Wednesday, September 30, 2009
A cool Autumn week, lows in the 50s, Southeners all over the place acting like they can inhale once again, invigorated by cooler temps. Not me honey, dragging out a sweatshirt isn't my idea of fun. I prefer to swelter.
Listening all day to Dr. David C. Cooper's downloads, his sermon series of Finishing the Race You Started, took me back to when I first began this journey. He was just David then, not a PhD, a very young guy undertaking a huge job, that of a debt-ridden church with just a few folks meeting in a metal Butler building, getting paid $50 a month.
A couple of years later, early 1980s, I ambled in, sick of an empty life, the one I'd chosen after rebelling at being a Methodist Preacher's kid. Not terribly rebellious, as I was still a grade grubber, getting through my Master's Degree program at Emory, trudging through the Specialist in Instructional Technology at UGA plan, searching for meaning and more goals, very optimistic and ready for a rumble I thought.
David's absolute brilliance and comprehension of the Bible drew me in immediately, a very willing pupil.
Some ten years or so passed quickly, David heard the call to go to Mt. Paran, leaving an entire congregation, that had grown immensely, bereft. Because we knew he'd been called, it was hard to argue, but it was difficult to endure. I heard him, through my Ipod yesterday, talking about those amazing years in Athens, his sweet memories and the challenges,and I practically sobbed in my rose garden where I was working. I never cried over a man the way I cried when he left.
He talked about how he had a hard act to follow there at Mt Paran, and generally the next person gets chewed up, but it didn't happen to him because he was called. It did happen to his replacement back in Athens though.
Because he was called...I ruminated on that, certain I've been called as well, and about finishing my race.
Three sermons later, several more to go today, and I'm getting back my spark. But man oh man, do I miss the person I used to be. I still miss David as my pastor, but know I'm very blessed also with Pastor Tony nowadays. Sarah's called him 'her David,' possibly the highest compliment ever. She and I also had the added, solid benefit, nearly lifelong, of Pastor Tracy's care and involvement.
David was such a mentor to me, such an influence and so anointed that I took notes and attended three services a week because back then we had Sunday night as well.
I eventually found myself in the early nineties with all my security gone, suddenly a single mom with a dozen children, my pastor gone, lost the house, and moved on the best I could.
Now certainly stronger, banged up, experienced and jaded, but still following after God in spite of it all. I suppose my faith was tested, no I know it was, and when it all shook out, it was pretty much all I had anyway. Still is all I have and it's all I need. Am I a slow learner or what?
Two soccer games last night and two wins, Scotty made a really nice set-up that led to the winning goal in his game in the last second of the game. An older lady next to me told me, "I hope you'll keep up that much enthusiasm some day when you have grandchildren," as I'd been a whooping and a hollering.
"Oh, really?" I replied, glad for a minute that I wasn't automatically pegged as a granny. I should've hugged her and thanked her.
Travis had put seven pizzas in the van and as I loaded everyone up and they began stuffing their faces, this after a large supper some four hours ago, plus the 258 pounds of bananas we'd been given, no argument going to bed as they were all full, exhausted and satisfied with the soccer game turnouts last night.
Another one for the books, and a big thank you to Travis, Miss Kimberly's husband, for the awesome, unexpected treat.
Court this morning, mission accomplished, now I gotta get to the phone and argue out Plan C...
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
A comment yesterday, came through my Blackberry while I away from my computer, but set my mind on fire as a reader asked a personal question about how to get someone committed. I wanted to answer it here, first thing, as I'm sure others have wondered.
My answer is, I do not know. Each state is different, but the best resource, folks who do know and can guide people can be found at NAMI, The National Alliance on Mental Illness. Go there now and find help, they are very well regarded.
I spent some time on the phone recently, trying to walk another path with Jonathan and Paloma, maybe even a last ditch effort, seeking help for them, and to blog the frustrating details would re-irritate me. I always thought I was all that, for providing my children with my health coverage on top of their federal adoption assistance medicaid coverage, but all I did was gum up the works, creating a logjam that needs a court order to discontinue. Fortunately, I'm headed back to court tomorrow and our juvenile judge is a facilitator and an expediter, an advocate for children and also for accountability.
On the radio this morning, "Faith is leaning out so far, you can't turn back," reminding me of how much of my life is stepped out in faith, but that said, I was always seeking God and waiting for answers, hopefully knowing I'd know that I know that I know...when I knew. It's always never an audible answer, but a sure thing, a clear gut pounding answer, when I know exactly how to proceed.
Sitting down eating nut and grain pancakes yesterday, out with Ray, Sarah and Hazel, Grandpa called my cell to let me know he'd fixed my riding mower. I practically raced home, excited about hours spent alone working, hadn't even completed one turn when white clouds of smoke billowed out the front of the mower, Grandpa fixed it yet again, only to then have the belt slip off. I fixed that one, kept mowing and noticed the blades would not engage 100%. This is a job for Chuck.
Great soccer game last night, the coach's wife telling me how excited her husband was when he learned he got the Bodie kids. Well, thank you for telling me that, that really makes me feel better, especially since he works for the transportation department of the school board and has heard of the bus antics of some of my young'uns. But, hey, they really can play soccer by channeling all their aggression.
Chuy was on fire last night, first quarter as goal keeper, pissed off and hollering at everyone, telling them how to play, finally getting JoJo to focus and stay as keeper, freeing Chuy up to charge to field, impressing everyone, winning 4-0. This after football practice, his energy and endurance all the more impressive.
I stood up the entire game because I'm not very quiet either, hollering encouragement.
So Sarah and I were talking about the concept of demystification. She'd demystified the play-doh process, I was playing with the play-doh she'd made, making and tossing play-doh balls to Ray. She demystified mayonnaise, making it herself from scratch. Society has us all thinking we need to buy stuff, rather than make it safely ourselves without chemical preservatives that'll end up killing us all eventually. This blog demystifies. It's like we're slaves to the grocery store and to advertising tactics. I wanna holler, "Kiss my butt!" to stupid expectations presented to us ignorant consumers. And yes, I do holler at my TV constantly, especially now with the Braves close to a wild card, just two wins away.
Although you gotta wonder about the non-toxic claims on crayolas...Jack's silly dog Shadow has eaten three crayons this morning. Mayra was craving Swiss Chard, I'm not even sure they sell it in produce departments, I'll go outside and cut some for tonight, and my brain then went into overdrive, thinking about urban farming/gardening because most folks don't have acres in which to plant. It's amazing and gratifying to me to contemplate what all can be grown in small areas.
If I could do over my life, I'd have bought land sooner, retired earlier, and been a beekeeper for the minimal living expenses I would've have accrued. I'd have been very happy having as little to do with society as possible, putzing around on my land simply thrills my socks off in a very big way.
Would I have adopted, knowing what I know now? Well, of course, because to say otherwise would negate what I originally heard from God. Although I don't understand so much in life, all the whys, and the apparent uselessness of some of my efforts, and even though the violence, the lying and the stealing has nearly done me in, I still know I did what I was called to do, and I'm gonna spend the rest of my life focusing on the positives, on the children and grandchildren who clearly want me in their lives...and to those that don't...I pray blessings and wisdom for them. But I'll not tolerate disrespect and misdirected fury anymore, therefore a no-relationship situation is of their own doings. I feel set free in many respects from such negativity.
Edgar must be having a rough week, I've heard from him every day lately. "I'm a mama's boy too," he told Allen, who's also one. JoJo viewing them both suspiciously, but he played his brains out yesterday in soccer.
Another grown son, finding renewed strength in friends and family emotional support, has had a devastating couple of weeks lately, but drawing also on his own inner fortitude, has come through beautifully...an answer to my prayers for, and about, him.
Some of my kids will end up on Most Wanted posters, some should be the poster children for older child adoption, the rest are firmly established between the two extremes. I'll not call names.
Monday, September 28, 2009
JoJo has a stopwatch hanging around his neck, drooping down towards his pants, giving his appearance a slightly yucky look, but it isn't what it looks like. His SAE project required eight hours of participation and he sure wasn't going to do a minute past anything.
Special thanks to Suzanne who sent me to one link that evolved into me spending the entire rest of the evening, lost in the farming worlds of others. This 40 Farmers under 40 was exhilarating.
I'd spent a beautiful Sunday afternoon, outside working with Lily, Chuy and JoJo, finishing up their SAE Projects, but getting a ton done on my own. So much rain has fallen, here some three months later than I would've liked, standing water on the stone paths, I'd pull weeds and hear the slurpy liquid sound of mud loosening its grip on the plant roots.
