Sunday, February 28, 2010
By all rights, and according to all the laws of physics, one might deduce I now weigh about 400 pounds, after a steady diet of eating my words for close to six decades. A very opinionated, big-mouth, hard-headed, know-it-all woman, one who makes a great deal of mistakes, but is willing to work hard to fix things, to learn from failures, and to keep going forward, a locomotive on uppers it would appear, but long ago I learned that's what life is all about, so I've been able to shake most of it off, a calorie burner if I ever saw one. The F Bomb is not what one might think.
Stuff sticks in my knotty head. Emily'd long, long ago given me an understanding of the dynamics in adoption, in that it was OK to mess up, as it tacitly allows a child to comprehend that the new parent isn't looking for perfection in an adopted child. John Maxwell's books on leadership, and on failing, taught me so much as well.
I have the freedom to fail, and I like it.
Claudia's reasons why adopted children do well in large families has also been something I've long dwelled on. It's must reading for families like ours. I've likely read it a hundred times.
10) Expectations for children in large adoptive families remain reasonable. Unrealistic expectations can destroy children. Parenting several children with emotional issues and a myriad of diagnosis help parents to maintain realistic expectations
Amen to that one. Claudia had had this flash of brilliance long before she'd later been hit by the battles and struggles of her own children's adolescent issues. She's the first blog I read each morning, now that I've come to know her so well and over such a long time period. We'd met in an internet group, many years ago, we've been together in real life several times. She'a a UMC preacher's wife, I'm a UMC preacher's kid from the 1950 and 60s, believe you me, it colors one's world. Now I'm COG, soundly planted where I'd later bloom and thrive, me needing the more heartfelt, rambunctious worship time, versus the staid order of worship and read aloud prayers I'd grown up on. My parents still belong to UMC, it feeds them well.
I did allow Paloma to attend this large weekend event sponsored by the county's churches for teenagers, me picking her up each evening, rather than allowing her to spend the night somewhere, in a host home, due to my own very reasonable fears of what she's capable of doing. Now that we're up to six police calls by the school in a 14 month time period, and heck, honey, that includes home for three months in the summer, so it's really an 11 month span. She's only a sixth grader.
Apparently Paloma'd been so moved during the service that she'd gone to the altar, been prayed over spectacularly by a mother there, Lori, who knows her stuff, knew enough to pray specifically for the neurons and synapses to be healed in Paloma's brain... yet me? Not necessarily totally jaded and burnt out, but rather wary of getting my hopes up, thank you secondary trauma issues, which demonstrates a cruddy lack of faith on my part, doesn't it?
See, I, too, have plenty of stuff to be working on in this looooooong process.
My former caseworker, Emily'd been to an adoption conference, heard a speaker lay out a simple bottom line, everything we deal with stems from grief and loss. Neither of us had time this weekend to talk, I really wanna hear what's she's learned, but this one statement has roiled throughout my brain all weekend. Having raised four of my children since their birth, knowing the lifelong, uninterrupted depths of our bonds, thinking about the very primal wounds that some of my other children have experienced, it seems almost archaic in today's times, that such a simple, yet profound injury can still occur, one that will color every other second of a child's life forever here on this earth.
Yes, there is healing, and yes there is massive success to be had, but that deep scar never goes away. It can be stuffed down, dealt with on every level, but it is still there. I pray that God will help me look at my own children through uncloudy lenses that have this one heart knowledge fact. That's kinda how I was able to withstand Edgar's many deep-seated emotional needs, all that oxygen sucking attitude that I endured for so long.
Last Sunday afternoon, here in shirt sleeves, enjoying the balmy weather that springs up in the South, even sometimes in January, most definitely teasing us in February, my Jesse'd sent me phone pictures of the blizzard he's enduring now in New York, making me wonder if I have readers anywhere near Ithaca, but if I did, they're likely without power right now.
Daniel leaves today for the state of Washington, going for a class for several weeks, then stopping in Vail to ski with my favorite brother-in-law and his brother. He came by last night, saying goodbye, as I won't see him in the entire month of March, a grown man who leaves me feeling sad, simply over the fact that he's grown up. He was such a joy to parent. I deeply miss living with him, or rather he here with me.
My teenagers will all straggle home today, exhausted and spent, happy and talking about their weekend, crabby from the lack of sleep, and will exhibit varying degrees of their own separation anxiety issues, that one normally sees in toddlers, but that an adoptive parents contends with much later in child rearing experiences.
Scotty, first time in five years, had spent the night at a friend's house, calling me at 6 the next morning to make sure I'd come get him that morning, all his own older emotional wounds, his inner fears, abandonment and rejection issues simmering in his mind in a strange house he'd begged to go to. Son, don't you think I know all this? The other kid who'd stayed with us this week, missing his mother infinitely more than he'd ever admit out loud, doesn't matter how old you are, that need for security and stability runs deeper than we'll ever comprehend.
On Facebook, two very old friends of mine, Patti and Dottie, since we were very young teenagers, one had expressed how much she misses her own dearly departed mom, even now at age 55, after a lifetime of having been wonderfully parented, while my other friend's mom turns 87 this week, still living, and my mom lives here with us. Moms are MAJOR in a person's life, that representation of birth, that nurturing and unconditional love, that need to be so loved, remains forever in the hearts of anyone who's been birthed, thus provoking yet another Duh from my own self at how elementary my thought process seems to be this morning. I think I need another pot of coffee, time to wrap this rambling up.
So to counteract the fattening effect of constantly chowing down on my own fatty, puffy words, carefully reading labels, and still being appalled at the massive amounts of high-fructose corn syrup that's killing us all as a society, reading to momentarily step out of my own turgid world, that's shrunk down to a 50 or so acre parcel, including the adjacent land where Sarah and Yolie reside, enjoying Sarah's books, learning of this reason to avoid my favorite destination, Krispy Kreme, or at least in moderation, which is what I do, I'm now facing my favorite time of the year, an elusive, flirtatious Springtime, with a cold initial first week of March, knowing I'll soon be in flip flops, I'm smiling and happy, refraining from calling Daniel to make sure he packed his toothbrush because I know he did so, he's a grown man, who's likely wondering how long I can make a run-on sentence like this one. Impressive, huh?
Saturday, February 27, 2010
This was the screen saver on Martin's computer, I cracked slap up. My kids are nuts.
But, with most of 'em gone this weekend, we pulled off a nice party for Ray. He'd invited his friends, so it was, of course, much calmer than any of our rather rowdy family get-togethers.
My teenagers will all return and be a part of second service tomorrow, throwing a monkey wrench into my carefully laid planting plans for after church. Oh well. And a dumb chance of snow flurries next week, but I'm gonna plant anyway, it won't hurt the cole crops.
I found my first yard sale of the spring today, getting Sarah a cookbook from The Town and Gown Players Cast Members, made all the more poignant due to a tragic event last year there. And for me? The book below for a buck, a hardback, and still in its original shrink wrap, as I dream loudly in my head about the renovations I'm planning in the near enough future for me.
It's pretty impressive to find 600 teenagers, from several different churches, in a sanctuary on a Friday night, worshipping, singing and listening to speakers. I'd gone to pick up my children that were not staying at host homes for obvious behavioral reasons.
Sabrina had texted me, "Hey, we're at Chuck's parents' church."
Well, no kidding sweetheart, I'd responded with my usual one word quip, "Duh."
It was the church I'd gone to from the early 80s until the late 90s, when the church I now attend had formed, closer to home and full of folks I'd known for a very long time, it was nonetheless surreal to sit in the lobby of my old church with folks I'd also known for many years. The old church is super transformed, infinitely larger now, very beautiful.
Some of the more marginal teens that my children have attracted were also there, I sound judgemental certainly, but these are the thuggish ones with issues, what mother hen wouldn't attempt to keep these bad boys away from her daughters? Sons also, as the criminal bent is alarming.
Much to my surprise I'd found one of these suspects crying quietly in a hallway, kinda overcome by the churchiness he'd found to be so warm and unfamiliar. He sure didn't wanna talk to me, so I sent my Martin to check on him.
It will go on all weekend, and I usually have some changed teenagers when it comes to a close on Sunday, contrite and trying again to get right with God - a lifelong recommitment for them as the alluring world pulls on all of us each day to compromise morals, values and beliefs.
Paloma slept off her school-induced rage of yesterday, after these spells, she's emotionally exhausted, the overly-amped adrenaline level crashes, leaving her limp, and me to wonder if these aren't some sort of brain seizures.
Who gets up at four in the morning? I'm totally unable to go back to sleep, my mind races, thoughts of my To Do list overtake everything, squeezing out any chance of snoozing. I do enjoy the quietness before dawn certainly, I get way more done when everyone else is asleep, but this morning I think I'll just curl up and finish reading a book here on my table, after I loudly thank God for providing Chuck with a job.
