Sometimes I get stuck thinking that things with Jacob are so hard, so emotionally draining that it will never get better. The 60 minutes of aggression outweighs the other 23 hours of relative ease and becomes the focus of my day.
I think this is fairly normal- an overwhelmingly intense event stays at the front of your mind and milder, more typical things take a back seat. The physical pain of being bitten or hit gradually subsides, but the emotions that go along with having to defend your self from a child don't disappear as easily.
I have three big, purple bruises on my right arm. All are large, round circles, unmistakably obvious bite marks. One of them is from just two hours ago.
Right now Jacob is peacefully, happily watching a movie in the room next to me. To see him, you'd never guess that just a short time ago he was overpowering me with his bulk and sinking his teeth into the most convenient spot on my skin. If I were to call him over to me at this moment, I have no doubt he'd give me a big hug and a kiss and be completely charming.
So simply he can go from rage to calm and I envy him that. It takes me much longer to recover.
I often turn to writing to work through my feelings regarding a particularly tough day. As I sit here right now typing I feel myself becoming calmer, more able to process what happened and think about it as a mother and not a victim. I can separate the acts of aggression from the real personality of my son.
In a way I am very blessed to have this outlet. It an easy thing for me to sit at the computer and express myself. So I wonder how Jacob manages to work out his feelings. Sometimes it seems he doesn't have any sympathy, any understanding of his actions, and its no wonder he acts out in the first place. If I was unable to write these things down I'd most likely be hiding in my room and sobbing into my pillow. The feelings have to come out somewhere.
I have learned over the years not to hold anything Jacob does against him. His actions are most often the result of not being able to communicate with those around him. He tries so hard to express himself and we continue to fall short in understanding him. Hunger, pain, loneliness, fear, excitement- without words there is only the body to use to make others aware of what he is going through. It all comes out as anger.
Despite advances in many other areas, this physical intensity doesn't seem to be going away. So I tend to focus on it. I let it be the benchmark of my day. I could tell you that Jacob hasn't worn diapers in two and a half months, something I thought I'd never see. Or how he is trying to say more and more words everyday, despite our struggle to understand. He persists.
If Jacob isn't curling up in to a ball and giving up, then that is not an option for me. He is an example of enduring and pushing against the barriers that restrain him. I admire this strength that my child shows.
As I get ready for bed each night, I go over in my mind the events of the day. I make an effort to learn from both the best thing and the worst. What can we do differently tomorrow to make it a more peaceful and positive day? The answer lies with my own actions and responses to everything that occurs.
My goal is to focus on the full half of the glass, not the empty part. The well-known saying says to count your blessings, not your trials. Its good advice. Instead of counting bruises I should be counting kisses. The bruises never equal the amount of affection I am shown by my son. The hugs are many, the hits are much, much less. This little boy loves me and he shows it. And a few minutes of pain should not be more memorable than the 30 times he kissed me up and down the arm.
I am continuing to learn every day how to parent this child. I never want to be without his sweet, gently displays of affection. From this point on I am going to count every kiss twice.