Sunday, April 9, 2017
Out of Control:
A Christian Parent’s Victorious Struggle with Child Abuse
A Memoir by Kathy Collard Miller
Darcy's training pants were wet again! Again! I couldn't believe it. She had messed them only forty-five minutes earlier. She had promised she would tell me the next time she needed to go.
Marching over to her, I directed her into the bathroom. I struggled to pull down the soaking pants. What am I doing wrong? She’s never going to learn.
“Darcy, you’re supposed to come into the bathroom and use the potty chair. Remember you promised Mommy you would go in the potty chair. Why can’t you learn?”
She’s doing it on purpose, I just know it. We’ve been going through this for several months now. She’s done it right before so I know she can do it. She just refuses to obey me.
“You went potty in your pants. I’ll just have to spank you.”
“No, no, Mommy. I won’t do it again.” Her pleading seemed to confirm my speculation.
“From now on you’re go in the potty chair. Do you hear?” Hitting her wet bottom and gritting my teeth, I grumbled, “I am sick and tired of wet pants … dirty pants … puddles on the carpet … loads of extra laundry … getting up in the middle of the night to change your soaking sheets.”
My tortured thoughts ricocheted in my mind. You’re so much trouble. I can’t do anything or go anyplace when I want. You demand love I don’t have. I don't want to be a mother!
My hands grabbed for her throat. As if I were watching a scene from a murder movie, I saw myself chocking Darcy. Her horrified face and fear-paralyzed body somehow satisfied me and I jerked my hands away. But I was terrified when I saw red marks on her neck. Suddenly, Darcy began screaming hysterically.
I ran out of the bathroom. Making my way out the door to the back patio, I pounded my fists into my thighs and cursed myself. “How can I do this again? I’ve been doing so well for a few days. Oh, God, please help me. I’m out of control again.”
Maybe I should call someone for help. If I called my pastor, I wonder what his reaction would be. I’ve never had any kind of therapy before. What would people think of me?
I thought of my friends in our women’s neighborhood Bible study which I led.
How can I tell them I’m going for counseling? They might not respect me any more. They might think God doesn’t have the answers. After all, if he hasn’t helped me, they’ll think he can’t help them.
“No,” I told myself out loud. “I’m just going to have to deal with this myself. I know God can help me. I just haven’t found the exact answers yet, but I know I’ll do better. Maybe if I increase my devotional time and read more Christian books, it will help.”
I could hear Darcy crying in the bathroom. Oh, thank you, Jesus that Larry is gone. He just doesn’t understand how I can get so angry. I try to tell him, but he can’t believe it. I suppose I should be grateful he doesn’t feel anger like I do, but if he did, at least he could sympathize with my feelings.
Taking a deep breath, I walked back to the bathroom. When Darcy saw me, she backed up to the wall. “It’s okay, Darcy. I’m not mad anymore.” I tried to reassured her. But when she didn’t relax, my heart only felt heavier. I dried off Darcy and then put another pair of training pants on her. The red marks on her neck were slowly fading.
“Darcy, please remember. The next time you have to go potty, come into the bathroom and use the potty chair. Mommy has a piece of candy for you if you go potty in the potty chair. Mommy doesn’t want to get angry with you, but I really think you’re ready to be a big girl and wear big girl panties. Then you won’t have to wear baby diapers. You can be a big girl with panties like Mommy wears.”
Darcy’s tear-stained face looked up at me, attempting to smile. “Okay, Mommy, I try.”
The next day before Larry left for a realtors meeting, I asked, “Do you think Darcy’s ready to be potty trained?”
“Well, I don’t know. How has she been doing?”
“Not very well. At times she manages just fine, but then she’ll go for a long time without success. Sometimes I wonder if she wets her pants on purpose.”
Larry laughed. “You sound like you think she hates you and wants to get even.”
All of a sudden his comment didn’t sound so far-fetched. “I wonder if I do.”
“Oh, come on, Kathy. She’s just a little girl.”
“No, really. Sometimes when she disobeys me, I think she’s doing it on purpose to show me I’m not a good mother. And when she has her temper tantrums, I think I’m a bad mother because I can’t make her happy.”
“I didn’t think you were supposed to make her happy.”
“But what about the joys of motherhood I always hear about? I’m not a very joyful mother these days.”
“Well, I know it’s not easy to be a mother, but I don’t think you’re supposed to be joyful all the time. You’re not perfect, you know.”
“I guess I’m not. I just want to be.”
Larry looked wrapped in thought.
“What are you thinking?”
He stared at me and said, “I wonder if you want Darcy to be potty trained as early as possible so that your success can be a credit to your mothering?”
At first I started to tell him his comment was ridiculous, then I caught myself. “I really hadn’t thought of it that way before. I know I don’t want to continually change diapers. Bu maybe I also want her to be a billboard for my mothering accomplishments. Darcy’s almost two-and-a half. I thought for sure she would be trained by now. Abby’s daughter is. But maybe she’s not ready. I think I’ll give her a few more days and see what happens.”
The next few days were disastrous. Instead of getting better, she had more accidents. I wondered if my recent outburst had set her back.
All right, Lord, I think you’re showing me she’s not ready, so I’ll put her back in diapers. I guess it’s better than washing a load of training pants every day.