He's been a laid-off landscape architect for way too long, a victim of our faltering economy, yet he's held up strong and silent, searching, taking side jobs, fretting over his family that depends on him, and finally rewarded yesterday with quite an offer, an answer to a very long year of praying.
My 12 year old Lily, a quiet and artistic star in our family, has an art piece on display at a Cultural Foundation Center, the art teacher had informed me of this honor yesterday, as I tended to Paloma's crud at school, illustrating the highs and lows in a family like ours, lifting my spirits with pride over Lily's accomplishment.
Friday, February 26, 2010
"I'm not gonna take any of her S&*t," a deputy promised me, as he got out of his car. "Are you wanting to file unruly charges?" he asked me.
"Nope, this isn't my rodeo." I stepped back, and let the two assistant principals have at it, they explained to law enforcement what all they'd been through that afternoon with my very disruptive, quite emotionally disturbed 13 year old.
Paloma had hit someone, left a mark, witnesses involved, the A.P. telling me what all she'd done to check out the veracity of the incident, but knowing I totally trust the authorities here, versus the raging one who was screaming she'd not done anything, although she did let slip, in front of her Pathways counselor, that she had hit, but not very hard.
Well, no kidding. Duh, you're guilty? Who'd a thunk it?
The school doesn't get any thrill out of two deputy cars showing up while other parents are picking up their well-behaved children as Paloma angrily prowled the halls avoiding both principals and me. "This isn't my fight," I told Paloma, and if she'd just listened and gotten into the van, the school would have waited until Monday to file charges, but were eventually forced to do so today, plus they added an unruly charge for her non-compliance.
One teacher told me, "Oh she's run into that room over there with a sub, Mr. So and So. "Oh NOOOOOOOO!" I'd blurted, "Please don't allow her alone with an impressionable young do-gooder. She'll eat him for lunch."
I'd been vacuuming the family room, praying through some issues in my head, some thoughts I'd been working through, accepting some situations as being what they are, no hay mas remedio, a favorite Spanish phrase of mine, meaning there's nothing one can do about it. OK then, God, help me to just cope, to work with the hand I've been dealt, lead me and guide me, please. Or at least, sustain me.
"You need to come on up to school," I was told, while looking like crap, as I'd been cleaning, but at my age, who cares?
"Fifty-five?" the deputy yelled at me, backtracking, "Not that that's like old or anything," he verbally stumbled. I grinned, watching him squirm outta that one.
One A.P. suggested we call Chuy out of class to help maintain law and order, as he's the only who can get away with restraining Paloma for her own safety.
"Nope, you said you'd take one for the team next time this happened," I reminded the male A.P. who eventually just became totally fed up and had called for the deputies, rightly figuring we were gonna need handcuffs.
Although I was outwardly calm, I was inwardly trying to figure how to get through all this, and still pick up Chuy and Dubs from soccer and track, plus get the kids to the church for The Mix, a weekend retreat they were involved in, relieve Grandma and Grandpa, and take Scotty to a friend's house, while also returning a friend's kid that had stayed a couple of nights with us, and tend to this afternoon's impromptu Pathways counseling session, while simultaneously also planning the rest of my cleaning before tomorrow's party for Ray, who's getting a friend party for once, not a bunch of aunts, uncles and cousins, but he's inviting his friends to my house.
Now I'm decompressing by blogging and trying not to stress about the remaining 1760 days until she is 18, odds are she's gonna find herself locked up before then, hopefully I can finally ever get her the residential psychiatric help that she truly needs.
"Saw that nice article about your son in the paper," the other deputy consoled me, reminding me that the majority of my children mind the law.
Due to a bit of insomnia, I was thinking about how fortunate I'd been to have known both of my great-grandmothers. Lulu, Eloise, Martha Ellen, Cindy, Sarah, and Hazel = 6 generations, and if my longevity plans pan out, I'll possibly know some eight generations. How cool is that? To live to see Hazel's children's children is my goal, that'll only make me about 105 years old. I can do this.
I wonder how judgemental I might have become, had I only raised one child? An easy child growing up, little if any rebellion, certainly none until I started adopting. Sarah was in high school at the time, truly I think I should've waited until she was in college, as she was emotionally disrupted by my calling, in that our world went upside down and inside out overnight. Neither of us prepared for the vitriolic venom and destruction that would follow my decision. She never complained, she listened to me carrying on, but she never lashed out over my decision to so radically alter our family.
Maybe I'm only trying to rationalize now, but neither of us would be here on this particular dirt road, living near each other, nor would she have Hazel, Ray and Preston as her family, had we not gone this route. These choices led us both to where we are now.
But, what if? What if I'd just raised one level-headed, gifted college graduate who grew up to marry well and have wonderful children? Would I have 'tsked, tsked' at others? Be un-empathetic and unsympathetic? Bored, lazy and prone to long lunches with other well-manicured ladies?
My gossipy nature might have taken root like that, but my inner piglet would have prevented any lunching, as I'd have been deeply driven from within to dig in the dirt more than ever. But it is not lost on me, that much of this difficult journey has benefited me more than I'll ever comprehend on this side of Heaven. Yolie's BFF Audrey, a supervisor of foster care in another county, sent a very thought-provoking article that spoke to me personally. Got me good actually.
I know, I'm positive, with my very strong sense of self-worth and inner strength, I'd have been a handful, I needed to be diluted by 39 demands. Some of y'all wonder aloud 'bout how on earth I've endured all this, held up under enormous crushing challenges at time, but I'd venture to say, it took all this to teach a hard-head like me even the smallest things I've needed to learn.
I have to remind myself of this, repeat it like a mantra at times, unemboldened by any level of success, cringing inwardly all too often, still raring to go each day, but now in the countdown mode for the next several years until I'm all finished with this, moving on to the next level of my life.
The thing about biographies and memoirs, my favorite genre, is that I then walk around wondering about the different paths I might have taken at some point, churning thoughts in my head, usually returning to the same conclusion - I am where I am, due to a series of personal choices, led by God. Period. I am in this house, on this land, with these children, due to every deliberate choice I ever made for myself after much prayer and divine guidance.
In a recent waiting room, flipping through Veranda and Homes & Gardens magazine, sighing at the architectural beauty, even walking through Walmart to get groceries, gagging at a huge display of Chocolate Cheerios, I could smell'em and I recoiled, I saw a bedspread display and realized the trendy patterns were very attractive, immediately giving me a case of the gimmes. I don't need a new comforter, I'm quite happy with my dated floral brocade pattern, but I had a brief flash of how I could've allowed myself to justify a purchase I didn't need.
Why is my head so loud? Why do thoughts yell at me, why can't I just daydream quietly?
I'd read in our local paper about an ex-con stealing Polo shirts from the mall and I wanted to shout, "What a dumb___!" Didn't his mama teach him he could get the same shirts for a buck apiece at yard sales? Do other folks really not think like me? Am I a total odd bird? A dork on parade?
Am I that egocentric? Truly I hope others comprehend the level of my own inner sarcasm at my own ridiculous self.
Like Claudia and The Adoption Counselor, I have grown children who want to be enabled to not work, to not go to school, not follow any laws, rules or policies or procedures, they just want to play video games, or steal what others have, disrupting routines and schedules, desiring only to be pampered and allowed to do as they please.
I was called yesterday again about a grown child who steals everything that's not nailed down, even then trying to pry it up, not even needing the item, but loving and preferring the adrenaline rush of a theft, "Do you have any grown children that would allow this one to live with them?"
Folks want to live with thieves?
"Nope," I responded, after many, many years again of therapies, programs, resources and counseling in which said child did not respond in the least, preferring to blame others and to lie and to steal.
Not gonna happen.
At some point, folks must grow up, step up and quit stealing, quit lying, and quit blaming. I have other children who've been through horrific childhood experiences, and eventually came out on the other side, strong and able, or at least attempting to be so, knowing there'll be an inner reward someday.
Man up now, take the consequences you've manipulated experts into not giving to you, my interest in all this has been totally, irretrievably destroyed by your lies about me. I'm out. If this sounds cold, then so be it, the entire back story involves more years than I can count, of me being emotionally abused, stolen from, lied to and about...any one more instance of this would be construed as complicity on my part.
No, thank you.
"Why did you allow an adult criminal to victimize your family?" I'm sure I'd soon be asked. Call me paranoid, jaded, burnt out, emotionally injured or maimed, or just a B word. I don't care. I will not be manipulated anymore by remorseless users.
