Monday, October 31, 2011
"You're really negative about yourself," Martin remarked yesterday.
Yeah, I am.
I'd cried in Sunday School when a longtime acquaintance, the mother of our magistrate judge, mentioned that I looked very heavy-hearted. Honey, the tears sprang from my eyes as if I'd popped a leak, surprising her too I'm sure, as she's been in my Sunday School class in two different churches for some 30 years. Usually I just sit quietly like a bump on a log, trying to absorb the normalness, while inwardly fretting over so much it seems.
I am heavy-hearted.
I'm facing yet another impossible ordeal, trying to keep everyone here safe.
That anyone should think I'd do otherwise baffles me.
"Maybe I'm just too desensitized," an opposing participant in this battle recently told me.
I'm flat out jealous of all the happy families I observed yesterday at our church annual fall festival, those that don't get attacked, robbed, massively criticized, or emotionally destroyed on a routine basis. Those that don't get slung into walls and punched for trying to protect others, yeah, sometimes I wish I were more normal.
Several moms of difficult families were there as well, glassy-eyed and hollow, the only ones I really talked to, as they so understand, they've fought their own terrible ordeals. One called herself fat - and she's not so at all, not one single bit, that's just another example of the beat-down we labor under each day. Another wondered aloud when it'd all calm down, as the next generation is problematic.
I used to have a great deal of self-esteem, not conceited, but emotionally very strong.
I've been treated like a moron for too long by too many people who couldn't do for one single day what I've done for decades.
I'm a little touchy about it right now.
I'm demanding safety.
Martin is not an Oppositional Defiant Disordered son, not at all, he's stubborn and hard-headed at times, but he's almost 18 and facing a world that scares him a little. I love him to pieces and I don't want him to move out until he's 30 or so, hoping he'll gain some maturity.
But he's right about my negativity.
I don't engage in pointless arguments with ODD teenage boys. I've been conditioned over the years, in a negative manner, if I would engage, they'd up the ante, a lose-lose for both sides. But it has come at a price on me, I have to do 95% of the work around here, rather than have a battle of wills that'd end badly.
Sabrina, Tony and Scotty do help me. I'd rewarded them with some seven layer bean dip that Grandma brought back from her mountain weekend card-playing fest. They happily pigged out, with me pointing out the connection between hard work and rewards.
Grandma and three women friends went away to stay in their pjs and play bridge for hours and hours. Next weekend my baby brother, Jimbo, is coming to take her to Greenville, SC, for the 75th Homecoming celebration at her childhood church.
"We just did that," I pointed out to Grandma, trying to remember exactly when we'd gone there.
"Uh, Mom," Sarah interjected, "That was 25 years ago for their 50th celebration."
Wow. 25 years down the rabbit hole?
It took me 10 minutes to type this, I feel better now that I've expressed my frustration, now I'll slam the laptop shut and go on about my business of being the maid, thinking ahead for supper, needing to re-paint wall after wall, patch holes, drive to different facilities, and do the regular errands.
It's a good thing that I thrive on being busy, or I believe I'd truly lose my mind from what others want to pile on top of one of the busiest women I know.
"When all the kids are grown, when you're free of the stress some day, doncha want to cuss out all those people who've been flat-out mean to you?" I was recently asked.
Yeah, I kinda do.
BUT, and this is a big butt, just like my own, I have an extraordinarily strong conscience that would never allow me to do so. I put back my dang shopping buggy properly, I pick up trash I pass by in a parking lot, I truly believe that God is watching all the time, and I so want to do right.
I'm a Preacher's Kid, whadya expect?
57 years of Bible learning kinda makes an impression upon someone...
Sunday, October 30, 2011
When one doesn't spend all her time trying to manage severely mentally ill behaviors, as if just a mom has any control over a fundamentally neurologically damaged raging teenagers, then the rest of the family is freed up to safely have some fun.
We are freed up, and last night I took the kids to the county firehouse fall festival where I ate delicious hot boiled peanuts and watched my kids have good clean fun. Four of my grandchildren were there as well.
I didn't have to worry about someone having a rage or attacking anyone.
I only have oppositionally defiant teens, not murderous ones right now.
This I can deal with, this is what I signed up for, but I did not sign up to have severely dangerous threats and actions here in my home.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Ray's homeschooling thermometer, homemade and too cool for words. Sarah's been telling me about a book she's been reading The Dumbing Down of America which tells of us allowing our children to be raised by strangers, from day care through school, parents becoming little more than the folks one goes home to sleep with each evening, the disconnect growing by leaps and bounds.
Sabrina's competition cheerleading event costs $7 per person, the five youngest kids and I shelling out a whopping $42 just to watch a 60 second event. OUCH. But I want to support Sabrina's efforts, she's really, really good, born to be amazingly talented in gymnastics. I want her to be busy and happy, she's 16 now, an age at which rebellion has been rampant in my adopted teenagers, but not so much now though, even with all the teenagers living here, they're a darn good bunch of kids.
I'd recently read somewhere that spending cash, versus using either credit or debit cards, reduces one's annual expenses by some 20%. I believe it, I imagine I, too, would be much more careful if it were a cash basis only, even the debit card adds another layer of potential spending ability, as it's backed up by the entire cash balance in an account.
Man of man, wouldn't I love an extra 20%? I have several high schoolers who are definitely college material, that's gonna cost.
I used to never be able to have cash on hand, as it would immediately be stolen. That's not the case anymore here. I still find myself unable to totally trust this scenario. I've been too emotionally battered for too long to just easily give up this fear.
