I believe every parent goes through a level of anxiety when their children start school, for the first time or even every year they go back. It’s a natural instinct to be nervous for them, especially in todays day and age of atrocities that have happened at our schools. I know my fears and anxiety aren’t unique nor earth shattering, but if I ignore these feelings, then I’m doing a disservice to myself, my family and others. Here’s where I am right now and I have to acknowledge the truth.
When my oldest son who is 22, Spicoli, was 10 months old and I was married to his dad; my life at that moment changed drastically. I had doctors appointments on a day in June, so I had taken the day off from work, but I took Spicoli to daycare to make the running around easier on me. After all of my appointments, I went home to grab a bite to eat and was getting ready to head over and pick him up from the daycare. I got a knock on my door, and there stood some man who asked me “Are you Katy Sheffer?”, as I responded with a yes he handed me a large envelope and walked away. I opened the envelope and wasn’t grasping what I was reading. It was a court order of divorce papers and a restraining order to stay away from my son. I still wasn’t grasping any of it, we had just celebrated our 2nd wedding anniversary 2 days earlier. Went out to a lovely dinner, he sent me a huge bouquet of flowers, so what I was reading wasn’t making sense.
I called Dick right away, he answered and I asked “What are these papers that were just delivered? I don’t understand.” His response, “Just read them and you’ll figure it out.” I did respond “Okay I’ll read them after I pick up Spicoli and then I’ll call you.” He sternly responded “No you won’t pick him up. He’s not even at daycare, he’s with my mom, besides you now have a restraining order from seeing him. You are no longer welcome to go to the daycare and if you do, they have been ordered to call the police to have you arrested.” At this point I started yelling “I don’t understand! What are you doing? This is crazy!” Then he hung up on me.
I called a friend that is an attorney and asked her to please help me, that I couldn’t understand what was happening, so together on the phone we read the documents word for word. Bottom line, Dick went to the courts that morning and filed for divorce. In order to gain leverage to keep Spicoli all for himself, he told the judge I was unstable, suicidal, had severe postpartum depression that he was afraid I would pull a Susan Smith and kill our son. The TRO (Temporary Restraining Order) was issued based on a lie. From this point forward my life dramatically changed.
Spicoli was only 10 months old and it took three months to get in front of the judge to prove that Dick had lied, so basically my baby was kidnapped from me for 10 months, at least that’s how the judge put it once he was proven to be a liar. During these three months the prolonged trauma caused PTSD, I went from 155 lbs down to 98 lbs. I couldn’t eat, sleep nor stop the fear of wondering where my baby was. What was he doing? Were they feeding him correctly? Are they cuddling him? Are they talking about me to him? Will he recognize me when I get him back, or if I get him back?
Yes I got him back, but the trauma still lingers. I’ve been in counseling for 22 years, I’ve gone through desensitization therapy, EMDR, PFT, trauma therapy; but the fear and trauma is still there.
Right now my 4 yr old, Calvin, is set to start pre-k tomorrow. I’m a fucking wreck. When I had him I experienced postpartum depression again, but this time it was way worse. A lifetime of trauma’s and having CPTSD made it ten times worse. It caused me to develop a ferocious level of protection over him, it was so bad I couldn’t go back to work. No way in hell would I have my child at a daycare, because in my mind, they aren’t safe. No my marriage now is nothing like it was with Dick, and I know this, but that doesn’t stop the mamma bear instinct to protect my young.
I wish I could wait until he was 5 and ready for kindergarten, but Calvin needs speech therapy support. He really has had a heck of a time with certain consonants and vowels, and in order for him to be ready for kindergarten we felt it best for him to start pre-k and obtain some special education with speech therapy. Yes I could clearly just take him to a speech therapist, but I believe peer support is an important part of his growth.
I am a mess. I’m irritable, tired, shaky, can’t sit still, can’t stop thinking. That trauma from 22 years ago has played in my memory over and over and IT WON’T STOP! To add to this, he’s scared too! We now live in a new state as of 3 months ago, so he has a new home, new room, new friends, new experiences…his life has changed. He was doing great about starting school, until we went for the meet and greet at school last night. This poor kid was so overwhelmed, there were people everywhere, he held my hand so tight he refused to let go, he didn’t want to explore the room on his own, I had to hold his hand and walk him through it. When we got home he had a complete meltdown. “I scared mommy, I scared!”
Meanwhile inside I’m thinking ‘DAMN IT! I’m scared too!’, how do I handle this? How do I convince my son it will be all okay, when inside I’m scared it’s not going to be? How do I nurture him and calm him, when I’m a bottle of nerves? We went to bed, read a book and I cuddled next to him and told him a story. A story about a brave little boy who was starting school for the first time, that he was scared too, and that it was okay to be scared. The little boy was going to have wonderful nice teachers full of love and comfort, he was going to meet and make new friends, he would have daily adventures and different toys to play with; but most of all his mommy would be there to pick him up at 1:30 on the dot and because he knew this…he felt safe. I reminded him that he has Jesus with him ALL of the time, protecting him and loving him, and because of this he’ll never feel alone. Calvin then kissed me and said “I love you mommy” and rolled over and fell asleep. It was so very precious.
I don’t know if that story I told him was just for his benefit and comfort, but I think it helped. I hope I convinced him or helped him, especially because I can’t help myself right now. I can’t stop the intrusive scary thoughts, my body remembers that day, not just my mind. Sick to my stomach, can’t eat much, headaches, shakes and rapid heart rate….body memories are as bad as the mental memories.
I will continue to push forward, I will continue to ask God for strength and pray daily, I will do my best for as long as it takes for me to get comfortable….if I ever do. I will put lipstick on this pig and keep on keeping on.
Oh and one more thing: Fuck you Dick.