My pepper plants acting as if they need to produce for millions, yes guys I'm suitably impressed. Somehow Grandpa and I, with the help of Grandma and Martin, plus others, managed to disembowel every mower we own, leaving me looking at acres of grass in disbelief. Oh brother, we shouldn't own anything with a motor, see what we do to it.
My roses must think it's spring, blooming like they're wont to do, from here until December quite often. I dug in coffee grinds and compost, shook seed heads of wildflowers around for next year, figuring the four o'clocks would be flattered to be in that company, so domesticated have they become over the years. Finally seeing honeybees at work, I was reluctant to cut the flowering heads off the basil, but if I don't do so, they'll quit producing. This is the kind of conflict I like, not fistfights and broken windows.
Uncomfortable with calm, Tony ratcheted up his disruptive behaviors, comfortable only with negativity and strife. Boy do you think that's the way to make friends? He finally irked even my most easy-going children, earning him a trip to his room alone, early before bedtime where he retaliated against me by kicking his bedroom door over and over. Such logic.
A friend of mine had pointed out Tony's armpit tendencies, always hanging close to me, I can hardly make a move without finding him burrowing there up against me. Yet he also pushes everyone, including me, away with his annoying antics. Developmentally delayed and emotionally immature, half the height of his peers, and trapped within by some limitations of Cerebral Palsy, he has a jumble of stuff to sort through in therapy, yet very little insight is ever available knocking about in his mind.
Hazel quietly turned two over the weekend, Sarah's so tired of the drama that ensues when we try to do anything positive, that she held celebrations to a minimum, including only Preston's side of the family. Occasions like these just give my still angry children a chance to lash out, to ruin it for everyone. BTDT, moving on...I'm a take them, Sarah, Ray and Hazel, out for breakfast this morning.
I'd already put my foot down about Thanksgiving, knowing there'd be High Drama Involved and they've taught me too many lessons about family holidays. Finally my parents are seeing it as well. The more I try to provide, the more the kids try and take down, me standing there aghast at the unnecessary battlefields. Gimme a break.
OK, behavior modification is working on me, not them. The end result is me retreating emotionally over and over, running to my gardens for logic and comfort, frustrated by my own lack of visible progress outside, too little time, so much to do...my mantra, ain't it?
I'm going to dump a couple dozen beautiful and colorful bell peppers on Grandma, Yolie and Sarah, overflowing with the bounty and my family alone can eat two dozen a day, fresh and sliced with sea salt. Sea salt makes everything better.
Sarah's made an Italian Creme Cake that is truly to die for. Oh my goodness, she must blog it soon. There's our new standard for birthday cakes. I practically licked the plate clean and I'm not even that much of a fan of cakes.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
I've always been a stickler around here for bedtime and that particular parenting tick of mine goes all the way back to Sarah's birth in 1973. We rarely owned a tv in those days, I didn't even have cable ever until we moved into this house in '93, subsequently Sarah and I always were readers. As a child, she had the unique ability to sleep for 12 hour spells which I envied, of course. Even though I've always wished I could be one of those folks getting by on four hours of sleep, the reality is I need 7-8 in order to function efficiently.
The surprised tone of this article, Really? Lack of Sleep Increases the Risk of Catching a Cold, took me aback as well. What's the surprise? Who doesn't consider one's immune system and its innate need for sleep, vitamins, and nutritious food?
Some of my children view sleep as an escape...as I've also come to do, what with the secondary trauma risk factors in this chosen life, or even avoidance. I remember one daughter, now grown, who'd sit in the front seat of the van, yet studiously ignore me, feigning sleep, or total disinterest, as she'd run her fingers through her very long hair, shielding her face from my attentions.
My emphasis on nutrition is legendary and annoying, even though I fold at the sight of a Krispy Kreme donut, and I also harp on exercise for my children, but more as a way to disperse their intense aggression issues. I'd dropped several off at the soccer field in the rain for practice yesterday, heading to another field with other children, only to hear later about the football game between our Pastor Tony and (thankfully) some of my less aggressive, but no less determined, kids.
Pastor Tony's young, sorta, around 40, I suppose he can take it. My children already adored him, now more so than ever. His cool factor skyrocketed yesterday.
Another rain deluge also yesterday, interfering with the start of the UGA-Arizona State Game, my son-in-law Preston, grousing about the untelevised event, well it was on TV, but who has ESPNU? What in the world is it? He'd come over to fix a thermostat that wasn't even on, but was buzzing and smelling like burning wires.
I'm sure my Daniel braved the storms to attend.
I, however, spent the entire day vacuuming, watering houseplants, sorting and putting away clean laundry and scrubbing the kitchen. There's no point in begging the kids to help, knowing I'd nearly have to call the police to get any level of complaince from JoJo or Paloma. Dr. Mandy, who even came on a Saturday for a session, explained JoJo's depth of anger as raw. I so agree. Looking at a picture of him as a toddler, when he first came here, unbelievably cute, yet he has morped into a lurching mad man it sometimes seems.
Edgar called me yesterday to give me his own theory...JoJo's bug eyes indicate FASD to him. I'd accept maybe a diagnosis of some FAE, just the effects of alcohol in utero, not a full blown spectrum at all. JoJo's smart, but viciously rude, terribly disruptive, and almost anti-social in his deep-seated anger, but that's what therapy is designed to uncover. However JoJo deeply misses Edgar, Miriam, Vanessa and Fabian, his older siblings, who've grown up and moved out, adding to his own abandonment and rejection issues. He has no attachment issues at all. I know he loves me, but he is very afraid to admit it, to give me that imaginary perceived power in his mixed-up mind and jumbled emotions.
Edgar told me that JoJo'd emailed him awhile back, complaining that I wouldn't take him to hang-out at the park on Labor Day with his "girlfriend." They are 12 years old. Forget it, kid. Edgar'd told him the same thing, therefore JoJo'd been mad at both of us. Do you think I'd have let Edgar hang out at that age? Heck, I wasn't even Edgar's mom until past his 13th birthday. That's sad enough to contemplate. Now 23, he is in no less of a need for reassurance.
The Adoption Counselor spoke of a show she'd recently seen. I'd watched it too one evening and was equally as outraged when a teenage daughter had a guy friend over and they be-bopped upstairs to her room to watch a movie with the door closed. My eyes bugged out...what the HECK? That's acceptable? Not on my watch. Does society condone this? And then the daughter was rude? What planet is this?
Yeah, I know it is TV, but so many children nowadays get their ideas about life from TV because their parents are afraid to tackle such issues, whining, "I don't want my kids to think I'm uncool." Well, hey, I'll step up and holler, "I AM uncool and proud of it."
JoJo wishes I was cool...or does he? Deep down, I'm certain there's security within him in knowing I stand for something.
I'd rather do the chores myself than risk a blowup. Obviously that means JoJo is winning...but what is there to win? Maybe reverse psychology will kick in and be effective as he watches the other kids step up, making his own tendencies to fight even more glaringly obvious? Allen vacuumed their room, I picked up the dirty laundry. Chuy, Martin and CW worked in their room, doing a very decent job as did Scotty, while Jonathan balefully watched him...as if trying to observe and take notes of what humans do.
Mayra and Sabrina, there in the original master bedroom, made their side and their bathroom presentable. In contrast, Paloma's side of the room looks like a run-down homeless shelter and she simply does not give a hoot.
Wow kid, tell me how you think that's gonna work out for you in life? Rebel against me all you want, I'm here to help you, the sooner you realize that, the better your life will be...here we are in our 8th year of conflict.
Every time I walk in the living room, I see The Policewomen of Broward County on the TV, Tony's new favorite show. I like it too, but never had time to sit until late last night when everyone'd finally gone to bed.
At that point, I listened, on my Ipod, to "What's Keeping You From Running The Race You Started?" by my buddy, Dr. David C Cooper, my first then non-denominational pastor long ago, here in Georgia in the early 1980s, the one who influenced everything for me, now serving a church in Atlanta, still my hero, and I swear that man reads folk's mail. How'd he know I was emotionally struggling in this area? So beat down after all these years, tired of conflicts and issues, problems and challenges, craving peace and searching for answers. Just what I needed to hear.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
What if I woke up each day and had nothing to say nor to write? What if life were so calm I had nothing to ponder?
What if I could hop on a plane and go visit Jesse's family? Hold Jesse's cute son Isaiah on a whim?
Well then I'd go skipping outside to work in the gardens, and while I'd wonder what happened to my life, I'd be oh so fine with it.
My front gardens have a foreboding look about them, unweeded and unwelcoming, a vivid illustration that no gardener lives here, the Big Back Garden, while still producing, is almost as daunting. I have no time, no free time in which to devote days to my tasks, and lately I've taken to making some choices to free myself up from the onerous demands.
