Thursday, April 24, 2014

Getting It On Videotape

"Mom's gonna put these pictures on her blog," one of my kids yelped yesterday.

Well yeah, I am.  "I wanna encourage parents too," I'd told them, having a great day with several of my grown kids, Martin, 19, Sergi, 32, Yolie, 34 and Sabrina, 19, pictured here.  Hey, we go through so much stuff in so many ways, when there's good stuff happening I wanna use it to encourage those of you drowning in difficulties at the moment.  To tell you that it does get better.  My struggles have been crystal clear, and often scary, as I've blogged for many years.

These four have caused me just regular problems, not violence, destruction nor mayhem, as some of my others have done.  We'd encountered just regular teenage rebellion problems in them.

As I typed my post yesterday, wondering about Sergi's options, Big Joe came to my mind, and dang if he didn't come through, making me wonder why I didn't think of him first.

He, Sergi and Jesse have always been very close, each of them originally from three different sibling groups, just as yesterday I spent quality time with five grown kids from five different original sibling groups.

Sergi, now 32, my oldest son, has spent a significant amount of the past three years, availing himself of help from the Veteran's Administration Hospitals, even in-patient treatment at times, as he'd floundered after his four years in the Navy.  Prone to depression issues, plus his trauma, and a tendency to self-medicate isn't a good combination, thankfully he's proactive enough to seek out the necessary help, and I'm here to tell you, that makes me proud.

More'n a few of my grown kids are still seeking out counseling options, something I certainly encourage, showing the way, as I know that I, too, need and benefit from outside resources.  Duh, y'all, this is a hard, tough world.

The Atlanta VA Hospital has been in the news lately for its deficits, this national report  - 40 deaths on a secret waiting list - I'd seen yesterday, scaring the peaturkey outta me, it came to me that Sergi would just do better in our neighboring town, rather than in Atlanta.  The icing on the cake is a local satellite office of the VA that he can use for help.

He's been in Albuquerque, Denver, and Kansas VA Hospitals, availing himself of excellent resources.

When I got to him there in Atlanta, he was more than happy to consider this option.  Yolie, Sabrina, Martin and I, all in the van, bringing him back here, having simply a fun day, he'd opened a checking account with Marcela, from yet another sibling group, but he and Marcela, just a year and a half apart in age, have been Bodie siblings for nearly 24 years of Sergi's life.

And my poor ole Big Joe had been injured in a work accident, an ugly purple bruise on his leg as big as my head.  "Boy you done got fat!" he hollered, when he got to see Sergi for the first time in several years, hugging him with one arm, pulling his big ole dog back with his other arm.

It sure was good to see Sergi so happy to be back home.
And everyone thinks I'm the one with no mouth filter?

If we flash back to some 20 plus years ago, in my mind, I could see Joe and Sergi immediately reverting back to their goofy elementary school personnas, it just did my heart good to see 'em both being silly together.

Sergi has several years now of sobriety, Joe, almost 31, now claiming he's too old anymore to drink and carry on, it hurts his joints, I know Joe's battling a genetic high blood pressure problem, and I also know that both men like to work.  Sergi often holds down several jobs at a time.  Joe needed a roommate, Sergi needed an apartment.  They adore each other, a win-win plan unfolding here.

We stayed there awhile, getting Sergi settled, then my real life kicked in, other responsibilities ahead.

I blasted back home in time for my after school demands, taking Martin to a summer work related meeting, and Tony to a job interview at a department store, while the rest of the kids went to church youth group.

I sat in the parking lot, watching well-dressed women go into that store, with my curmudgeonly self thinking, they can't possibly need any more clothes, knowing the relative affluence here in my county, me so glad I just don't give a crap about fashion - since I can't afford it anyway.

And, at almost 60 years old, haven't I gotten to the age that I can blame my age on my utter and abject lack of coolness - that I've exhibited my entire life anyway?  But I gotta tell you, my lack of striving in that area has greatly contributed to an inner sense of satisfaction that can't be bought anyway.

Indeed as we left the bank earlier, one of my kids remarked that every single one of us was dressed in mostly black, in our group defense, it's easy to match.  Marcela's, now 33, is standing behind Sergi, which is a shame, since she was best dressed, professionally attired for her bank career.