Chuck had used bead board paneling to about chest height down my long hall, where ragers have kicked and punched holes for many years, and in a room once occupied by a wall kicker who'd angrily decorated it with some 25 holes in the Sheetrock. When I was at a residential facility this week, the intake guy had shown me how they'd had to panel from floor to ceiling because of this very same action that disturbed children seem to automatically revert to in times of anger.
My first three sibling groups did not ever do this, but around the mid 1990s, things changed across the board, an observation shared by other foster and adoptive mothers, the kids in care seemed infinitely more troubled, maybe due to crack and meth birth parent addicts, in one of my sibling groups it was an inhalant issue. I'd never even heard of huffing. Who looks at a spray paint can and decides to inhale the nasty fumes? To then later deal with the resulting kids from pregnant women who still abused drugs and alcohol...oh my goodness...the resulting turmoil and mayhem within the children's minds and bodies has been atrocious.
Theresa, in her blog, recently updated the statuses of her children, estranged from some and proud of some, very similar to my own family's microcosm.
Claudia had recently pointed out to me how we'd all found each other on the Internet, our support group, or more correctly our peer group - the only other women on earth who understood the night terrors and attacks that we've all endured, the incredible house damages, and loss of our own self-esteem, as we constantly get blamed for everything. Honestly it's been similar to a combat zone, but we've been unarmed.
I now envy reclusive people, it's all I wanna be.
I fantasize about when the kids are grown, the beauty of the Internet is that I can order what I need, never having to leave my property for dumb stores and boring errands. All I ever wanna do anyway is to dig in the dirt and produce my own food. Social situations seem amazingly idiotic to me, small talk so ludicrous, I don't wanna tell my story, I want to heal from the emotional and physical abuse I've suffered.
I want silence pounding in my ears, and no ridiculous intrusive demands upon me anymore, no fingers pointed at me and no more wet behind the ears counselors asking me if I've tried sticker charts. That said, I want to also remember to be grateful for the amazing levels of intelligence and help that I've been blessed with via therapy, my adoption workers, and quite a few others.
Not really, except for a few beach trips, I'd just as soon cocoon myself.
I've essentially been a shut-in for a very long time as it is, never able, nor even caring enough, to find someone to babysit even so I could attend church activities or anything else. It just seemed to be too much trouble for me.
"I don't want to have to get dressed up," a former pastor I'd run into yesterday told me. He was once The Bigger's youth pastor, so adored by them, Gina, Yolie, Saray, Deysi and Marcela's hero. He's since suffered health issues, but thankfully is still so goofy that Tabby just stared at him wide-eyed. She'd been picked up by me from school, the school nurse telling me she had a stomach ache, and I attribute it to the stress factors now, as I seek outside long term help for Jonathan.
Tabby'd accompanied me to Lowe's, as I bought a drill to replace locks, door knobs, wall hooks, and everything else that disturbed children have destroyed over the years. That I now can even own a drill that won't be vandalized nor stolen, dismantled just to irritate me, or used as a weapon against me, or anyone else, is reason enough to smile.
We rehung Lily's curtains, gave her a brand new interior door lock, put hooks on the back of bedroom doors for belts or hats, grinning with delight that we now know that no one will glare at me in anger for no reason and systematically rip down all I do. That's been my burden to bear for close to 20 years, and it's has taken an monstrous emotional toll on me in a very big way. Protecting everyone else has been my full-time preoccupation for way too long.,
It's been so demoralizing, so emotionally debilitating. Once, twice, or even a hundred times might would've been OK, but to have thousands and thousands of instances heaped upon my head just to illustrate their raging fury that I'm not their birth mom? Oh puh-leeze, and then you wonder why I stand glassy-eyed, shaking, twitching, and deeply afraid of all these untriggered irrational violent acts?
Friday, October 28, 2011
JoJo's braces were put on yesterday. "Quit picking at them," the lady immediately told him, me knowing he'd already pulled out a spacer. I can easily predict we'll be visiting the office for repairs way more often than regular folks. I can predict JoJo's tendencies here after 11 years of observing him in action.
I've had many, many years in which to observe, and even predict, to some extent, all of my children's behavior.
“The predictability represents the probability we can foresee an individual's future whereabouts in the next hour based on his or her previous trajectory.”
93% of human behavior is predictable.
Kids who cheat become adults who cheat, so says this article about the dishonor roll.
It is extremely likely that my violent ones will remain violent, even in therapeutic placements. It seems that all I can do about it now, is to take a stand that keeps my own children and grandchildren safe. A family environment sometimes is, in and of itself, enough pressure to make a kid attack, especially a kid who irrationally thinks the adoptive parent 'stole' them from their birth parents.
I'm a great believer in the theory of a self-fulfilling philosophy that espouses a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior.
At my age I've learned a lot, besides the fact that I also remain convinced of how little I really know, considering how old I am now.
The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.
Women trapped in domestic abuse cycles fail to recognize that one idea.
No, he, the abuser, isn't gonna change. If anything, violent behaviors escalate. I should know, having been a victim here myself of violent teenagers.
Which brings me to where I now am with a very aggressive, violent sibling group. In this particular case, their own rationalizations for their attacks, the justifications are shocking to me. "Well, he/she/you/they made me mad."
Therefore they totally believe it is OK to attack. And these things that made them mad? Most of the time it was absolutely 100% imaginary. Seriously. I've been right here observing, there was not a trigger at all most often.
This article on psychopathic behavior perfectly illustrated what I've seen here, and it truly scares me. No, I'm not labeling anyone, yet the description of justifications is spot on.
I've spent years complementing all my children, looking for that with which to build upon, hoping against hope for the self-fulfilling prophecy, but I've instead seen extremely anti-social deteriorating behaviors in some, due to severe mental health issues.