I deserve a life as well, right? I need to recoup and regroup, even if it's just getting everyone to their rooms earlier some nights.
Last night, other than the kids needing a ton of money it seemed to attend the high school football game, and JoJo getting back in the van afterwards with a large toad in his pocket which he, of course, let go to hop all over the vehicle, it was a peaceful uneventful evening. They even thanked me for allowing them to go, for spending the rest of this month's cash all on them. They came home quietly and went to bed without incident, leaving me to marvel at the possibilities.
Pastor Bronson was gonna load up most of them and take them on a retreat in mid-October, leaving me with only a couple of children at home for nearly a 48 hour period. The rains that cancelled soccer last week though intervened in the form of a make-up game on the Saturday that they should be gone. Oh no! I hollered at the offending email, beseeching the coach to reschedule if possible, or I'm going to have to make a long round trip to get the majority of one team to a game, we will not be the cause of a forfeit.
Paloma ran a fever, a call from the middle school to come get her yesterday, no issue, no problem, mission accomplished, supper readied, dishes done, plants on the front porch watered, kitchen floor mopped late last night, laundry done...could this be a preview of my future? Dare I hope it to be so? I ran by two Friday yard sales on my way to the grocery store without interruption, a feat not often occurring. Grandma and Grandpa did the school grandparents lunches for me, I ate a ton of peppers from the gardens, Miss Cissy came by, and I had scuppernongs galore. I stood in the yard, spitting the seeds, thinking and planning, inwardly smiling with gratitude at my peacefulness at the moment.
Ray and Preston went to the game as well last night, so Sarah brought chubby little Hazel over to run through the house with Tabby and Nando, breaking a sweat so intent was she on keeping up with them...y'all I sure don't mind a no drama life.
See how easy I get my hopes up?
Friday, September 25, 2009
Oh, honey chile, that's just how I feel too.
My replacement Blackberry is touch screen and I am all thumbs. Daniel was right, this is a challenge. They're practically giving them away at the moment with a super generous rebate, leading Sarah to speculate that a new, incredibly desirable model is fixing to come out very soon, they're unloading their present inventory so fast, we should be suspicious of their ulterior motives...or have I simply become embattled and paranoid?
Folks are, in general, too lazy to fill out the paperwork on rebates. "rebate redemption rates among the 175 organizations he recently surveyed were just 58 percent. Customers who failed to submit their rebates either found them too cumbersome or simply forgot about them. And that can end up being quite profitable for the companies that issue them." In contrast, I'll do a rebate on a buck.
As expected, the orthopedic doctors did not allow CW back into the game, "Another month, son, you'll be back in for the playoffs," words spoken to a visibly crushed and frustrated kid. Sitting on the sidelines isn't his idea of athletic participation, super-pumped for yesterday's game against the cross-county middle school, at least his team won.
Daniel brought along two of his friends, guys he's known most of his life here in Georgia, guys who also went to UGA with him. If I could bottle the essence of Daniel and feed it to other traumatized children, this would be a super-successful world in which to live. Chuck and Yolie also came to the game, as did Chuy and CW's youth pastor, Bronson, further cementing their very positive support system.
I shot out of there like lightening the minute it was over, trying to get to another field for Ray's game, but time eluded me, game over. I ran into a friend of Sarah's, a man I hadn't seen in 20 years since he was in youth group with Sarah, he hadn't changed a bit, while I feel as if a steam roller has flattened my once-peppy self, leaving lines and creases, but parts of me bop back up and keep on going in spite of it all. The cool thing about being past middle age, is the decreased pressure to look decent. It just isn't still possible, you go with what you've got, feeling pretty darn good overall, not much that can be done anyway, just enjoy living.
Grandpa and Mayra took Scotty and Jonathan to yet another field for their game. "I'll win it for you," Scotty promised me and did so 6-1, I got to that field at the end of that game also. I hate to miss games, I never do unless another game conflicts and, in that case, it becomes which game was on my calendar first, there's my choice made for me.
I'd served supper early, so every one came home hungry, of course, and we didn't all pull out of the kitchen until close to nine last night. All of autumn will be like this, but I prefer it greatly, the rush and the busyness, over the strife and the factions we too often experience around here.
Why I got up at 4:44 this morning is beyond me, my mind racing, my to do list bulging, kids and grandkids growing up so fast my head is spinning.
Miss Kimberly came by with some cereals the kids could hardly go to bed last night without thinking about, their world does sometimes revolve around food. A soon as JoJo and Allen heard my footsteps this morning, they bounded up out of the beds, in the kitchen eating, there's goes my quiet time, but at least they're getting along.
I was surprised yesterday to watch them both behave so well at the football game, girls flocking to them, "What on earth do all these teenyboppers see in JoJo?" I asked Daniel in wonderment.
"It's that bad boy thing," he replied, totally disinterested in anything but the playing field, intensely focused on the game. Football is likely my least favorite sport, I don't like it at all actually, always worried about my sons getting crushed to smithereens out there, soccer seems so much more of a strategic game to me, but I understand football's manly allure for my guys, even though I know next to nothing about the strategies, plays or technicalities.
Reading the back of a cereal box just now, Allen asked me, "Mom, what are family fundamentals?"
I explained it was the basics: respect, consideration, and routines such as eating together. Why do folks think God invented kitchen tables? It sure wasn't for impromptu poker games, but for families to eat together and discuss the day. Discussions are loud in my house, we have several tables, and I greatly discourage discourse from one table to another as it becomes a shouting match. Sarah had mentioned the importance her own family places on dinnertime together as well.
Heck, it's like a foundation to civilization as far as I'm concerned. It's a foreign concept to my children who've come from such total chaos and instability. It's a battleground at times, as kids fight me on the concept, yet another issue that threatens them emotionally as they realize they've not experienced this heretofore...nor church, nor regular bedtimes, nor routines, nor provisions.
Starting over at ground zero is difficult for children who are sometimes close to adolescence before they're adopted. I've grown weary of the struggle, glad I'm at the end of all this, most kids of mine still at home are middle and high school, my younger kids are pretty easy going overall.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
I need to have supper on the table at 4, right when the older kids get home in order to leave by 4:30 for the five o'clock football game, need to text Daniel that Ray has a flag football game right after that, in an adjacent field, and Grandma will get Scotty and Jonathan to their correct field, allowing me to see the second half of their game, my entire day scheduled. I did already throw in a load of laundry, get all the trash outside for Thursday pick-up, everyone to school, plus deal with two appointments, making other phone calls while driving, changing gears in my truck and guzzling coffee.
I've been thinking about the issue of secondary trauma as Yolie's been picking up more contract work as a social worker, her chosen profession as she wants to see changes made and children's needs met, but I don't think either of us fully considered the toll it might take on her.
Drawing from this site, "Traumatic experiences shake the foundations of our beliefs about safety, and shatter our assumptions of trust."
Well, yeah, I get that. I live here in this house with traumatized children. But as the years pass, I'm learning first hand about secondary trauma.
"One additional aspect of traumatic exposure affects primarily the workers who help trauma and disaster victims. These people include psychologists and other mental health professionals, but also the emergency workers -- EMTs, physicians, fire, police, search & rescue, etc. -- exposed to an overdose of victim suffering. These professions are at-risk for secondary traumatization. Known by various names -- compassion fatigue, secondary or vicarious traumatization, and "burn out", the symptoms here are usually less severe than PTSD-like symptoms experienced by direct victims in a disaster."
I'm supremely positive that Sarah and I are now victims of this as well, Yolie has both - primary and secondary traumatic exposure. All foster and adoptive parents risk this.
This is where coping mechanisms and strategies are important. I have gardening, farming, and yard work to help me release my negative energy. Some folks have art, hobbies, crafts, exercise...whatever works, but you gotta have something.
Dwelling, brooding, and fretting isn't helpful, this I've learned.
My kids have used soccer, football, baseball, dodge ball, swimming and trampolines at times. Maybe even their rages, while not acceptable in polite society, have at least served a purpose here. Some of my children are simply unable to correctly express their feelings, even when therapy is provided, and I'm oh so slowly learning to translate their anger into what they might be feeling internally. It's usually kinda obvious.
This page was helpful to me. Heck I read a ton of the links. Our family's experiences are so broad and so varied, ranging from death, murder, and drug overdoses to multiple moves and heart-breaking breaks with caretakers, it's a wonder anyone even has an appetite.
One method suggested for helping children cope: Spend more time with children and let them be more dependent on you during the months following the trauma - for example, allowing your child to cling to you more often than usual. Physical affection is very comforting to children who have experienced trauma.
