Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Three For Three

Three for three, Lily also graduated.  Out of the three that finished high school this year, she initially was not the one I thought would be the last to do so.  Diagnoses that I never saw coming have hit her hard these past few years and she has struggled immensely.  I'm proud of her for this accomplishment.

All the testing she's had done on her also indicated 'superior' intelligence, a gap year is needed for now, but she is college material at some point.  She's the youngest in her class, had her birth date been 10 days later, she'd have missed the cutoff point for entering school that year.  With all I've since learned about these August birth dates, the youngest kids in a grade?  Some might need to hold back and enter school the next year instead, especially with boys.  Not so much though with girls.

I've recoiled from reading the trauma book lately, even though it's about recovery, it weighs on me sometimes, it's just too much, I need a break, even discussing it seemingly stresses me out too much, my stress tolerance hovering around the zero mark lately.  I'm just too internally rattled overall.

I now only have four kids still in the school system, I keep rolling that number around in my head, astonished at it to tell you the truth.  Four kids who like school, four kids who are not behavior problems.

Then I look around me.  Oh my.  One of mine was summarily taken off of his work schedule for not showing up one day.  "Dude?"  I screeched unnecessarily, "How can you not know when to go to work?"

"I didn't know my schedule," he'd again repeated, distressed for real.  I know he is.  He just doesn't think like this, doesn't think ahead even for 30 seconds, he's just not wired like that.

I know I've covered all the bases, taught them so much, but they've rejected that which they didn't wanna hear - filing it under MOM NAGGING when I quietly explain how the real world works, what they need to do each day, when, in contrast, they wanna just go to the soccer park and kick the ball around, so unready to take on adult life.  I understand that too, I know they emotionally need to extend their childhood, but they also definitely need to take some baby steps into adulthood while I'm still here to guide them.

Again, I have 7 kids, 18 and over, still living at home, some are floundering, some are making it.  I suppose that they didn't leave home in the usual anger, inner rage, and confusion displayed often by troubled children should be good enough, right?

But I just want so much more for them.  I want them to thrive and to succeed, not just muddle through.  I'm trying to be patient, knowing that with boys the maturity takes so very long to develop, especially in traumatized children who are so often emotionally crippled for so long by what they'd endured before I met them - then to have a new mom on top of all that?  Confusion reigns within for so long as a result.



Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Trauma Vs Privilege


Hopefully not leaving anyone with the impression that I feel that our local privileged kids should've had to experience trauma - no way was I insinuating anything, other than my inexpressible grief over what my children have endured, yet are expected by me and everyone else to function as normally as is possible in a sea of blessedly overprivileged peers.

"Man, you've got some Daniel in you!" I enthusiastically crowed to Scotty who came outside to help me without me even asking for assistance.  Scotty is a great kid, I was building him up, telling him an obvious truth, "No one doesn't not like you," I pointed out.  Not many people on earth can say that, not many folks are so likable all the time.  I know I'm sure not.  I can be such a turd sometimes, yet Scotty almost always is smiling and eager.

Talking on the phone with Daniel who hilariously referred to Tony as a one percenter - since few special needs minority sibling groups are adopted together and then complete high school against so many diagnostic odds - he stated, "You and Yolie can keep building him up, but I'm gonna press him on 'What's next?' because it isn't time now to just rest on his laurels."

Technically Yolie'd already called him out the night before, after all the congratulations, telling him high school stuff was only the beginning of the rest of his life expectations.

I had a very long and encouraging talk with a grown kid who still lives at home, CW confiding his own hopes, plans and dreams, this is cool in that 19 year old males can be pretty closed off and emotionally unavailable.

He was in our usual stark contrast, that almost always seems to immediately occur, as another one of mine had no clue about when his next work day would happen.  How does one leave work blissfully unaware of his next assigned day?  How does that not occur to him?  How can one not think at least one day in advance?

He stared blankly back at me, as if I'm just looking for something to worry about, I could see him teetering on a blow out in response to me pressuring him verbally about the need to be responsible for one's work schedule.  Dude, SERIOUSLY?

Those beautiful big brown eyes staring back at me, I could see him simply wondering why Mom gets so worked up about something that hadn't even occurred to him all weekend long as he farted around over at Fabian's apartment.

"Take a picture of your schedule on your phone, "I advised, only to learn his phone was dead, the charger at his friend's house, that he hasn't yet lost his phone is a complete shocker overall.  Yep, I'm referring to the super adorable, irrepressible Jojo.