I feel helpless, totally helpless.
A case worker made a good point to me yesterday, "Kids like that just continue to blow out of placement after placement," when I used the argument that the state, at least, could better access services than a parent.
But, at least those placements can be therapeutic, versus a home like mine with potential victims and no staff.
I'm standing my ground, that the remaining children in my home deserve safety.
The only two even likely combatants here anymore are JoJo and Allen, and they only fight with each other.
"But WHY, JoJo, why would you ever want to hit your own birth sibling?" I remain baffled. Or anyone?
I buried a sibling, I have a very different outlook on this than does an immature adolescent boy. I wish I still had a sister to argue with, but I'd certainly never hit her. That's the difference, we were raised to discuss our differences, not to smack each other.
I find violence reprehensible.
We lost the championship game last night, 2-1. Scotty played so hard, Allen was desultory at best for some reason. and he's an excellent player. He'd been cleated early on in the game and felt the pain throughout.
Oh well, this is his sport, I support it, attending every single game, cheering them on, but I'm not gonna be a sideline critic.
Gina's birth sister, the very beautiful Melissa, is here from Texas. Adopted as an infant, away from her sibling group of four others who joined our family 21 years ago, the genetic resemblances are so similar as to be eery. She's 31 now, she would've been the middle child of these five, and even my youngest kids last night kept saying, "She looks just like Gina and Sergi."
Never traumatized thankfully, she's emotionally way less burdened than them, she even stated to me last night, "So by the time I was 11, they were still bouncing around?" Trying to picture what they must've endured, she safe in a loving family hundreds of miles away. Yes, she was safe, and I'm glad for that, but she also lost out on 25 years of having birth siblings who looked just like her.
I can't begin to tell you how much I wish birth parents would/could parent. I've seen the damage that's been irretrievably done to children. But even with massive service supports, one of my siblings groups, the last one I adopted, suffered from the flat out refusal of a birth parent to stop partying. That she chose bar life over them has been emotionally devastating to them all.
They don't act out very much at all, but I believe they need therapy anyway. If anything, Dr. Mandy is their emotional safe haven where they can discuss everything without their fear of maybe hurting my feelings over me not being the birth parent. They don't know I'm tougher than that, I get it, I really do.
CW with his two birth aunts, Gina and Melissa, they are also Lily and Jack's birth aunts, most folks have no clue that my light-skinned Jack is Mexican as well. What an amazingly good looking group all of them are, now I've seen it passed on to the next generation as well.
Tabby had a fit, Melissa's connection to Gina seemed emotionally threatening to her, and she, Tabby, asked to be in a photo also with Melissa, hoping, I suppose, to also make a connection.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
For me it's not so much depression, as it is anxiety. I have a great deal of inner strength, yet the past few violent, dangerous years have pushed me into the realm of anxiety, always fearing the next violent outburst, giving me an acute case of PTSD. Slam a door and watch me involuntarily jump a mile.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is an excessive, exaggerated anxiety and worry about everyday life events with no obvious reasons for worry. People with symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder tend to always expect disaster and can't stop worrying about health, money, family, work, or school. In people with GAD, the worry often is unrealistic or out of proportion for the situation. Daily life becomes a constant state of worry, fear, and dread.
For me, this anxiety stems from the unrelenting hassles of life, and from those who irrationally want to make life worse for others.
I went into the adoption world simply because I was called to do so, I was positive to the bone about my calling. I still am.
I have been blindsided, over the years, by the criticism and suspicion of my own motives.
A dear friend, Cass, once told me, "There's just no respect for home missions." If I'd chosen to move to Mexico and build an orphanage with 39 kids, I'd be the recipient of all sorts of monetary support, if I were a 501 C3 organization. But I wasn't called to do that. I was called to do this.
The fact that I've gone through Hell more than once makes me relatable, I'm sure, to all of y'all who are often in the same boat with me.
That anyone else on earth thinks they could get up every single day and face such tremendous obstacles, hassles and severe mental health challenges of others and keep a sunny disposition just boggles my mind?
I'm usually happy and working hard, but sometimes I just have to work on making my pounding heart stop crashing so hard within me.
I met a new intake man yesterday, as I transported a teenager from a residential psychiatric facility where he's done right well, to a step down place, because I've asked the courts to help me keep my family safe.
The new guy had been there for 12 years, a degree in psychology, and he certainly knows his stuff. His supervisor was a bit brusque with me, treating me as a moron.
Do all my college degrees just decorate my wall upstairs? Does my intelligence and experience count for nothing, was it just erased away in the eyes of others when I asked the courts to help me protect my other children after years of documented violence?
Is this just one of the many prices I have to pay when I ask for help? Slap me down for doing so? Seriously, folks?
I'm not a savior, I can't heal mental illnesses, I need help.
"We've had new staff come in here," this other nice man told me, "thinking that their love and their knowledge could fix these kids."
Yep, that too was me, many, many years ago.
I had a long talk, on the hundred mile trip home, with another therapist who totally understands my dilemma, telling me, "You know most folks don't comprehend at all what you adoptive parents endure."
Yeah, no kidding.
There's a court case right now of an adoptive parent suing the sending state for failure to disclose, this parent has been attacked in the press for doing so, criticized as, "You wouldn't try and send away a birth kid."
But I'll submit that this is different.
A birth kid with a mental illness might also have at least some level of attachment, versus older adopted kids who have a significantly off-the-charts level of rage and anger towards the system and the world, accusing the adoptive parents of kidnapping them from their real parents.
This illogical thought pattern leads to murderous rages.
Factor in a violent, trauma filled early childhood, multiple placements, and many different overlapping diagnoses as the new parents go from therapist to resource hunting a "cure," only to find their own parenting constantly blamed for genetics that couldn't be helped.