Laughing in the van, Sergi reminisced about the time at the beach, in third grade, when Marcela made him cry over something.  "And Uncle Kevin got it all on videotape!" Sergi'd exclaimed.  We do have years and years of beach vacations under our belt, making those happy memories decades ago.  Looking back I so bumbled though blindly.

Sergi's entire sibling group came to me in 1990, after an adoption disruption and their subsequent return into foster care, they were emotionally spent by the time I met them, and I so didn't understand those trauma issues way back when, it was nowhere to be found in the adoption literature.

Those four kids are now 37, 36, 32, and 30.  Seriously y'all, where did the time go?  I'm not far from the benchmark of my first three sibling group adoptions having all the kids in their 30s now.

Truly I've kinda learned nearly everything on the fly.

Only 5 kids still living at home are under age 18.  Oh my.

I spent an entire day yesterday not planting anything, I'm very far behind, but I'll get it all done at some point.  I get my exercise in my feverish attempts to catch up on everything.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Moving In Atlanta

Being a single old woman with basically no savings, but fortunately with both a retirement pension and upcoming Social Security, I am just a tad uneasy about my own financial future.  A big fallback is that I could sell this house and land, should I become desperate for money, but I don't really wanna start all over in new gardens after pouring myself into this land for 21 years.

I won't be a world class traveler certainly, when the kids are grown, but I will have the ability to survive and keep my head above water.

All this today because again I have a grown kid in a little need of help.  I live in a rural area with no bus service, so living with me isn't viable in that there are also no jobs out here.

So I'm pondering a situation this morning, grasping at straws, wondering how best I can help out somehow.  At any rate, I've got to get to Atlanta and get him situated.

Three different soccer games last night suddenly became 4, as Scotty helped out another team that was down three guys, me then spinning like a top trying to keep an eye out over all three fields, Tabby's game an hour before all this crazy with a C schedule.  Nando, of course, got injured, fortunately I was right there at his game, knowing this is always a possibility because he plays so hard.  Sabrina as back-up, running to other games to report to me the scores.

I'd been talking to Nando's principal about an incident yesterday in which Nando diagnosed another 6th grader with anger issues, who'd suddenly exploded on Nando during a dodge ball game.  "And he's on my own dang team," Nando yelled indignantly.

The P.E. Coach had handled it already, but Nando'd been scratched on his chest. in the melee

If JoJo had've done that, left a mark on a kid, he'd be back in Alternative School, why can this other kid harm my sweet Nando?  This other kid had also previously punched yet another kid, and is the scary one of the 6th grade.

I take in this information from Nando with no grain of salt, being the youngest of 21 sons here, he knows anger issues when he sees it.  He's not a scaredy cat at all, not a fearful kid, but, rather, he's super easy going each day,  so when he complains, I do take heed.

He's also BFF with the son of the principal who is a wonderful woman with fairness and integrity.  I want Nando moved across the room in one class, and I have no doubt it'll be accomplished today, giving Nando a needed sense of safety.  Indeed I just received an email response, problem solved.

Now I gotta go to Atlanta and tend to a grown kid.  This one won't necessarily be as easy and he's a great kid also, just in difficult circumstances.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Plodding Hermit, A Contagion

Painting By Lily, copyright 2014

I do not now have any clearly defined, written down, and topped off with a projected completion date goals.

I know what I wanna do.  I wanna be as self-sustainable as is possible, complete with solar power, and producing way more of the food that I eat.  I wanna properly launch my last 10 kids at home out in to the world, and I want to use my ensuing free time to spend it with my grandchildren.

At almost 60, maybe I don't need to write my goals?  Just strive forward towards them?

I know myself now infinitely better than I did back as a 20 year old.  I tend to move at a fast forward pace nowadays better'n ever, more on auto-pilot than creatively, but I've also come to terms with that as well.

I am decidedly not creative, I just don't have the eye for it, I'm not particularly talented, but I am a work horse, and I like to think that I put that aspect out there each day, feeling accomplished in ways other might find too mundane to celebrate, such as all the laundry being done, but hey, look at my numbers y'all.  You'd feel good about it too.

If I need 2-3 quarts of chopped bell peppers a week, then how many plants should I grow in order to freeze enough?

Or 4-6 quarts of tomatoes per week?

"You taught me to over plant," Cristy, now 37,  stated yesterday, a good thing in case there's a late frost, and rarely do we even have to toss an unused plant in the compost pile.  Is there such a thing as too much food?