In adoption we end up with teenagers in the early childhood developmental arena, the clinginess can be extreme, the need to know where I am and what I'm doing is demanding, but I understand. Anyone remember my Edgar years? I'm 24-7 here at home, with my children or on the soccer fields, very little, if any, me time but isn't that what a garden is for?
You know, this subject is so deep that a blog entry will not do it justice. I'm highly advising us all to read through this clinical outlook.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
It’s a rare morning for me to sleep past six, if I do, my Blackberry crows at 6:15, so I was fairly surprised to wake up and find it was already 6:30. Man, I must’ve been wiped out, I thought, only to wonder what in the Sam Hill happened to my phone alarm. Reaching for it, I discover it won’t even turn on.
Uh-oh, my connection with the world is dead, I can’t even text Dr. Mandy when I later find myself running late at the Health Department, getting Paloma a shot she needed for school. I have no phone numbers, I hope I didn’t lose my pictures, can’t get over to Verizon until after all the morning appointments, treading water, getting further behind by the minute, finding myself at wits end, discombobulated, hating that the schools can’t reach me, knowing I get at least a phone call a day from them.
Getting his behavior corrected last night for the ten thousandth time, I smacked/grabbed JoJo’s upper arm and bellowed, “Stop calling me woman!” His disrespect extends past me into very ugly, inappropriate names for his birth sister, Mayra, absolutely disruptive and hateful, calling Paloma, “Sasquatch” and Tony, “man boobs,” hoping to pick a fight with someone.
Different deputies have advised me to beat the hell out of them, but that’s simply and obviously not an option.
It took me about 30 minutes to calm Jojo down into halfway presentable behavior, necessary since we were trying to get out the door to Tabby and Nando’s soccer game.
Grandpa, battling Pulmonary Fibrosis, managed to get enough oxygen coursing through his system that he not only joined us at the game, but hollered his approval and encouragement throughout. I hope he’s not paying for his exertions today. I can’t call him to check with my Blackberry down and my landline apparently struck by lightening.
Lunch at Calientitos yesterday with Daniel was, of course, delightful. Yolie was with us, and we’re starting into our 19th year together as a family, very important milestones for such attached kids, hardly kids now at 24 and 29. Their 26 year old birth brother, Big Joe, working on getting his original job back now, having jumped through some hoops, charges dismissed, proving his sorta innocence.
That said, all three of them are enduring some crappy hardships, not of their own making. Mama said there'd be days like this...I was telling Daniel yesterday that life is unfair, hard, challenging, and very difficult at times. But what really burned me was having to say this to kids who'd endured way too much in their early childhood years, unspeakable episodes of Hell before they even entered foster care. To have to watch their scabs and scars being ripped open again, it's tough on this mama, tougher still on the three of them. If one hurts, they all hurt, I get it but I hate it for them, especially since one recently endured some crap that shouldn't have happened. A 'How DARE you' moment towards someone. I'm so angry on their behalf.
Tomorrow I’ll again get to be with Daniel at the middle school football game, the best game of the year as the county’s two middle schools confront each other, on the other school’s field. Daniel’s buddy, John, coming also, he wearing blue, while Daniel and I don red.
CW is getting his collar bone xrayed again tomorrow, hoping against hope to be released to play.
With increased meds, Jonathan and Paloma have been manageable lately, I don’t necessarily get my hopes up, knowing that with time, this particular ceasefire won’t last.
A comment a few days ago, saying better what I took a long, entire post babbling about, that ‘no one could do this without Him,’ resounding in my mind, reminding me when it is unbearable, that that is all I need to concentrate on each day, putting one foot in front of the other.
Truly in just a couple more years I’m done, the hard part over, coasting has already begun to some degree, as I have so many less children at home now, surprising me at times when I realize how quickly I’ve gotten some chores completed, such as laundry, easy now with 11 less children than my once all-time high. Everyone bathes themselves, no diapers, no baby on my hip, each day is another step forward, closer to my own goals I’ve been formulating in my mind.
Nightimes now are way easier with door alarms, eliminating the countless unnecessary drinks of water and trips to the bathroom to mess around in the sink, or some other useless activity, trying to postpone what I’d required of them…sleep.
I can go upstairs with full assurance that they’re in their rooms, nodding off, except the three wild boys beneath me who go over football plays and soccer maneuvers in their room, shaking the entire house. They have a large bedroom, huge enough for two double beds, a single bed, several dressers and their weight lifting barbells, still leaving a vast amount of floor space, leading them to believe it’s OK to kick a ball in the house. Not.
I broke my own rule, no food out of the kitchen, carrying a big bowl of pan popped popcorn, using olive oil and sea salt, savoring every bite, watching what I wanted on TV, Brick City, none of this sharing everything for just one moment in time, no grimy hands digging in my bowl of popcorn. Living high on the hog for a minute there.
Tell me that’s not gonna be in my future…
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I'd given Sarah a small snake plant some 15 years ago, she's repotted it over and over, ending up with this version, pictured here with Hazel, who wanted to wear boots with her nightgown. She's not smiling because she just figured out Jack and I were leaving.
Spending the afternoon with Sarah, I also got to visit with Becky, mom of 2 adopted children. I only use the A word as an adjective here because it has its place as we discussed the future of adoptions. She was very blessed, and she knows it, to have adopted both children at birth, able to nurture and bond with them, preventing the RAD cycle, she'll go into their teenage years with them so much more stable and connected.
We talked about her now adopting from the system, Sarah piping up, "But then they'd resent your other two kids for not being damaged," which is so sadly true. Doesn't matter that they too were adopted, those who've been harmed unintentionally by the system harbor massive, understandable resentments.
Becky gifted us with Brooklyn White fig plants, neither of us have this variety, I'm anxious to plant and reap.
A drought map was shown on the news last night, my county and a dozen more east of us still were labeled in the 10% drought level, yet 17 counties west of us, surrounding Atlanta, have been declared disaster areas from flooding. Schools closed down, 180 roads in Cobb County alone shut down, including interstates, houses completely submerged in some areas. It's shocking in a city that is some 900 feet above sea level.
One of my favorite shows, Storm Stories, on Weather Channel, is something I DVR to watch later. We dependent earthlings have no control over the weather that controls our every move. I can't get enough of meteorological comprehension, call me obsessed, I am, my two brothers and my parents equally as enthralled with this particular channel. It's genetic.
My wheelbarrow filled up again last night with rain, storms were ferocious, and I'm glued to the windows and doors, excitedly watching the rain fall. My peppers, the most successful aspect of my gardens this year, conversely do not like an excess of rain. Ironic?
Re-reading It's A Long Road To A Tomato comprehending the difference between soft-necked and hard-necked varieties of garlic, I ordered both yesterday from Seeds of Change, knowing they'll not be shipped here until late October as it is still too hot to plant. Snow in two states already? That blows me away.
I wish I had time to keep better garden records, to map and plot where I've planted, but one main goal this winter is to drag home enough coffee grounds to put 2" on each of the 25 garden beds in the Big Back Garden, a massive undertaking, but a thrill for me. I'll dig it in as I go, the second goal will be to dig and divide the thousands of bulbs that haven't been tended to in 17 years. That's ridiculous. And I call myself a gardener? Well, hey, I've been kinda busy with my family. I do see the pressures lessening on me slowly as each year passes.
Jonathan put on a sweatshirt this morning for no other reason than to force me to remark on inappropriate clothing. It's still shorts and t-shirt weather here. When I did not say anything, he put on yard shoes, one that was totally missing the laces, hoping for a showdown that he could justify and turn a rage into school refusal. I still did not bite, but I do worry that someone will think we can't afford shoes. He probably owns 4 pairs at the moment, but that's not the point. I emailed the school guidance counselor, his teacher and the principal about his control issues, she'd witnessed an out-of-control Paloma rage last years, she understands what I'm dealing with each day.
Soccer has been cancelled since late last week, no games, no practices, no outlet for my children's excess energy. Heck our meadow is saturated, they can't play outside. I swear last night, CW's room under mine - he, Chuy and Martin were wrestling past bedtime, and I thought my house would cave in, so great were the thuds punctuated with guffaws and hyena-like laughing. I shut off the alarms, went downstairs and futilely pointed out it was calm-down time. But really, who can object to such silliness?
Yeah, I can, on the grounds that CW's collar bone isn't totally healed, but he is so terribly frustrated by inactivity. Me, too, son. He'd asked Grandma about the card game Bridge, knowing she's absolutely obsessed with it and she patiently explained the concept. CW is very, very sweet and was struggling to delicately ask her if it was only a game for old people, knowing one man in her group is 92 years old. "Um, is it just for people like you?" he'd kinda stammered, sending me into laughter, unable to let it go, "He called you OLD!"
