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Finding the Right Village (Chapter 11)

Sunshine has been home on summer break from school for two weeks now.

My husband has been home that long as well.  Oh how I love that he has returned full time to work with me again.

I can confess I love being able to sleep in each morning, since Sunshine doesn't have to be up at the crack of dawn for school.

For the most part, Sunshine is much more pleasant without the daily influence of "friends" at school who teach her so many "fun" behaviors.

To be able to tag team with my husband handling behaviors we encounter with Sunshine has been a gift.

For the first time in months we're able to have a home cooked dinner on the table, no matter what happens during prep time.

And my anxieties...  They're all but gone, except for minor flare ups.

But with all of that said, my husband and I can't wait for Sunshine to return to school.

Don't take this the wrong way.

We love our daughter.

Here's the thing.  We've realized a few things over the past few months that have been transforming.

Finding the right village to help raise a child with severe emotional needs and trauma makes all the difference.

It's not a single parent or co-parenting job.

And not just any village will do.  It has to be the right village.

Finding the Right Village-A Family's story about parenting a child with severe emotional needs and trauma.


No! One family does not need three mental health and behavior therapists working with them at once, even if the local community services agency approves the funding.

One therapist that we love is just fine.

No! A family does not need a mental health or behavior therapist who thinks all that's going on is a parenting problem.

As a parent I have a right to choose who my family works with.

Families have lives.  Too many therapy appointments can do more harm than good, especially if the therapist doesn't know what they're doing.

Oops, I digress.  That's a post for another day.  Lol.

The Past

Finding the right village for your child with severe emotional needs and trauma can be life changing.

When I say life changing, I don't necessarily mean life changing for the child.  The child is going to behave the way the child chooses to behave.  Real progress is slow and takes years to be fruitful.

I mean life changing for the parent.

I had no idea how poorly I was functioning due to caring for Sunshine 24/7 for the past six and a half years without a break.

Sure I had gained 70 lbs.  Compared to all of the struggles other trauma mamas go through, I thought weight was nothing to worry about.

But it wasn't just my physical health that had gone downhill.

I felt defeated every morning before I got out of bed, dreading the day, knowing that nothing I had planned to get done the day before had been completed, and the same would happen today.

Mind you I still got up and functioned, but it was only because I had to.

Sunshine's behaviors would be similar every single day.  No matter what I tried, nothing worked to stop the rages and aggression.  Sure a new idea may work for a brief moment, but it didn't last long.

I couldn't focus to save my life.  There were many times that I worried I was developing ADHD because I was so scatter brained.

My anxieties were through the roof.  I'd do all I could to avoid another raging meltdown or aggression outburst.  Mind you I wouldn't give in to behaviors, I'd just try to avoid scenarios where behaviors would occur.

I felt so lonely and isolated.

I was always tired, but dreaded going to sleep, because it would mean the start of another day of doing the same thing all over again.

All of my energy was spent on Sunshine whether I wanted it to or not.  She demanded attention 100% of the time.

There were many days that I would cry.  I had lost hope that anything would change.

And then Sunshine went to school.

A New Life

For almost eight hours a day, five days a week I experienced life without her at home.

I could focus.

I could complete tasks.

I could spend quality time with my other children.

I could carry on a conversation with my husband.

I was a better mother, and not just for my other kiddos, but for Sunshine as well.

For the three to four hours a night that she was home before bed, I had the energy to push through no matter what behaviors were thrown my way because I hadn't dealt with them all day long.

I knew that Sunshine's behaviors had taken a toll on my other children, but never realized just how much.

While she was gone, the three older kiddos were so much happier.  When she came home, they, like me knew we just had to make it through four hours tops, and Sunshine would be asleep for the night.

Now again, this does not mean that Dinomite, Bulldozer, and Princess don't love their sister.  They love her fiercely.

But it does mean that finding the right village for your child with severe emotional needs and trauma is just as important for the welfare of your children as it is for you.

Discovery

Caregivers of children with severe emotional needs and trauma need breaks.  Not just a couple hours once a month or once a year, but on a regular basis.

It is crucial to a parent's ability to function and survive.

Now I admit, I'm not the biggest fan of the day program Sunshine attends.  I don't like that she's not in a Montessori classroom.

But, after experiencing her gone to school for several weeks, and then one full day of her being home while my husband was still working, that's when I realized the decision to find the right village isn't about Sunshine.

It's about me.

It's about my husband.

It's about my other children.

There is no perfect or ideal scenario out there that benefits everyone.  It comes down to what's good, better, and best for the whole family.

Sunshine is going to be Sunshine no matter who's caring for her.

I can take the full burden on myself knowing exactly what it does to my family or I can allow others who are willing to come to work each day and care for her in a loving way help me.

Growth

After overcoming horrible Mommy guilt and feeling like a failure because I couldn't help Sunshine in the ways I desperately wanted to, the clouds parted and I realized this was a no brainer.  Especially since I'm such a better mother for her after having breaks while she's at school.

It really does take the right village to raise a child with severe emotional needs and trauma.

For us that village is Sunshine's principal, teachers and aids at her day program along with her intensive in-home therapist.

It's the in-home respite services that she was just approved for.

Your village may look different.  But please, I beg you, understand, you can't do this without a village.

Even if you think you can.

Even if you're doing okay right now.

The time will come when you need help.

Be picky.  Fight the fight.

But in the end, find the right village.

You can't take care of your child with severe emotional needs and trauma, if you're not taking care of yourself.

I am excited to take care of me again!

If you enjoyed this post and would like to read the rest of our story that led to today's post in sequence, follow the links below.
Call the Police! What You Don't Want to Have Happen When Your Child is in the ER for Mental Health Reasons What Should Happen When Your Child is in the ER for Mental Health Reasons Check-in-at an inpatient children's psychiatric hospital My Daughter is inpatient at a Children's Psych Ward Our First Family Session in a Psych Ward Nine Days This Was Not Okay MiraclesWhat Family Life Looks Like After A Mental Health Crisis Is Over
Finding the Right Village-The continuation of t he story of one family's journey with a child who struggles with severe mental health needs and trauma.

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