I'd tried to have enough bell peppers for Yolie and Sarah's household to freeze as well, thus upping my math.  What about my signatures jars of Fire Hot Pepper Sauce?  Hey, we all have to eat, food production stirs my soul.

In the time it'd take me to write all my goals, I could've better used that time to plant another row of Swiss Chard, right?

I wanna be debt free, but I'm not so, now paying off my new roof loan.

I wanted to keep my weight lower than what it is, but I haven't.  I'm OK with that anyway.

I wanted all of my kids to finish college, but it wasn't to be, nor did they heed my admonitions not to have children outside of marriage.  I know the dire negative statistics.  Yet I'm a single mom.  But I was super prepared to be, overly educated, financially secure in that I'm not striving after material possessions, better able to use that money to help kids.

I worked outside all morning, listening to Dr. Joy Browne podcasts, thinking and planting, weeding and puttering around.  I'd just read this post, Trauma is Contagious, and I was ruminating regarding the information.

The same is true for trauma.  You don’t have to be exposed to the original trauma in order to feel and ‘catch’ it’s impact.  This isn’t news to you if you’ve been parenting a child with a history of trauma. Overtime, you have started to feel as traumatized as your child. You might think you’re imagining this or developing phantom symptoms. But you’re not- trauma is contagious.

And this wise article didn't even delve into situations in which there's danger, destruction and violence directed toward the new naive family, which is often the case in older child adoptions, in which one is then primarily traumatized, versus merely secondarily.

Gobel's post talks about one or two, even three kids, who are traumatized and the impact on your family.  No wonder I'm starting to stutter, look at my numbers?  It's a suprise to me that I'm not a bedwetter after all I've endured.

And Sarah, my only birth child, doesn't even live here, but don't ever think she too hasn't been spectacularly traumatized by fretting over her mom's safety relentlessly nearly every single day for years upon years.

Another very pretty, much younger, and very well put together mom, was clearly irritated with me last night at the late ball game, "My so and so feels like you're not even giving her a chance to get to know her," which is totally true, as I have no empty time to spare, and I'm spectacularly uninterested in getting to know every teenager that comes through the lives of my children.

Look, I only have 24 hours each day in which to get 72 hours worth of work done.

Number one, my traumatized children aren't all that good at maintaining friendships anyway.  Fortunately they don't have to do so, ready-made lifelong friendships here within our own family anyway.  Scotty's best friends are all the brothers upstairs with him, that kind of goes for everyone, except Tabby and Nando who are very normal, very friendly, and quite popular amongst their peers.

My children are my priority, and any time I spend getting to know other peripheral teens is time taken away from my own children.  I ended up being totally misquoted and misunderstood, my teenager later saying what he'd heard, that I didn't say, the whole conversation again illustrating why I don't need outside teenage drama in my life.

Ain't nobody got time for that.

I'm socially stunted, even on a good day.  I don't have the ability to chat, nor make small talk, my mind always racing, my own hyper vigilance on display constantly.  I don't care about prom dresses, cute shoes, teen-age break-ups, or crushes, nor most other mundane life events that aren't any of my business anyway.

I must focus on my own home and family. I'm a robot, an automaton.

I'm not the mom who hangs out with the teenagers, I don't want other outside teens confiding in me, I don't wanna be their friends, I'm the mom who is single mindedly focused on my own children, and what I must do to ensure all their needs are being met each day.

I'm very closed off emotionally, shut down, burnt out, nearly a non-human in terms of socialization.  Elizabeth is my safety zone at the church league game, a couple of knowledgeable dads at soccer games, if anyone, usually I'm 100% concentrating on my kids playing, trying to remember the names of their teammates so I can holler encouragement to them also, and Sarah and Yolie are my emotional anchors most often.

I'm damaged goods, not friend material, I know myself, I don't wanna meet new people, don't wanna explain us, I wanna just plod along, doing my chores, following my To Do List, and taking care of my own responsibilities.  I'm the opposite of a social butterfly, a raggedy hermit is a better descriptor.

It's just the way it is, I need to continue functioning on my auto-pilot.  If I had a free minute, I'd holler to my BFF, Emily, "Let's go out to eat."  We relate well, we understand each other, trauma is binding.

