Friday, July 28, 2006

The Storm

There's just no other way to describe it. It was like a massive hurricane blew in, swirling my happy toddler's personality away overnight and replacing it with a brooding, moody, explosive child. And yet, the storm was always lying beneath the surface, hidden by good management and avoidance of situations that would cause it to surface. We got peeks at the whirlwind in Jacob's depths, but they were like quick cloudbursts that moved through our lives, wreaking a bit of havoc for a short time, and then all returning to normal. Zoo Boy's arrival unleased the winds and set loose the raw forces of Jacob's inner soul. It took months to put back the pieces after The Storm.

The initial fury lasted about a month. There were aftershocks for months afterwards too, but the impact of the actual Storm is what caused the most damage to our relationship with Jacob and to the structure of our family.

When people called to ask how things were going for us, my usual response was that it was about 90% pure joy and 10% unadulterated hell. But for Jacob I'm guessing the figures were reversed. And actually, that's probably being overly optomistic -- I'm not sure he even felt 1% joy during that first month. He was absolutely miserable, a fact he was not afraid to let us know. What we thought were meltdowns before were mere whinings compared to the expression of distress The Storm brought. While I absolutely loved being a new mother again, I was horrified with both the change in Jacob's attitude, and my feelings about it. I found him annoying for the first time in his life, and actually found myself becoming increasingly intolerant of having him around. My attitude certainly didn't help anything. The Map Man was more sympathetic to Jacob's plight and made a good effort of keeping him away from me as much as possible. They slept in our bed while Zoo Boy and I slept on the couch. When Jacob woke up wanting to nurse, we'd change spots and I'd crawl into bed with Jacob until Zoo Boy wanted to nurse again, when we'd switch back. Jacob started shutting himself in the play room to get away from us. His obsession with books took on a whole new status for him, and he used that and drawing on his magnadoodle as a way to escape us. Any effort to get him to be more present in our lives was greeted with a screaming, yelling cyclone, ending inevitably with him running to the playroom and slamming the door shut, from which he refused to emerge for up to several hours. (This behavior continued for over a year after The Storm.)

Taking both boys anywhere was impossible, as when I had both of them in the car at the same time, they would both scream mercilessly. I took to driving with the stereo blasting as loud as I could stand just to block the sound of them out if we HAD to go somewhere. But mostly I just avoided it. I would save as much as I could for the weekends so that The Map Man could take Jacob to do the things he needed to do, and I could take Zoo Boy to do the things I needed. I felt myself growing more distant from the son I had been so close with, and I was distressed about it. And even more distressing was the fact that it was a relief to me when he wasn't home.

It was so bad for that first month that I didn't even have the energy to try to determine what the problem was. Every ounce of time and patience was spent just trying to get through the day. I was at my wits' end and was starting to think about getting some sort of professional help, both for the family and for myself.

But just when I began to fear that I couldn't take any more, The Storm stopped as abruptly as it had started. And for the simplest reason I could think of. I brought home a puppy. Posted by Picasa

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