I don't have a locked gate, internal door alarms, and a security system for nothing.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Paloma'd again nutted up after school, this after refusing to get up and catch the bus in time that morning. Another control issue, trying to manipulate my time, if this were a normal child, walking to school as a result, or accepting a consequence for these infractions, would teach a lesson. With irrational behaviors involved, there's no comprehension at all of any ramifications.
The school called, "Come get her Cindy, she won't budge from the halls," and she'd calmed down fairly quickly, as she'd simply gotten what she wanted there, an acknowledgement that the school couldn't make her do anything either.
Jonathan also surprisingly refused to get up for school, probably since I'd bragged on him to the psychiatrist the day before, that seemingly always later has negative consequences from children who struggle with self-esteem issues. Backfiring on me.
I'd kept Chuy home, the older sibling of both of them, to get him to the doctor's office as he'd complained about a painful thingy on his foot. Hmmm, Chuy never complains, I best get this checked out for him.
Oh crud, a Plantar's wart that gonna have to be frozen off on Monday, he has a soccer game that afternoon, and if I know him, he'll play through the pain, he's a fierce, tough competitor.
It's simply not worth any of us getting worked up over Jonathan and Paloma's outbursts. We, the faculty and I, will only end up with high blood pressure, and an even more manipulative child controlling our emotions, forcing us to feel the stress, because it is rewarding to someone like this, someone with no empathy nor concern for others.
It's sad. That's all.
I've raised others like her. Years and years of therapies, resources, counseling and programs poured into one person, the spotlight always on them, at the expense of regular children who're simply working hard to get ahead of the game. I'm more convinced now, than I ever was before, that this is who they are. Period. They are hard-wired this way and even with 24-7 professional help, one cannot change the inner mechanisms, sometimes I'll see brief flashes of a child mimicking normal social cues, but not often.
I'd already once long ago adopted several sibling groups, grandchildren and raised a birth child to successful adulthood, when I then adopted my first sibling group from an inhalant abuser. Unbelievably damaged children resulted, one is nearly sociopathic, another is Bipolar and generally incarcerated wearing the jail garb colored to indicate mental deficiencies and disruptive outbursts of one who is virtually unable to function, even in the general jail population, (Yet I was expected to deal with all that?), the third is severely developmentally delayed, while the fourth child, now almost grown, is unscathed somehow. He'll turn 16 tomorrow and has been my adorable son for many, many years.
No wonder I bury my many frustrations digging in the dirt. Now reading yet another of Sarah's delightful books, of a subject matter new to me, Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table by Ruth Reichel, I can transport myself far away each night, teleporting up to the wealthy people's lives in NYC, living vicariously through a former NYT restaurant critic and former editor of Gourmet magazine. A major contrast to the one, Big Mama here, who'd quickly fed everyone healthy doses of whole wheat spaghetti last night before church. "Shovel it in, we gotta go!" knowing 6:15 was barely a decent departure time to get everyone to Youth Group.
A new show hitting exactly on my conversation yesterday with Sarah. Serendipity in action, love it.
My dogs seem logical, following minced commands not to jump on folks and to pee outside, versus my children who cannot, nor often do not follow, even the simplest of directives.
Two early morning orthodontist appointments, reminding me no I am NOT debt-free, making hefty monthly payments for their adorable tin grins, it's cold as NYC out there this morning, no garden time, maybe I'll choose to paint more doors and baseboards that are literally crumbling before my eyes, hoping the paint'll hold the fragments together.
I'm happily, nearly giddily, seeing prayers answered recently, right before my eyes, nearly as soon as the words were out of my mouth and into God's ears, sustaining me, building my faith and reminding me who's ultimately in control.
A big one though, 14 months of beseeching God constantly, answered yesterday. Thank you Lord for your faithfulness to my grown children. Another grown child, facing a medical procedure Friday, needing prayer covering now.
Bottom line, it's still relatively calm and uneventful here and I'm sure liking it.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Every now and then we have a spell in which I'm happily rewarded and reminded that a big family can be even more fun than work, this past week with Jesse, Lena and Isaiah in town, has been spectacular. Oddly enough there've been no resulting conflicts, nor reactionary battles, as my younger children would once have upped the ante in response, loving for Jesse to have been here, but acting out when he leaves as it rips off the abandonment scar.
Again, me not having any new kids for many years has eliminated that once daily struggle, settling down comfortably with the knowledge of not having to start over and over and over again as one is forced to do when adding sibling groups to a large family. That part of my journey has long been over, it was over before I even started blogging which will touch the five year mark in June. A big, happy shout-out of acknowledgement to Claudia for having gotten me started on my daily diatribe here.
Daniel, Sarah, Gina, Marcela, Chuck and Yolie spent the afternoon here with Jesse, again it was just fun, something I've been in short supply of for too long. Ray's turning six this upcoming weekend, and he seemed so large and active in comparison to Isaiah and Marissa, watching the rough shenanigans of older babies, of toddlers and pre-schoolers with minds of their own.
Emily, my dear friend and also the original caseworker of my older children, came by. I've had children seek out birth parents, later in life, wanting nothing more than a simple validation of who they've become, an acknowledgement of their successes and accomplishments, that they'd done so in spite of everything. So far, none of my children have properly received what they've earned, as in the grand scheme of things, this just isn't possible. They were all originally removed from their homes for valid reasons. These reasons later showing up as denials, cold shoulders, blame, or other outrageous behaviors, leaving grown children stunned and aggrieved.
That said, my grown children have learned to accept and understand that who they now are has come about from their own choices and hard work. With a 20 year distance from their childhood to who they are now, most of them have been able to comprehend the bigger picture, they know they've made me proud, and Emily, and our pastors, teachers and other community friends have also added that other layer of security and pride.
Jesse's former youth pastor, Anthony and his wife Jessie, certainly had prayed and agonized over my then three teenage sons, Jesse, Joe and Sergi, and had poured out their love and their time into my boys, now a decade later results are showing. I need to remind myself of that, as I bumble through the day to day, wall-to-wall work, while so often frustrated.
Such a short visit, I fought burning tears in my eyes, saying good-bye to them. Now I'm like the abandoned, traumatized child...not them. I've absorbed so much pain and crapola over the years from so many folks, that I dread the good-byes, flinch when the phone rings, and curdle from within over particular voice tones and inflections.
Jesse was a great kid to raise, easy-going and sweet as maraschino cherries within. Adopted at age 12, the oldest brother in a very challenging sibling group, every minute of the ensuing years, he was by far the easiest, and one who made me so proud.
He's now been married nearly the same number of years he'd once spent here with us, has a young son who's the spitting image of him, and has a maturity level that just can't be bought anywhere, has to be earned, and he's done it.
"When is he coming back?" a chorus of questions at supper, kids wanting reassurance that it's not over, that he'll return again, like he's always done, reminding me of the few short years ahead here with the remaining ones.
But get this, 12 of my kids are between the ages of 12-16 right now.
No wonder it's seemed easier lately. I live with a bunch of kids, a large majority of kids, right on the cusp of becoming independent...thus the light at the end of the tunnel that's growing brighter each day.
Sitting in the waiting room of the psychiatrist office, Paloma'd picked up an issue of My Turn Now, looking at sibling groups waiting for families to adopt them, choosing a group of very young African-American children, "Mom, please, can we adopt them?" She was serious.
I was astonished, and did not mince my words, as I responded with a resounding, "NO."
Again, I am 100 percent absolutely satisfied that God has clearly spoken to me in regards to any more children.
"What if God changes your mind," she implored. She being the one who's nearly driven me over the deep end with her many irrational issues and challenges.
There's no part of my heart, mind or soul that has any desire to parent any more children, other than the 39 I now parent.
That's how you know when God is working within you. An idea that you just cannot get out of your mind? That's God telling you to go forth. Or not.
God is clearly leading me into other directions, when I'm finished raising this family of mine.
Ya know, it ain't like I'm ever gonna be bored.
I finished reading Alice Waters and Chez Panisse late last night, savoring each final word, having thoroughly enjoyed this book, looking forward to starting another book Sarah has loaned to me. These are the ideas that will influence the second half of my life, this is where I want to go with all my energy, plans, dreams and goals.
In the meantime, God's powering me through my remaining years here as Big Loud Mama, changing me oh so slowly into simply Bita. Yesterday Hazel had told Sarah she wanted to stay with Bita while Sarah went to the grocery store, then later asking me repetitiously where her mama'd gone, but also happy to be playing with Mae, CJ, Isaiah, and Marissa.
Marcela encountered the coyote as she left yesterday, leaving me to ponder a second half of my life battling field mice, snakes, coyotes, and foxes as I continue to wanna raise my hens out here safely.
Thank God for no bears.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
If JoJo can tackle Fabian down, if he's this strong and able, why would he run pell mell to the room of a 55 year old rag doll for protection? What part of that didn't make any sense to me? And no, I do not approve of Fabian's tattoo.