Even my own neighbor, who lives about a mile away and I never see, tried to introduce herself to me last night.  "I know who you are, Nancy," I'd laughed, even pulling her church's name out of my racing brain, she'd invited me once to come speak to her Sunday School class, but I'd declined, not feeing that's my call.

Mayra's old boyfriend, Dylan, was down there last night too.  It was good to see him, JoJo threw himself into Dylan's arms, cracking us all up.  Dylan's friends looking at him all alarmed.  Too many Bodies on the field again.

We didn't get home until ten last night, way too late for my two youngest kids, for me as well, and then I was too irked to sleep after having been pushed by my own kid to socialize with the other teen and their mom, against my better judgement, and we have two more soccer games tonight, hopefully the rain will finish by then, if not, I have an umbrella.

"I was sooooo nervous," JoJo hollered in the van on the way home, playing catcher for the first time in his entire life.  See?  I wasted half of that game on an issue that didn't need tending to, I likely socially blew it anyway, my own kid needed me focused on him, I rest my case.

I have a severe case of tunnel vison.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Trauma Documentary

Why am I blogging on Easter?

To reduce my stress, as nearly everyone is determined to steal my joy.  It's as if they're skinless, all nerve endings exposed, most of 'em itching for a fight.  If they push me far enough, I'll snap back irritably, and they'll then feel justified in a rage event.

I've disengaged, walked away, responded with positive words to no avail, washing loads of clothes in the laundry room, fixing a salad, fussiness everywhere.

Rude, negative, mean and lazy behaviors are dominating the day, and it's getting on my last nerve.

I'm gonna go outside and plant, plant, and plant, this late in April, I usually am much farther ahead.

I, of course, need help with the mowing, the housework, and all other chores, yet if I dare suggest it, they'll melt down and make me sorry.  These negative behaviors, plus the amount of times I've had to call the police over dangerous and violent meltdowns has resulted, after many years, in to me just doing everything my own self.

When I used to force the issue I didn't get anywhere anyway, they just broke windows and punched in walls - verbally unable and consciously unaware of suitable ways in which to overcome their trauma.

I get that, but it's tough to have lived with it for so very long.

I live with way less destructive kids nowadays, kids who are generally much more easy going than in years past, but holidays are never easy, never fun, never something to celebrate, it's best to downplay it all.

Even Grandma, the Queen of Hospitality, is burnt out.  No argument from her either about even an Easter Dinner, she knows how stressful it'd be overall.

And really?  It's mainly the Emotional Twins who are so full of negativity, but they then provoke and infect others with their bad moods.  It's very tough for either of them to literally drag themselves out of a funk.

At least we got through a beautiful church service decently, my batteries are charged, and if even I'm totally wrong about Christianity, even if in the long run there's no eternity, at least I lived on this earth full of that hope anyway.

I do believe deeply, my faith is unwavering and the source of my strength - that I'm gonna need in order to power through today.

I spaced out, got distracted, didn't hit publish, and I'd gone out to water all the plants in the greenhouse when I thought, why bother?  Just get the suckers in the ground.  Not an easy task with hundreds of them, but one has to start somewhere.

Imagine my complete surprise when, within the hour, CW started mowing, Martin started hauling me wood chips to the Big Back Garden, and Allen, armed with an axe, started clearing an area he knew I wanted cleared.

Oh my.  There are miracles still.

"Why didn't you tell me someone was coming over?" CW shut off the mower and sprinted to me in very short shorts, likely he was wearing Nando's, but it was hot, might as well tan, and we live way off the road, but JoJo's girlfriend's mom drove up with their family to pick up JoJo much to CW's chagrin.

A gorgeous afternoon, I worked hard, replanting all I'd lost in a late frost, coming inside for the Braves ninth inning, only to then be rewarded with a 14 inning game.

Wow, Easter turned out just fine for me.

Cristy came by, heading back to Oregon this week, bringing Lily another canvas to paint, we talked until bedtime, then I headed up to watch TV and relax in my room.

A Dateline show had a Columbine survivor, now producing a documentary about the emotional trauma he'd endured 15 years ago that haunts him to this day.  He'd not been physically injured, and couldn't quite put his finger on the pulse of emotional trauma all these years.

"You don't have to be physically injured to be emotionally damaged by trauma," a survivor who'd been critically injured in another school shooting reassured him as he crisscrossed the country talking to other survivors, trying to put his finger on the pulse of his malady.