Is it any wonder I now feel so much anxiety? I can't fix bipolar, nor PTSD, nor schizophrenia. I can't stop these rage filled attacks upon the normal kids that are so resented for not being 'bad and angry.'
The ragers put on a good front at times, or their RAD kicks in, or any other level of manipulative behaviors, and they appear to be the calm one, in contrast to their shocked and stunned, scared and shaking adoptive parent. Cunning might be a better word than calm.
The adoptive parent appears incredibly stressed out, super fearful for the safety of their family, and absolutely bumfuddled that anyone on any professional level thinks it is OK for the unarmed parents to continue to try and protect everyone from these vicious temper dysregulation attacks. The parent will fail, there's no way to 24-7 maintain the vigilance that is required for some.
Are you kidding me?
I'm then a bad parent for allowing someone in my home who would do this to others.
I disagree, a bad parent would allow danger in the home. I'm taking an unpopular stand.
It is a lose-lose situation, and I'm going to spend these remaining years fighting like heck for our family's safety.
And incredibly, I still care deeply for the dangerous ones, I despair over them, while also loving them...from a safe distance.
I don't have any good answers nor solutions.
I typed all that, drank more coffee, checked my phone for photos, and remembered a lovely thought with which to end this post. Jack broke his first board last night in his karate class. I was quite impressed. "Man," I stressed, "You're sure trying to use your anger over losing Grandpa in a positive way, aren't you?
All my other kids were duly impressed as well, we'd added two teenage friends to the mix last night, taking them to Wednesday night church with us, while Grandma took the others to her church for their Karate for Christ program.
When the violent ones were living here, my other kids could not ever have friends over, the control issues would explode, we'd be embarrassed, and doing our best to contain the violence as quietly as possible. Or the violent ones would act out so that none of us could go to church, or even on several occasions we'd endure these explosions there at church. We'd be mortified, worrying about the safety of other innocent church-going children.
That's no way to live.
I have many darling kids here at home that deserve to live safely.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Constantly told that I sound out of breath when answering the phone, I just gotta say it isn't that I was just sitting here, I am always in motion. I do kinda have a lot to do, and I don't finish cleaning one area before another needs it again, or my demanding outdoor work, laundry and all the other chores are conspiring to keep me at home, which is truly where my first choice to be is anyway.
When the kids are at school, I literally make myself run any errands. I hate stores, I hate driving, it feels as if those activities are such unneccesary time wasters, yet I never go out to browse, it's always with a list in my hand, or for appointments.
Whatever a mom has to do for two kids, I have to hugely multiply for this particular darling family.
A day in which there are no appointments, or any need to go to town, seems to be an incredible blessing to me.
Today isn't one of those days.
Nor is tomorrow.
Yet last night I got to stay home for a rare night, that'll soon grow increasingly more common when soccer season ends.
The only good thing about the upcoming cold month or two is that I do get to be at home, versus the soccer field, but the cold makes me nutso.
Here in my office are the two stacks of yard sales books I want to read this winter, yet the Internet alone holds so much information worth browsing, so little time, so many books, and other sources of interest.
I've never timed my houseplant watering demands, I love that time, as it's my thinking time. It takes hours, and I do it when I can.
Allen asked to go to Plato's Closet yesterday so that I could buy him trendy birthday clothes, knowing that he'd get a great deal there, which he did. "We're desperate for guy clothing," the salesperson who buys back name brand items for resale told me. "You should clean out his closet and sell it to us."
I just smiled and nodded, as if I'd do so.
However we are a hand-me-down family, those clothes are destined for younger kids, yet I thought about the name brand stuff I buy at yard sales, maybe I oughta do it with a mind to turning a profit.
Even that'd be too much shopping for me.
Allen went home happily grinning, arms loaded down with Polo shoes, and other expensive items, at a low cost. "Honey, I gotta teach you this before you're on your own," I explained to him.
He was reflective, well for a guy maybe, fishing for compliments, to which I responded appropriately, he was wanting me to verbalize the good things about him, celebrating his birthday moment, which I did. He's a good egg, he really is, and only in our world would someone point out the obvious that I'd not even remarked upon, "I never steal, and I don't lie, do I Mom?" he beseeched.
It's true, he doesn't, he never did. That's fairly remarkable when one considers his trauma-filled background. He also participates in therapy. I think all traumatized children need therapy. I really do.
I reaffirmed the obvious for him, he beamed like a child.
He selected an ice cream dessert for the family, a Mayfield carton all for himself, I splurged and ordered Dominos for supper, it was Sabrina's boyfriend's birthday as well, and he, Preston and Hazel all joined us, piling each slice high with Fire Hot Pepper Sauce.
Another quiet evening for which I'm so thankful.
I'd read The Adoption Counselors's DNA article and epigenetics blog post plus this article in The Huffington scary post about psychopaths. I've seen such behavior here before. That someone justifies violence, as if it needed to have been accomplished while being obsessed with their own basic needs, fixated would be the word I'd use.
Operating on a primal but rational level.
Am I pre-labeling? Nope. When one has lived 24-7, when one is observing these bizarre textbook criminal behaviors, while also spending so much time seeking help, when one later has a kid in prison for the exact same behaviors that grew even more amped up when they left our home and hit the streets to party at a legal age, then one can draw some very logical conclusions based on close observations.
I could throw out names of others that I'm fairly afraid will also follow down this road. It's as if I live in a lab, a behavior experiment farm, where this mom, me, observes and participates in some very strange family life experiments. But this too is when I beg for help, needing safety here, documented instances of danger and assaults. Hello?? World, can you help us please? Anyone out there who won't then blame me for a sticker chart mentality that doesn't work?
