time stands still best in moments that look suspiciously like ordinary life - brian andreas

Monday, June 27, 2011



Before I had a blog I remember reading on other peoples blogs that they often used theirs as a journal of sorts...to document their lives, children, recipes, projects, activities, etc. 
Now that I have one, I understand.
Perhaps its my justification as to why I am SO wretched at keeping an actual journal...truth be told, I don't even have a journal.  I think I stopped keeping one when I worried that someone would actually someday read it. 
I feel like I track our life through pictures, facebook posts, and now my blog.  Hopefully my posterity will appreciate all my laziness/lack of a real journal efforts.
This post is merely a journal entry.  There will probably be no fun pictures.  No witty jokes that I know you have all come to expect...see, there was one right there.  And no pictures of recent thrift finds (sad, I know).  But it is something I want to get down on cyber-paper... so I can look back and always remember it.
About two years ago Harper began having behavioral problems.  She would whine all day...from the moment she woke up to the moment she went to bed.  She was not sleeping well.  Her favorite word became 'no!'  Nothing we did was good enough.  She was impossible to please.  She was unhappy in every area of her life.
At first we assumed it was the twos...you know what I'm talking about?!  When children morph from sweet innocent creatures to defiant radical monsters.
 Yeah, that was her.
After about a year had passed, we decided it was not the twos....it had gone on far too long and she was getting too old. 
We thought perhaps it was all the changes...within a matter of months we left all our family and relocated to Oregon, added a new baby to our family, Dylan was MIA, and I became a stay-at-home mom...and not the best one, a lot of the time.
Halfway through her 3rd year of life we realized that things were not improving.  She alienated herself from other children.  The fits continued.  And her strong-willed personality was replaced by defiance and total non-compliance to our rules/requests. 
After a few (and by few, I mean so many I lost count) conversations with friends, family, and doctors, Dylan and I decided to have some blood work done to rule out any medical conditions or possible deficiencies.  She was brave when they drew 4 vials of her blood for the tests.  And she tried to be patient as we sat through hours and hours of intake appointments with pediatricians, naturopathic specialists, and therapists. 
I am embarrassed to admit that I hoped they would find something.  Anything to explain her utter disappointment with the wonderful life we were trying so hard to create for her. 
We decided to take Harper to see a behavioral therapist, at the suggestion of her doctor.   
Our first consultation was eye opening.  There was a laundry list of things that the therapist suggested could be the culprit for the disconnect we were experiencing: lack of trust in our love for her.  Fear of change.  Questioning her role in our family (aka: middle child syndrome).  Lack of consistency in our discipline. 
The list went on and on.  But I felt hopeful.
We got to work.  Each Monday I would drop the boys off at a friends and drive the hour to therapy.  We would spend an hour in a room together, just she and I.  Equipped with an earpiece and microphone, I would take ques from the therapist who was watching our interactions from a two-way mirror. 
It was surreal.
I was listening to a perfect stranger teach me how to interact with my 3-year old. 

The goal of the therapy was three-fold:
-strengthen our relationship
-illustrate the importance of her role in our family
-help her understand the purpose of obedience

Each week I would leave with homework assignments that we would work on each day.  And each night we would have play-time for 10 minutes after the boys were in bed. 
It was hard work...constantly trying to identify issues and work through them.  The days were so long.  We slowly eliminated possible reasons for her unhappiness.  She soon grew resentful of our 'forced' playtime together.
Today was our 9th therapy session and together we made the decision not to continue any more.
There has been no change in Harpers temperament, attitude, or willingness to comply. 
I feel an odd sense of defeat...what kind of mother doesn't know how to parent her own child?!  What mother can't make her own child feel happy and fulfilled?!  And why is parenting SO hard?!
The silver lining is that I feel like I've exhausted every resource.  I don't think I'll ever look back and wish I'd done more.  I don't think Harper will ever feel that I didn't try.
And I feel like things will be okay.
Because I grew more in those 9 weeks than she did...and it was intended for her(isn't that often the case?!)
And I am learning to appreciate the good moments we have together.
Like tonight when we put in a new pair of earrings and she squealed from the bathroom...'I look so cute.'
Or when she flashes me that dimpled little smile in the rear view mirror of my car.
Or sneaks into my bed halfway through the night, snuggles up against me, and lays her little arm across my chest.
And those are the moments that make it all worthwhile...even if they're few and far between.
And give me hope that everything will be just fine.  

I sure love that girl.



  1. Tracy- it wasn't THAT long, nor was it boring. I'm always interested in how other mom's deal with parenting their children. It's SO hard when there are behavioral issues, especially when there are no easy answers. My oldest was a handful at that age-- VERY ornery and obstinate! Now she is a beautiful, intelligent, articulate, kind, caring, 19-year-old. Hard to believe it's the same kid who used to throw the most incredible tantrums! She's still strong willed but has learned to hone it in a positive direction. Don't give up hope! God made Harper the way she is for a reason... She is a cutie!

  2. I love that picture. I love this post. I love how honest you are when you write. I think most people just love to hear honesty in blogging. Not all that sugar coating that makes us all feel completely imperfect. Glad you are enjoying those special moments with her, you really are a great mom.

  3. Tracy, I seriously admire you so very much as a parent! Thank you so much for sharing! Parenting is-for me-the hardest, crummiest(at times) most fascinating job I have ever done. In one of the parenting books my parents gave me entitled: children the challenge, (which i never finished) the book was dedicated to his daughter: "To my daughter, Bonnie, who for twenty years has been the source of so much rich experience." Doesn't that just say it all? Even parenting experts cannot wear rosy colored glasses all the time! Rich experience, not joy not bubbly good times. Rich experience...

  4. Tracy, I cried as I read your blog, because I have shared & felt your pain. I would hope that you have learned through all that you have tried & read that it isn't YOU. As I have watched you agonize, change, & do so many different things trying to please, it has become apparent that at this stage in Harper's life this is just how she is. I believe that at some point you will have the relationship you wish, and you will appreciate it even more because of what you had to go through to get it. Hang in there, she is a lucky little girl to have such a loving, caring & willing mother.

  5. Parenting is THE hardest job in the world! But when things go right and the stars align and everything seems like it's turning for the best, realize that you had something to do with it! Hold on to those moments and pat yourself on the back for being an involved parent who is trying your best to do what you think is best. Ha! Like I'm so experienced in all this...
    What I have learned in the few short months that I've been a parent is that your little angle was sent to you for a reason and it's because you are the one that is best for the job.

  6. When I grow up I seriously want to be like you. :) I usually don't comment but being a mom myself of a very spirited child, I thought I would offer you some hope. As you know raising Kalab has been the biggest challenge of my life and we have been through it all with him. I have a permanent hard spot on my head where my skull has thickened from banging it on the wall. There are days when I just cry, then the neighbor lady will tell me what a great kid he is and how he is so polite and well behaved and tells her kids to not talk back to their mom. (I usually pass out or tell her she has the wrong house, however) Those are the moments you have to hang onto, because you are shaping a wonderful young lady and she will show it in her own time. Just be patient, because it does get better and yes some days it gets worse. Of course if it doesn't get better just get a calendar and mark of the days until she is 18. Pills work well too.. lol :) You are an amazing mom and someday you will look at this beautiful little girl become a mom herself and know you did just perfect by her. Hang in there sis. I promise it will work itself out.