Monday, September 21, 2009
This may be too religious for some to comprehend, but I make no apologies. Don't read it if this alarms you. Forewarned is forearmed in my book, ain't it?
Good gracious, what a day already. But it really began at bedtime last night.
Sometimes the planets tilt at a certain angle, moods swing over into the ultimate negativity stratosphere, and sun spots must come crashing down, rays of pain in the inhabitant's brains here, all reasoning is lost, their inner emotional pain comes coursing down my hallways, taking out everyone in its path, leaving a muddy slime of anger and frustration in its wake.
Martin and Chuy, two normally decent teenage boys, turned flat out ugly last night, refusing to pick up the cereal chunks they were throwing at each other in the family room.
Wrong on so many levels, we don't eat in the family room, we don't throw food, and we do what mama says.
Or kids who were not traumatized might follow those particular precepts.
Mine just stared at me with dead eyes.
"Go to your rooms!" I demanded, and surprisingly they did so, but not before calling me crazy. Yeah, maybe crazy to think I can make a difference.
These are some faces that need slapping. I, of course, did not resort to doing so.
I would never have spoken to my parents like that, not ever. I was a rude little teenager back then, but not stupid. I was so angry I clenched my fists and stormed outside, going down the hill in the dark to lock the gates, too pissed to send anyone else to do it, afraid of what I might say should I chose to address these behaviors at the moment. My white-hot fury lighting the way, no need for a flashlight.
There went another hapless plate of mine as well.
I had to use my shop vac, when I returned, to get up all the pieces of a Corelle plate that claims to be unbreakable. Lying Madison Avenue account executives, define break resistant.
I can bark until I'm blue in the face, I can sit everyone down for family meetings, and I can make everyone repeat the few rules that we have, but it just doesn't matter, if they do not want to comply.
They can not be spanked. Who'd spank a 15 year old anyway?
My fury is my own fury, nothing I do matters to them, I'm just an idiot who chose to have mean people live with me. In their minds, I suck.
Therapy isn't making headway, medications aren't making much of a difference, this is who these children are, and likely who they will be, when on their own.
I cannot begin to explain how absolutely crucial that early nurturing is for children. Add in drugs and alcohol pickling them in their mother's uterus and all hell results,
So why adopt? Why put folks through this? Why'd I end up working my butt off for folks who resent me for doing it?
Number one is that not all of my kids are like this, I have some very exemplary ones that I'd walk through fire for, and suffer all these other indignities, just to be their mom.
And for those that I might be unable to reach?
What do I say here?
Truly my gut keeps yelling in my hard head, "Whatever you do for the least of these, you are doing for Me," the words of Jesus, in the book of Matthew:
"For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
37 "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
44 "They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
45 "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
46 "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."My faith is rock solid, very, very strong. Be a doer of The Word.
Plate slamming is NOT included, that's an issue I should be working on.
I wash all the dishes, I cook all the food, I buy it, take the trash, vacuum, and do all the laundry. I pick up the trash they inexplicably, yet continuously, toss on the floor, I endure their rages, I get them to therapy, I see little results in my severely troubled children (I, of course get discouraged) but I keep on keeping on, because I am called to do this. The need I saw is the call.
It's just that simple.
And I HAVE to remind myself of this ALL THE TIME. I stood by the rushing creek last night, listening to the water, the door alarms were already on in the house, kids snoring, but I was way to angry to sleep. I prayed for my really bad attitude as I felt such resentment, bitterness and even hatred at the moment. I prayed a lot.
I listened to the crickets and the cicadas, a hoot owl, and the gentle breeze rustling the wet leaves in the woods surrounding me. I craved the peace I felt. I was reminded of my many blessings, such as getting to live on this beautiful piece of property, and the shockingly high amount of rain we'd been receiving. My wheelbarrow is 13" deep and was full of rain water that I poured slowly out on an antique rose, and this morning it was three inches deep again.
Spaghetti Junction in Atlanta is closed, there's a mudslide at Stone Mountain, Atlanta is flooded, my friends, Elizabeth and Marianne out in Douglasville, have likely had two feet of rain, their schools are shut down today. Who'd a thunk it after this very severe drought?
I'd planted spinach between storms yesterday, my very rich soil soaking up and holding the rain beautifully, and the combined, redolent and luxurious scents of gardenia and tea olive, both blooming again, mixed with the wet earth to nearly cause me to swoon.
OK, I took a deep breath...I can do this.
That dumb High Hopes song, "Oops there goes another rubber tree," jangling in my head. Yes, I dearly need a life, right?
God will, and does, strengthen me.
I'd shuffled back up the hill, my broken toe screaming inside my Nikes, I shoulda been barefoot, it hurts less.
Again cleaning up the kitchen, making coffee for the next day, pep talking myself, only to get up this morning and discover what could've been catastrophic for a grown kid of mine, is actually a learning experience, emotionally stronger than they thought, this one does not have any residual childhood issues, no leftover rejection or abandonment issues, knowing I will always be there, trusting me totally, no emotional scars peeled off as a result, I was very reassured this morning, and life goes on.
I'm blessed in spite of it all.
Thank you God.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Jack took plant pictures when he was banished up to my room, as I tried in vain to contain the virus that is coursing through them all this weekend.
Oh, this is like too easy for me. As easy as giving up cigarettes, meat, or alcohol since I've pretty much had none for most of my entire life. The Great American Apparel Diet rules are found here along with an entertaining blog. I never, ever shop for clothes for myself either, preferring to wear what's donated to our family, or what I have already. Big whoop, but I wanna bring attention to this idea as I like it, particularly for those women who are saddled with scary debt loads for those $100 sweaters they think will give them confidence and self-esteem. It's wonderful to be a piglet like me, happy in who I am overall. At 55, clothes wouldn't help much anyway. I am who I am.
Eighteen years ago today, Daniel's sixth birthday then, and today his 24th, is also my 3,000th post here. Back then I landed in El Paso, while Sarah started college at UGA, her very first day of classes, as it was then a quarter system, now semesters, how 'bout them dawgs last night?
Grandma and Pa, then living in Virginia, had driven down to Georgia to babysit my other children while I went to meet my three new ones, Yolie, Daniel and Joe. Two out of three of them most certainly did not want to meet me, did not want to be adopted, did not want anything to change. The third one, Joe, was fairly willing then to try something new, arriving in Georgia to spend the next 18 years trying my patience.
I was then still married (my second marriage), not realizing he, my long forgotten spouse, would soon not be up to the challenges, that I was just a year or so away then from finding the home and the land where we live now, nor really any clue as to how big my family would become eventually. I sure had no idea I'd find myself to be as strong as I've become, my hard-headedness and determination evident then, but sorely tried and proven over the years, lemme tell ya.
1991 was also the same year I fell in love with Navajo thornless blackberries, I still have those same plants, multiplied now, they moved when I did, and they're still as amazing as ever.
I won't see Daniel today, on his birthday, as we compared schedules, his is pretty packed, we'll meet Tuesday at Calientitos for a late lunch. I can't wait.
To say the last 18 years has been a wild ride, would be too much of an understatement to even bother uttering. I had no idea what was then in store for me, any more than I now have a clue about tomorrow. I can make all the goals and plans that I wanna make, the day however is in God's hands.
Church this morning isn't looking likely, Edgar had texted me that he was coming to meet us there, but Jack has a blazing fever, Lily's getting over this crud, Mayra and Paloma were iffy at best when I sent everyone to bed last night. No one complained at the early hour, 9 on a Saturday night, but no one felt that great either.
The kids are obsessed with a show, Man vs. Wild on the Discovery Channel, and it has become a topic of conversation at every meal. They'd DVRd some shows, watching them while these incessant, but needed, rains have fallen all week.
And my Joe, Big Joe, two impressive steps forward, always followed by a self-sabotaging slide backwards for a solid 18 years now. He listens to reason, he understands, but he regresses, taking chunks of Yolie's heart with him each time. He's balanced out, for her, by Daniel's enormous and constant progression. Joe, too, is proud of Daniel, not a speck of jealousy from Joe ever, he's glad Daniel succeeds constantly, very glad, very proud as Daniel is the baby of their sibling group.
Now, through marriage and childbirth multiplication, we also have Yolie's husband, Chuck, their children CJ and Mae, plus Joe's sassy, beautiful daughter Alyssa.
A very happy anniversary to Yolie, Joe and Daniel who've blessed me immeasurably by their very existence, their presence in our family. Here's to the next 18 years...
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Lily's extracting lettuce seeds here, we'd let some go to seed just for this purpose.
