I was able to listen in on a conference call yesterday with a woman who specializes in childhood trauma and is also a foster parent herself. She was talking to a new foster mom with a 2.5 year old little girl in her care. It’s her first foster child and she has only been there a week. The foster mom was able to ask questions about how to respond to tantrums, how to respond when she asks where her mom is, and lots of other similar topics. This conversation was not about Braden whatsoever but something clicked in me and I learned so much from that hour phone call.
Halfway through I was in tears- sobbing mess tears. Hearing what that little girl has gone through and also thinking about what Braden experienced was so overwhelming. I was so happy that this foster mom was being taught information regarding her new placement but sad that we never learned it 2.5 years ago. We were never taught how to parent a child who has suffered trauma. This little girl was in a foster home with 3 other small children previously and wasn’t doing so well. There are very few foster homes that have no other children so the fact that this new home had
none was wonderful for her and so far she was doing really well. Juli (the trauma specialist) was explaining why. She was explaining how much chaos her brain has been in most likely since she was born so that is what she is used to….chaos. Chaos not meaning what we think of as adults, but things that can cause chaos in a newborn’s brain -like not being attached to your mom, not being fed exactly when hungry, not having your basic needs met. So when this little girl went into a foster home that was any form of chaos (3 children under the age of 3 – no matter how amazing the parents are, there is of course going to be chaos) she responded negatively. The information she gave her was amazing.
Knowing that we couldn’t spank Braden and then later making the decision to never spank – we’ve always sought out an alternative. We’ve always practiced gentle discipline with him but recently I’ve felt there’s something more going on than just normal 3 year old behaviors. My eyes were opened to the fact that although Braden has had a safe and loving home, he has still had so much chaos in his life. Getting pregnant just three months into having him meant I didn’t feel good very often (rough beginning and end of pregnancy) and was never able to meet all his needs completely. I met the obvious needs, but not the need for a calm and peaceful environment. He’s always been somewhat of a challenge, even as a baby so I always needed a lot of help. A couple of weeks before I was due to deliver Nola, we put Braden in daycare to help me out. He was so active and I was just physically exhausted. He ended up getting kicked out shortly after Nola was born for biting over 22 times. He was just 17 months old, still a baby himself. I never understood it. Then all of a sudden he had to share us with another baby while he was still a baby himself. For most kids, this is a hard adjustment but I think it was especially hard for him because he was still bonding with us. Then all of a sudden, daddy is gone all of the time (new job traveling) and mommy is always sick and in bed with the new baby (mastitis). Different family members stepped in and helped so much, but mommy and daddy weren’t there like he needed. Chaos. When I’ve been running on empty and my patience is low I’ve found myself yelling. My mom was spanked often (hit with anything around her mom could find) and she tried to avoid being that way with us, so she yelled. I’ve found myself falling into the same pattern but I refuse to accept that.
I’m not trying to dwell on the past or feel guilty for what’s happened but I am trying to learn what we need to do to fix this. He deserves calm and I’m now on a mission to give him that. This week we have been incredibly intentional about our time with him. Kevin did a guys night where they went to Circle B Bar Reserve and hunted alligators and snakes together. I got a sitter for Nola so we could go see a movie together. When I’ve wanted to yell because he’s woken Nola up in the morning for the 3rd time this week – I pray and breathe instead before I talk to him. These past two days I have seen such a positive change in him and to see it when we step it up is enough confirmation for me to know that he will improve when we improve. He will be calm when we can be calm – in our every day life with him and in our big life decisions. I’m not giving up on this little boy. God isn’t giving up on this little boy. He deserves so much more. He doesn’t need therapy or medicine. He needs more calm – less chaos.