Kicking. Screaming. Flailing.
I wrap my arms around her, trying to help her calm down. Her sensory inputs are in overload, and pressure sometimes helps.
She headbutts me, screaming at me to let her go.
I let her go. My jaw is throbbing. She spins around and screams at me, then throws herself to the ground, intentionally banging her head on the floor. I scoop her up again, doing my best to remain calm and to sing her favorite songs.
She slaps me in the face and yells at me to stop singing. I firmly remind her that we don’t hit, and ask if she’d like to push the door frame or grab her weighted blanket.
“NOOO! NO, NO, NOOOO!”
Another child comes up, asking for help. Out loud, I say, “I’m sorry, baby. Mommy will help you in a few minutes. Can you ask Sissy to help until Mommy is free?” In my heart, I’m thinking, “Please, don’t come any closer. I don’t want you to get hurt. I know you just want me. I will snuggle you as soon as I can.” I try to block entry to the room.
Scratches down my arm, blood drawn. A toy whizzes past my head and slams into the wall. A chair is flipped.
I pick her up again, offer her meditation cards, a jump on the mini-trampoline, or a redo, but I know that she is so far past that point, that she will simply have to wear herself out.
After thirty, forty, fifty minutes, she finally wears out. She is crying for me to let her go. When I do, she cries out for me, desperate for me to hold her, and I know that it is finally over. I hold her close, and we just sit and rock on the floor, thankful that we have finally found a moment of connection.
When it is all over, I sneak away to my room to decompress. How do you come down off of that? My nerves are completely shot. My mind is racing. What could I have done better? How are we still doing this? Why doesn’t anything work? Could I have prevented this? Hot tears run down my face. The other kids are looking for me. I wipe the tears off of my face. Splash it with old water. I jot down a few notes to bring to her therapist at our next visit.
I put a smile on my face and head to the kitchen. I grab a few chocolates and pop them in my mouth. I grab my coffee (or wine, if it’s time!) and go jump back in with the girls. “Did Sissy help you, or do you still need help? Let’s snuggle up and read a book!”
And the day continues.
Mommas, whether your child has sensory needs or behavioral needs; whether your child’s episodes are a result of medical needs or trauma; whether the tantrums occur in public or behind closed doors; Momma, you are seen. You need to find your people who know to check on you, daily if needed. You build your backup supply of easy meals to throw together if cooking was thrown out the window. You get an amazing therapist who can help you learn to center yourself when the world feels like it is crumbling. You let it out, whenever you can, with people who get it.
Take care of yourself. I am so depleted so much of the time, but I am learning to build in the support and systems that I need to be able to give my girls the best of myself as often as I can. And know that no matter what, you are not alone. You may not feel like anyone gets it. I surely feel completely alone so much of the time. But we aren’t alone. And we will do what we have to in order to give all of our kids the best life that we can.