This week has been a tough one. (So much for looking for the good..!) We have recently reached out for help after several incredibly difficult months and I have to say I have been shocked by the response we got.
The first thing that has always been called into question is the ‘viability of the placement’. I don’t understand how people think that another move(s), another family(s), another story is going to help our girls in a way that supporting us to help them isn’t.
Even looking at it totally pragmatically, the financial argument doesn’t make sense. We are a couple trying to do everything we can for these two and I can’t believe that rather than supporting us their first move is to talk about taking them away. And here’s the thing. Is the unspoken sentence ‘to someone who can do a better job’?
Because I cannot see how they think another move will make the girls any more settled or secure or happy.
The unspoken ‘you’re not doing a good enough job’ has been playing on my mind a lot. Then it became spoken and I was asked ‘are YOU going to be able to manage this?’ Not are WE going to be able to manage this but YOU. Meaning me the emotional female who is actually getting pretty fed up of having to defend herself all the time to someone who does not have a clue. (See ‘A letter to a social worker’)
The thing is, I know deep down that I haven’t been doing the best for Big because she scares me and when it got hard I let her push me away because basically I was running on empty and I had to retreat. I know that this was exactly what I shouldn’t have done but I at the time I seemed to not be able to do anything else. So I have been carrying this around for a while now. This huge guilt that I have been parenting my children differently.
It comes so easy with one and so not so easy with another. But the thing is, that’s for me to have sorted out and I didn’t. I should have asked for help sooner. I should have spoken about how I was feeling sooner but as other people will know, the assumption is that ‘you’ve got everything you’ve ever wanted, how can you be feeling like this?’ so I felt like I couldn’t.
This week we had an appointment with a psychologist to discuss how things were. She was actually very good and told me what I needed to do. And I knew what I needed to do but hearing it from someone else, and hearing it from someone who also said that it’s going to be incredibly hard, made it possible.
So, this week, when she’s pushed me away, I’ve held her. When she’s spat in my face, I’ve held her. When she’s scratched me, I’ve held her. When she’s screamed one millimetre away from me face, I’ve held her. When she’s told me she wants away, I’ve held her. All the while talking to her like you would a baby, in a singsong voice, very close and calm. ‘It’s okay. This is really hard for you. Trusting us is hard. It’s okay. We’re here now. It’s okay. You don’t have to look after yourself anymore. We can do that for you.’
And do you know what? I know I’ve only had to do it for three days and I’m already black and blue and feel like I’ve gone ten rounds with someone much bigger than me, but I feel more positive than I have in months. Because I feel like her mum. I feel like I’m helping, whereas before I didn’t.
I’m well aware that there are going to be huge ups and downs with this and that for this to work we need to be supported as a family but for Big, I can see a teeny, teeny difference already.
But what about Little?
Because we have two children. So while I’m holding one child for an hour at a time, what does my other child do? I always feel like her story is put on the back burner so much. “Oh she was a lot younger, oh she hadn’t seen half as much, oh they bounce back so much quicker, oh but she’s doing so well.’ And it makes me cross. Just because she isn’t displaying the same behaviours, who are we to make judgements on how she’s doing. Could this be described as neglect in a different form? The level of violence that she is witnessing is incredibly distressing and I really don’t know how to keep her safe from it. This is what has been keeping me awake.
So this week I’ve realised that I’m probably going to feel guilty about parenting my children differently for a long time to come. They might always need different things from us and we need to learn to respond to that. I’ve realised that we are, without a doubt, the best people to parent these two. I’ve realised that I will fight tooth and nail to keep them.I’ve realised that I’m not always going to get it ‘right’ but I can try again the next day/hour/minute. I’ve realised that I need help too. I need to ask for help because mopping up trauma is not easy and it’s currently spilling all over the house. I’ve realised that I was not at all prepared for taking on two children. I’ve realised that some people will get it and some will not and that it is just not worth it with the people who will not. I now just smile and nod and go home and eat chocolate. (I’ve realised this week that I need to find a way to start biking again else I’m going to be needing to go trouser shopping!)
So although this week has not been an easy one at all, with these realisations comes a wee bit more positivity in regards to helping one of our children. But if anyone has any ideas about how to support Little through this we would be very grateful.
Sorry this turned into (yet again) another long post. I must start focusing on using less words to say more!