This morning on the way to school I told my kids… no…
I screamed at my kids, “What is the point of being a mother if I can’t enjoy it! If you are going to treat me this way I will leave!”
Like all the terrible things we mothers say… not you. I am SURE you have NEVER said anything like this to your kids. … Of course, I immediately regretted it as I saw tears well up in all of their eyes. Not tears of rejection or sadness or remorse. Tears of fear.
Fear I WOULD stop being their mother.
Fear that I WOULD leave.
The automatic response to gaslighting is fear.
The automatic response to narcissism is fear.
The automatic response to your mother threatening is fear.
I thought all day. While I subbed and handed out tests and joked with the kids and asked them all to be quite 176 times and attempted to answer their Math questions with an Intercultural Studies and Marketing degree… I thought. I rumbled my failings in my head like a rock in a rock tumbler. I beat that thought to death until it was smooth and shiny.
I thought this: I am knowledgable about parenting, trauma, and parenting trauma… but I know very little about parenting WITH trauma.
When my kids agitate me… when, like this morning, they push my trigger buttons over and over and over, even after I BEG for them to stop…
*insert 27-second pause in the fighting*
*all four children give each other the side-eye and nod*
*all four raise their hands annnnddd SLAM! They push my last button dramatically at the same time*
Boom. Trauma explosion.
My fight, flight, or freeze kicks in and I do all of those in order.
Flight: Yell about running away.
Freeze: Regret every parenting decision I have ever made.
When I am a good mom, I am an EXCELLENT mom. We do art projects. We laugh. We sing. We have dance parties. We cook their favorite foods. We do fun activities.
The problem with parenting with trauma is that those moments are few and far between BECAUSE as a parent with trauma, I have to put SO much energy into self-regulating so I DON’T explode on them.
It breaks my heart. That I have it in me to be a great mom. That I have these moments where I am the mom I want to be, but my own brain and body fight against my ability to provide that for them. It creates a very rough-edged anger that boils in me.
And that right there is why I am compassionate towards bio parents in foster care. Because before I was a parent and addressed my trauma, I was very judgemental.
Those women that snap? That drive their kids into the ocean? I hated them. I judged them. I thought they were weak, terrible, and evil people.
Now that I have children. Now that I’ve been correctly diagnosed with trauma?
Those Momma’s I want to hug. I want to weep with. I want to go shoulder to shoulder with. I want to validate and heal. I want to say to them, “I know this pain.”
Parents do bad things. All of us have slipped up and if you say you haven’t, you are the world’s worst liar.
We all have our baggage and we all will damage our kids in some way. It’s an imperfect world. We just will.
You mommas out there. The ones who are struggling…. The ones who have diagnosis and trauma and heavy baggage…. The ones who’ve crossed lines and messed up…. The ones who wear pajamas to the store because it’s the only thing they have clean or they just don’t have it in them to put pants on… The ones with depression and diagnosis…. The ones with tattoos and dyed hair…. The ones who’ve been marginalized and pushed aside… The ones with pasts and histories and tangled families…. The ones who’ve yelled at their kids or the ones who’ve actually left… The ones with addictions and anger and shame and fear… The ones who feel they have parts of them they need to hide…. The ones whose Mommas or Daddys or Brothers or sisters or babysitters have hurt them and they don’t know how to face that darkness…
The ones who are parenting from the last oil left in the clay pot.
I’m with you. I got you. I GET you.
Tonight I let my body do what it knew it needed to do. I fed them a meal I knew they would eat. I put my spectrum kid in the tub to regulate instead of fighting with him. I made a huge effort not to yell and simply did not talk unless I needed to. I asked my husband to help me specifically with the two-year-old.
And I spent at least ten minutes snuggled deep down underneath a load of blankets cuddling with each child. And we breathed together. And I stayed silent. And I listened to their thoughts come out like whisps as I grabbed them before they floated off through the air. And I tucked those words deep down as treatures collected this day. And they all went to bed so calmly because I’d taken just a little bit of extra time to regulate with them.
I’ll yell again.
I’ll be Monster Mom again.
I live with a broken brain.
But that’s not who I am or who I was created to be.
If I am going to teach my children how to be their true selves, especially my trauma kids, I have to teach myself how to embrace, love and live into my true self.
Even if that means continuing to pour out from an almost empty clay pot into the realtionships around me until I have the faith enough to believe a miracle can come out of it.
– your mental health trauma momma