Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Family Functionality

I'm out of sorts this week, and it's my own fault.  Lily had a rough start to her week last Monday (Fun and Games with Law Enforcement) but we had a good session with her therapist on Tuesday and moved into a more positive mental space.

So what's the problem?  I was called out of town mid week, and planned to take Lily and her brother with me. My mom offered to take care of the kids so they could stay in school while I was away.  I had misgivings and talked with mom about her ability to handle things, but she reassured me she was comfortable with it.  So, I accepted her offer.

And it was awful.  Lily is worlds better than even a couple of months ago, but she has issues that will take time to address.  Mom exploded on Lily over an emotional incident.  Lily phoned me, and I talked through the event with her.  I calmed her down and suggested she approach mom with an apology and an offer to take care of kitchen clean up.  Before Lily could get to the apology, mom started yelling again, effectively shutting down Lily's efforts.

Mom wasn't able to regulate her emotions, even after she and I spoke on the phone.  Her tirade continued through the next day.  Lily was upset, but maintained her composure with lots of phone time with me, and lots of support from her little brother.  My older son was able to step in and care for Lily and her brother until my return a couple of days later.

So I have some mixed feelings.  On the up side, Lily did an amazing job of holding it together in a highly stressful situation.  I'm also really pleased that Lily and her brother bonded through this, supporting each other.  I'm so proud of both of them.

Then there's my disappointment over my mom.  When she's good, she's very, very good.  When she's bad, she horrid.  I was worried that she might not handle everything the way I'd like, but I didn't think she'd fly off the handle in such a spectacular way.  I need to talk to her about it, but things are especially hectic and it'll have to wait.

So I made a mistake when I accepted mom's offer.  We have enough history that I should have known better.  And sure, it brings up plenty of stuff from my childhood.  When Lily called and told me what happened, I knew just what mom sounded like.  That's not something I should expose my kids to.  But they love her, and there are times they can enjoy each other's company.

Am I teaching them lessons about acceptance, about our ability to handle faults and adversity?  Or am I teaching them to accept being treated unacceptably?  Will it make a difference if I ask mom to apologize?

The kids are moving on, but what are they taking from this?  Am I making too much of it?  I have no objectivity.  I wish I knew how a healthy family would handle this, but I don't think a healthy family would encounter this situation.  Time to get some professional advice.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fun and Games with Law Enforcement

Lily and I had an interesting little incident last night.  We were in and out of urgent care, three times last week, for her headache pain.  After examinations, sinus x-rays and a CT scan, the doctors being consulted put their heads together and agreed that she most likely has a mild sinus infection being exacerbated by seasonal allergies.  She’s on an antibiotic and allergy medicine in addition to her regular meds.  Because the antibiotic is contraindicated with her acid reflux med, she has to avoid taking them at the same time.
As a result, her stomach is upset, compounding her discomfort.  I understand.  I’ve offered many home remedies in addition to the meds (saltines, flat coke, hot tea).   She won’t try the home remedies.
Last night she wanted me to take her to the emergency room at the local hospital.  I explained that we didn’t need to go, based on the test results and the advice of the doctors.  Lily became agitated and began crying and yelling.  Then she pulled out a previously effective tool, making crazy faces at me.  I realize this sounds insensitive, but here’s the thing, it’s nonsense.  She’s acting out, trying to convince me she’s going into psychosis.  This time last year, I was doing everything in my power to appease her and calm her down.  Which sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t.  Her new therapist has weighed in, saying she believes Lily does not have psychosis.  Does. Not.
Which doesn’t mean Lily doesn’t think she has psychosis.  But for me, it means we can, and are, working to get back to a normal level of relating and holding healthy family boundaries.  Which also means, Lily gets her way far less often than she did all last year.
But remember, Lily is the most doggedly determined being I know.  So when I refused to take her to ER and suggested she go to bed, she called 911.  Yeah.
The sheriff came calling.  Two deputies actually.  One spoke with Lily, one spoke with me.  I explained, clarifying the events of the last week and Lily’s medical and psychological issues.  Bear in mind, that while making her 911 call and speaking to the deputies in person, Lily was calm, articulate, and clearly not in physical distress.
So we had an evening of Lily drama.  Better drama than when I was terrified that she was losing her mind.  I’d much rather deal with a difficult teen than a child suffering from psychosis.  It’s just a lot less scary.  But that doesn’t mean I’m interested in taking on behavior problems right now.  I’ve missed three weeks of Monday classes because it’s hard to get Lily back to school Monday morning.  She is making progress, but as usual I want more.
I sound greedy, I am greedy, but I’m ready to have a life again, with moments that don’t revolve around Lily.  We’re actually pretty far from that.  But much of the time I spend on Lily these days is at least more productive.  I can help her with homework, facilitate a cooking project, or just talk and laugh together.  It’s mostly so much better, vastly better than even a few months ago.  But I still exist in a Lily centered household.  We need more balance.