Gina brought me some beautiful black petunias to plant, staying to hang out and tell me about her recent trip to Austin, Texas, and then we got some much needed rain.  My Big Back Gardens and the Upper Gardens looking wonderful, my front gardens pathetic, but, hey, I'm working as hard as I can - it's been an uphill battle here for 22 years.

30 years ago, before I embraced my calling to adopt my children, I was unbelievably positive, even in the face of major losses like losing first my brother-in-law, then my sister way too young.  I'd grown up grade grubbing and over achieving, a nerdy bookworm with some fun, wild adventures because it was the 60s.  The 1960s, not my age, now in my 60s.

What I didn't comprehend in parenting 39 children - I optimistically expected 39 extended moments of joy, fun, love, achievements and happiness.  Way back then I was completely oblivious to the upcoming events of heartbreak, trauma, grief, pain, and unrelenting negativity hitting us all upside our heads constantly.

I read these Life Hacks daily, and this one about 40 Powerful Mantras To Help You Think Positive washed over me with such mixed feelings.

But we're still standing.  We're all healthy and are progressing at a reasonable speed - two steps forward, one back quite often, but as i have the morning news on in the background, I feel relief and gratitude that we do indeed have so much to be thankful for, a roof over our head, food in the pantry, and the bills paid.  I need to put my head back in the game, get a better perspective overall.

I'd nutted up inside myself yesterday, as CW had not responded to my repeated texts and calls during his camping trip.  He never leaves me hanging, I was just about to drive to his buddy's house to see if his parents had heard from him when CW returned home, his phone now broken completely, four months before his upgrade is available.  My trauma had me fearing the worst, to lose him would be unbearable, I was never so relieved over a busted phone in my entire life.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Tony Did It







An extraordinarily stressful phone call left me crying at the Sheriff's Department most of the afternoon, I don't even wanna talk about it, but I cried at graduation, and cried myself into a restless, sleepless night.

I stinking hate trauma, mental illnesses and emotional disabilities - all of it has cost my children so very much throughout their lives, but Yolie said it best at Tony's graduation last night, "You worked harder than the valedictorian and you deserve this victory the most!"

True that.  It makes me cry now too, knowing what all he's struggled against, and persevered through, for 19 years.  His birth mother was an inhalant abuser and was drunk when she delivered him.  He paid the price.  How unfair is that?  He has diagnoses out the wazoo, yet has been accepted at the University of North Georgia.

The cut on his forehead came from diving around the river recently.

We live in a wonderful county, now considered upscale, my kids go to school with rich people, with other peers who've been coddled and protected, as all kids should be, but who are given brand new cars at age 16, who have yard workers and weekly maid service, who don't get free lunch at school - complete opposites of our own hardscrabble existence, and to my kids' credit, they aren't complainers about the income gap, if anything they enjoy our acreage and the very active, rambunctious home life - but I so see the differences.  My kids tell me that they constantly hear from their peers, "I wish I had more brothers and sisters, y'all must have fun ALL the time."

Well...

And, as always seems to be the case, something else was going on with another kid that was breaking my heart on two separate levels with that one alone, no make it ten levels.

I never got back to returning a call from a daughter in Atlanta with a dog bite concern, her dog biting someone, "What do I do, Mom?" She left a message, "I do have proof of the shots."

Thank goodness.  I'll call her back this morning.

I'll be transparent and tell you I literally (and unreasonably) seethed in an unsettled jealous rage at the over achievers at the high school graduation.  That's exactly how I grew up - not privileged, but a grade grubbing, highly emotionally supported by my parents, and a wonderful middle class existence.  I was just completely unglued yesterday, the entire family so upset over the other issue that Tony nearly didn't even make it to his own graduation.

I had to push him out the door, Martin drove him, while I tended to the fallout at home of the other situation, trying to get it together, showerless, for graduation, my nose big and red from crying, my eyes screaming from within, my head pounding way too much inner pain.

The ups and downs of my life are so severely rocky.

Fabian put a warm and cuddly Jaylene in my arms which brought down my blood pressure, hugs from Aliya his other (kind of step) daughter, and, of course, I felt better.  Fabian's doing so much better than back when I blogged about his tumultuous youth.  He's working with CW, third shift and taking care of his family.  Grandma and I gushed over him so much he was nearly blushing.