There are some people who are unreachable. If one could learn from redirection then we wouldn't have career criminal, would we?
This isn't our DNA in them, many of our children have law breaking parents and that DNA is driving that train. Thankfully some of the children choose to make wonderful choices. Thankfully. Oh Dear Lord, thank you for that.
Claudia wondered if she was being arrogant, I'll share this platform with her, in that educated adoptive moms have a front and center stage to some, shall we say, interesting behaviors?
She, too, has resisted anti-depressants, as if that'd indicate that the wrong side won, that they beat us down. We both live with very depressing circumstances at times, where we feel as if we're watching a train wreck happen, but we both also feel as if we'd be hindered or impaired, not as quick to make the necessary calls for everyone's safety, if we chose medication.
If anyone on earth could make a good case for a mom needing a mood boost, it'd be us, I'm sure, but the same case could be made that we must remain unmedicated in order to function clearly against so many odds.
Maybe when the kids are grown we can begin to heal, maybe we'll just sit and drool on ourselves, but for right now, that'd be an unaffordable luxury, we have work to do.
I'd wager to say that social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, resources and therapeutic workers might ought to heed what we're saying. We're living in these mental health trenches 24-7, we see and experience these behaviors, please listen to our intuition that is born from something very real.
We have something to say...
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
This could've been me, this article about a man getting stuck in the storm drain. When I was in elementary school, my brothers and I crawled daily through a network of storm drains in Falls Church, Virginia, just because we could, hello, we were explorers.. Once surprising ourselves, ending up on Route 50, poking our heads up like goofy gophers, a mile or so away from home. We had a lovely creek then in our backyard on Graham Road, in the parsonage in which we were living, that has spurred my lifelong love of creeks, trees, and woods.
A man and I discovered ourselves, last night at soccer, to both be PKs from the UMC parsonage life, yet he had a huge Boston accent, living down here in Georgia. The father of Nando's team mate and Scotty's middle school friend, hosting a birthday party this weekend that Scotty's been angling to attend. Hey, no problem, I totally trust Scotty to behave at someone's home. Scotty doesn't steal, how wonderful is that in my world?
Michael, from the youth group, came to cheer Nando on, which was greatly appreciated, by both Nando and I, last night was the one year mark since Grandpa passed away. Nando's Sunday School teacher just texted me early this morning, wanting to know when the last game would be. Ooops, missed it. Nando grinned so beautifully at the thought of his lovely teacher texting this early about him.
Jack cried himself to sleep last night, starting Year Two without his best buddy Grandpa.
Now somehow I have to swing a day trip somewhere specific later this week, make something happen, in spite of having a houseful of kids with major errands they need for me to run. My uber busy chore list alone keeps me fairly slim.
Nando's final game last night, he ended up his season undefeated, never losing a single game, which (duh) is what the word undefeated means, the redundancy is for my own benefit, as I marvel again and aloud at his amazing soccer skills. A Hispanic father last night questioned my parenthood. "He's your foster kid?" he asked me at the cupcake celebration afterward,
Dude, I again didn't say. Do you see me questioning your wife about your alleged paternity?
"He's my son," I emphasized in Spanish, an obvious Southern accented Spanish.
I'm again facing an issue in which my kids will have to be bothered in regards to my refusal to allow someone to live here. I understand the whys of everything but I'm sick to pieces of my kids paying the price. They do not need to be consulted. Look at the charges that have been filed after different assaults.
The vague outcome of my refusal to continue living in danger, is the eventual possible reunification, depending upon many circumstances being fulfilled.
The bottom line, the one that burns my nerves, is in expecting a protagonist to change.
If I were allowing an adult in our home to beat us up, I'd be in deep doo doo, yet I'm expected to concede to being a punching bag by a kid?
I may be an old bag, but I don't wanna be used as one.
Abusers generally do not change. Abuse victims, especially wives or girlfriends, might try and convince themselves of that and predictably whine to others, "He promised me he'd change," and then he returns and predictably beats her up.
There are patterns to these behaviors. Color me wary and damaged now. Black and blue doesn't go with my fake blonde hair streaks. Even I, a fashion challenged black-wearing yo yo, know that.
I don't want to be hit, nor slung into furniture or walls anymore, as I try and protect younger children who also don't want to be hit, nor preyed upon each day.
That's the bottom line.
Predators historically do not stop unless incarcerated, no, not even then, they just then have a confined population of potential victims.
I am deeply afraid, and I've gone before the courts to state as such. I've been victimized, my children have been victimized. I'm taking steps to protect us and I'm being treated very well by some, especially our juvenile judge who has sat there shaking her head over the past five years regarding his assaults upon others, and other acts, resulting from his severe emotional issues.
Even though it was only a small defensive slice on my hand, when he was waving a knife at others, a small cut is too big to be endured. He was only 11 then, now he's huge, I likely could not defend us against his angry rages.
My children's biggest fear is in losing me. When they know there's someone here who wants to hurt or kill me, as he's loudly threatened to do, then why should we have to endure it as such?
Some people may not understand how I can take this step, but they've not been terrorized as I've been, they haven't nearly lost their sanity trying to protect others, it has been a long, long battle, and we're the ones left injured. That has been unacceptable on every level.
We want to be boring and normal. I find no peace in chaos and danger, I find it completely unacceptable.
Ray is at Space Camp in Alabama, a home school adventure, Hazel is with me. Marcela came by yesterday, bringing the very sassy Marissa with her, later Mae and CJ were here, then supper and soccer, little four year old Hazel collapsing in a heap, up in my room last night, snoring, exhausted from running after her cousin, aunts and uncles.