"When you go through horrible events, you tend to shut yourself off from others," someone stated in the show.

Yeah, no kidding.

Yet that's what PTSD people are advised to avoid, the isolation.  That same isolation is what consoles me and is what makes me feel both safe and comfortable within my own skin.  Alone is the only place where I do feel totally safe.

I'm beginning to think trauma is rampant in our nation, on the news right now a Boston Marathon survivor stating he's afraid he'll cry on race day this year, as it will dredge up his horrors of last year.

All the school shootings, drive-by shootings, random violence, and the potential for it seems to be everywhere...or is that just my own trauma talking?

The reality is that I've always craved isolation, time alone, solitude even to the point of loneliness, an emotion I don't believe I possess.  But I do acknowledge that the trauma has left a level of fear imposed upon me that I was heretofore unfamiliar with, I grew up once very courageous, brave and unafraid of almost everything, thus my determination, motivation and ability then to dive in to the world of older child adoptions.

"Lock the gate for me please," I'd asked Cristy when she dove off.  That locked gate a quarter of a mile up my dirt driveway has provided me with a level of security that once would've made me feel trapped and unable to breathe when I was young and carefree, unscathed by trauma.

Times have changed for me.  Even though life is totally calm now, compared to years ago, I'm not the same person, nowhere near it, but are any of us?  Do we wanna be?  We're all likely caricatures of our former selves.  Everyone changes, everyone evolves, that I've done so via trauma may not be the way I wanted to change, in order to learn and mature, but it's the life I chose, right?

I more than chose it, I followed after God's will for my life, I worked hard for it, I went through the open doors and I pondered the shut ones.  I studied, learned, researched and participated, I campaigned for each sibling group, I walked away from others that didn't feel right, not a good fit for our family.

It's not been at all like I once dreamed, or even expected.

But I do still feel myself firmly planted in God's will for my life, even though I argue with Him via prayer because I once dreamed of having 39 college grads to my name.  Wouldn't I have been insufferably pompous had that occurred?  I'd have been insufferably arrogant.

I know I'm relatable nowadays, I know I sing your song.  I know I've found few answers, I've had massive successes and crushing failures plus many disappointments.  I've often lost my way, cried and carried on.  I've been proud, scared and sad - often all in the same day.  I've aged terribly, changed in many negative ways, but I'm still getting up and showing up each day.

At least there's that, right?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Throwback Trauma

Talking to my daughter, Alex, on the phone last night before all the doo doo hit the fan, she's now 24 years old and living in Atlanta, and doing quite well, so I'll use a recent photo of her.

Well, that was a crappy throwback night, trauma rearing its ugly head, me wiped out again.

I'd had to jump in and stop a fist fight, one in an obvious Cyclothymic Disordered morass, vilely provoking the one he knew would fight back, then accusing all of us for not protecting him from the younger one he'd provoked in front of everyone.

Dude, I did jump in.  I was hollering for Martin, who got there immediately, all of this happening after Chuck left of course.  Me fearing broken bones as I tried to stop two raging angry kids who out weigh and out gun me.

There's zero reasoning when that one is in his down spell.  In his own emotional darkness he starts pushing everyone's buttons in the darkest ugliest manner, incredibly unaware of how awful he is being, no understanding at all that this is not a normal behavior.

He will follow folks around and escalate the ugliness if he detects people are wisely disengaging, it is an ugly, ugly sight to behold, he'd done all this after I'd received an unrelated alarming text, upping his own ante, knowing what an opportune time he had in which to strike. A kick mom while she's down moment.  God forbid he'd step up to the plate instead.

He then decided to run away, which isn't running away at all when one is over age 18.

"Go ahead," his older birth brother responded, to which the Cyclothymic possessed one then accused me of kicking him out.  Huh?  I'd been standing there silently in the living room while he raged.

A zero reasoning moment that always leaves me astonished and flabbergasted, even after all these years.  As a toddler arriving here 15 plus years ago, he'd exhibited nearly feral behaviors.

Many, many years ago I'd whined in frustration to Dr. Mandy, "Why am I always blamed for everything by everyone?"

She's so calm and understanding, telling me quietly, "Well, Cindy, they have to blame someone.  You're the safe one to blame."

Maybe so, but it sure is taxing and debilitating to my own psyche.

