Parents, you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

Or just as likely, we’ve got questions and you’ve got answers.

Challenge: Stretched Too Thin


Vote up!
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email this article


Hey Mama. Do you ever feel stuck?

Stuck in your job? Stuck in a difficult situation? Stuck in debt? Stuck in a hard relationship? Stuck in a rut in your marriage? Stuck in a rough patch with your kids?

Yep. Guilty.

Last night I found myself stuck, literally and figuratively.

When it comes to family tradition--especially around the holidays--I am basically like a two year old staring at the tree in complete awe and wonder. Y'all I. Love. Traditions.

But in our house, things are different. They have to be. Raising an extreme child comes with one certainty--that nothing is certain.

See we can't rely on making plans. Even when the activity we hope to do is one that is fun and exciting, it remains subject to change based on behaviors. As much as we try and pray, read and research, our son's brain isn't always predictable.

Following a big day, like Thanksgiving, behaviors are anticipated. He spent a full day in someone else's home, surrounded by people with which he is unfamiliar, eating nothing outside of broccoli, cucumbers, and a couple of cheese cubes because the rest of the food was out of his wheelhouse. But he kept it together. His big emotions--everything from excitement to disappointment--he suppressed in an attempt not to #meltdown in public. He isn't always successful but he knows enough to try.

So Friday was hard. I mean, it was wall to wall threat level midnight outbursts over everything the entire day from his 4:30am natural wake up to his early bedtime.

You guys. It was survival mode parenting at it's finest.

That meant I was determined to make Saturday a Christmas come back. I went out late Friday night to ensure our tiny house would be holiday-ready. Tiny tree, tiny stockings, tiny decorations, all at minimal cost (Thank you, Black Friday Hobby Lobby). I had Christmas music, holiday movies, hot chocolate, cookies to bake, appetizer foods, and a dream of making it until dark so we could go see Christmas lights--my second favorite holiday attribute only to fireworks in July.

It didn't happen. We got stuck.

When meds begin to wear off about one or two in the afternoon, we are accustomed to adapting and making attempts to strategize for solutions. But we aren't always champions.

Four hours we struggled with responding to inappropriate or hurtful behaviors with things like, "I know you can do it, bud," or, "Let's focus on going to see the lights together tonight." Ultimately, the behaviors continued through dinner, bath time, and getting ready for Christmas lights.

So we did what most extreme parents struggle with. We decided to go anyway.

Settle, Karen. We weren't rewarding him for poor choices. We we're aware that his behavior didn't warrant a privilege. However, his younger sister had a good day and I really wanted to see the glow of the lights. Sometimes we have to decide to do things for someone beyond the scope of penalty for behavior.

We piled into the van, both of us breathing as we were told, "I'm going to see the lights anyway," with a meniacal smile. Oh it just makes your blood boil. But that is when we remind each other that we can be gasoline or water to his fire. As best as we can, we scrape and claw to choose to be water.

The van got about ten feet before the tires began to sink and spin in the swampy yard. We pushed. We pulled. We reversed. We even tried to haul it out with the truck.

Friends, this time I didn't cry realizing the lights weren't going to happen that night. I realized something bigger.

Sometimes, no matter how much we want something to happen, we are just stuck. And, until we take the time to step out of our mud pit and breathe (and pray, or dance, or twirl hula hoops--whatever you do) and really allow ourselves to see the mud and still be okay, we will just stay there. Spinning out.

So we did bedtime, my husband and I stayed up to talk and to pray, and we woke up this morning (before the sun, and began to research again. New tactics, new strategies, new things to try to see if we can help each other out of the pit.

Sister, no matter your job or your husband, your kids or your station in life, we all get stuck. We all have days we want desperately to go perfectly but between us and perfection is a mud pit.

Be bold. Be honest. Feel what you need to feel.

Then dust yourself off or ask for help. Check on your friends. Help tow each other out because sometimes the muck is thick and getting out by ourselves feels impossible.

Today, we will try again to pull our van out of the mud and go see Christmas lights. Because, friends, we must stop spinning so we can keep moving forward.

For more on parenting extreme children follow the Facebook tribe!

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.