Allen is 16 today, my once scaredy-cat four year old son, shooting up, very, very strong now, indeed I have three sets of weight-lifting benches and apparatus in the garage that he's asked me for over the years, his final game is Thursday night and I can't wait to watch it and cheer him on.
All I've ever requested of my children is, "Make me proud," without ever stipulating any kind of demands, like an entrance into Harvard or medical school. Making me proud comes from being courteous at school, playing hard and fair at soccer, anything that simply makes me smile in pride at a kid. I'm easy to please, lemme tell ya.
Monday, October 24, 2011
We are responsible for our spending and consumption. We don’t understand our strength and weakness to the extent marketers do. It will do us a lot of good if we accept that we can be manipulated and act accordingly.
With these “features” of grocery store in mind, here is an excellent list of tips on how to save money on grocery - 50 grocery shopping tips.
I'm as susceptible as anyone to the tricks of their trade, this blog post fascinated me, yet remember I'm the kind of person that loves reading business manuals, the small ones - playbooks if you will - that are given folks when they're hired. I read Sergi's convenience store employee manual cover to cover raptly, as I did when anyone else here was hired. It's very interesting to me.
Couponing doesn't work all that much for me, in that for food items it's usually on the prepared or boxed stuff that I don't buy. It's rare to find a coupon for produce in the winter, or for a sack of pinto beans. Grocery bills here are impressively large, most of my sons are big-eating teenagers now.
Another ornerous court date this morning that kept me awake last night, as I prayed for wisdom. My heart breaks, yet my mind is full of what has already transpired over the years, my own personal fear factor has been reasonably racheted up for so long, I've sought counsel and advice, I know I'm doing what has to be done.
Claudia, in her many speaking engagements to social workers, tells workers that a new model of adoptive parenting is needed nowadays with so many extremely disturbed children in the system. Even institutionalized children need folks to adopt them, knowing that the kids can never be safely maintained in the home, but still needing attachment on even a basic level such as visits, phone calls and advocates.
As it now stands, these same children who do get placed into homes, wreaking havoc and damage, attacking others, or what about false accusations against the new adoptive fathers? Pillars of the community soon scandalized by lies that must be investigated? The system is still set up to be adversarial towards adoptive parents, who get emotionally and financially slaughtered for ever trying in the first place.
Sometimes I just stand here shocked at the amount of broken windows, kicked in walls and furniture reduced to sticks and stuffing. Who is expected to live like this? To be routinely robbed over the last 16 years, seriously never able to have cash on hand, or anything that could easily be pilfered, it exacts a severe emotional toll on a mama.
I do not have any thieves living with me right now, producing a joyous spirit within me, lemme tell ya.
Something is wrong with the adoption arena where the well-meaning, yet gullible adoptive parents, are expected to grin and bear all these attacks upon themselves and their other children, or upon members of the community.
I remain stunned, quite damaged, and very beat down.
Tonight is Nando's last soccer game of the season, next spring he'll be in a league that has play-off tournaments, something he'd dearly love to now be participating in, feeding his competitive spirit.
By the end of this week, all soccer games will be over until Springtime.
We're having a warmup spell, temps in the mid 70s which allows me to do a great deal of work outside, yesterday after church I happily worked in the sun that felt so good, and - drum roll -for the first time in his entire life, JoJo, known for being quite the perezoso, volunteered to help me mow the meadow. I nearly fell down in shock and surprise.
My other kids had a play pokeberry fight, staining themselves purple and gooey, erasing all evidence of their pre-church showers.
A purple JoJo didn't have a clue about what to do. "Honey," I stressed, "You have to know these basic things before you set out into the world."
Maybe now, 11 years into the placement, we can begin to see some progress? Maybe now? Wouldn't that be nice?
Mr. P received a disturbing call from an adult birth kin, now in prison. He came running upstairs to my room in fright and tears late last night. He'd put his number on his Facebook page, which made me immediately raise Cain around here, a flurry of texts to sleeping kids who best change that indiscretion this morning. Mr P was frightened and annoyed, at nearly 16 he found this to be intrusive and intimidating. Thank you Verizon for the ability to immediately change a number.
But really? A cell phone being used in prison to intimidate others? Seems very illegal to me. This same person had been served papers by the deputy several years ago to stay away from us.
A pounding heart seriously slows down one's ability to fall asleep.
Since we've reopened an entire upstairs wing that's been unused for two years, the now very large Bubbas each getting their own rooms, and me with an office, first time in my life, paneled in wood to cover all the holes that had been kicked in over the years, now needing to be painted a soft green, my house is quieter, no wall kickers still living here, but still a bunch of sometimes explosive, emotionally touchy, oppositional teenagers - overall I'm beginning to remember to breathe again, as I labor under and file the massive paperwork load involved in raising my children.
Sunday, October 23, 2011
The remark I most often hear, the most routine thing said to me constantly over the years, has to be, "I just don't know how you do it. I can't even manage with my own two children."
Let me repeat for the ten thousandth time:
I am NOT overwhelmed, I've never been overwhelmed.
I've not quit, not walked out, nor taken anyone up on their ridiculous suggestion that I go take a vacation by myself. Do you really think I could find a willing babysitter? I've had to ask Sarah and Yolie for emergency babysitting, like when I had surgery five years ago, or when I flew up to Williamsburg for those 40 hours to watch Lauren graduate from William and Mary, that said, I need to start thinking about a Notre Dame road trip in 2014, maybe with all the kids, when my darling niece, Katie Bay, graduates. I dearly wish I'd have gotten to Kelly's graduation, but thankfully Grandpa was still alive then to be there.
