On my blog, I have written about the different phases I went through while raising Julianna, and then with Blake and Nathan. Once I was caught up to the present, I blogged about different events or thoughts that have come to my mind. And now that I have been writing on this blog for a little over a year now, I have noticed that in the past few months, now that I can look back on them, I have entered a new phase in relation to motherhood as a whole, and that can be summed up in two words: Burn Out.
I have been a mom for over 11 years now, and a mother to 3 kids for over 2 years. Each child has brought his or her own set of challenges that have tested me to my limits and pushed me to do things that I never imagined I would need to do. And I did them, all of them, every single thing my children needed over the years, no questions asked. I took them to doctors and specialists, to surgeries and evaluations. I've spent countless hours on the phone fighting for help for Julianna, many scary nights awake holding Blake as he flushed and blistered, and cried myself to sleep some nights worrying about the pain Nathan was in after his surgery. In just 11 years, I've seen and done so many things, and for certain it has changed me as a person. But I think 11 years has done me in, and it's not like I can resign or call it quits. I've hit a wall, and that wall has knocked me out cold.
I'm tired of all the behaviors that have evolved over the years with Julianna. Yes, she has been able to change in some ways, but there are always new things that we have to deal with. It gets better in some ways, but never all the way better, and it never will. Now I love Julianna and am so proud of what she has done over the years and the ways she has grown, but as her mother, I get to see the worst in her, and she gets to see the worst in me. All her teachers and therapists have always said how wonderfully behaved she is, and that they have never seen her tantrum. Me, it's almost always tantrums, or repetitive behaviors that often drive our entire family crazy. I've been walking on eggshells for a very long time, and do you know what that does to a person? Well, I'm starting to find out. At some point you just can't keep walking on those eggshells, and you instead let them crush beneath your feet. You let go, you give in to the pressure. You break, just like the shells. You just can't do it anymore. I am becoming broken, and unlike eggshells, I know I can be fixed and put back together again. I know I can climb over this wall, but it's not going to be easy. I just need to find that strength that I had all those years ago that kept me going. I need to find it, and soon.
Tonight was one of those nights where I was stomping on those eggshells. Blake was upset that I wasn't rushing to the store to buy him a basketball, because somehow he thought I said I was going to. So he followed me around the house asking, "I want my basketball. I want my basketball." Julianna has this thing where whenever she asks anyone a question, it has to be answered, and she won't stop asking. When a question is directed at Blake, it usually means we get to hear Julianna say "Blake!" about 4 dozen times, and he still won't answer, because he's tired of having to answer all the questions, too. This means I have to try forcing him to answer, and tonight he wouldn't do it. He said his name wasn't Blake anymore. And this is at almost 9:30, when my patience is more than gone. So I finally got Blake to answer Julianna's oh-so-important question, and all she asks is, "Blake, are you mad at me?" And this infuriates me, because she asks this question to us ALL DAY LONG NOW. It's her new question of choice. She starts to tantrum and I don't want her to wake up Nathan, so I have to drag her to another part of the house. I let her work it out, and before I know it, I can feel the tears burning my eyes as I realize once again, this is my life. This is what I have to deal with on a daily basis. How much longer will I have to deal with this? I have no idea! But I am past the point where I can deal with situations like this in a civilized manner, because like I said before, I am burned out. I'm crushing the eggshells, not tiptoeing around them.
Recently one of the people from Julianna's ABA therapy group came to talk. She comes to ask how things are going, and I love it, because this is when I can vent about Julianna's behaviors that they never see because she is so good around them. I started telling her about all the little things Julianna says and does, and how I have come up with ways to prevent them from happening, when possible, and she remarked that she was impressed that I had all these little very personalized methods on dealing with them. And suddenly, as I was talking to her, I stopped, and said, "Can you believe I actually have to do all this? I must be going crazy! I can't believe this is my life." But really, my little methods aren't always put into practice lately, because of this burned out phase that I am in. I have great ideas, but don't always put them into practice, because I'm tired of walking on those eggshells.
I know I will get to where I need to be as a mother. I know I can find that strength I once had. Maybe Nathan's crazy toddler phase is adding to the burn out. But right now, I am in the trenches, fighting battles every day, and it seems like there is no end in sight. I guess I need to change my point of view.
And a change of heart.
From the Book of Mormon, in Ether 12:27, it reads, "“My grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” President Ezra Taft Benson, a former prophet in the LDS church, added to this verse, "What a promise from the Lord! The very source of our troubles can be changed, molded, and formed into a strength and a source of power." I believe in this with all my heart. It's time to get to work, and enter a new phase of motherhood. Time to end the burn out.