Friday, January 1, 2016

New Year, Same Old Problems

So, we're 23 hours into 2016 and it's clear that no amount of New Year's resolutions or best intentions would have done me a darn bit of good...if I actually bothered to make them.  Tonight was an epically bad night with Jacob and I am so exhausted of having the same stupid arguments over and over with him.  This is absolute misery. 

What do you do when you can't do something anymore but you can't actually quit, either?  I simply cannot properly mother him anymore.  Simply walking out isn't really an option, but at this point I feel like I'm just making it worse and shouldn't be here at all.  People may pooh-pooh that, but someday that kid is going to be sitting in therapy talking about how his mom constantly put him down and then gave up on him.  But in reality I've gotten to the point where beating around the bush doesn't work.  I have to specifically explain to him how his personality flaws are making it impossible to parent him.  I have to help him understand that his actions make it appear that he cares for no one else but himself, and that he is completely inconsiderate and rude and miserable to be around most of the time. 

He gets everything he could have asked for for Christmas, and still finds things to complain about not having.  He gets special treatment one time and then proceeds to whine and complain every subsequent time when he doesn't get the same treatment.  He completely ignores our requests but then whines incessantly when we don't instantly do what he wants, no matter what we may be doing at the time.  He complains about how his brother chases him, and then turns around and encourages Carter to do it, only to scream loudly and complain when Carter catches him and hits him (and no, the hitting isn't OK either, but he should know that instigating the chase puts him at risk for that).  He thinks he knows everything, and if something doesn't agree with his opinion, it can't possibly be true.  I was trying to explain to him tonight that almost every time I go somewhere with Jacob, I have to worry about him being inappropriate or touching something or simply not listening.  And then I said that, sure, sometimes I do have to yell at Carter, but most of my trips out with him are actually fun.  We talk, he helps me, he hugs me, and it's so nice not having to argue all the time.  And he flat-out told me that I was wrong, mostly on the basis of one story of Carter melting down at Target.  That is literally one of less than a handful of times it has ever happened, and despite me acknowledging that Carter isn't perfect, apparently in his mind that one incident makes it impossible for the good stuff to ever be true.  It's infuriating to have a know-it-all seven-year-old constantly try to tell you you're wrong.  He told me earlier during fight #1 of the night that he is a grown-up.  Seriously?!  Just because you're not Carter's age does not mean you're no longer a kid.

Somehow everything comes back to being my fault.  It can never be his fault.  Earlier he had such a smart mouth that he was banished to his room.  I simply couldn't take the constant backtalk anymore.  I truly just needed some quiet and some peace apart from him.  But of course he wouldn't just take his punishment and he opened his door after I shut it.  Angry that he wouldn't just stay in there and be quiet, I opened the door further and of course he had his head right up against the door when he opened it and of course when I opened it it banged him in the head.  And of course it was all my fault, even though he opened the door when he was told to keep it closed.  And then he had his feet (and his boot) on the wall while laying near his door, so I physically moved his legs away from the wall, and of course he said I hurt his good leg doing that.  I'm apparently the one making all of the rules he doesn't want to follow, and I'm the problem when I discipline him for not following them.  Craig does his fair share of disciplining, but I'm the bad guy all the time.

For the first time in a long time, we've had to threaten that we might need to send him somewhere...and we mean it.  We are just not functional right now and I'm willing to try almost anything.  Of course, he thinks we're kidding.  He simply cannot fathom that we could be telling the truth.  But if we ever did figure out where to send him, of course we'd be the bad guys for giving up on him or not loving him enough...even though our efforts are all out of love and he leaves us with no other choice.    

Even worse, this atmosphere makes marriage very hard.  It's mostly the exhaustion factor, but it manifests in a few different ways.  First, there's the matter of balance.  Jacob may act a little better for Craig, but he also wants to be with Craig all the time and I know he needs a break.  I try to take over and often it doesn't go well.  If I try to give Craig a night off from bedtime, inevitably Jacob will give me trouble and I just need to walk away before I do something I will regret.  But Craig having to spend all of his time with Jacob isn't fair either, so there's frustration when we can't split that time effectively.  Another element of it is sounding like a broken record.  You want to back up your partner, but sometimes you're so tired of repeating the same rule or yelling about the same problem that you feel like you simply can't do it anymore...for your sanity or simply based on your energy level.  Or maybe you simply don't agree with their tactics, and then it becomes an argument, either in the moment (if it's something inexcusable) or later.  And when you're arguing, who wants to snuggle in bed afterward?  We're just so tired from having to be "on" for Jacob all the time that our evenings after he's in bed are mostly spent in silence, decompressing with our electronics.  The good news is that we're still aware that we love each other and are ultimately in this together, but it is not a great environment in the meantime. 

We've talked a lot lately about how we need to get away together, without the kids.  For more than just a night, ideally.  We haven't taken a real trip alone together since before Jacob was born.  It's been a handful of overnights and one whirlwind two-night trip for a Knighthawks championship game.  My parents used to go away for a week, and  45 years later they're still going strong and I'm not scarred for life.  We mention even a night away and Jacob is offended we don't want to take him.  In fact, he tells us he's going.  Like he has any control over that.  But the fact of the matter is, we can't even speak complete sentences to each other without one kid or another interrupting us.  We can't think straight with two kids spouting constant noise and nonsense.  It has exhausted us and we just can't communicate effectively.  Sometimes it's hard to remember what it was like before kids, or why you were so excited to get married and start a family in the first place.  We know it has been there and could be again, but right now it's just hard.

I don't know what to say or do anymore.  Nothing seems to make an impact with Jacob.  And anything that might will, again, somehow be our fault.  I have never met such an impossible kid in my life.  And my fear is that it's only going to get worse, that someday he will insist we don't love him and try to run away or that his impulsive, inconsiderate behavior will get him into real trouble.  No matter how much we tell him we love him (never hearing it back, of course), I know that he thinks everything we do is just to make his life miserable.  And you know, sometimes I can see why he might feel that way.  But when you've already tried the "easy way" and it doesn't work, you have no choice but to attempt the "hard way" next...and the vicious circle starts all over again when he thinks we're just being jerks.  He doesn't see the easy way when it's in front of him and seems to think we just start with the hard way, like that's our first choice. 

Sorry, I know I'm rehashing stuff I've already talked about.  But tonight was just another refresher of how big our problems are and my complete lack of a solution on how to deal with them.  We love Jacob so much, but all the love in the world won't get him to listen, or so it seems.  I can't wait to get back to our counseling (we've been off due to the holidays/school break), but it's becoming more apparent we might need to do more.  As much as our family dynamics need help, his difficult personality is at the center of it all and I worry that without help, there's always going to be something getting poisoned by it.  I truly hope this is the year that we find out how to make this better.  We need it to be.  Time is passing us by and we'll never get it back.  No family should have to live like this.  We should be having fun and enjoying watching our kids grow.  Instead we're just surviving.  We need better, for all of our sakes.

No comments: