Monday, November 28, 2011

Compassion Fatigue

My baby has a fever.  I think he's teething (finally!).  He's crabby, droopy-eyed, and a little sluggish.

Mostly, though, he just wants his Mama.

And man, do I feel bad for him.  I want to snuggle him.  Rock him.  Love on him.  Make him feel better, even though he's being a bit of a pain in the backside.

Even though he kept me up half the night last night....the eve of the busiest week of my year.

I'm exhausted this morning.  I'm a bit crabby myself, and I'm having to make a concerted effort to function in a regular kind of way.  Yet here is little Baby K, clapping his hands and smiling his giant still-toothless smile at me, and there's no way I can be mad at him.  No way I can take his actions personally. 

It's easy to forgive him; I know he's not being crabby on purpose. 
He just doesn't feel right. 
He's sick.

Know what I wish?  That I could always have the same perspective with my RAD kids.

I'm stuck in a funk of what we parents of traumatized kids call Compassion Fatigue.  I know what my older kids went through as babies and toddlers, I have a pretty good idea of what caused them to be the way they are, but their endless annoying, disrespectful, controlling behavior is blocking all of that out right now.

Frankly, I want them to just knock it off and act right. 

But just like my tiny teething baby, I have to remember:

I need to forgive them; they aren't being controlling on purpose.
Their brains just don't work right.
They're sick.

And when all else fails, it helps to visualize them as crabby, droopy-eyed, fevered little babies, crying their hearts out for someone to pick them up and comfort them.  Snuggle them.  Love on them.  Care about them. 

When they were babies, there's a good chance that no one ever came.  And that makes me sad....makes the compassion flow a little easier, when I think about them being sick or teething or hungry or cold or wet or dirty or scared and crying out in vain.  Left totally, completely alone to comfort themselves.

When deep down, all they really want is their Mama.


  1. Wow, as usual, you hit the nail on the head, Lisa. You amaze me with your wisdom--thanks for sharing, and for the good reminders of why some of our kids are the way they are---and some of them experienced unimaginable things, on top of the already unimaginable things.

  2. this is so incredibly insightful, lisa. i so wish there was a way to bottle that feeling and distribute it to all parents of traumatized kids. i try to conjure it up and i must say it's a lot easier to do with an actual infant in the house. brings a whole new meaning to the never-ceasing love and mercy of our Savior. i never knew it could be so hard to have compassion on someone. i am going to file this post away (as i have with so many of yours) for future reference. again, and again.