Parenting is all about sacrifice. For maximum benefit from this series it is essential you are willing to make all necessary sacrifices, and overcome and persevere so your children benefit most. If not, this parenting series is not for you.
From type A to type Zzzzzzz
I was a typical, driven, type A, Silicon Valley, young, upwardly mobile professional. I had a Franklin-Covey planner filled daily with a huge, prioritized task list. I was ridiculously productive and very efficient. Then PTSD happened. It turned my life upside down.
Less than a year after PTSD diagnosis, I was disabled and couldn’t work. What’s worse is I didn’t realize how disabled I was. I couldn’t open the planner. I tried but before I found that day’s date I was overwhelmed by the thought of having something to do.
Thirteen months later my husband died of cancer. I was on my own. I had to do everything myself even though my PTSD healing journey was just getting started.
I had a 12-step village but support was very limited. I had a church fellowship but they were unavailable–except for our amazing family pastor and wife–because, as one person said, “people are busy.” I thought, “At least I still have my in-laws if my family of origin abandoned me.” Nope.
Unfortunately, 21 months after my husband died I was subpoenaed to family court. Grandparents didn’t want me to have custody of my daughter. They, meaning my mother, said I was emotionally unstable. Therefore, my daughter was severely neglected, abused in every way possible, and basically in imminent danger unless she was handed over to my mother permanently. They didn’t ask for my son. Apparently, I could keep him.
Immediately after getting served, I made a core decision that would guide and define my parenting style: My children would not suffer at the PTSD altar. In other words, just because I was having a hard day every day for several years, exhausted, struggling with therapy, my kids would not miss out on their childhood.
What sacrifice looked like
I volunteered like a dog so my son could be on summer league as well as year-round swim teams. He also played soccer and baseball.
My daughter, before she had her psychotic break, was in choir and there were many, many IEP or Parent-Teacher conferences. When she wanted to go out with friends, I drove, if possible.
I volunteered in both schools and even became a PTA president because my son wanted to know I loved him enough to be an active parent. After my daughter’s psychotic break, I moved heaven and earth to ensure she got the right medical treatments and made all necessary therapeutic appointments.
When it was apparent I would need lawyers, guns and money, I leveraged everything, including my house and retirement account to make sure she got the best doctors, therapists, nurses, boarding schools, etc. I dragged my son with me all over the country to drop her off at a safe house for evaluation then in search of the right boarding school for his big sister. Despite filing bankruptcy to keep the house and car, I lost the house and car.
Through all of it, I still made 8 a.m. soccer games with snacks and the banner I sewed by 7:15 a.m. I helped my son with Cub Scouts. We designed and constructed his Pinewood Derby cars then became a BSA unit commissioner.
My kids loved Jesus so much that I didn’t dare skip out on church activities, especially Sunday mornings, annual Easter plays and monthly choir rehearsals. They’d wake me up and insist I get ready.
I also hosted a student from Hong Kong for 2.5 years because not only did I need the money but it was nice still cooking for four. I got, trained and cared for two small dogs because we needed someone to love us through all of this unconditionally.
At one point, my therapist said I was among those few clients he needed to see three times a week. I desperately needed an anchor, refuge and deep relaxation therapy because I was under so much stress. He said there was far too much on my plate. I didn’t realize how much until he said it was too much.
I made up my mind
I refused to fail as a good enough parent. My children could ill afford to take on what I was being dealt. Whenever I had a major meltdown, I’d excuse myself to the detached garage, call either my therapist, a few girlfriends or both just so my kids didn’t have to experience my worst moments and high anxiety levels, which included screaming, crying and venting unadulterated rage. Failure as a parent was not an option.
So as we take time this year to explore briefly what it takes to be a good enough parent with PTSD, keep in mind it is not easy. I speak only from experience. So far the fruits of my labors are glorious.
My kids are well adjusted and well taken care of despite being broke out of my mind. They have a good head on their shoulders and love Jesus. I can’t expect much more than that.
If you’re willing to read, I’m willing to post. Of course, my ideas worked for me but perhaps this might inspire you to come up with your own ideas so your children have as normal and positive an upbringing as possible and, yes, it is possible.
Posts in 2016 series
Parenting by any means necessary
Foundations: Why truth matters
Let Patience have her perfect work
School: Expectations versus reality
Worldwide Parenting with PTSD Awareness Day
It’s okay to miss the target and hit the tree
Game changer: Prayer and Meditation
Cogtoolz brings much-needed resources to college students
Impact: Bless, release, declare over our kids
Posts in 2015 series
Parenting with posttraumatic stress disorder
Discipline requires training, love spelled t-i-m-e
Beatings/Spankings are abuse: plain and simple
Parenting, like marriage, requires work
Parenting is a lifelong-learning proposition
Stop, look, listen and ask yourself questions
The high art of juggling
Downtime: the golden goose of PTSD
Worldwide parenting with PTSD Awareness Day
Parenting is a high call no matter your lot
The drought before the drought
Being misunderstood is a symptom
You are being forged in fire
Awakenings podcast: Parenting with PTSD