Watch me lose readers now, as I shift from an adoption major back to where I once sprang from - my environmental and sustainability leanings. I still read adoption blogs, I'd like to direct y'all to Rachel's as she's in need of prayer, finding herself where we all do at some point, in nearly the most unfair, inhumane, ill-treated situation an adoptive parent will ever encounter.
We're used to being treated badly by our kids...when it spills over to professionals, it nearly rips away our own underpinnings, to say nothing of participating in the re-victimization and re-traumatizing of everyone else, from folks just doing their job. But there needs to be a statewide committee that can look into the situation of adoptive parents, don't treat us like the original partying parents. I'm still furious at some young supervisor from another county who literally called me a liar. I need to shake it off, but she hit me unfairly, rudely and ignorantly.
A fever is tearing through our house, kids dropping like flies, Jack and Mayra had it bad today, Paloma got a mild version, I have the immune system of a horse apparently, rarely catching anything, but sometimes feeling kinda low-grade punkish.
I drug around the vacuum, daydreaming about my recycling pile in the garage, proud of it certainly, but wondering about other trash since the UGA president had had a cow this week over the litter from the UGA-SC game. Once, years ago, watching a video about glass recycling, I found myself so fascinated I wanted to quit my school job and just be a menial laborer, like I am now.
I'd come across these statistics:
"In Georgia it costs $90 million annually to throw away 2.6 million tons of cans, bottles and newspapers that are collected and moved to Georgia landfills. Those items would have an estimated market value of $300 million if they were recycled.
The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) spends about $17 million annually (2003) to clean up roadside trash in the state, and local governments spends hundreds of thousands more dollars to keep litter off of 96,818 miles of locally- maintained roads. This does not include what local governments, other state agencies and community organizations are spending."
Surely here in my home state, I'm not the only one to wince at this math? Are we all the dumb rednecks we see portrayed on TV?
Why can't we all do the logical thing?
Let's recycle - it's a monetary thing as well as an earthy one.
Let's not break laws, then not go to jail. Let's study and pass tests. Let's not kick in walls and we can save money on not repairing them. Let's make good choices and have good results.
Life would be so much simpler overall.
Tomorrow, if not later tonight, I will type my 3,000 post. That's a great deal of venting, musing, rambling and blurting.
It's not lost on me how much I've needed to do this, coping, struggling, dealing with issues and challenges, learning, trying to explain things to myself, and moving forward each day after typing, it's been so beneficial to me, can't wait though until I can tell the whole story.
In the meantime I'll dance around the details, protect the innocent, and continue trying to make sense out of my own life choices.
I get shocked walking into our high school and wondering about some of those girls...did their mama let 'em out of the house like that? I doubt it. Who amongst us hasn't changed clothes after we left the house or rolled up our skirts?
Mayra hangs with me everyday in the kitchen after school, venting about her day, quite often verbalizing how she feels, in utter contrast to my sons, and it's the same thread each day regarding skanky girls and her own shock at what parents seemingly allow the kids to do.
Well Mayra would be right in there with everyone, if I so allowed it, and I doubt the other parents allow as much as the teenagers claim they do.
I ain't budging, but that doesn't mean they won't often pull fast ones on me. That's a given.
Fabian had someone's else's phone with him the other day, scrolling through the numbers was the entry entitled Fabo's mom and my phone number.
"What in the Sam Hill does he need my phone number for?" I'd hollered at Fabian, instantly realzing in their street life shenanigans, notifying next of kin is routine.
"You better straighten your butt up," I'd admonished him, then launching into my lecture he knew he'd hear.
The good thing about texting, according to my children, is that it cuts down on Mama Lectures. Knowing I'm Type A, barreling through life, unable to type as fast as I can bellow, but on the flip side, I can text Jesse at night while tending to the kids and it appears there's less interruptions.
Whose roof in Georgia isn't leaking this week? After too many drought years piling up, this sudden deluge must be cracking roof tar everywhere. Like I didn't have enough to fret? Long term thinking though includes my immense joy at the the freshening of our water aquifers, folks with well water, like me, depend on rain for survival.
And folks like me don't deserve to have feet. I apparently can't even stand up on them like normal folks. Going through life so fast, I trip, stumble, careen. bumble, flounder, lumber, totter and lurch, ending up with busted toes and a bruised hip. How in the heck did I get that purple one?
Like the kid I used to be with scabby knees and scraped up elbows, little has changed, except now I have to color my greying hair yallo, and take bio identical hormones, but my maturity level is about where it was when I was ten maybe, still giggling at fart jokes and loving slapstick movies, can't wait to see the new Madea one, still silly and goofy. Less stress lately so I've been pigging out, tanking up like an animal grows more fur for winter, I'll have reserve stores of fat to draw upon when stress later stops me from eating.
Friday, September 18, 2009
A big ole roll down the window reaction to a stifling fart, "Whadya expect? I ate 12 black bean tostados you cooked," as if the resulting gas was my fault?
I ate three and was stuffed, where he put 12 is beyond me. I'd stood at the stove, with my big black skillet and a slightly smaller one, browning tortillas for over an hour, kids lining up, smacking their lips, dumping cheese and fire hot pepper sauce on top, leaving me a kitchen that looked mortally wounded, but recovered eventually after I spent the rest of the night in front of the industrial size sink. Hey, I know how to have fun, right?
It's been one of those sleep in til 6 a.m. mornings, leave the house at 8:30 after getting almost everyone to school, run all day long non-stop, ending with a pediatrician visit in late afternoon. I cancelled Dr. Mandy because I don't want her exposed to the achey, sneezy, stuffy, feverish malady that some of my kids are passing around. Hardly two months til Dr. Mandy's due date, she doesn't need to be around sick kids. The pediatrician's office told me, "if it walks, like a duck and talks like a duck," as regular flu doesn't arrive until later. Great.
Middle School Madness tonight, a birthday party, tomorrow nearly as wild with three soccer games, three soccer picture schedules, and another birthday party.
On my rare down moment, a 15 minute break, I got the garage room vacuumed out and re-stuffed with staples...an endless circle of drag in the food, cook it, haul out the trash, and do it again, with countless boy farts punctuating our every movement, becoming ranker as the guys get older.
We've had more rain this week than all summer long and I'm happy as a clam about it.
Grandma and I've been hauling in the produce.
Does this woman look 80? I snapped this after she and Grandpa came in after a night out dancing. Gardening's kept her strong and energetic. She gives me hope for my own old age.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Allen and JoJo, the babies of a sib group of 7, now in their tenth year of living with me, Edgar and Fabian's birth brothers, you could pick 'em out of a crowd and know they were all four kin to each other.
JoJo'd come home yesterday ill as a hornet, spluttering, squabbling, arguing and provoking everyone to get into a fight with him. I took the bait and hollered, "Son, do you need some of my bio-identical hormones?"
He looked blankly at me and busted into tears.
I was kinda surprised.
"OK, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings," I jumped to his side, putting my arms around him.
He sobbed like his heart would break, blowing snot on my shoulder, he said, "No it's not that," and kept on blubbering.
I waited him out.
Weeping, wailing, and nearly convulsively he spit out his grief, "I didn't get to say good-bye to Mrs. Carson," a sixth grade teacher who is very courageously fighting ALS. JoJo cried and cried and cried that it just wasn't fair that she was facing all this, he cried so hard, I teared up as well.
Life is so unfair, explaining it to a child is difficult when one has no explanation.
I let him cry, knowing that holding it in would only result in his anger. Walls would be punched in and stuff torn up, better to let him vent in tears, even at his age.
The best I could get out of him was that she'd left on medical leave early this week. JoJo'd been sent to the office for being disruptive to a substitute teacher, he'd broken down in front of Dr. W and his ag teacher, which surprised me, that's certainly not like JoJo.
Pepe later called me to tell me he wasn't getting any stupid flea shot.
"Dude, I think you mean flu shot," I suggested.
An afternoon spent taking Fabian to the dentist, after a long morning with JoJo, Paloma and Jonathan at the psychiatrist, only to have the school nurse call me about Lily running a fever, 103 degrees, a pediatrician's visit tomorrow.
I'd run into my friend, Tina, at the psychiatrist's office, and JoJo, Jonathan and Paloma stared at her with their big eyes, standing quietly and perfectly, as if it must be Mom with the obvious mental issues, certainly not them. JoJo broke first, distancing himself, and pointing at the other two while making cuckoo gestures. Tina has 15 tough kids, my 3 won't scare her at all.
Lena, Jesse's wife sending me this adorable picture, while Jesse was texting me for Grandma's fresh green bean fixings, the secret is in adding olive oil.