When he's in a downward spiral, he's emotionally very difficult to deal with, I despair over his future if he doesn't soon learn to deal with his issues.  If he does this out in the real world, someone's gonna attack, and I won't be there to protect and rescue him.

I was in the middle of another mess at the time, a grown kid to the ER, me keeping the grandkids, my heart already pounding in fear in regards to the troubling symptoms, indicating a possible blood clot, indeed I had no relief until after midnight when that one finally was released after an EKG, X-rays, blood tests, and a CT scan, the diagnosis is pleurisy.

Still no completely definitive answer, a couple of educated guesses or assumption by the doctors, the grandkids ended up spending the night.  They were easy to distract when they arrived, as I already had Chuck and Yolie's kids, so that they could attend the Good Friday evening services at church, Yolie and Chuck stayed here later awaiting updates from the hospital, the grandkids putting on plays and playing, oblivious to my own stress, pressure, and drama, making me smile.

A pounding heart, adrenaline and fear coursing through my veins, due to my own very severe PTSD I over feel negative emotions, I barely slept a wink all night, my head feels like exploding in response this morning.  I'm gonna be on a crash cycle for the rest of the day.

The purported runaway thinking better of it, why leave a nice bedroom, a warm house and a ton of food?  However I'm dreading any interaction today, as my experience has taught me that he'll try and make me pay for that which he'd done.  It's predictable and wearying.

Before all heck had broken loose, I'd just told Grandma at supper that if I ever felt like adopting again (which I never feel) that I'd just watch an episode of Beyond Scared Straight, to remind me how difficult teenagers can be, how irrational and self-destructive.  I'm so done with drama, angst and mayhem.

I crave silence and solitude, I wanna spend the rest of my life healing my damaged emotions.  I just wanna breathe normally, sometimes I literally feel as if I'm gasping for oxygen.

Of course early this Saturday morning Scotty needed to be at the high school at 7:15 a.m. for a sports physical, Allen at 8 for extra help in order to hopefully graduate on time, Martin, now 20,  making both trips up there for me, as I had to stay here with the grandkids who were still sleeping.  I, as usual, have to be the alarm clock, insisting and pushing to get grown folks out the door on time.

Why don't I just let them fail?  Because I'd then have 40 year olds living here still.

It's a mighty fine line between enabling and helping.  I have both hands on the walls, one foot on the floor, the other on a banana peel, as I navigate the trauma-ruled footsteps of everyone, unseen IEDs often in my way.

Believe it or not, the grandkids witnessed nothing of all this, practicing in Tabby's room for the musical production they later performed for me, making me smile finally.  Tabby is the best aunt in the entire world.

I'd been so super stressed last night that I feared me having a heart attack, wondering if I should've had Martin GPS the hospital in advance.  Yep, he's lived here nearly his whole life, but I doubt he knows the way to town.

All soccer games cancelled today due to a rain deluge.

I'd assessed the garden losses due to a late frost, eradicating two dozen pepper plants, a dozen tomatoes, and 20 tomatillo plants, I replanted yesterday on Good Friday, a lesson I already knew, but had dumbly tried to jump the gun, fortunately I over plant when starting all my seeds.

My worn out clothes dryer has been dying a slow death, not heating up, not turning off, presenting a fire danger, Grandma bought herself a new set yesterday and I get her dryer today thankfully.  We'll stash her old washer for emergency use.  I'm a little scared and paranoid about keeping my old dryer.

Just talked to Yolie as she's headed out to teach PATH to prospective adoptive parents, "Well last night brought up all your old traumas about Ellen and Alan who died so young.  Remember, Mom, trauma doesn't tell time." Trauma mamas need to print out this brilliant article and refer back to it constantly.

Traumatic experiences, even the earliest and preverbal traumatic experiences, remain stored in our children’s brains. The normal information processing system that stores memories in the appropriate places in our brain is thwarted by the cascade of hormones and neurochemicals that are released during a traumatic or frightening experience. The memory- along with the images, feelings, and body sensations, remain literally frozen in their nervous system.

Indeed 18 years ago tonight, Grandma was helplessly at the hospital with Ellen as she died, not calling me to tell me until very early the next morning, so I have April 20th negatively tattooed in my own brain, making it a crappy two day long anniversary of my sister's death.

