I like to document the progress the Roc makes. It makes me happy to record the little leaps and the big. To tell the more of our story, I sometimes write down the harder stuff. Last Sunday night was one of those harder times. I revisited the angry phase of the grief cycle, a place I do not visit nearly as often as I used to.
Winter is hard for the Roc. He needs activity and exercise, and it’s hard to get what he needs stuck indoors, especially this winter with it’s lack of snow and plummeting temperatures.
The end of last week was hard. Lots of yelling. Lots of screaming. A few tantrums. Lots of battles over homework, and dinner, teeth brushing, and going to school, bedtime, and the dog. Did I mention lots of screaming? Lots of screaming. We had some bright moments, but they were mellowed somewhat by all the screaming.
On Sunday night neither GC nor I wanted to be the parent. Neither one of us wanted to be “on.” It was, or should have been the end of the Roc’s day, as he had just been put to bed, complete with his extensive goodnight routine. But he was out on the landing overlooking our family room, screaming and fighting, fighting with us. We tried to remain calm, we told him to go to bed, we tried to reason with him, and then we told him to go to bed some more, with louder, angrier voices.
“I just feel like I have nothing to give anyone right now,” I told GC as I stepped into the kitchen. “I don’t want to be on right now. I just don’t.”
“Do you ever wish you could just hand this over to someone else for awhile?” he asked me.
“Yes,” I answered immediately. “It’s this constant state that wears me out….and it isn’t this way for so many people I know. I just wish for some ease.”
I started down that path.
“Right now other people, people we know, are having rational conversations with their children,” I said over the Roc’s guttural screaming coming from upstairs. “They are saying, ‘Okay kids, time to go get ready for bed,’ and their kids do that. They get ready for bed by themselves and then they GO TO BED. None of this awful screaming hysterical stuff.”
I slammed the refrigerator door shut.
“And they have no clue how lucky they are, how hard this is. I’m so fucking tired.” GC said as he stepped onto the pity path with me and matched my stride.
Something big crashed upstairs and more angry screaming followed.
“I just feel so angry sometimes,” I said as I sat down heavily on the couch. “Angry that this is our life. That this is our family. That the dog is shaking in the corner and our child is out of control, screaming his brains out over…what? This isn’t what I dreamed about…and it makes me angry. I don’t often go to this place anymore, but sometimes it wells up and I cannot stop it…and it burns.”
“This anger burns right here,” I said pressing on my sternum. I sighed loudly, letting all the air whoosh out of my lungs, wincing at the screaming still going on upstairs.
“I get angry too,” GC said as he looked up at the Roc, red-faced and angry, banging his toys. Suddenly he bellowed, “JUST GO TO BED!” at the Roc…and the Roc screamed right back.
“You know, we aren’t helping anything right now,” I said to GC.
I knew what needed to be done. I knew what the Roc needed.
I swallowed my anger and felt it dissolving as I climbed the stairs.
The Roc was in his room, throwing his stuffed animals. I motioned for him to get into bed.
“Are you mad at me Mommy?” he asked me, his voice shrill.
“Let’s talk Roc,” I said as I sat down on his bed, taking in his red, tear stained face. He is a beautiful child. My heart hurt for him. To let your emotions get out of control is never a good feeling. I knew he didn’t feel good, and he didn’t mean the words he had said.
I remind myself: If he could do better, he would.
So we talked. Me quietly, him very loudly until he calmed down. We talked about our feelings, about what makes us angry, about choices, about all the things he does well, and all the ways I am proud of him. I told him I love him. I hugged him and told him I love him again. I kissed his cheeks and told him I love him.
Five days later, while I remember my conversation with GC, my anger and grief at the surface, burning the words into my brain, I cannot remember the exact words the Roc and I shared. We talked for awhile. I remember snippets. I remember the anger and stress leaving his face and voice while we talked, to be replaced with tears and worry, until he finally relaxed and looked tired. I don’t remember what words we exchanged.
Until the very end. We hugged and kissed, he told me he was ready to fall asleep, and we did our goodnight routine:
“I love you.”
“I love you.”
“I’ll see you in the morning.”
“I’ll see you in the morning.”
As I stepped away from the door he said,
“Yes baby, what is it?”
“Thank you for coming back.”
I steadied myself against the door frame.
“Always Roc, I’ll always come back.”