Second choice being Hobby Lobby, I dropped the kids off at church, and headed into an unfamiliar store. Walking in my first thought was, "Oh...here's where folks buy all the stuff I later see at yard sales." My senses were immediately assaulted by fakey bright colors and the stench of chemicals, oh me oh my, I nearly bolted back outside to drag fresh air in my lungs, but we were at a highway location. Inhale car exhaust? Nah.
And dadgum it, they had a huge Chirtsmas tree up with Thanksgiving turkeys pinned all over it. And folks think I'm holiday challenged?
I found the fabric section, my eyes burning from the fumes emitted by the dyes, but wistfully I wished I still had time to sew clothes, a sorta skill I'd picked up in Home Ec at age 15 and loved. I still have the Singer sewing machine my folks bought me 40 years ago.
Holding my breath, looking goofier than usual, I found Dub's 5/8 yard of fleece, grabbing what I needed, paying and flying out the door, greeted with a phenomenal thunderstorm, a smile spreading across my stressed out self, Lord, do we ever need rain.
For several days now, Paloma has been again melting down. Faced with a mountain of clothes she's amassed on her bedroom floor, for no other reason than she drags them all out purposelessly every day, and then tells me she has nothing to wear, controlling the family while we wait for her to dig, so we can all leave together.
She had something to wear the first five weeks of school, now suddenly she doesn't?
I must have a neon stupid stamped on my forehead.
This morning I got the kids to school, leaving her here with Grandma and Pa, at home, to look at the pile. Paloma's hygiene is again becoming a battleground, preferring to wear dirty clothes and not bathe, hating to brush her hair, wild-eyed and obviously ill on the inside. It makes me so sad for her future.
I'd ignorantly suggested she go upstairs and look at my room, there's nothing out of place, everything is where it should be. I don't have time to be disorganized, I have a job to do, that of maintaining my family, more than a full-time endeavor.
I am so worn out from the constant crazy-making behavior of severely troubled children. If I "solve" this latest crisis, I know from experience she'll illogically pick another issue, that is ridiculous to even contemplate. Dr. Mandy recently witnessed one of these manic moments, and with all her experience, was visibly taken aback.
"Please share this with Dr. C," I'd asked Dr. Mandy as they, the psychiatrist and the psychologist, share a practice with Dr. G, another witness and helper to my family's dynamics and challenges.
Thank God we have an appointment with Dr. C this morning, we are deeply in need of her expertise, Dr. Mandy will be here tomorrow afternoon. Truthfully, we need a full-time staff of professionals to help manage and contain some of these behaviors.
That's what a psychiatric hospital could provide, a much needed service.
I finished re-reading A Very Small Farm yesterday, and the author, a single man, wrote eloquently about how he was never lonely due to his daily chore routine just to grow the food he needed for the year, postulating that maybe society's so-called loneliness is simply due to the fact that we live so smothered in a rat race, so far removed from where our food comes from, the simplicity of providing for ourselves.
I re-read it very slowly, savoring his many thoughts and observations. Lord have mercy, I wished he blogged so I could read his daily thoughts. His one dairy cow, Isabelle, following him all over the farm as he worked, providing four gallons a day of uncontaminated milk. I may have to read it a third time just for the enjoyment. (Dee what book did you just tell me about?)
But first, I think I'll re-read Joan Dye Gussow's amazing story for the third time. I find such peace in their writings, kinda like absorbing Thoreau's Walden Pond stories once again.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Her suggestion today, one I want to talk over with several people I trust, such as the owner of the adoption agency, was likely an answer to prayer. I've already run it past Yolie, fixing to call Sarah, in counsel, there is wisdom. I already know what my parents will suggest, offering their support, I'm certain.
It might end my long-term frustrations, it might even open the door for some changes to be made within the system, and it might need some fine-tuning, but I'm game. It'll certainly get us some much-needed help and provide more family safety.
Court was running close to two hours behind schedule, I'm sure I added to the delays as well by my own questions, and the willingness of the judge to be open to discussion, but as I waited Jonathan's turn, I was shocked to hear parents complaining. One in particular, dressed as bad as I look when cutting grass, even bad-mouthed the deputies.
Dang, boy, betcha wouldn't talk like that if you needed one to come help you. I did however keep my thoughts to myself, something I'm slowly learning to do, struggling to keep my mouth filter from falling off with a ker-chunk.
Leaving court, my head spinning with the possibility presented before me, I was texted by one of my high school kids telling me another of my children was being searched for a stolen item. Well, normally I'd just let the school do its job, but as I drove past, I saw an unmarked detective's car. Hmmm....better check.
"Well hey Miss Cindy," I was jovially greeted by the gorgeous Miss Debbie in the front office, I could hardly respond, seeing not one, but three detectives standing there, cutting up with her.
"Are y'all here 'bout one of my young'uns?" I asked in alarm.
"Nope, not this time."
Music to my ears.
But I still spoke with an administrator, reassured by him that none of my kids had been caught with the stolen merchandise, and yes, they'd been searched. I'm OK with that, let's clear their names. I wanted his version, not the whitewashed one my kids would try and pull on me.
Texted again, "Mom, please come get me, check me out of school," knowing it was from the one who'd been searched, I asked permission to sign her out, her face swollen from crying.
Not one to let a nagging opportunity pass me by, I lit into her, "That's what happens when you hang with trailer trash."
Not very sensitive either, am I? That said, I've lived in trailers, out in the country, in the years before I became a home owner. My beef is not with trailers, but with the trashy mentality at this one place, where drunks and drug users congregate, where parents let their kids go clubbing, thugs and all.
By 2 this afternoon, I'd not had lunch, nor a moment's peace, but was given a possible option that I truly need to pray about, making sure I make the correct choice.
I don't know where Hazel thinks she's going, but she has the same expression on her face that I had at her age when my mother would holler for me to come back inside. I spent my childhood playing in the woods, in the creeks, outside happily until the sun would go down, nowadays nothing has changed for me.
This being an adoption blog allegedly, I don't write as much about my one birth child, Sarah, but I'm unable to resist posting the incredibly cute pictures she's emailed me. Ray, the grandson of a school library media specialist, me with 25 years in the Georgia public school system, living here in the best academically-oriented county on earth, is being home schooled. So far he has completed his P-re K and is miles ahead in his kindergarten curriculum and I'm green with envy.
How I would have loved to have done this for Sarah. But then as a single, working mother, blessed to live in a superb county, I had no choice but to work. Ray attends Master's Academy for Fine Arts once a week, plus a home school P.E. class, plays flag football and goes on field trips, active in church, living a very rich-with-experiences life. Experiences versus a stuff acquisition mindset equals a happy life.
I'm very grateful to his handsome dad, Preston, who works his butt off to provide a beautiful house for them, and for giving Sarah the freedom to pour herself into their children. Sarah, an accountant, also works, but has the ability to do so when the kids are in bed at night. And their house truly is gorgeous, hand restored by Preston before Ray was born, Ray doesn't have a clue how blessed he is. But this should be an expectation of all children, parents should bust their butts to provide stability, security and safety. Duh.
I'm detailing all this today, as it is in such stark contrast to the early childhood traumas of the rest of my children, who generally were not adopted until they were in elementary school or middle school. Landing here with me, thud, a lady with a head full of ideas and middle class expectations, such as sheets on the beds, sitting down for dinner at the table together, striving for perfect attendance at school, attending church each week, and, most amazingly to my children, supper cooked from scratch, not boxes, on the table every night.
A culture shock that has absolutely nothing to do with me being white and them Mexican. However, now the school sends me paperwork in Spanish? Good thing I can read it, but with a Southern accent, duh, y'all I was born here.
Last night I sauteed green, red, orange and purple bell pepper strips, garlic, onions, basil and oregano, all from my garden, to put in an eggplant casserole, reading today's paper to learn that everyone's late summer gardens are now spewing out eggplants. I'd used so much freshly dug garlic that when I picked CW and Chuy up from football practice, CW inhaled dramatically and asked, "Oh wow, what's for supper? You smell great."
It really was delicious, and after Nando and Tabby's U8 soccer game that got rained out at the half when they were up 7-0, we all came thundering back home and invaded the kitchen again. Lily, Nando and I sat out on my large front porch that faces the meadow, eating, and watching the rain fall in sheets, weighing down the crepe myrtle blossoms until they sagged. Who doesn't like to sleep during thunderstorms? We watched a spider trying to spin a web with the breeze as a challenge.
Tony and JoJo were incredibly disruptive, ugly to each other, disrespectful and irritating, a 12 and a 13 year old, if they don't soon respond in therapy, I have no other observations to detail, other than their lives will surely suck. Yeah, boys, argue with the law officers and see where that gets you. JoJo was having a duck fit over nothing as usual.
