This post is brought to you by Jessica Cleveland – mother, writer, and creative producer at Under the Tower Productions
Do you ever stop to think about how hard being a parent is? Probably not, since we’re all too busy worrying about whether or not we’re doing it “right”. Honestly, children should come with a manual and we should all have to get certifications before qualifying. Most days I feel like someone made a mistake when they decided it would be a good idea to allow me to brew a child in my body.
Then, all I have to do is look at him and I remember that the hardships, struggles, mistakes, questions… all of it… is worth it. I created a human being! I had help, of course, but let’s be honest – I did all the work. It’s magical, when you think about it. Completely frightening, but also so amazing.
My child is a gift, for sure; but he’s a test as well. A test on my patience. A test on my sanity. A test on my will to not give him back. He’s 5 and in kindergarten. I wish that I was the type of person who sugar coated, but since I’m not, let’s be real. He’s not doing well in school. Socially, emotionally, behaviorally, even academically, he has a hard time. I receive calls from the principal at least once a week. “Riley hit another student.” “Riley spit on someone.” “Riley wasn’t using safe hands and feet.”
Everytime the caller ID says “TROUBLE”, I sigh and don’t want to answer. Almost always the first thing I say is “What happened?” I feel for him. His older siblings are new to his life and much older. He likes being on his own. He has a speech delay and gets frustrated when others don’t understand. He lashes out on impulse.
With adults, however, he is the most polite, well-mannered child. He hugs everyone in the office when he gets in trouble. He always is remorseful and regrets his actions. I am trying, but I honestly feel a little lost. This is uncharted territory for me and I don’t know how to help him. It’s not like I see these interactions. I have only occasionally seen him act out violently toward another kid, and never out of maliciousness. When he’s the recipient of another child’s anger, he doesn’t tell an adult. I think he fears losing his friend so just accepts it and moves on.
I have a meeting today with his teacher, counselor, speech pathologist, vice principal, and principal. I feel like I am the one in trouble and have an immense amount of anxiety. I continue to remind myself that if they didn’t care about him, this meeting wouldn’t be happening. They would just kick him out. I am thankful they care but I am so stressed about how we can help him succeed.
Although I am filled with worry and concern, I know that it’s all worthwhile. He is becoming his own person everyday. I have to remember to cherish this time and take the precious moments to heart. Just yesterday, we were walking down the false eyelash aisle in the store and he stopped, pointed at a pair of eyelashes and said “What’s that, mommy?” I replied “They are fake eyelashes, bud.” He looked so confused, then pulled on his own long lashes and said “How do you get them off?” It was such an innocent moment.
I don’t want to forget this time. I am so happy that Ken Wimberly came into my life and introduced me to Legacy of Love. This journal is a parent’s dream come true. I am losing my memory more and more every day and I know I am not alone. We are all rushing around, trying to be the best parents we can be and those moments that matter just pass us by. I don’t want to risk losing them. You shouldn’t either.
Wish me luck.