Miriam, Elias, Fabian, Sandra, Aliya, Jaylene, JoJo, Allen, Tasha, Martin, Teresa, Sabrina, Sarah, Ray, Hazel, Chuck, Yolie, CJ, Mae, Grandma, Jack, Nando, Tabby and Scotty all accompanied me to Tony's graduation, and he was beaming at the turnout.  Bless his heart, he's spent so many years doing his confused best to alienate the world, that to have this much support after all must've meant the world to him.  25 of us there just for him.

I'm so freaking broke, we don't ever do graduation parties, or much in the way of gifts, but honestly family presence, family pride, love and support is what I've always wanted to encourage over material things anyway.

It has carried over into their adult lives.  Overall most of my grown kids still buy used stuff or on sales - by virtue of necessity of course, but I pray I've taught them all to be thrifty and money wise.

I'm just physically sick over the other situation, which may or may not be resolved in a proper manner.  I just don't know, but I became even more wrinkled overnight, a crushing weight on me, I swear I feel the stress slowing taking me out at the knees.

If I didn't love my kids this wouldn't matter to me, but I love them more than they care about their own selves, and I take it harder than they do it seems.  I know what it can cost them in the long run, while their neurological brain misfirings and their lack of impulse control, or their diagnoses plus emotional disabilities either makes them a suspect, a victim, or a person of interest at times.  It's so emotionally distressing.

I grieve bitterly and deeply.  It is all so unfair to them.  Why? Why? Why?

Friday, May 22, 2015

Grandbaby's Award Day


Curtis and Marcela's daughter, Marissa, won four Pre-K awards that she's displaying, but that I cropped out, not wanting her name and her school's name sprawled all over the Internet.  I'm proud of her.

For many years I'd wander around my house watering my hundreds of houseplants, strategizing, thinking, stewing sometimes, and planning.  It was a form of therapy for me, and I've since learned that our brain is better activated when we are simultaneously involved in a mindless physical activity.

Now, years later, I'm not wanting to spend hours watering inside houseplants when I could be outside working in my gardens.  Nowadays there are not constant explosions and violent, destructive outbursts within my house, and I'm greatly freed up to step out back and work.  I have so many outside gardens, so much work I've not gotten done, that it'll take me the rest of my life to even begin to catch up.

Looking back?  Which I try not to do, as it makes me simmer with resentment, I don't know how I did it at all.  I do know though that even those who've only adopted one older traumatized child can, or often do, experience the same level of Hell due to the issues - a mild term that doesn't begin to depict the acting out that's sure to follow.

In the spirit of moving on with my life, shedding the old afraid Me, the traumatized one who feared being stabbed in her sleeplessness some night, well I've tossed dozens of these plants, the smaller ones that needed watering too often, into the compost pile.  I never paid more'n a buck for each plant pot/container - thank you yard sales.

I've removed hundreds of books and book shelves as well over the last few years.  It took me a long time to comprehend that these books were indeed little more than projectiles for angry kids, that the bookshelves were constantly being overturned just to frustrate me, while equally expressive of their self-righteous fury.  I get it y'all, I truly do understand your inner pain.

My house is very quiet now even with 13 residents still ensconced here, most are employed, most own cars that they've paid for, and in this upcoming school year I will only have four school aged kids who will be in 7th, 8th, 10th and 11th grades.

The last time this school system saw me with just four school aged children was in the 1980s when it was Sarah, plus Deysi, Saray and Marcela.

When I see Yucca plants blooming, it's time for me to head to the beach, just as the oak leaves unfurling indicate specific planting times.  Yesterday I noticed a blooming yucca plant...

I do have beach plans this summer, thank to my brothers and Grandma, and I'm taking so few children compared to years past that I briefly entertained the notion of inviting a grandchild or two.  No.  I desperately need some time with less responsibilities.  I need to walk and walk and walk to clear my mind, I need to sit mindlessly by the water's edge and stare for hours, and I want to read.  We're going to such a private place, reachable only by 4 wheel drive, that maybe I'll even sleep one night in the dunes.  Just because.

I told Sarah yesterday that I'd blog if and when I felt like it, I doubt I'll give it up, more likely it'll just be whenever.  Due to her own trauma, she routinely checks for it each morning, after years of learning of police visits and violence via my blog, she's uneasy if I don't post, but we both know that me texting, "I'm OK," each morning would be a silly time waster.

I'm OK nowadays and I'm so glad about it.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Gone Camping


Today's the last day of school, three out of five kids were bus left.

JoJo's at work - words I never thought I'd be typing, he and Peter Pan both gainfully employed at the same place.  Chuy bought a car, Paloma texted and called several dozen times yesterday as we tried to determine the source of her ailment, even an X-ray provided no answer, but she's better today.