I give a lot of thought to stuff, I've been watching an amazingly well-done show, Hoarders, and I listen to the therapeutic wisdom dispensed by professionals with the same fascination I also have for the Intervention show, and all I've learned there regarding enabling behaviors.
If anything, I'm the polar opposite of a hoarder, hating the physical burden of stuff and the monotonous upkeep it all entails. Yet, contradictorily, I have a thousand house plants. Little money invested, as I've propagated most of them, using pots I've purchased at yard sales. But talk about upkeep...obviously though it's therapeutic to me.
So why can't I let others do retail therapy and keep my big mouth shut? Mainly because I doubt most folks can aford to be spending money in today's recession and I'd like for them to have less of an economic burden. There's so many free and enjoyable activities out there for everyone. Who doesn't like to go fishing? What Southerner doesn't have bamboo growing wild for the poles?
I just want simplicity, serenity, peace, and no clutter. I need a hand rake and a spading fork, and I'll produce tons of food.
Fascinated with the secrets of the human brain, I found this explanation, "Why do we throw good money after bad? Why do we hoard junk?
The answer is loss aversion, a term introduced in 1979 by two Yale economists, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. The essence of their finding: losing $100 affects your level of happiness much more than winning $100. In other words, you feel losses more deeply than a gain of the same value. We hate losing what we have (or think that we have.
And then my brain gets hung up on all the over-packaging and the resulting non-recycleable trash, to say nothing of the resources used to produce what I don't need.
An online grocery store with free shipping, Alice, in a price comparison of $38 at Target or Wal-Mart, came out to $43 at Alice. However no gas for your car and no impulse spending, time saved to do other productive things, and not stopping to get something for lunch. $5 might be a small price to pay.
One of my financial heroes, Clark Howard, covers it here. Like him, I prefer store brands.
If I have to go to the grocery store, I do it at warp speed. Careening around the perimeter of the store, knowing all the non-food, corn syrup laden, chemical concoctions are all on the main aisles, wondering how on earth folks have the time, or the inclination, to slowly wander and peruse, looking for something they might like.
Am I just odd? Oppositional to mainline society? Eccentric?
Jeepers, I eat way more and way better than most folks, I'm happy as a pig in a poke, out in my gardens, all these thoughts running through my head, bigger plans for next year, many goals and projects being detailed in my mind as I work. My mother told me about her father-in-law, my ornery Grandpa who smoked cigars 24-7, but always put in a big garden, "Well, Cindy, he lived on farm food, no wonder he lasted til his mid-80s, in spite of all that smoking."
Farm food? Is that a euphemism for real food? That's the stuff we need to be concentrating on full-time.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
After yesterday's post, spilling out my friend Amy's thoughts and experiences, after more than four years of me vomiting out my frustration here in this blog, it may seem as if I regret my life choices. That is not so.
I've simply learned a great deal. Amy has written a follow up here. Many of us mothers cannot divulge the entire stories yet, we are bound by confidentiality, legal proceedings, a desire to protect both victims and juvenile criminals, or our own now somewhat strained and fragile psyches, as we try and process some of the abject horrors we have lived through over the years. What we have endured is about ten steps past shocking, into brutal.
The majority of us, adoptive parents, well we did not grow up like this. I'd venture to say that most of us middle-class, clueless wonders grew up in June Cleaver households, and we benevolently, altruistically simply wanted to share those blessings with others.
Had we known what was ahead, I'm fairly certain 99.999% of us would've bailed before we even began. That's kinda why God doesn't reveal everything to us. We're very finite and limited human beings - an email discussion I sorta had with a friend yesterday.
Claudia has often blogged about her passion for finding families for children in the foster care system, not yet burned out, still going strong, and I also do still believe in this philosophy as well. I really still do. Sharon wrote about it yesterday, and her writings are tempered by her experiences. Amy, Sharon, Theresa, Claudia and I all "met" in an internet group, started by Sharon, some 15 or so years ago, and this group has been priceless in its support of each other. Cindy Adams, too, was with us, Paula, Merilee, Gloria, Robin and many others, all moms of large adoptive families, sharing very unique joys, blessings, trials and tragedies.
I will only speak for me. I'm emotionally tired. I've been a figurative punching bag for way too long, yet I'll continue popping out of bed each morning, usually some time after 4 a.m. and I'll churn through my life, getting things done, and emotionally, physically, financially supporting my family...in spite of everyone's best efforts to the contrary. Not everyone, I have some remarkably resilient and loving children also.
Last night, opening night for the soccer games, my U14 team, JoJo, Paloma, Allen and Chuy (CW still sidelined by his football injury) played a tough, opposing team and won 4-1. They all pulled it together and played impressively, making me very proud to be their mama. Even if they'd have lost, I'd have still been proud as they were absolutely unstoppable and indefatigable. This after Chuy'd also finished a two and a half hour football practice.
I'd stood at the stove, upside down supper evening, in which I patiently cooked french toast for everyone, and everyone eats between 4-6 slices per person. You do the math.
JoJo had put some concoction on his face, Sunday evening without my permission, creating a skin reaction that resembled a slight burn. He's claiming total ignorance, won't tell me what he used, best I can discern is it may have been a toothpaste, medicated shampoo mix, resulting in an ammonia like intensity. Then he used enough hairspray and gel after school to make an Elvis hairdo that even his soccer coach remarked upon, leaving me gaping and wondering what on earth this child could be thinking?
Edgar'd called me during the game, "Well thanks for the invite," he'd berated me when I said, "Can't talk, watching Allen barrel towards the goal," while thinking Edgar would've been all over his baby brother, JoJo, for looking so ridiculous, but hey he sure played well for such an unfocused, disruptive, DJJ kid.
Edgar, who claims to not read my blog, well honey, next game is Saturday for U14.
Jonathan, who has a court date tomorrow, acted normal out in public last night, little Nando, turning 8 soon, played impromptu soccer with his friends, while I watched the game, and close behind me, Tony inexplicably acting weirder than usual, Mayra and Sabrina giving up the chance they'd been waiting for all summer to view their favorite TV show, Lincoln Heights, cheering on the Bubbas. They'd DVRd the show.
Sabrina, her head full of memories, will likely seek out her birth mom someday, a woman who was given countless opportunities to get it together, failing to jump through all of the required hurdles, but allegedly not an abusive mom, just one who wanted to party. I see kids in this county, birthing a baby, dumping it in Grandma's lap, and continuing to party, the best of both worlds in their minds. What is so different between the two scenarios? Family support and less poverty.
Tabby has no memories, the youngest sibling in a sib group, often fares the same across the board, but remains no less confused and conflicted. It's taken me a long, long time to comprehend that my children view me as part of the problem. If it were not for me, they faultily reason, they could be with their birth moms, not knowing the years their birth moms failed to comply with the required and necessary case plans. I've personally later seen these same moms deny everything, redefine history that is unarguably evidenced by boxes of case files. OK, believe what you want, I don't feel like arguing with yet another generation.
I did what I was supposed to do, I was called to care for the children, and I did so in spite of all their too often violent efforts to the contrary. Some kids will grow up and reject me forever, denying me the chance to be the grandparent, still resenting me, and I'm OK with that as well. I get it and it's a free country, do what you want.
Those that are very bonded, I'm even more grateful for their presence in my life, as they now truly have a choice. Even Yolie commented on yesterday's post. And for someone as intelligent as Yolie to choose to remain with this worn-out, beleaguered mom who chose to parent her, that means a great deal to me. Her brothers have done so as well, thank God.
Again, heck with the gratitude, just be who you are, just be successful in your own right and I'll be ecstatic for you. I understand the feelings expressed yesterday by The Adoption Counselor in this post. I've often been in her same shoes and I grimace as well. I've had my unattached kids hug everyone else in church, but me, at times, showing me their obvious disdain, in their minds thinking it gives them power. Whatever. Or later latching on to other families, so they can ignore this family. Yeah, like those other folks would ever have sacrificed, as I have done. Again, whatever. So much easier to reject, than to accept, isn't it?
Grandma and I each read the book, The Nevertheless Principle, many, many years ago, (1986) loving its premise. No matter the circumstances, nevertheless I'll follow God.
Y'all have heard me bellyache quite a bit, whine and holler over events, and have pity parties...but still, like my friend Pat said, I'll just pull up my big girl panties and go on. Now there's a visual to make one yak.
Even though my Jesse is some thousand something miles from here, I get nearly daily pictures of my too cute grandson, Isaiah, and for that I'm thrilled and happy. Jesse and I have squabbled over the years, we've worked stuff out, we've moved on, our relationship is solid. He has faced down some difficulties and come out on the other side stronger. That's how it's supposed to be.