And 18 years ago I didn't understand trauma at all, even though I was then parenting severely traumatized children.  I didn't, nor possibly couldn't, begin to fathom how severely traumatized I'd someday become after living through constant, many years of primary and secondary traumas.

I make no Easter plans, having had so many holidays crapped up by raging, traumatized children.  Yolie later explaining to me that holidays triggered everything within a child, especially them sadly and quietly wondering if their birth parents even thought of them on holidays.  I wish I'd known that back then, I'd have tried to help them through it rather than reacting and putting out fires.

The end result became me downplaying all holidays, Thanksgiving being the only one that became palatable in any way whatsoever, Mother's Day being the absolute worst one of all.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Preening Peacock

I am so incredibly grateful for the scholarshipped weekly therapeutic horseback riding lessons that were given to us for two of my kids, who absolutely have been enthralled in the process, excited about each opportunity, gaining confidence, plus skills, again a win-win process for us.  This resident barn peacock is an extra benefit.

We still have weekly sessions with Dr. Mandy, plus bi-weekly for DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) for another kid, all of this taking up huge chunks of my time, but I did indeed sign up for this, knowing the vital importance of accessing help for my kids.  I should say it was taught to me by my original caseworker, this vital importance, after my initial naive assumption that had quickly been proven to be wrong, that love would win out.

Hey, I am teachable.

Down at the soccer fields last night, our second home for six months of each year, for the past ten years, I was counting in my head, seven more years of two seasons per year for Nando and Tabby, and I'll be finally finished with my perennial parental soccer duties which I have truly enjoyed, very proud of the skills my kids have shown, the one place where the majority of my family excels.

Hey, everyone's gotta be good at something, right?

CW is tall and lean, bearded here two weeks before his 18th birthday, and he was super aggressive and scoring last night. The first half of the game I'd stayed at one end, as I tend to drift toward the goal end, knowing my kids attempt to spend the majority of each game scoring, but I was listening to two Hispanic men talking to each other in Spanish about the game, the second half I listened, yep eavesdropped, to two white dads of the other team make an underhanded remark about the Central American majority of CW's team.

I turned in surprise, almost never hearing backhanded, yet complimentary, adverbs like that, but, hey. the Mexicans were winning, I think the men must've then realized I was the mama, quickly changing the subject.  I wasn't even annoyed, I know they were frustrated at being shut down, but in Dubs' team's defense, I'd watched one young man, who I've watched play for many, many years, well he'd actually let the opposing team score in his generosity.

"Why?" I'd later asked CW.

He explained that Erik, the son of the Mexican man I'd been listening to earlier, gets accused of showboating.

Seriously?  Then let him showboat, he's really that good.  I love watching his mastery of the game and he's not even my kid. He plays varsity soccer at the other high school.

And the second thing?  These guys aren't Central Americans, they're Mexicans, as are the majority of Hispanics in our county

Coming home, everyone ate again, then headed to bed as it was after nine p.m., one of my sons later came up to my room, broken-hearted that he'd been dumped via text.  I explained to him about the primal wound of abandonment, how this hurts him more'n it'd hurt a regular 17 year old, asking him to just step back and absorb that information.

He surprisingly did so, he'd been the one to visit Dr. Mandy that afternoon, he teared up appropriately rather than punching a wall, and he calmed himself down very well.  I was extremely impressed and told him so.

Traumatized children struggle hard with learning appropriate coping skills.  That might be the understatement of the year.

He even apologized to me, "Sorry I've been such a turd to you about her," he said.

"It's OK," I assured him, "I get it, I really do," but y'all know I never leave well enough alone, continuing on, "That's why God gave you a big mouth, overly opinionated Mama.  I've been right all along, huh?"

"Yes Ma'am," he sniveled.

Will it stick?  This break-up?  This lesson?

Who knows?

However Fabian, now 22, of all people, using a headset controller from his apartment has been playing online video games with all the boys who live here, distracting them all in a good way, all of them laughing and cutting up as they play.

"Ha!" Martin had barked, "Fabo misses everyone."

Well, duh, I know that.  I've been in the adoption world long enough to know that most everyone comes around eventually.  Fabian's been steadily, slowly improving for years, two steps forward, one step back over the last five grueling years.  Kids who often rebel against me in very major ways are also often the ones to be back rather quickly, realizing what they had, after they pushed it away.