CW and Dennys practiced putting up the tent to go camping this weekend, both having completed their first year of college.  CW was told not to go to work this week after two different trips to Urgent Care for a seriously gross ingrown toenail issue, now on antibiotics.  A week ago he'd turned down a beach trip due to the painfulness of it all.  "Hey, I can sit around a campsite," he informed me.

He'd told me that three pretty blonde nurses had been working on his toe, I'll spare y'all the gross details, but my response had more to do with why it took three pretty nurses?  "You're a pretty girl magnet," I'd finished up with, him just shaking his head at my Momness.

I'm spinning my wheels trying to get everything done that just seems to be piling up no matter what I do accomplish.  Lily lost her phone last night, so I suspended service, Martin accidentally on purpose broke Tony's phone, and I'm pushing these older kids to get these lines in their own names.

I wanna breathe.

I'm reading, and thoroughly enjoying, a free ebook, Walden on Wheels, downloaded from Book Bub. It is really good but I've hardly gotten a page a day read.  I find myself shaking my head vigorously in agreement, the author is funny and spot on.  I'm tired of reading about trauma issues anyway.

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33 years of David Letterman ended last night, I don't think I've ever seen it, 33 years ago I was past my Master's Degree and working on my EdS in Instructional Technology that allowed me to 'retire higher' but all I then learned is completely obsolete now as I finished the degree in 1985.

Truthfully the last 25 years have been a blur.

I only see life through my own eyes with my own perspective, duh, and reading this article about therapy misconceptions struck me.  Dr. Mandy, our family's therapist, has been so necessary to the relative success of our family, calming explaining that which we'd been mired in so often.  Yesterday I spoke with another professional in her office while Dr. Mandy conferred with one of my kids, the other professional explaining to me, in succinct language, why one of my kids had recently spectacularly succeeded against so many odds.

What I would've bet on 15 years ago regarding three kids of the same age as toddlers, didn't turn out as expected at all by early adulthood.

The fawn from the other day ended up following us around, this was 8 hours after we'd first seen it, my dogs barking in a friendly, even encouraging fashion, so I called an after hours vet who referred me to the UGA Vet Clinic who said they'd tend to the fawn.  I loaded the van with excited grandkids plus Tabby, drove the curious happy fawn across town only to be told it'd do better if we put it back at our house and walked off.

Well, we ran off, leaving the befuddled fawn looking around confused as night fell, gone the next morning, hopefully to its mother as the vet had predicted.


Monday, May 18, 2015

Championship Game Win



My favorite brother-in-law and my lovely niece are here, the latter recovering from surgery - what better place than a cray cray, loud and boisterous place to do so?

Kevin and I spent two days in Atlanta, well south of Atlanta, to watch four soccer games in which Nando's team pulled out a championship win. I was so very proud, the last two games were intense, Nando scored 5 goals, and he has some incredible teammates, they are all very fun to watch.  This travel team has been a wonderful experience for him, I'm so glad I relented and allowed him to join one.  But now with less kids it is physically possible to do so.

JoJo and Tony were recognized at church for graduation, as is the custom there, Jojo a predictable no show, and then I had to duck out before the sermon to get back to the tournament.

Sarah's dealing with the sudden, tragic loss of a friend, I haven't stepped foot in my gardens for days, and Lily just literally had a fawn in her arms while I called Animal Control to have them back me up in convincing Lily to put it down and stop interfering with nature, this after she'd been bitten at school by a white mouse she'd caught in her bare hands after the Senior Prank went awry.

The school nurse, per protocol, had to call me and inform me, I advised her she best check up on the mouse, Lily will be just fine.  Seriously I can't make this stuff up.

I'm glad Claudia's blogging again, her What If They Don't post will speak to you all.

I get emails, phone calls, or folks stop me to chat - these issues we see and endure are all such common elements in the adoption of older children.  One foster father having to call the police and have a very violent kid removed that evening after threats and cuttings - yet we adoptive parents don't have that luxurious option.  We must find ways to 'deal with it,' that often don't help our safety chances at all.

Another mom bemoaning her kid suddenly moving out/running away - it's often hard to tell.  Nothing precipitates these events, the kids just pull up stakes and leave, so self-righteously furious at the world that no reasoning can penetrate their thought processes.  It never ends well either, there's no happily ever after scenario, it then becomes couch surfing, street living, shacking up, or a pregnancy, chronic unemployment, and then baby mama drama.  There's also domestic violence or self-medication or a host of other ills.

