I am that mom - by Christy Smith

Published on 18 April 2023 at 01:43

I wrote this in 2020, during our worst crisis, and it still resonates with me at times. Even though things have improved and my home is more peaceful, I continue to face similar challenges, as will many others. 

I am the mom who did not send Valentine's cards to her kindergartener's first Valentine's Day party. I am that mom who didn't spend time making cute heart sandwiches as requested by the teacher. I am that mom that doesn't show up to all parent-teacher meetings. I can't participate in kid sports. I may miss school plays or programs. I rarely participate in anything, not because I do not want to, but because I am too preoccupied fighting the broken mental health system for one of my other children, who is experiencing a mental health crisis almost every day. The life living on a roller coaster. 

I am that mom who fights every day to keep my home a safe place for the rest of my children. I am the mom who constantly calls the cops on her 10-year-old child (3 visits this week) and is always on the road because hospital stays are becoming more common. I am that mom who never sleeps because her mind is always busy trying to figure out what I'm missing or how can I help him and I don't have the mental space to do homework with the other kids. I am that mom who spends her days doing in-home therapy 4 to 5 days a week while also attempting to keep up with her home and laundry and stressing out about all of the providers who come in and out of my house that I am unable to keep up with. I am the mother who has a child at home 24 hours a day who requires constant supervision because he is unable to attend school.

I care for a child who does not yet understand how to deal with strong emotions and triggers, and who destroys furniture, causes holes in walls, and throws punches. I am the mom who is trapped in a never-ending cycle of helplessness in our crisis. Hospitals deny beds... Except for the resources required to prevent injury or death, juvenile detention would be of no use to him. It would only traumatize him because he does not comprehend. The school can not take him, respite care providers will not take him, the family has no understanding or know-how, 30-day assessments and residential are not covered by insurance, and the one-night emergency bed so generously offered to us for only $500 a night is a "IF HE AGREES TO GO" (he always refuses). I have nowhere to turn, and I am so tired of not being able to help or get help for my child while my other children suffer because of my absence.

I am the mom who, more often than not, prioritizes family safety and cute little Valentine cards over homework, and it hurts so much that we have to choose. Guilt, sadness, anger, or resentment can all overwhelm you quickly. I am certain I was judged for my lack of "parenting and homeworking." 

After overcoming all of these challenges, it is been three years since I wrote this passage. I have had time to heal and process everything. I have learned to accept that anyone can see my PJs, that my house will be as clean as possible depending on how much time I have, and that my laundry may sit in baskets, which is fine. When you start walking on eggshells and living in survival mode, you lose your sense of priority. It is difficult to figure out all the pieces when your life is suddenly turned upside down. I am saddened by the time lost, but all of our hard work as a family was worthwhile in the end. I know my children felt the same way; living on eggshells affects the entire family.