Emery. Sweet, carefree, smile as big as her face Emery...is a complete mess. She has been struggling for quite some time and we've talked about that some. The surgery made her worry about "the sick" (cancer) and she has focused so much on death and dying and Grandma Terri dying, and Daddy and I dying and it goes on and on every night. She clings to me and tells me she wants to live with me forever. She gets frantic. FRANTIC when I leave her room at night. Not, "kid that wants to stay up later fit throwing." Like when I leave that room I will take with me all of the oxygen and she and I will both die right on the spot. It's awful. She can't relax enough to let sleep take her unless she is close enough to me. We are not testing boundaries here. She is not acting out. She is terrified. This thing that I have done has turned her entire world upside down and she can not find a way out of her own head. I am not saying it's my fault and I know there is a big picture here about this situation and so we don't need to go there. But she is hurting and scared and anxious and my heart has broken a thousand times.
Now it has carried into school. She does not want to leave me to go to school. She was so frantic this morning we could not calm her down. Danny had to carry her to the car, kicking and screaming and physically buckle her into her seat belt which she immediately unbuckled and started climbing out of the car, all the while staring at me with enormous pleading eyes. This is not typical for her, until this year. She is the happiest kid, so quick to make friends kid; always has tons of stuff to tell me at the end of the day. Now her report is that she didn't eat her lunch and cried most of the day. This morning Danny and Addie had to leave without her. I called the school and basically said, "we don't know what to do." They got the counselor on standby and my aunt loaded up Zack and Emmie and we headed to the school. She cried in the backseat most of the way there. Then it occurred to me that I had no idea how I was going to get her into the building. I needed her to walk willingly. So I lied to her. I told her that we had to go in and talk to the counselor and she had to try really hard to do the right thing. But if she couldn't do it, we would go home. But I needed her to walk with me, so can she do that please? She agreed.
The counselor didn't do much for either of us. She was nice and comforting and very kind to both of us. But I feel like it was more chalked up to "typical" first grader resisting school, rather than, poor kid whose life has been turned upside down. I mentioned that we were new mid-year last year and that was tough. And then this year she was put in a class with no one she knew so it was like being new all over again. I really think she could use some moral support from one of her friends...the ones she's been having play dates with throughout the craziness of this summer. I got back that it's just consistency and not giving in and making her come to school no matter how big of fit she throws and she'll come around. We talked to Emmie about some things to look forward to after school and then she told me to leave. Emmie was bawling, pleading with me, grasping me and screaming my name and I had to walk out and shut the door on her. I lied to her and I abandoned her. And whether or not it was "for her own good" is beside the point because I feel like I failed her. I'm not dealing with a kid who just doesn't like school and needs some hard love. I'm dealing with a kid who is scared and confused and has had nothing but chaos, and visitors coming and going and a tiny fraction of the mom she knows taking care of her.
I talked to the principal and explained everything...from the very beginning...new to Texas, doctor appointments...not many friends...explaining the surgery....her struggle with the separating my surgery from my mom dying... my actual surgery...being in the hospital...her life being upside down. We don't know what to do. We feel like she just needs some "normal." Is it possible that we can move her into a class with a couple of her friends so perhaps she can sit with them at lunch and keep her mind occupied instead of not eating her lunch and crying instead? Can we give her some sense of her life before it got upended, please, so she can have a good school year? He was kind and compassionate, but also, I feel not thoroughly convinced that he's not sure it's not just the kid who doesn't want to go to school. I know he has seen and heard it all. He said it's all case by case and they do take everything into consideration. I do believe he is going to try to help us fix this. I know this is his job and he deals with stuff like this ALL THE TIME. But "Who wouldn't want to stay home with mom instead of going to school, right?" he said. No. That's not it. And consistency is not the only answer. Yes, we will keep bringing her to school. Yes, we tell her it's not an option to stay home. But NO, it is not an option for my baby to sit at school crying all day either. We will do the stuff on our end. We'll find a counselor for her. We'll keep the consistency. But please, help us help her. Please give her one tiny little leg to stand on while her poor little head is so preoccupied with everything else.The end solution is that the principal is going to talk with her teacher and the specials teachers and the counselor - and get a better idea of what's going on while she's at school. I trust him that he really does want to help us. I trust that he is going to do all of those things and make a decision based on his professional experience. What I know for certain is that I will never repeat this morning's experience again. Ever.
So basically, I'm a mess. Every time I think about lying to her and leaving her my heart lurches and I cry again. I feel like she trusted me and I let her down, and I rightly so should feel that way because that's exactly what I did. And I'm wishing I had planned the surgery differently so it wasn't so close to the beginning of school. I should have done it sooner or later or next year or just some better time. I'm not sure there could ever be a "right" time but this time just sucks. I don't know what to do. We have talked and talked and reassured her until we are blue in the face. This morning I drew a heart on her hand and a note that says Mom loves you. I lent her my necklace and we wore matching bracelets. We did "The Kissing Hand." I gave her a picture of us to look at. Nothing helped. I don't know what the solution is. I don't know if moving her to another class is just grasping at straws or a worse decision than just leaving her where she is. I have no idea. I just want to fix it. It's very hard not knowing how.
If you're a parent, you get it. Seeing your child hurt is like a thousand hot knives to your heart. Being the reason for it is a thousand times worse. I just want her life back for her. I want her normal back. I want all of our normals back. Danny has been doing a wonderful job of keeping things afloat around here but it's time for mommy to get back in the game. I can stand the pain a little longer if I need to. I will tough out the bigger expansions if the doctor will let me to get this thing done sooner. I will do whatever it takes.
Super dad is going in this afternoon to make sure they get the drift and also, find the very special "I can do hard things" pendant I loaned her this morning that somehow fell off on the playground. Poor guy. His work is never done. And it's his birthday.
Thanks for listening.
Love you all,
Danny talked to the principal. He explained that we understand we are not the only family in the school who has ever gone through anything - and also that we know others have gone through far worse. He told him we just feel like we need to do something more to help her. The principal said the word again, "consistency." We just have to keep bringing her in, come hell or high water. He said if she's late, it's fine. If Addie's late, it's fine. Just get her here every day and it will get better. Danny says he trusts him and I trust Danny so that's what we are going to do. God help us if every morning is like this morning because we will need a straight jacket to get her there. But we will. Because we want her to feel better. We want her to get her normal back. School is part of her normal. And every day she will come home to me. We are making a slightly altered normal for now, but it will be closer to the real one every day.
Her teacher called this afternoon to let me know she was okay. She had some more crying and sad moments, but she did a little better when her mind was occupied. I asked her to set her up with a lunch buddy to keep her occupied at lunch so she will hopefully eat and not get lost in sad thoughts. She is letting Emmie sit at the end of her desk as well, for extra comfort.
She'll get through it. I know she will. It is hard in the trenches. It's hard when they are pleading and crying. It's especially hard on us Mama Bears, and super especially hard on the Emotionally Charged Mama Bears. But it's a life lesson for me and for all of us. The hard things - kids have to do them too. We all have to do them. And sometimes the best we can do is just show up. We may not like it. We may not feel good. We may kick and scream or we may go in silent defeat but we just have to show up. Even when it's hard. So that's what we'll do. I'm going to keep showing up for her. She's going to keep showing up at school - and I'm hoping that she'll start wanting to show up for herself and not because we are making her. And all of us together are going to make it through this as stronger individuals and a stronger family.