Because I've yet to buy a door, to replace the bedroom door they'd again broken in half, what with accidental horseplay and all that, JoJo and Allen do not have functioning door alarms. However if they tried to enter anyone's rooms at night, they'd set off all the other alarms. They're both fairly innocuous as far as issues, just the run-of-the-mill zero impulse control, aggression -usually with each other and involving inanimate hapless items like doors and kitchen chairs - and they're both as unreasonably as scared of the dark as any other toddler might be.
Shaking me awake, "Mom there's a man downstairs," my first sleep muddled thought was the hopes they were talking about a deputy, as I've had many instances of that particular nighttime occurrence.
I quickly stood up and headed for my stairs.
"Mom, don't go down there," 14 year old Allen grabbed my arm and was absolutely terrified, fighting tears, with JoJo hovering and clinging to him. "Go get Chuy."
"Well, he's downstairs," I pointed out, unwilling to wake up any more opinions.
I just wasn't afraid, for some unknown reason, even against the blurted out fact that the dogs had barked, and the boys had looked out their window, and had seen a man crouch down and run off.
"We don't think we saw him, we did see him," Allen shouted at me, seeing my dubious expression.
Not likely. We live way down a dirt road, behind a locked gate in which you still have to traverse another dirt road, we've got nothing worth stealing, and it's dark as snot out here with no street lights. Who's gonna take a hike at one in the morning?
They followed me downstairs while I checked all the doors that I'd fortuitously remembered to lock, the windows, the unalarmed dogs who were snoring in different rooms, all kids accounted for, and I tried to reassure both petrified teens who wanted me to call the sheriff to ask if there were any escaped prisoners on the loose.
"From where?" I'd scoffed.
1:30 in the morning, it took me two more hours to again settle them down, both deciding to use sleeping bags next to my bed like frightened kindergartners. Me, reading for another hour, trying to regain my now elusive, blissful sleep stage, bleary eyed this morning after a day in Atlanta with Jesse. I always feel like I need a a shower after spending a day breathing car exhaust fumes.
It seemed as if every time I dozed off, Allen would ask me, "Mom did you hear that? I hear footsteps coming down the hall."
And no dogs barked? I don't think so.
A psychiatrist appointment today with four kids, an afternoon with Jesse and his family, my last day with them before they head to New York, who knows when I'll get to see them again, two boys at an away track meet, CRCT tutoring, an I Think I Can kinda day, checking off appointments and pick-ups, no time for any gardening other than hopefully, at least, starting another tray or two of seeds indoors, today maybe marigolds and cosmos flowers.
Jesse and I, both supremely frustrated about his sister, still had a great day together. It's probably been close to ten years since we've had some uninterrupted time, dang we now have matching favorite HGTV shows, he's interested in growing herbs so he can grill out better. "Well you sure know how to grow a garden," as he'd been a reluctant helper many years ago, all of my kids are unintimidated by the process, gardening is not formidable to them, they know how to make compost, mulch and plant, it's second nature.
I'm cooking up a big ole lunch today for those who drop by, not serving Hot Pockets. Green L.A. Girl had posted this conglomeration of chemicals that I find appalling, who eats that crap? Why is a multi-million dollar corporation thriving, while killing us slowly? What planet is this? Why am I considered odd for being obsessed with nutrition? Thank You, Adele Davis, for heavily influencing me in the 60s, a hats off to Frances Mooore Lappe for providing me with head-turning knowledge way back when Sarah was a baby, and now a thank you to Sarah, for exposing me to even higher levels of issues, via Alice Waters, and other very knowledgeable foodies.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Woken rudely at 5 by a ferocious clap and slam of thunder, my entire house shuddered, and I heard my dogs downstairs frantically running down the hardwood floor hallway to my room, scared and alarmed, followed by the sound of my sons’ deep voices, “Mom?”
Our internet and TV service went down, we still had my phone to check the radar, hey such a sign of spring, I welcome it gladly, we’d seen my earliest daffodils blooming yesterday, and this coming week will be marked by Georgia’s ridiculous weather swings involving flowers and hard freezes. We’d killed two mosquitoes as we all sat outside yesterday, Chuck telling us about the coyote he’d seen between our two houses, slinking through the woods, while Jesse and I made plans to go see his renegade sister.
She struggles so much. Spending several years in a residential psychiatric facility, I’ve been pretty impressed now with her ability to work most day to day things out, but overall she’s gonna have a very tough life. Now triangulating between Jesse and I, she’s pouring her resentment at him, while clinging to me, a total contrast to her horribly turbulent and irrational adolescent years.
These complexities of adulthood, of the trauma still being there, factored in with the other issues, didn’t free me up as much as I’d once though the Magic Age of 18 would do. Me not being legally responsible anymore has helped somewhat, in that it has forced them to change some behaviors if they wanna have family time.
I can’t have them coming back here where I still have impressionable children, making scenes or acting up. I do have several kids who’ll never be able to participate in family functions, so severe were their attacks upon us, the courts leaving us safer via ‘no contact orders’ and even a ‘prohibited entry order’ in another case. A locked gate, my preference for routine deputy patrols down our dirt road, security alarms, and time has all contributed to our emotional well-being.
It’s a minefield, complex, multi-layered, fraught with unseen difficulties and very tough to maneuver…another reason I garden so therapeutically, hoping the torrential downpour this morning was not washing away the seeds I’d carefully planted. Not likely, as my soil is porous and healthy, due to zero synthetic or chemical bullspit additives ever allowed on my land. Talk about a deal breaker.
This upcoming weekend, with most of my children gone on a church retreat, looms happily ahead of me. Who doesn’t like a break? Not something I often, if ever, voluntarily take, afraid I’d never return if allowed a breather.
I keep harping on how it’s just so much easier for me now, not having to bathe the kids, we’re even in our second week of a child usually stricken with night terrors, now attempting to go pull-up free, and lo and behold, we have progress, nearly tempting me to use an amateur exclamation mark here to celebrate the moment.
Yesterday Marcela’s daughter, Marissa, came over dressed nicely from church, only to quickly change into jeans and a T-shirt, only one and a half, but desiring to plunge into the fun, running, romping activities, the swings, and the toy cars that she saw Mae Mae hopping to and fro from, my Jack, Tabby and Nando, seemingly giants in comparison, were sweet and helpful with the grandbabies, allowing me a great deal of hope for future get-togethers.
Who, but me, would be so ecstatic over the happy lack of drama yesterday, to keep harping on it, reminding myself of what I’d so enjoyed?
Springtime infuses me with joy, sleeping last night with open windows, I just get so excited at the gardening potential ahead of me, I’d worked right hard all winter, no toddlers at home to slow me down, that nearly all my permaculture garden beds are manured and mulched, weeded and compost spread about, ready for me to dive in with my seeds and plants.
It’s as it should be and it makes me joyous.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
It must've hit 70 today, an incredibly beautiful day to have Isaiah's first birthday party. Jesse and Lena'd arrived here last night from Texas, on their way to New York. Between church and the party, I'd managed to get another row of Swiss Chard planted, and then we had the most delightful time of complete silliness, no drama, just Pure T enjoyment. Kinda how I'd once dreamed of it to be for us.
Allen, 14, Fabian, 18, JoJo 12, Mayra 16 and Miriam at 20.
Five out of an original sibling group of seven were here together, Miriam and Fabian having joined us for church as well, a great sermon that prompted me to reach out to an adult child who's been estranged. I'd left her a message, only to open the computer later and found our thoughts and individually initiated messages had crossed mid-air. That was surprising. But why so? That's how God works. That's why I leave a great deal of my own decisions to Him.
Gina, 31, Sergi,28, Yolie, 29, Marcela, 28 and Jesse, 27, are some of my original children. For a long time I only had my first eleven, they had a blast cutting up today, it's getting harder to have us all together.
Gina and Sergi are birth uncle and aunt to CW, Lily and Jack, further muddying up our family connections and links
Chuck has long been close to Jesse and Sergi, not having any of his own brothers, he'd grown up with my boys. Joe was unavailable today, long story I'll blog at some point maybe, suffice it to say, my Big Joe just can't get a break, and Daniel was still driving back from Mississippi.
It's a good thing I'm patient, plodding along, headstrong, driven and determined, and still aiming for some very specific, intriguing goals. Some have taken me nearly 40 years and I'm not there yet, some I've accomplished along the way, some will always be an ongoing process, revised and reformulated as my circumstances evolve situationally.
Writing them down, putting a finish date on them, all the techniques I've learned, kinda do work. My mind is abuzz constantly, it's later gratifying to hear some of these ambitious, purposeful remarks and thoughts come out later from the mouths of my children.