I want to do what I'm doing here with my family.
There are times that the misdirected hatefulness,, or the inability to turn around mental health issues has deeply grieved me. Deeply, very deeply saddened by choices, knowing how difficult an adult life will be when one refuses to work, or when one self medicates or gets drunk. I know in advance that those aren't good choices. Duh. I wish I could stem those behaviors in others.
Yet, when my children are grown, it is out of my hands, those that want to go to college or to get a tech degree, I'll work very hard on helping them do so, but those that get arrested for underage drinking? There nothing that I can do that would not be enabling.
There are some teenagers that will attack us, that have attacked us, and I have had to take sad measures to protect the rest of us.
That is my job. MY JOB.
I get criticized, boy do I get criticized, and truthfully, it hurts a lot. I don't know of many people who'd be able to take one minute of my life, much less the past 25 years of adopting troubled children while trying my best every single day. Every. Single. Day.
The only thing I do for myself is to work outside, the rest of everything I do every day is one million percent for my children, and my children eat everything that I produce when working outside, so nyah nyah nyah, everything I do is for my family.
I do 99% of the chores around here.
"Make the kids do it," someone will bark at me, a new therapist or someone who doesn't understand the dynamics involved around here. It is much easier to just do it myself than to have to call a deputy to enforce household rules that a kid or two will unreasonably take up as their cause, their reason why they think I stink.
"My REAL mother wouldn't make me make my bed," they might scream at me.
Dude, you have it made here, but you probably won't ever appreciate that fact until you are grown and trying to take care of yourself.
I should have Jesse call 'em and tell 'em how it really is. BINGO. As I typed these words, Jesse just texted me a picture of him and Isaiah. How cool is that? He KNOWS I deeply miss them all, he, his wife and his son.
But back here at home, if you don't want to learn about normal living expectations, then I won't force this upon you. Those that respond appropriately are those that choose to learn, which is the majority of my children. The majority of my children are wonderful human beings and I rejoice at being their mom bigtime.
I'm not gonna have a control issue battle with anyone.
Genetics play a huge role here. I've watched it for 25 years in action amongst my seven sibling groups. Heckfire, I need only to look at Grandma, me, Sarah and Hazel to see a mongo streak of genetically passed-down fierce independence, or to Yolie's group for eerily similar very high IQs, or Edgar's group who all toss drinking cups up in the air, in a twisty manner, three times before going to the faucet for water. Sabrina's group are all high-achievers, and other sibling groups show remarkable similarities, indeed it is very easy to pick out who's blood kin to who else around here. Teachers have told me this as well.
Groups will share the same contagious laughter, laughing at the exact same pitch, or a predetermined running ability, their silhouettes alone are exactly the same when in motion, the muscle groups in tandem. It amazes me. Allen and Edgar could be the same person on the soccer field, their skulls also shaped the same.
Some sibling groups sulk identically, some eat similarly in a circular motion around their plates, I've closely observed these patterns for many, many years.
It is this constant observation that also allows me to go into meetings in the schools and advocate for what they need, or to explain why they do what they do. Not excusing their behaviors, but explaining if possible. Sometimes I have no clue. Duh. This isn't easy.
But I look at my very sweet son, Martin, who's fixing to be 18 years old, nearly his entire childhood has been spent here with me, since he was three years old. He knows my complete and loudly explained aversion to R rated movies, I never rent them, I don't want the F word broadcast from my TV set nor do I want to see embarrassingly personal acts performed on the TV. Seriously? I wouldn't look in someone's window. Duh. That's private, not to be televised, what's wrong with people?
He kinda disobeyed me yesterday, went with friends to see Paranormal 3, or whatever it's called. At 17 the theater allows it. Dang, I'm 57 and wouldn't do it.
When I went to get them up for church this morning, I found Martin asleep with his overhead lights on. "Ha!" I hollered, "I told you not to watch that trash, scared you didn't it?"
I'm old enough for R rated movies, or a smoke and a Margarita, but I don't do it. I don't do it. I have an overdeveloped conscience that deeply believes a loving God is watching my every step, not disapprovingly, but watching nonetheless. I'm not legalistic about it, nor a Pharisee (antagonistic), but rather I want to please Him.
If that makes me not a Feminist, I don't care. If it makes me square, I don't care. I don't care what the world thinks about me, although the world certainly has the ability to hurt my feelings and crush my spirit, I care what God thinks, and He sees everything, even into my heart and mind. He knows I have an attitude sometimes.
That's all she wrote.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
The upside of being the baby sister of a homeschool brother is that you often get to accompany him on outings, such as this regularly scheduled one at Sandy Creek where the indomitable Ms Carr is your teacher. The same wonderful Ms Carr, so adored by my family, who also taught so many of my other children over the years. Hazel stood in front of the group of homeschool kids hanging on to every word she spoke, later holding Ms Carr's hand on the hike. Is Hazel blessed or what?
Or is Vanessa so very blessed? Check out these pictures of the too adorable Evelyn.
Nando scored today on some IKEA kind of super bed that I bought for $40, which included linens.
Sarah and I were hugely blessed as well, dragging home stacks of books to read this winter, each for either 50 cents (paperback)
or a buck, including one that Claudia just told me she'd read and liked.
Sabrina snagged an Abercrombie winter coat, plus a North Face pink back pack, and while digging through stuff she found me a Braves Chipper Jones t-shirt for 50 cents. I suppose I'll wear it this week to cheer on the Cardinals, as I certainly do want an NL team to win the World Series.
Jack was thrilled with a Police sweatshirt I'd bought him, as he wants to grow up and be one. Thank you, Deputy Marchman, for your influence on him.
