I took some advice I was given last week (about worrying too much) and so when I woke up quite tired this morning, I told the kids that they could go down and watch tv while I stayed in bed. I woke up almost two hours later, and felt so much better! I still felt guilty about letting the kids watch that much tv, but made a conscious decision to let it go. The good news is that I was much better positioned (ie. less tired) to handle a few tough moments that arose later in the morning.
We actually got a bit of school done yesterday and today, so things must be looking up a little. It's still pretty moment-by-moment with Matthew, though. He's still vacillating, pretty equally, between 'normal' moments, rage-filled moments and remorse-filled moments, but this is an improvement over last week, when the rage and remorse (and their aftermath) pretty much took over the week.
For about ten days, I have been virtually unable to leave Matthew alone with Seth and/or Lizzie for even a minute because Matthew's rage has been so combustible that I just can't always predict when its going to happen or what form it's going to take. Watching tv is about the only activity that I can leave them to without having to be present. When we get out of the van, I go to the kids' van door before I let them unbuckle their seat belts and get out, simply because I don't know what's going to set Matthew off and how that will impact simple things like getting out of the van. When I go to the bathroom these days, I use the upstairs one so that I can bring Matthew with me and he can sit outside the door and talk with me through the door. In brief moments that the kids are actually getting along and playing together, I'm in the room with them. If Matthew's working on a project in the sunroom, I'm careful for now to keep the other kids out of there so that they don't inadvertently invoke more rage than he's already dealing with.
It's a lot of work and I'm not used to the intensity of my engagement with them on such a moment-by-moment basis. I orchestrate all of this very carefully and very casually, so that the kids don't really know that I'm working so hard to be hands-on in managing this or trying to keep them separate when I'm not there. But it's necessary for the time being, and it will come to an end.
I really do think that we're right at the/a crisis point with Matthew. I don't know how long it's going to last and it's certainly an unpleasant atmosphere for the moment. But it's what he has to go through, and I've been assured by experts that this is something he needs to grieve before he can more forward.
In the meantime, I've accepted more advice and have instituted a return to quiet time today. In the past number of months, we've been having quiet time about once every ten days, but I've decided that given the circumstances, I need a more regular break in the afternoons. So that's what's happening right now - the kids are all in separate rooms, doing quiet activities, and I'm sitting in my favourite chair in our little library. Thirty minutes isn't all that long, but sometimes it's just enough to recharge the old batteries.