Obviously a proponent of higher education, inordinately proud of kids who can accomplish this, prouder later when others consider adding it to their personal goal list, me usually following up with, "Don't tell me what you're gonna do, do it." Show me.
I'd long ago proven I'm not the least bit graceful, last night slamming my knobby shin bone against a coffee table that's been there some 17 years, speed means little when combined with cloddish injuries. I wondered if I'd broken it, a monster purplish egg immediately swelling, my teenage sons blanching at the sight, "Dang, that's ug-ly," they consoled me. Good thing I take mongo vitamin doses to amp up the healing, always unnecessarily caused by my elephantine gait and maladroit tendency to fly without any wings, as opposed to careful and thoughtful stepping.
Chuy, on the other hand, is an impressive athlete. The middle school team aced the pre-season soccer tournament, three games in less than 24 hours, won them all, and it was a beautiful day in which to cheer him on, later swinging by the high school as the Nike reps had 10% off and no sales tax for the track shoes CW needed. My 13 year old son wearing a size 10, the half Anglo side of his background is obviously tall.
Girls facebooking him, "Meet me at the movies," and me responding, "I don't think so."
He's 13. Ya gotta be kidding me.
Do these girls' parents really think that's appropriate? Am I a total dinosaur? Well then, so be it. He has the rest of his life to be dating, let's enjoy childhood while it's still here.
The few kids who didn't want to go to the tournament got a dose of my formidable mother's nearly 80 year old energy as she organized a kitchen mopping event. 24 years older than me, that woman is amazing. Sarah's got Grandma reading the foodie books now, both Grandma and I've always been dirt diggers, not really liking to cook, but this genre is fascinating now to us both.
I have a big day, a great day ahead of me, a fun afternoon planned, gotta get everyone ready for church this morning, really glad that I have no drama to divulge, glad for an evening and a day yesterday full of niceness and fairly obedient children.
I still receive emails about waiting sibling groups, sometimes I even read them, and I'd read this cryptic description, "We are looking for a family who will adopt all five children together. These children are very bonded. Being consistent and following through would be in the best interest of these children. We are searching for a strong, experienced family who can deal with multiple behavioral issues of five children. Behaviorally, these children often have temper tantrums and require strong parents who can provide guidance and supervision through these times. These children receive academic help in school and will need ongoing help throughout their school years. They need parents who will be advocates for their education and support them in every way. These children will require parents that are committed to them into adulthood."
Very cute sibling group, but, now after decades of these 'temper tantrums' that I call rages - that summarily destroy a home, a parent's ability to not be secondarily traumatized, and eventually all these explosions cumulatively cloud the child's judgement past any reasoning ability - I remain cowed by my experiences, stunned even, that once-normal naive parents are not given more emotional support along the way by professionals, who also still do not comprehend that these were descriptions regarding the child before they came to us.
We didn't cause this and we need support in helping the children recover from their pasts. I wanna scream aloud about it. Parents, you WILL need therapy in order to cope and to recover.
Parents who will be advocates and support them in every way? These last 3200 nakedly emotional posts I've written, alarmingly illustrate the massive amount of support that will be required in the shocking face of constant humiliation, court dates, therapy sessions, vitriol and venom, hatefulness, massive destruction, irrational behaviors, mind-numbing emotional abuse, physical danger, police visits and debilitating drama.
Puh-leeze, social workers, those who know these children who've been so tragically damaged by others, please be brutally honest with the new parents who are innocently, happily, and of their own volition, dumbly stepping into the jaws of Hell, unarmed and unprepared. You, the parents, will lose friends, partners, property, and your own self-confidence, inner peace and much of your health.
My experiences are hauntingly similar, if not absolutely identical, to all of y'all's. Your letters, comments and emails tell me so, your pain and anguish I feel.
Would I have done all this, had I known what I was in for?
That's why God doesn't let us know what's ahead, honey, we wouldn't get outta bed, now would we?
But, at the risk of being the broken record that I am, yes I'd do it again, because I'm 100% positive that was called to do this...and equipped...and I'll see this adventure through to completion, but I am very, very positive that I wouldn't now ever adopt again, that 39 children are surely enough.
Now I crave peace, there's no part of me that still wants action and adventure, I only want to get myself back, to simply enjoy life, to move on in a positive forward manner, to continue achieving interesting and rational goals. I wanna never again shake in utter heart-stopping fear, I want to smell the roses and enjoy life, not dread each phone call, each cross word that may result in meteoric mayhem,...and all these tears I've shed? Oh, brother.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Days like yesterday were meant for me, better than Valium for boosting one's spirits, I worked outside hard and very happily for five, nearly uninterrupted hours, thinking how absolutely thrilled I was for the opportunity.
Saved Swiss Chard seeds, planted, and then untended to all winter in the greenhouse, gave me a large freshly-picked bowl for supper. I worked in the greenhouse until the sun warmed the day. I totally planted a garden bed, Francophile influenced apparently, a reach from my usual Mexican fare, sowing seeds of Rouge de Grenoblouse leaf lettuce and French breakfast radishes, arugula and my usual longtime favorite Black Seeded Simpson leaf lettuce.
I went on ahead and put my onion sets, grown from seed indoors into the ground, well half of them, as I'm experimenting also in another micro climate area. Yellow globe onions here, the purple ones out in The Big Back Garden.
One pile of wood chips, nearly gone from hauling, had some beautiful black dirt decomposition that I also added to the mix, Ipod blasting in my ear, and a total feeling of well-being overtaking my soul. I saw a robin, a childhood sign of Spring and I wanted to just go kiss it in joy, but it wouldn't let me.
Daniel, out in Starkville, Mississippi, with his friend who's in grad school there, sent me a picture of the game he was attending, the home opener against Rhode Island, carrying on our tradition of photographically showing the other, where one is sitting in relation to home plate. Me, sadly short lately of attending very many games, but that's gonna change for me as the kids continue to grow up and away.
The lure of this place will prove too much for me to resist.
Both Paloma and JoJo returned voluntarily to school to serve their ISS time. Because I don't engage, because I act as if I just don't give a hoot in response to amped up negativity, I'm finding that they'll eventually respond more appropriately as I do get visibly excited over positive endeavors.
Tabby's been bringing home amazing grades, following in her sister, Sabrina's bright footsteps, knowing I'll be thrilled for them both, more happy if Sabrina would shed her PMS-induced moodiness and teenage girl drama.
Dumping the guy I'd disapproved of, she's been kinda sneaky lately about who she likes, leaving me to blurt, in a more than aggrieved manner, "You're only fifteen. Get a life. Only an emotionally insecure young teenager needs a boyfriend to validate herself. Find out who you are first." Deep sigh and dish banging around on my part, knowing it's taken me some 50 plus years to get to this point, the knowing who I am. Nah, that's not true, I've always had a very strong and annoying sense of self. I just don't want to see such a bright girl settle for mediocrity.
UGA is hard to get into, she needs straight As, of which she's very able to do. My last sibling group, soon to celebrate their five year anniversary here with us, are all good, athletic students, allowing me to end my long, long career as Mama, with smart kids. A great way to go out.
We have a middle school pre-season soccer tournament in the next county this morning, two games in fact, and a track shindig at the high school where CW needs me to meet with a Nike 10% off rep for his needed shoes. I'd reactivated the two kid's line cell phones, 15 kids sharing them. I keep them with me at night to eliminate problems, each morning I decide, based on our crazy sports schedules, who'll get the phones, who needs to get in touch with me, not with other babbling teenagers.
It's gonna be mid 60s and I'll not be in the gardens? Even warmer tomorrow, rain on Monday and Pepe's dogging me to come see him in Atlanta. A phone call a day from him, yesterday fussing again about white people, his favorite target. Me, for the ten thousandth time reminding him that I, too, am a white woman, his response was too hilarious and racist for me to repeat regarding the size of mis cojones no verdadero. I shouldn't have laughed, but it busted outta me. Lord knows I shouldn't be encouraging him.
By 8:30, on a Saturday morning, today, I have to get everyone up, dressed, fed and loaded into the van, for us to get to this tournament in time. I'd already determined, by a phone call, that admission was free. A good thing too, we're hitting our end of the month dry spell, but the bills are paid. This is when we get creative with what's in the pantry.
I've been so happy lately, so unstressed out, that I've eaten everything in sight, tanking up subconsciously, I'm sure, wonder if I can still even fit in my summer clothes? Hope so.
Friday, February 19, 2010
The air itself feels better, holding the imminent promise of Spring. Yesterday I'd driven to two different schools, picking up CW who's on the track team, and Chuy from soccer practice, this before we even begin the rec league season. A friend, Coach T, flagging me down, to fill my van with what his own three sons have outgrown which is awesome to a lady with 21 sons. Sports equipment and apparel is costly.