We parents already knows this, and stand there with broken hearts and our shattered dreams and hopes for their future.

Another mom reminding me of one of the reasons I blog - that I'm also telling your stories as well, we live parallel lives, yet I just sent a prospective foster/adoptive mom to go read my blog as a kind of cautionary tale.

However I don't think there's any way to possibly prepare folks for what will most likely happen.  I'm changing the subject right now because it brings up all of my trauma issues.

I got to see Daniel and Megan for about two minutes this weekend, Miriam and Elias for 30 after she came upstairs waking me up one evening, I just try daily to focus on the good stuff and to let go of the resentment and hurt feelings.  I forced the issue with the one who'd gotten drunk and cussed me out.  "I forgive you," I said, out of the blue, hating conflict, and not wanting it to spark an argument

I got an, "Ok," as he walked off.

It's gonna suck for whoever winds up marrying a guy who can't admit he was out of line.  Whatever.  If I forced it then all Hell would break loose.  BDTD, all I can do is to try and demonstrate calm and rational behavior to kids who'd never ever seen it before moving here.  Don't know how much of an impression I've made on some of them certainly.

The potential foster mom I was speaking to recently only had Nando as an example of a former foster kid, she'd not even know about all the other siblings except Tabby.  They are great examples, most of my kids are good examples, but some of them have seriously endangered us over the years.  Today's understatement will end this blog post.




Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Yelling Weeds

The  know-it-all older boys upstairs in the five bedrooms over the triple car garage area, one car bay walled in for storage, think they know everything, and anytime I attempt to explain how the real world works, they emotionally shut me out.

Living rent free at ages 18, 19, 19, 19, 19 and 21, I'd even been helping them out with cell phones and car insurance, although they'd each paid for their own cars.  All but one has a job, the one who super needs one isn't doing much about it.

He prefers sleep over filling out job applications and is facing an onerous court date.  I'd shut his phone off six months ago, one can use the computer for online applications and my phone number. I've also shut off his insurance now, plus taken away his keys for his own good - yep, on a car he paid for by himself.  But I simply can't afford to pay his bills nor would it help him grown up.

I pitched a complete hissy fit until another son brought me $60 for his share in car insurance this month, and I taped five notes on the walls upstairs detailing the changes that will now be made.  If you have money for going out, you can pay your minor phone and insurance bills.  If you're in college however I'm sure gonna help, yet I discovered after an hour and a half long phone call to Verizon yesterday, that it was my college son that'd been hogging all the data.  He has enough sense to have been sheepishly remorseful about it.

Because I don't like being on bad terms with people, because God knocks me in the head about it constantly, I extended two other olive branches - even to the one who got drunk and cussed me out five months ago and still hasn't spoken to me in my own house while he eats food I've paid for, uses electricity - you get the picture.

"I forgive you anyway, because I'm a forgiving woman," I began a conversation, to which he shut me down with an, "OK," and walked off.  Wow, that was cold.  He'll never apologize, too mean-spirited and stubborn.  I'm not gonna push it because he'd explode and we'd again be in a fight.  OK, I spent more'n a dozen years trying to teach all of this to him, it's on him now.  Lemme know how it works out for you.

One of the notes upstairs on the wall states his phone line will be shut off on the 20th of this month as Tabby needs a line.  She and another girl yesterday at the middle school were the only two who didn't have the technology with which to finish an assignment while sitting at their desk.  I don't mind that she had to do the work at home, nor did she, but there's some self-consciousness about being immediately excluded due to money issues.

A two year contract ends June 14th for another one who's almost 20, "It's fixing to be on you then," I informed him.  "I'm not doing you any favors by mommying you.  Time to start budgeting and paying car insurance and your cell phone while you aren't worrying about rent, kids, groceries or utilities."  I'd paid for his original phone but I'll let him sell it and keep the money so he can buy another one.

Picture me on the phone for an hour and a half?  Fidgeting, but patient, knowing I had to get it all done.  The very sweet Verizon lady sending me lengthy emails telling me what I could get done on my own online, but of course life got in the way immediately.  Nando needing a ride from Spring Football Practice to Soccer Practice, while Tabby and I ran to Isaiah's last soccer game, then to the grocery store, as both kids needed hot dog buns for a school cook-out, not an item ever found in my own vegan pantry.

I'd told myself yesterday no garden time until I finished every freaking piece of paperwork that I'd procrastinated about for too long, but still didn't finish it all.  It only takes turning your back on a Georgia garden for five minutes before there are monster sized weeds out there.  I can hear them taunting me.