I am attempting to recover ….. from what was a pretty great day until ….. all the kids arrived home from school and you could actually feel the the edginess in the air.
As the afternoon unfolded it was clear that we were going to have to hang on and ride out the storm! Our newest placement had been on the brink of a meltdown for most of the day. She was hiding from social interactions, hiding from her classwork, and working hard to hide her feelings.
Everyone was starting to struggle when my phone rang …. it was a previous placement wanting to check in and talk with her. As soon as I told this little one that she had a call she just slipped into her cycle …… for those of you who are blessed to not live with children that have been through trauma I will explain …. her eyes fixated on a point on the wall and glazed over as she began her chant “no, no, no, no ,no” getting louder with every no.
This is our first round of meltdowns with her so I start trying all the old tricks, writing words on her back with my finger, increasing to rubbing, increasing stimulation to scratching with no change.
Not enough stimulation input so next we turn to swaddling in a big blanket to provide all over pressure. Progress!! She looks in my direction and she is seeing me again …. ok so now we start the waiting game.
As I am holding her as she loudly chants “let me go” over and over, I begin to assess the other children’s response. A little edgy, however able to use their unique coping skills to get through. One is focusing on cooking, one is picking up the room, one is handing out ear protection, and one is continuing his never ending journey from one end of the house to the other with his ear protection on.
At this point we were thriving! Hard to believe that when you have a child who is cycling from too much emotion, the rest of the family could be thriving, but yet here we were in the midst of what to many seems utter chaos and our little family was stepping up to weather the storm.
After she had completley emptied her bucket of emotions you could feel her entire body start to relax. I then slowly introduced her to the recovery phase. I slowly wipe her face with a cool washcloth starting with gentle dabbing initially. As she continues to come out of her meltdown we remove the blanket, continue to cool her off with the washcloth, and one of the kids that frequently experience meltdowns brings in a snack.
For the first time in 11 years of caring for children that have been through trauma this little girl turned to me and said “thank you for staying with me. I hate to be alone”. Hum so much to work through and so many little things that we take for granted and to her it was the fact that she was getting to work through her emotions and not be left alone during her vulnerable state. That is huge for a forty year old let alone a 7 year old that has been through more than most grown adults.
Yes our lifestyle is not for everyone, (heck there are times it is not for me) but in that moment it all seemed worth it. Here is a precious child of God that has been through too many hurts, too many feelings, too many losses, too many …… too many’s for many lifetimes. If holding her while she pours out her heart is the only thing I do for her during her time here then that is what I will do.
We have been hearing a lot about thriving and surviving lately, however in a recent video I watched from FatheringAutism I have been introduced to a new level and that is coasting. I definitely know that we have had periods in which we have survived (I think we lived here the most) and we are learning to thrive (which is amazing and challenging all at once) and unfortunately we have spent all too much time just coasting.
While coasting is better than surviving it is not meant to be the place we park our circus! Coasting is a place to catch your breathe, build up a little energy, and move on to thriving. Thriving is hard and is very purposeful. I personally feel that in order to thrive I must choose to be purposeful in my activities, words, relationships, and need to find support so that we can get help. (Incert no, no, no, no, no, here as my emotional bucket overflows!)
When it gets to the point that I need help or I need support my reserves are gone! Not just dwindling, but dust on the wind in a dust devil GONE! Trust me I suck at asking for help! I am the fixer not the one needing to be fixed, however I am learning that I must keep myself going or I am no good to anyone. What does that look like when you have a house full of special needs kids? Well it looks a lot like other families. Yeah our kids respond differently to social interactions, loud sounds, touch, taste, smells, food textures, oh sorry I lost track of myself, however they are kids after all and I am just a parent. It gets better and boy oh boy can it get worse, however as I posted about before we aren’t superheroes and we need support just like any other family.