A baseball game was underway and I'd even have loved to have had the time and the freedom to go watch it. I love baseball, just love it. It soothes my soul. I could listen to a baseball game on a transistor radio, just like my long gone Pa used to do in my childhood, wishing for a whiff of his cigar that instantly brings back the sound of a baseball bat cracking against a well-hit ball. I spent four year watching Daniel play high school baseball, ten years watching his Little League games and loving every single minute of it all.
I'd slap forgotten to be at the elementary school at 4:15 to pick up Scotty and Jonathan from their CRCT tutoring, the fifth grade teachers had a hoot over that, not like me at all, Ms Carr once totally covering for me, bringing Scotty home while I obliviously was sorting through stuff just given to us, an enormous truckload from Marianne and Elizabeth, delivered by Jon.
Paloma is still refusing to go to school, looking at me like I'm the crazy one for thinking she'd go serve ISS for a justified punch she'd given a kid. She's not allowed to have physical contact with any one for any reason, a lame attempt on my part to minimize friction, and it's not working on a child who doesn't know the difference between a friendly pat and a full-blown assault.
An article from Cathy, Multiple Childhood Adversities May Increase Risk for Wide Range of Psychiatric Disorders, stunned me.
In fact, investigators from Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, found "that CAs explain (in a predictive sense) 32.4% of all disorders, 41.2% of disruptive behavior disorders, 32.4% of anxiety disorders, 26.2% of mood disorders, and 21.0% of substance use disorders."
In addition, the Childhood Adversities from a "maladaptive family functioning (MFF) cluster, including parental mental illness, substance abuse disorder, and criminality; family violence; physical and sexual abuse; and neglect, were the strongest correlates of disorder onset," report the authors.
To be dealing with this many cases of emotionally challenged children has long perplexed me. I came away with a better understanding of the 'whys,' but still am frustrated as how to either fix, ameliorate or, at least, teach kids to minimally function in the long life they should have ahead of them.
I was listening to a Dr. David Cooper podcast yesterday, him preaching from Mt. Paran Church of God in Atlanta, me still missing him as my own pastor, although he's been gone from Athens close to 20 years.
He can really get on a roll, on a tear, as only he can do, in that special anointed manner of his, hitting us all where we live, me most especially yesterday, as he went on about folks constantly asking God "Why?" Yep, that's totally me.
I sound like a toddler. "Why? Why? Why?" We do not have the mind of God. We are finite humans with a limited understanding. It'd be like God trying to explain quantum physics to a two year old. It can't be done.
Well I'll be a monkey's uncle. I cut off my Ipod and pondered that thought, as I walked around outside dreaming of Spring. Yeah, girl, that's where faith's supposed to enter the picture. I do trust God, I really do. I pray constantly, even more than I holler and carry one, which is a great deal, and I do accept the outcomes eventually, not always liking the answers, of course, but I'm fully confident in His abilities. It took me a very long time to get to this point.
I went back inside to face the music, the loud return of my children from school, thinking both about the sermon and this article, knowing always that doors open, that information or the answers I need will come to me, always incredibly glad for my rock solid faith, as I do face some tough challenges, choices and adversities.
In addition, they note that the findings from the second study, although modest, "suggest that not only are Childhood Adversities associated with an increased risk of mental health disorders, the nature of these disorders also appears to be more chronic."
The authors write that there is now more than enough evidence linking CAs and adverse health outcomes. "In short, we now must shift our attention to focus on the development of population-based strategies that target prevention and early intervention and ensure that these programs are carefully evaluated."
"The take-home message is that we need to intervene and prevent CAs and treat exposed children — the earlier the better," added Dr. McGrath.
I think about the three grandchildren living here with me, now 9, 12 and 13, who've lived in this house since birth, gone to the same church, same school, had the same routine, schedules and stability level, versus my other children who couldn't ever even count on a sandwich to be regularly given to them in their early childhood. That's a mild thought. Sometimes even I can't bear to think of what all they endured back then, no wonder there's mood disorders here.
Were it not for God's Word teaching me so much about patience and love, a servant heart, (an understatement) and fruits of the Spirit, I'd NEVER have survived much of this at all. It's been hard, it's been very hard. I do, one billion percent, trust in Him to see me through, to cover everything, and to show me how I should proceed.
There's a great deal of inner confidence in that for me.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
"But I WANT it," a whiny cry heard by parents around the world, most especially in our very spoiled, self-indulgent nation, where well-meaning helicopter parents hover constantly, swooping in to the rescue, and to inadvertently ensure that every child does not learn self-denial, a foreign concept seemingly abolished soon after The Great Depression, giving birth to imaginary money in the form of credit cards and fake food disguised by alluring packaging. Lies, lies, lies.
All of society is now paying the price for folks having lived so long and so far above their means.
This self-indulgence cuts across everything. No one thinks about consequences or the far-reaching impact that each decision made today will have on one's future. That bugs me.
Deferred Gratification is easy, it's putting off something today that one knows will have a greater reward in the future. I'm absolutely unable to get this one fact through most of my children's mental processes.
Self-righteous? Me? Yeah. So what? It works for me.
I'm again grateful to my mother for instilling, for tattooing on our brains, that we should live beneath our means, she raised us like this, and it was my original goal to raise my entire family similarly, but I failed to factor in the Trauma Effect that so rules our lives.
Sniffing disdainfully at me while they were teenagers, shunning Food Bank rejects or yard sale finds in favor of informing me I must've been raised in backwards bywaters where ugly cousins married each other, only to later call and email me with items they'd like for me to search out for them at yard sales. Yeah buddy, when it's your dollar versus mine...
But I'm glad to do it for them as it indicates emotional growth.
Many years later I have been suitably impressed with some money management skills eventually demonstrated by some home-buying children of mine, but those middle years used to be way more stressful than they should've been. I took it all too personally, was too intense, too sucked in, and uber-focused on issues that there was no way on earth to change at the time. I then didn't totally comprehend what delays were there in developmentally challenged children. My parenting back then was identical to how I'd parented Sarah when, in reality, many, many more adjustments would have to be made on my part.
I'm still blindly stumbling along, learning as I go, there's no handbook available for parenting children like mine.
Folks used to think I was parsimonious for not feeding my children either meat nor sodas, there's no candy sitting in bowls around here, until clearly the evidence available indicates the long-term and insidious damage these foods can do in one's body. My energy is in great part due to my own body not being poisoned nor polluted by that crap.
These things have worked for me, this living without indulging myself constantly with that which I can't afford anyway, and being fairly careful about the fuel going into my body.
Waiting for things makes it all the sweeter when obtained, the rewards are greater, the mental price exacted is lessened.
And truly I feel as if I have all I need or want. Did I just force myself to feel that way, or did self-denial play a part in later self-satisfaction? I read a great deal, whenever I can slip some reading time into my schedule, and I learned long ago that, for me, life was too short, or too demanding, to read fiction when there was so much else I needed to learn. I truly love to read the results of well-done studies, as fascinating to me as all get out.
I'd long ago have slipped into the sea of despair, y'all have watched me tread water there way too often, and I know I'll momentarily sink beneath the surface again, at times, but overall, books like Learned Optimism, Seven Habits, many time-management and personal finance books, or any of Norman Vincent Peale, Dennis Waitley or Napoleon Hill's staggeringly intense thoughts have imprinted themselves deeply into my psyche, giving me an inner strength that borders on an iron will. Lord knows, there'll still be plenty of down times to power myself through again.
I do lately feel very encouraged, standing on the cusp of finishing these many long years with children at home, the light at the end of the tunnel seems very bright to me now, I'm able to shrug off the arrows and slings I still receive from those who resent me for doing what the birth parents would not, could not do, and my excitement level over my own unlimited future thrills the peaturkey outta me in ways I cannot even begin to describe.
My heart pounds with excitement just at the thought of warmer temperatures, a single whiff of wood chips decaying triggers intense feelings of garden challenges and enjoyment, seeing more and more birds returning to the trees, and the imminent promise of my daffodils blooming any second now, overshadows my disgust at the smell and the sight of Wal-mart pastel purple candy Easter eggs that children will cram into their mouths, food dyes dripping down their chins, absorbing high-fructose corn syrup while their loving parents are blithely unaware of the hideous dangers they're allowing into their children.
I know most folks don't read my links, I know I do it more for me, documenting what I wanna refer back to, or to tell Sarah, but just as tobacco was once thought to be modern and socially acceptable, due to clever lobbying and advertising campaigns, so too has soda enjoyed an incredible whitewash of acceptability when in reality you might as well puff on lit dynamite to get the same devastating effect. Sarah's hero, Mark Bittman, wrote a very restrained piece on the crapola and I'd read this one last night in horror. Duh, that's why folks can't lose weight.
