Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Parent...Not Momma

Taking a bit of a detour to give you an update on George. We are smack dab in the middle of our hard months and we are still here. That is the good news! That is a huge praise because about six weeks ago, I was so close to giving up. I was desperate and I was completely discouraged. But today, I feel as if we have truly made progress in this thing called RAD.

George has officially started his counseling sessions. The first couple of times we were there, I talked most of the time while George played in a separate room. Then George spent an entire hour just answering basic questions - gaining some level of comfort with Tony. I am glad we are past that point now and Tony feels that George is talking more, opening up more.

Tony and I always talk at the end. And he used an amazing analogy with me. God is God. That is who He is...there is no debate on that. He is sovereign, powerful, creator, the I Am. We give him the title Lord when we make Him Lord of our lives. It is a title we bestow on Him. He is God. And we make Him Lord of our lives.

It's the same with me. I am a parent. It's who I am. But my kids give me the title Momma. There is a big difference between Parent and Momma. For five of my kiddos, I am Momma - the one who loves and nurtures and comforts and soothes. For George, I am a parent - I make food, I clean clothes, I help with homework, I bandage cuts, and I make sure his bike is in the garage at the end of the day. Until George makes me his Momma....I am only his parent.

And I am now OK with that.

And Joe and I have resolved to be the best parents we can be. We are called to raise George at the minimum - for I DO still have hope for a deep relationship some day - but for now, the minimum we must do is to raise George to a point where he can be launched out and be a productive member of our society.

We have had to distance our hearts. George has been thriving on hurting me. And I am no longer allowing him to hurt my heart.

Here is an example:

I make a big deal about my kids' birthdays. I don't do a lot of presents, we never have parties, but I make sure my kiddos feel completely special and loved that day. There are certain things I always do...I share their "story". For each child it is different - of course. They were all born in different cities, under different circumstances and the first time I saw them was very different. But, I pull them close to me and tell them all about their story. They get to chose what we have for dinner and we sing "Happy Birthday" while candles are ablaze on top of the cake of their choice. Nothing fancy...but meaningful for sure.

So, in anger last week, George shouted at me, "Cancel my birthday!"

I asked Tony about this...what should we do? Should we cancel it? Tony talked to George and then followed up with me. George wanted to hurt me, punish me by not giving me the chance to tell his story, buy the cake he wanted, and make him feel special that day. He told Tony that "she loves our birthdays. I want to take that away from her."

Knowing that...we decided to hold him accountable to his words and "cancel" his birthday. But, we also committed to praying about it and letting the Holy Spirit guide us.

On Tuesday, I heard the Lord loud and clear tell me to give George another chance.

When he got home from school, I pulled him into my bedroom and began talking to him about regret. I talked about how sometimes we say things we wish we wouldn't have said. Then, I brought up the example of him shouting in my face that he wanted me to cancel his birthday. I asked him, "Do you regret saying that? Did you really mean what you said?"

We had a tender moment where he admitted that he regretted what he said and he promised that he would work at not saying things he doesn't truly mean. We shared a long hug and then I told George that we would, indeed, celebrate his birthday on Wednesday.

Wednesday morning, he woke up thrilled about his special day. We all said Happy Birthday and gave him big hugs. We talked about what kind of cake he wanted as we waited for the bus, and as he skipped off to school, he yelled back, "I love you,!"

I made sure I got a cake yesterday, had his name carefully written in orange icing on top among the balloons. I bought a big "9" candle and wrapped up the few presents we had for him. Joe and I anxiously awaited the kids to come from school so we could work on homework and then get on with the celebration.

And as the kids, one by one, climbed off the bus and ran to our arms, it was clear that Lincoln, Anna and Isabel were very upset. George had been running his mouth on the bus and evidently said some awful things to them.

Now...I am going to share the "straw that broke the camel's back"...and I think you might say, "Geesh - that is not a big deal!". But can you just trust me on this one? We are committed to teaching George that his words count.....and he can't go on hurting everyone around him with his words.

So he told his siblings that he would make sure that they could not have any of his cake. He told them they were not allowed to have any cake and that only he could decide who was going to have cake.

Joe lost it. And in all honestly, I was so angry I couldn't think straight. All I could do was lead him through all his siblings birthdays and ask, "Did you have cake for Eleanor's birthday? Did you have cake for Lincoln's birthday? Did you have cake for Anna's birthday? Did you have cake for Harry's birthday?" Yes...yes...yes...yes...BUT....I don't want them to eat my cake. It's all mine.

Joe announces, "We will not be celebrating your birthday today."

George goes crazy...and I mean crazy. He picks up the phone and says he is going to call the police on me (of course, it is me even though Joe was the one who made the final decision) and how he wants me to stay in jail for the rest of my life. He runs upstairs to get the money my mom sent him for his birthday and says he is going to walk to the store himself to buy an iPod (he's only short about $150). He then tells us he is running away and slams the door as he is leaving. He then comes back in and says, "It's God's fault I said that. It is Jesus' fault I said that. It is YOUR fault I said that...you made me say it." (Again...he says this about God and Jesus because he knows how much God and Jesus mean to me. He thinks he is hurting ME by saying those things.)

Through all of this, we remind him that he is in charge of what he says and that he really needs to work on his words. We stayed calm. There was no yelling on our part. There was no emotion. We didn't run out after him. We didn't even check on him. We knew he would not go far and sure enough, whenever he "ran away", he was back home within 2 minutes.

He went through anger, then rage, then sorrow...and then there was a hint of true repentance. We ate dinner together as a family and had our usual banter and laughter as we ate.

And at the end of the night, we stood around the kitchen, drinking chocolate milk-shakes, dancing and singing to Mandissa....all of us....George, too.

As Joe and I tucked him in last night, we told him that we loved him dearly and we both said, "Happy birthday, son". He hugged us tight and told us that he loved us.

I don't know if anything sunk in. I don't know if he is somehow trying to manipulate us again. I don't know if he truly was sorry for the way he has been acting. He says he is...but he is a habitual liar, so we are starting to doubt every word that comes out of his mouth. I know this RAD road is a long one....very long...excruciatingly long.... there is no quick fix and we may need to play out this type of scenario ten thousand more times before George is able to trust us, bond with us and really be a part of a family.

Until then..and even if "then" never comes...I am committed to being a parent.

1 comment:

Brian & Amy said...

I respect you so incredibly much. Seriously--wow. Praying!!!!