, alike in their love of Monster High girls and Taylor Swift and girl giggles. But oh, so different. I could joke and laugh with this girl. I could ask her to do something simple, like get dressed and brush her teeth. I could ask her to collect her belongings or pick up Anna's toys. I could tell her it was time for bed - to turn out the light - and when it was time to wake up. And she was able to do all of these things without repeated hounding. She was able to do all of these things the first time I asked.
With a smile.
And when Anna got angry and yelled at me or asked 'Why do I need to wear nice clothes?!?' she quietly replied 'because we're going to church.'
Now - I know children act different when they're not at home. Hopefully they obey and act better for others than they do their own parents. And I know how rotten this little girl can be - I've seen it multiple times before. So I'm not deluding myself into thinking she is always compliant and agreeable.
But it did give me pause. Seeing my daughter sit next to her friend - wailing and crying and sobbing with a red face and snot pouring out of her nose because I gave the last waffle to her brother (not understanding what she actually wanted) made me really sad.
Hearing her be completely mean and saying horrid things to James - made me really sad.
And the more I heard, the more I saw, the more the obvious differences between these two girls surfaced - the sadder I became. And the little tiny bricks that were holding up my wall of sanity began to crumble.
And by the time we got to church - I could barely keep it together.
Which is why the tears started to fall.
And when they started to fall - I couldn't stop them.
Oh, I tried to pull myself together. I went to the bathroom and tried to make my face not look like a big red ball of tears, and to wipe up my eye makeup that had dripped and drooped and started hanging out near my chin.
But it didn't work.
You know how it goes, the more you try to stop - the worse it gets? Yeah - that was me.
I guess it all hit at once. Feeling so sad because of the ongoing struggles with Anna. Missing the girl I want her to be - is that even right to admit?? Missing Deonne who needs to be here to help deal with all of this. (And yeah, on some level, being mad at Deonne for not being here to help deal with all of this, despite the sane part of my heart telling me he's doing what is best for our family.) And lonely. Completely and utterly alone. Lost without my husband and best friend there to help. Needing to talk to my mom but not able to do so. Just. Alone.
Whatever the cause - the proverbial dam broke. And all of that sadness came out.
Thankfully my good friend Cat found me in my puddle of tears. And she did the best thing possible.
Let me cry.
She just held me. And let me just cry - without trying to fix it or solve it or in anyway make it better. She allowed me the space in the comfort of her arms to just let the sadness come out.
(And then she offered to take Anna for the afternoon - which was the second best thing possible.)
It was completely embarrassing - because I'm not one to let people see me cry. Oh, I do my fair share of crying and sobbing...just in the comfort of my own home - or by myself in the car - which is my secret place to let all of the hurt out. Sometimes I wonder what drivers in the cars next to me must think when they look over and see me sobbing into my steering wheel...but that's become the time and space where I allow tears to come - tears that I wipe and put away when I walk in the door to pick up my children.
And it was completely humbling. On some level - I'm kinda proud that I've been able to keep everything together without publicly letting my wall come tumbling down. Crying in front of people - even friends - is completely humbling for me. There's nothing left to hide - and your innards are all out there for the world to see. It's like publicly admitting you're not strong enough to live your own life and deal with your own messes.
Shortly after Cat arrived, our priest and good family friend also showed up. (And I hope that was happenstance - that there wasn't some 'code red' button pushed to help sobbing lady outside classroom.) What a gentle soul. He provided words of wisdom as a parent of a child with similar issues, as a priest and caregiver of the soul, but most importantly as a friend.
So while I was mortified to have fallen apart - if it was going to happen in a public place - I'm glad it happened at church. Where I'm not alone (even though I feel like it without Deonne here), and where I have friends who will help me put the walls back together.