Thursday, April 6, 2017

Ghosts in the Hallway (a Respite Story)

Yesterday morning, before even changing out of my pajamas or getting to the bottom of my first cup of coffee, I attended a very special concert. The venue was our unheated attic. The artist an outwardly lively four-year-old with a hint of melancholy. He was wearing superhero pajama pants with his Robin shirt and cape while strumming his guitar's remaining five strings and singing.

He introduced his first song as a “sad song.” The lyrics went something like this:

Mom and Dad left
I was all alone
My grandparents moved in
I was abandoned

And there were ghosts in the hallway
Ghosts in the hallway…

This is the song our son composed and earnestly performed five days after Matt and I returned from a three night getaway- during which our children were cared for by adoring grandparents, consumed more sugar than they had the previous three months combined, and heard a consistent stream of Granddad’s riveting tales of family members narrowly escaping being eaten by wildlife.

As I listened to the song, I was also processing our respite situation over the past six years. Getting a break that doesn’t lead to insecurity and major behavioral regression in our children has seemed an insurmountable task and that has been a challenge in our marriage.

Feeling abandoned is sad. Ghosts are scary.

Two of our children have faced- not ghosts- but very real fears. It has taken us years to establish trusting relationships with each other. We’ve been through stages where our children were more afraid of us than anything else in the world and would prefer we drop them off with any stranger to being stuck with us- which clearly wasn’t safe (or easy). We’ve been through stages where it seemed our children were fairly frightened of us and yet felt unusually abandoned when we left them in even the safest of situations. We’re currently in a stage where we’re learning how to best plan for our children to both be safe and feel secure even during our absence.

Which reminds me of the third song in our son’s set yesterday morning:

The Happy Song

Mom and Dad came back
We were laughing so hard we cried...

After our recent getaway, we returned and our children were in various states of dysregulation, but they had enjoyed themselves and they transitioned well when we came home.

There was laughter.

They were all glad we were back.

Which is something we do not take for granted in our family.

[In full disclosure, while we were happy to reunite, we were also all exhausted. Transitions are generally exhausting in our family.]

I would be glad to hear your Respite Stories


  1. I love that your son uses song to work through emotions. And I'm so glad that you got the respite, even through there is a cost to having it. Still, so important to do.

    The Happy Song makes me happy.

    1. Thanks! We're usually not enroll-our-kids-in-lessons-before-they'e-turned-five people, but we're considering ukulele for this guy. He really seems to process as he strums his guitar's remaining five strings.


Blog Design by Get Polished