If you read no other link than these, please do so for your own health and energy levels.
Folks tell me they wanna be slim and energetic also, "Cindy, where do you get all that energy?" I'm asked constantly.
Simple answer, I eat right and it pays off. If that's self-denial, then there's a tremendously high reward in it.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
I had no clue at all.
I suppose I'd never thought about all the ramifications of the commercial flower production, but this article on the rose industry was eye-opening and sickening. I found it via the Garden Rant, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite gardening sites. I'm also enjoying this one.
The flower industry, detailed here, is fraught with pitfalls.
So the least environmentally damaging path to enjoying roses, which I do dearly love, but will willingly loose a plant before I'll resort to spraying one, or using any garden chemicals, is to go through a reputable source such as The Antique Rose Emporium, be a rose rustler, or learn to propagate, which is easy with roses.
I've gardened organically all my life, just as my parents and grandparents did, proving there's a large delicious harvest available without nasty chemicals being involved. So what if we lose something? Sometimes we do. Usually we don't.
And Sarah's been rocking my world, teaching me a great deal via her blog, but also influencing me to read books written by foodies, right now I'm enjoying Alice Water's biography, entranced with her Edible Schoolyard Project. Sarah's been reading my farming, gardening, homesteading books, and to look forward to decades of living like this makes me very happy.
There's just so much out there that draws me to it, so much to learn and to do, I find it all invigorating.
Yolie and Chuck grew a garden, Chuck wants a cow, heck our family alone purchasing milk from him...he'd need several cows to fill the need each day.
I'm on a roll, check outta here now if my know-it-all, overly confident, overbearing ways get on your nerves, 'cause I'm locked and loaded, ready to verbally release some attitude with a capital Sass, using too many italics as hisses in the damp cold.
28 degrees in the morning, Chuy's usual, "I'm not cold," which is probably true as he wears only soccer shorts, shirtless and bare feet around the house, while my thermal underwear is under sweat clothes, and I'm absurdly yelling about the cold that I deeply despise.
"Put on a jacket or I'll get on the bus and embarrass you," I warned in all fairness.
"You can't embarrass me," he nonchalantly hedged, but his shifty eyes betrayed his bravado.
"UH, what about us?" the rest wailed in unison, having seen me in action more than once.
In PJs, my hair clipped up, unbrushed and sticking out everywhichaway like a b... no, I mean witch, no foundational undergarments, no makeup, I stormed the bus and informed the amused bus driver that we could certainly afford coats, but that I simply had children who chose not to be so burdened. Remember this wonderful man has never complained about any of my children's many antics and missteps.
When he'd quit laughing at me, while my other kids slunk behind me, trying to get on the bus, hopefully unnoticed and unrelated to the big-mouth bass who was hollering and waving her hands, he retorted, "Cindy, do you know how many kids get on this bus in shorts all year around?"
"Uh, well, OK," I slunk back to the van, but remembered to dance and wave gaily at my children, and other students, who were watching me out the bus windows, sure I'd pull another Mortifying Mom stunt before they were even off the dirt road.
Vanessa later informed me, on the phone, that Mayra had Miriam's sneakiness combined with Vanessa's aggressiveness, which made for a manipulative mean girl, musing aloud and on target about both of her birth sisters. "Girlfriend," I snickered, "You're writing my blog post."
Paloma stormed out of ISS yesterday, the school called me, the Pathways team intervened, and today she's sitting here glaring at me, refusing to attend school at all, "Who gives a spit if it's breaking the law?" she has bellowed, while her head spins crazily. My blogs are writing themselves.
My very beautiful Sabrina's dumped her really nice boyfriend, hard for me to get concerned, or even interested, as this is all teenage drama and angst. Bo-ring, but she upped the ante by choosing the next victim as someone I absolutely, one million percent disapprove of, and with many good reasons.
"You wanna end up broke, battered and living with a mean thug who'd threatened your own brother?" I yelled reasonably.
She stormed off, since we all know that 15 year olds know oh so much more than any ancient 55 year old. The loud implication here, who wants to end up alone like mama?
You said what?
Like I didn't choose this? Like I didn't follow totally after God and turn my back on dates, mates and many alluring possibilities? Want me to call a few witnesses little girl? You don't think I have fallbacks? Plan B-Z? Just because I'm quiet about it doesn't mean there aren't undercurrents of my past and my future scattered everywhere.
You think the minute I get free of the massive responsibilities I won't immediately be back dancing and carrying on where I left off? It doesn't matter that I'll be even older, so too will be the men, I mean man. This from a woman who'd had a date the minute her second divorce was finalized, dinner out in a nice place with a great guy, and I had a ton of kids even then, and heck yeah I went out on that momentous occasion, celebrating my freedom, then crawled back into my Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole, AKA my family.
You're outta your ever-loving mind, I thought, but what I said was, "I'd dang sure rather be alone than stuck in a nasty, broke down, ratty trailer with an ignorant, shiftless, unemployed street-corner fool." Too bad I'm bereft of opinions.
The only thing you can take to the bank is I won't date very young men. That's gross. My oldest son is nearly 30, the very thought of a slick young man turns my stomach. Heck, my oldest son-in-law is 43. It's 45 and up for me. Case in point. Yuck.
Or maybe I'll so enjoy the peace, quiet and total absence of daily demands, that I'll slam the gate out front shut, lock it tight, and never leave my property except for Spring Training and Beach Trips. I'll be alone and free. Alone is freeing to me.
The point is, child, I will have choices. I will not be dumb and broke. I will not be stuck, I will not be burdened by young stupid rebellion. Dependent on someone? Me? I don't think so.
I will choose every step of my life, just as I've always done, with prayer and deliberation, I'll choose to be alone, or I'll chose not to be, and I pray with all my might that all my daughters will learn to be able to take care of themselves, whether they'll need it or not, that they will always have that ability and that they'll make good choices.
OK, my lovely Memaw, I'd guffawed and snickered, "Don't end up like me. Don't end up debt free, living on one's dream land, retired early, and overall very, very happy with life, don't be full of dreams and goals, in spite of all one's children who might strive to not make it so for Mama."
I'm unstoppable. Undaunted and undeterred.
Should I have been a cigarette-smoking, slovenly, low-rent white-trash, soap opera watching, sporadically under-employed, beer-swilling mother so they'd have had to rebel into successful white collar workers just to spite mama?
Is there really no logic available anywhere?
Self-Talk: Yeah, girl, calm down, logic got you here, right here where you wanted to be. You answered the Call, you've worked like a dog, there've been many rewards, you're still strong, too energetic, raring to go, with a whole lifetime ahead of you. Your futures so bright, you gotta wear shades and other cliches.
Sabrina, with all her brains, will eventually choose right.
My phone rings constantly from my grown kids, common thread is wishing they'd have listened to me, not made so many of the perilous mistakes that I'd warned them about...jeepers...can we cut out the middle man - the mistakes - and do right? How hard is that?
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Ha! Proof positive on Memaw's birthday camera that JoJo'd tucked the shoulder strap behind him, always pushing the envelope of disobedience oppositionally.
To describe myself as a shut-in seems a stretch, yet I'm here glued to my land for such indefinite lengths of days, which have quickly and surprisingly turned into months and years, that I'm only recently realizing this fact. I'm just two years away from my 40th high school reunion, so finding my old friends and classmates on Facebook has been a genuine treat.
Then I turn away from the computer and face my family. 'Nuff said?
I could've gone to court and pressed both unruly and theft charges on JoJo for his most recent incident, but I feel in my gut that he's gonna pull through his adolescent years and someday become right successful. He's not mentally challenged, he just has some serious emotional issues to conquer, this is doable.
His DJJ P.O. gave him three more months of probation after she'd been informed of his infractions, he was visibly surprised and I feared a meltdown, but he pulled himself together. A part of me wonders if, on some level, he's afraid to not be on Probation, knowing it gives him even another layer of boundaries that he so needs. Then there's the ages old retaliation for rewards that we adoptive parents of traumatized children face, always and conversely making us pay for acknowledging them, when inwardly they feel so worthless. It feels uncomfortable for them to be positively recognized, it goes against their long held world view, and to turn this ship around takes years and years and years.
When Miss Kim asks each kid how they've been doing in the preceding month, every single one of them look blankly to me for the answers. They look ambushed by the very simple question. I know they've truly totally forgotten the day before, to think concretely, and to give a definitive answer is beyond their capabilities since they've truly and simply forgotten. Again short term memory loss is common in grief. Jonathan had even forgotten how incredibly helpful he'd been on Saturday.
