Friday, July 25, 2008


One of the things that people don't realize is that when you have one child with big problems, this affects family dynamics in a major way. Sometimes, Dylan and Cara will complain about some aspect of my strict parenting. I explain to them that their sister's problems threw me off kilter as a mom. I had no confidence in my own abilities to parent. I felt like a failure. I also had a child who needed rules. Lots of them. And I tried to institute them, for her own well being. It didn't work. She left us again, and yet again, into chaos. Finally, we had to tell her that she could not come home again. As the dust began to settle in my home, I slowly regained my confidence. As Cara and Dylan grew into adults, it became easier to breathe. They were going to be okay, and as soon as I realized this about them, I became a much better mother, able to listen, able to stand back and let them make their own decisions, able to counsel instead of preach. Sometimes I think about it, and I feel badly. They were robbed of a portion of their childhood, as well.
Bi-polar disorder affects the entire family.
It is what it is.
Today, I was driving down a country road, pondering a high culex count. I sampled at the sewage treatment plant, and found nothing breeding. Looking about the fields, I had a hunch, so I walked around. Sure enough, wet areas in the fields were breeding mosquitoes. I got a sample to send off to Harrisburg. It will be interesting to see if they are, indeed, culex mosquitoes. I drove off, lost in thought, trying to figure if the field was actually treatable, what with all the tall grass hiding and protecting the wet areas. Mind working furiously, I went around a curve. A mother duck stood in the road. Two ducklings dozed at the side of the road, very close to the asphalt. A third duckling had been hit. The mother refused to leave. Mentally, I cursed at her foolishness, but even as I did, I understood why she couldn't take her other two ducklings and leave the one that was beyond her help.
I didn't get far. I turned around and went back, and I gathered up the dead duckling in a zip-lock bag, taking it with me. It probably makes no sense to anyone else, but I knew that it was the only way that she could turn her attentions to the children left.
Her anxious noises, her nervous watching haunt me this night.


Bush Babe (of Granite Glen) said...

I love this story... and that you are the Mother Duck in it... I hope someone else is reading this who is learning to cope with your kinda situation, and can see their own light at the end of the tunnel. You're doing good, Mother Duck. (And I'm sure the other Mother Duck will appreciate in time, your difficult gesture.).

steviewren said...

Oh Debby, you are so honest sometimes it is as if I can see the blood droplets on your wounds. My oldest son did not have the same scale of problems that yours has, but I put so much into trying to raise him that I feel like you sometimes. I told the wife of second son just this week that I felt as though I had neglected his childhood because I was so busy with first son. I hope the mother duck was able to move on with her other ducklings.

Mary Paddock said...

Poor, poor mama duck.

It's heartbreaking to think that you might have failed your children, it's not hard to tell that you did the very best you could with what you had to work with at the time. I'll bet your children know that.

PaintedPromise said...

oh poor mama ducky, i have tears welling... oh yeah, and for the bird too!

there seems to be an abundance of ground squirrels here this year and i gasp every time they run into the road in front of me... my daughter and i both scream out loud "watch out little one"

i just pray it isn't me that hit any of the ones i see lying still in the road...

and on a more serious note, i do NOT have a child with a serious disorder BUT i was twice divorced before my youngest was born... my oldest was not quite 9. she had to help me raise her sisters and sometimes she says she doesn't want kids of her own because she already had to raise her sisters. that makes me feel incredibly sad and guilty. i refuse to be the kind of mother or MIL that nags for grandchildren but i have told them that as well-behaved as their dogs are, it's a darn shame they don't plan to be parents... the kids would be awesome :)

debby said...

The coincidence that it was three ducklings, two left, one beyond her help really really haunted me, as if I was getting a lesson. But the thing is, I already know this thing, and I wanted to shout at God, "What would YOU have had me do differently?" I knew that I was being stupid, but it really bothered me, all night.

And now my husband is worried that he is married to a lush because I had three wine coolers last night, instead of my customary one.

Sometimes the enormity of it all strikes me out of nowhere, and shamefully, I've no idea what to do with that grief, except slink off for a cry. And last night, three wine coolers, while I cleaned house in a frenzy.

Mikey said...

Aww, that's so good of you to do! Makes me all sad, but still, it was the right thing to do. Now she can move on.
Whew, life lessons abound don't they?

As for your comment on pigs in the mall... girl, I cannot IMAGINE how loud that would be, lol!

Redlefty said...

Heart-wrenching stories, debby. Thanks for sharing.

jeanie said...

Nice little life lesson being offered.

It reminds me of a Jewish story I once heard about ducks.

A mother duck was ferrying her daughters across the water. In the middle of the river, she asked each "when you are grown, will you do this for your elderly mother?"

The first answered "of course mother" and got dunked.

The second answered "of course mother" and got dunked.

The third said "sorry mother, but I will be too busy ferrying my own children." "Good child" said the mother duck.

I know - pretty callous hey? And nothing to do with your story. Obviously I am still pondering.

debby said...

No. Jeanie. Not callous. Nothing should come between a mother and the raising of her children. I would expect my children to make the same choice.

It IS sad to feel as if you've failed a child, Susan. It comes and it goes for me. I grieve for my child.

It's gruesome, and I'm sure that had anyone come along to see me scraping a small fuzzy body from the road, they'd have thought me demented, but really, I could not leave it there, her there, those two little fuzzy ones dozing at the side of the road so close to danger, all of them.