So I've been able usually to step back, put on my emotional armor, and comprehend that it, the rebellion, the rejection, wasn't necessarily about me at all, rather it was the accumulated resentment over what all had unfairly happened to them for years and years.

Fabian and I've stayed in touch, he's a dad now, but he's pushed that baby mama away too, as he works through everything.  He holds down a great job, which is impressive, and gets into very little trouble overall, especially considering the self-destructive ways in which I once feared deeply for him.

Fabian had heard, over the headset, that I was standing there tediously cooking French Toast for everyone in my big black cast iron skillet.  Ten kids each wanting four pieces of French Toast takes awhile to cook properly.

"Man, I wish Mom'd cook it for me," he'd told Martin, who immediately repeated it to me.

Oh Fabian, that's only a minuscule example of what you'd rejected, along with the horse I rode in on.

He doesn't have a car, so he couldn't just easily come join us for supper, and I'm rarely impressed with the chums (thugs) my kids hang out with, so I have a standing rule, no strangers on my property dropping grown kids off, me always wanting to nip potential impending problems in the bud.

I don't want the sketchy characters to know where I live.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter Egg Hunt & Ice Cream Social

Lisa'd asked me to bring the kids and help hide the Easter Eggs, a community church outreach that has a large attendance so CW, Martin, Jack, Nando, Tabby and I joined the families of Elizabeth, Jessica and others, and we all very quickly got the 5,000 eggs scattered.

JoJo'd joined Miss Barbie on another service project, me breathing a sigh of relief nowadays that our behaviors allow some giving back, as I believe we've been given a great deal from others over the years.

Later Elizabeth and I manned posts by the road, making sure little kids didn't dart out int heir excitement, all the teenagers also assigned places to help maintain law and order.

An Ice Cream Social afterwards capped off a delightful evening, I'd picked Allen and Scotty up from their after school activities, Tony was the church photographer yesterday, lovely photos of families and then, boom, our day was done.

In my own downsizing, several years ago I'd taken every single item out of our kitchen, stashing it on my large front porch, only bringing back in that which we used daily, therefore needed, hauling probably 50% of it away.  I've not missed anything that's gone, I only wish I'd have done it sooner.

Long before I had so many children, Sarah and I were bona fide minimalists, due to me being a poor single mom, plus the hippie vestiges of the non-materialistic 1960s still echoing in my head, as I read simple living books, then blogs, following link after link, what I'm discovering is that so many folks say they've always been this way, but didn't exactly have a label for it.  I wholeheartedly agree.

Yet I look around me and see stuff everywhere, the accumulated possessions of ten kids still living at home, I don't touch their stuff, everyone's gotta find their own way in life.  They'll eventually choose their own ways, their paths, and their own lifestyles.

One category I do keep well-stocked is our pantry, I've always done so because I've rarely lived conveniently located to stores or restaurants, preferring always to eat at home, knowing it's healthier and cheaper by far.

I've never watched QVC, I don't haunt Ebay, I rarely shop because I just have no interest in doing so, I hope I've modeled to my kids that happiness and life satisfaction isn't found in stuff, but sometimes I just hope that our tight budget doesn't make them rebel and long for riches.  I suppose that most people growing up are gonna chase the almighty dollar until they themselves find it futile,

But then again, maybe they'll do so and become philanthropists?  Knowing how they can indeed help others.

I'm watching that ferry disaster coverage on TV news, all those high school students missing, and my gut clenches in pain for all those families, making me grateful that all of my children are healthy and safe.  Again stuff loses its importance, but it - this news - makes me appreciative of so much, so many intangibles that we do possess as a family.

The mom of that performance artist who disrupted the end of the Boston Marathon with a fake bomb back pack, now stating she'd been trying to access mental health services for her sons, I so feel her pain, but my heart really breaks for the policeman father of the Calgary Canada death scene where five students lost their lives.  The son of a cop on a murderous rampage?

If nothing else, parenting these 39 darlings has humbled me in a billion ways I'm sure I must've needed to experience in order to comprehend more of life,  I certainly can relate to so much more, not much of it good, but, hopefully I've learned greater empathy.  Am I such a slow learner that's it has taken all this to teach me?  Yes, possibly it is so.

I can't even begin to state the billion ideas, lessons and information I've learned just from being their mom, and their Abuelita, which means Grandma, although it's been shortened to Bita.

Closing with yet another Tony photo, this of Mae and CJ.