Why would they grieve their abusive birth parents, one might ask? Their loyalty to their original parents runs very strong. To acknowledge the abandonment, neglect or abuse, in their minds, reflects horribly upon them. When they finally can understand it was not their fault, then truly healing can occur, but it's a very long, precarious, rutty road to get to that point.
Sometimes I just feel as if I'm riding a bucking bronco bareback, being slung thisaway and that, but how much more so for my children?
Many, if not all, of the things I'd been taught by my caseworker, Emily, turned out to be so dead-on target as to be scary. Her ability to step back, assess what's really going on, and to help me to deal with it all, has been priceless. I'd be caterwauling to her, my tears and snot going everywhere, and she'd flatly point out exactly what I couldn't see, as my emotions clouded my thinking, and I screamingly wanted to be logical...not an option.
She has a very musical, contagious laugh and she'd crack up at the very thought, her acknowledgement of the outrageousness generally calmed me down enough to listen to her explanation, and nearly everything I type here is what I've learned from her, in regards to adoption, parenting challenging children, and the rest of my family.
I might look and act stubborn as a mule and as hard-headed as a plank of wood, but honey, I do pay attention to those that know what they're talking about; brilliance and honesty sway me in a very positive manner.
It has taken me many, many years though to disentangle myself emotionally from some very artful manipulations, kids who are hellbent on survival are amazingly deceptive and cunning at times, opening up the now-cracked skylight on my very once naive gullibility.
We did just survive an interestingly quiet overall Winter Break, Paloma truly thinks she didn't slug a child at school, even though a teacher witnessed it and documented the incident, and Paloma now has two days ISS as a consequence. Her explanation, "He ran into my hand," which she firmly believes. It's pointless to argue with her, she's taken her stand, and that's that.
Jack finished his science project, Lily her Language Arts one, I cleaned out and scrubbed down the kitchen fridge, Scotty tended to the chickens, Chuy set the mouse traps, Jonathan toted scraps to the compost pile, the kids gathered up their clean laundry, and I have a fairly easy upcoming rest of the week, too cold to work outside, but I'm still plowing through major work inside, knowing Springtime isn't far off, and it'll be then difficult to convince me to do the indoor tasks.
Sarah's accounting degree has paid off constantly, coaching me through a discussion yesterday with State Farm over my insurance coverage, me telling the guy if my house blew away tomorrow, I'd replace it with a smaller version - in my mind it'd be a concrete bunker - "Dude, I don't wanna pay this much of a premium," aiming for, and getting, a 50% reduction, later informing Charter about how I could save $15 off my bill, who needs music channels on a TV? I never asked for these, don't assume I want them. $5 for High Definition? Kiss my foot.
I go over my budget constantly, very, very grateful for the seminar in the mid-80s I'd attended. Larry Burkett set my already nerdy budget on a Biblical path, and as such, I've been able to do what I've done for so long. Again, someone's brilliance convinced me of a better way.
Sarah taking nerdom to the next level, "Why consume when you can create?" Triple the line items I have, as she's more detailed, but heck I have 50 something already. She can do it all in her head and hit it to the nearest nickel automatically, pretty amazing for someone who'd have preferred to major in Classical Mythology. She's tenth generation of a Southern family determined to live beneath their means, Grandma having impressed this upon us, me old enough to remember my own grandmothers and great-grandmothers growing gardens and raising chickens.
Both of us wanting to outdo the other in dorkiness, I have the advantage because I'm older and care even less about how I look, gimme a spading fork and a hand rake and I'm good to go.
Self-discipline or self-denial? Who cares? A true choleric comprehends that freedom can be bought at that price. Yeah I know that cholerics can be buttheads also, duh, I've had my days.
The $20 monthly extra I pay for my very own again functioning DVR up in my room, less than a dollar a day, my entire entertainment, wardrobe and discretionary budget spent in this one place, is so dang worth it, I'd likely pay double for the privilege.
The movie, 2012, left the Dollar Theatre before we could get it together to go, the snow event overshadowing any plans we might've considered. Oh well.
Monday, February 15, 2010
The author of the book I'm reading, Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners by Suzanne Ashworth, holds three Master's Degrees, teaches at a college and maintains large gardens. Her board of regional advisors, six other amazing people, with credentials out of this stratosphere, left me shaking my head in awe and admiration, and mumbling to myself, wondering how they have time enough each day to get it all done.
This so inspires me, spurs me on, motivates me to do more, yet I flopped like a flounder on my bed Saturday evening, distraught over the ruination of the DVR in my room. A surge of power, either when we'd first heard a transformer explode, or later when electricity returned, had fried the Moxie Box, not really much to fret over when one considers it wasn't one of our computers, but rather something easily replaced at no charge, but I had to go two more days watching regular TV with advertisements, rather than the beautiful convenience of taping what I want to watch, when I want, without commercials.
What a brat I am, I'd thought to myself. I read Claudia's post with her serious health concerns and her kids acting out, on-target behaviors as they'd upped their own meltdowns in response to their deep fears over her health, very typical textbook reactions in traumatized children, but that doesn't make it any easier to deal with when one is sick. The level of inner fear in our children makes empathy allusive.
Our afternoon temperatures surprisingly hit 52 yesterday, allowing me time to work for awhile out front, extricating Satanic crabgrass rhizomes from the roots of my beloved Martha Gonzalez rose. Who doesn't love a rose with a history? I coulda been a rose rustler , I allowed myself a long daydream, jerked back to reality by the racket of my children on the trampoline. Oh well, sugarpie, yes I use such positive endearing affirmations even in my own noisy head, you still have time to accomplish a thousand more dreams and goals.
I weeded and floated off in my head again. Maybe I should've gone to an Ag School in 1972? But what if they'd managed to brainwash me as the petro-chemical industry pours millions into such programs. Maybe I should've joined the Peace Corps after college and used my teaching degree? I do this in my head a lot, until God always gently reminds me I'm where He called me to be. Sometime I holler back, "Lord what were you thinking?" Then I get over myself and cook dinner or do dishes, laundry or vacuuming.
What a dork, I also considered in response to my own ruminations, but that's how I'm made. I've learned to live with it and embrace it, channel it all positively to work forward where I wanna go and do what I wanna do, glad of the inner freedom that comes with age, confidence, experience and attitude.
But being outside cleared my head, breathing all the used, stale and funky air in my very unsealed up house, leads me to fear carbon monoxide poisoning which isn't even remotely possible as the doors are flung open constantly, but I over-react dramatically in the face of being cooped up inside like a Yankee too long. If I had to look outside and see other houses, versus the meadow I love and the surrounding woods, I'd certainly have lost it a long time ago, winter or not.
Having recovered from my epic failure at germinating saved bell pepper seeds, I've replanted from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and am happily tending to the plants under lights, the same lights I've used for more than 30 years now, just shop lights propped on bricks, put away and stored until next year each year. This system works fine, no need for expensive bulbs.
Charter is coming this morning with a replacement DVR for me, thank Goodness, and the kids are home again today as they finish up Winter Break, they've taped Planet Earth on the downstairs DVR, and are watching it this morning, it sucks me in as well, it's extraordinarily breath-taking. Usually they have on Sponge Bob which makes me gnash my teeth in frustration, with the stupid theme song lodged in my head for the rest of the day.
My tall, thin, very bonded 13 year old son was angry with me yesterday when I, rightly so, did not agree to him going to the mall to hang out with some 13 year old girl. Yeah, right. By nightfall he'd apologized for his unwarranted fury, his thoughts that I'm a dinosaur, sitting in my lap, nearly crushing my legs, he laughed it all off because he has a sunny disposition, someone who's attached because he's always been nurtured, reminding me to tread carefully and understandingly with all my many children who were not here when young, who never had their needs met until they arrived here, suspicious and rageful.
A grown kid is in a mess, not entirely of his own making, but forcing very careful treading for me, toeing the line, responding appropriately without enabling. I'm sad he's being hit with all this, but it kinda does stretch back to a poor choice long ago.
Potato bar last night, some 30 pounds of potatoes, left us with a little bit of leftovers. I'd mashed everything and added milk, the kids mounded their plates, adding pepper jack cheese, sour cream, nutritional yeast, coarse black pepper, sea salt, real butter, and fake fire hot pepper sauce (store bought peppers). Guess what I want now for breakfast? Grandma'd made a rice pudding as well.
With all my intellectual pretension and bullhockey gallumphing, I do depend on my DVR for the mindless fluff I also need. Balance, I call it, when in reality it's nothing more than a nighttime soap opera, Brothers & Sisters with the incomparable Sally Field, although I've totally lost interest this season.
Heck, this is one of my favorite movies I could watch over and over, with a star who publicly farted on a morning TV show, my definition of comedy right on par with any other normal, well-adjusted kindergartner.