Surprised yesterday by a quick visit from Daniel, nothing makes me smile so much, except maybe seeing the very beautiful Gina be so happy lately. That's what I wanna see in my grown kids. Smiles and contentment with life, what more is there?
Allen, 16 this week, was telling me about a Zombie movie that he'd seen as a toddler, claiming that was his only memory of foster care. "Seriously? A Zombie movie for a toddler, that's inappropriate," I replied, knowing Allen's always been a bit of a scaredy cat.
Mae told the pediatrician, "That's inappropriate!" He'd explained getting a specimen, via peeing in a cup, she verbally disapproving, as any four year old might do.
Yeah boy, and Thank you Lord, but my blog is boring, no danger to detail, a quiet evening in which I'd driven teens here and there, up early for yard sales, a soccer party for U17 this afternoon at the park, no threatening frost hit us last night, and we're again rearranging rooms, making Nando happy with his newly acquired treasures, which included several PS2 games for a buck each. A buck. How 'bout that?
Saray's three kids, my Honduran-Laotian grandchildren, all super students in school, her husband, T, in a background shot, off fishing somewhere. This is my dream, that of a calm, quiet life.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Hemingway explains, "The world breaks everyone. And afterward many are strong in the broken places."
Dr. Mandy knew my feelings had recently been hurt again,"This person is young, right?" knowing that older men and woman should have, at least, gained enough experiences, both good and bad, to now garner more empathy.
I'm more melodramatic, feeling that old people all eventually die of broken hearts, there's so much loss that one experiences over the years: family members and friends to death, pets, possessions, feelings and dreams, hopes and expectations, and everything else that seemingly slips through our fingers as we all plod along.
Eventually we stand totally shell-shocked, trying to take inventory, or to regain our equilibrium, coming out very differently than when we'd first started something.
I'm kind of there now.
I'd told Dr. Mandy a while back, "If this was the only sibling group I'd ever parented, I'd be devastated. If Yolie's group had been the only one I'd be nauseatingly supercilious to others I'm sure. All seven siblings groups have forever changed me into who I am now, both broken in many places, but so much stronger in others. I've learned a great deal." Duh, Cindy.
Dr. Mandy, or Emily, my pastors and others have all helped me navigate, find clarity and understanding, and to keep pressing on. Of that I'm so grateful, as I still have at least close to another decade of one or more children in my home, the majority now are older teenagers. I also want to be whole, still warm and loving, for my very many grandbabies.
At only 13 years old, Scotty had been bumped up to the U17 soccer league, he's one of the youngest, but they'd tried to make the numbers work, correctly figuring Bodie boys were aggressive enough to play with the big dogs. Last night Scotty made his first goal in that older, more challenging league, making me extremely proud.
It went down into the 40s, this after our mid 80s on Monday, I was wrapped up in layers, still cheering from the sidelines. Allen will be 16 next week, and is incredibly gifted in soccer, an amazing guy to watch at work on the field, yet the only games he's really lost badly were the two, in the last ten years, when I wasn't there for some strange legitimate reason or another, like my surgery five years ago.
He is extremely emotionally needy, coming here at age four, dazed and confused, suffering many breaks from former caretakers. Like his older brother, Edgar, he'll also publicly holler, "I'm a mama's boy!"
His baby brother had his first orthodontia appointment yesterday. "It'll be $3,542.00, but you can make payments of $89 a month," I was told, "There's no interest at all."
Doing the math in my head, questioning her, "What if I paid it all up front?"
"It'd be 10% less, you'd save $354," she replied.
Dude, I wanted to say sarcastically, but didn't do so, then that makes it an interest of 10%.
Even JoJo looked at me, much brighter than he appears to the general public, willing me not to have a verbal outburst over this obvious deceit.
I just smiled sweetly, Southern to the bone, "Let me think about it," was all I said. I have 30 days to decide how to pay. I already know what I'm gonna do, I'm just buying time in order to earn another penny in interest. Hey, it adds up.
JoJo was born in Georgia, adopted from Georgia, likely is eligible for financial help on braces and college, but I'm not so sure if that's true anymore in today's economy, and I can handle this.
It's the financial help in psychiatric residential placements that I desperately have to humble myself in order to beg for help.
I'll pay 10%, make monthly payments, whatever it takes. The dentist recommended braces, I will get him braces. I dutifully do as I'm told. Another duh moment.
JoJo complained this morning about the jaw pain from the spacers put in yesterday and I laughingly reminded him, "Honey you begged for braces, I'm shelling out big bucks, the pain'll be worth it," to which he grumbled back something unprintable and unintelligible.
A reader, Carmen, that I've known since she was very young, now a mother and a teacher, asked me to blog about my Perk Street Bank experiences. Here's the rub, Wells Fargo still wants to charge $3 for money transfers, but somehow they don't do so if it is ING Direct, and I'm finding myself paying bills from different accounts, transferring back and forth, all to avoid this stupid $3 on debit cards from Wells Fargo.
Thank you Quicken and Excel spreadsheets, that allow me to keep track of every single penny in different accounts, it's been this lifelong obsession over $3 increments here and there that's enabled me to be able to pay for braces on five kids so far, or college or weddings, or gifts or financial help, as others struggle along.
Whatever extra two dollars I own are obviously not going into my pathetic wardrobe, that I don't give a hoot about anyway, nor on beauty products that are useless when one is 57 years old, but rather into investments for the future: my children and grandchildren.
Through my tears, I watched my father being wheeled out of this house in his pjs after he died here a year ago, taking nothing with him, nothing, but knowing he'd left us all such a tremendous legacy through his generosity to us while he lived, both materially, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Grandpa would've loved to be there last night to see Scotty's first goal, and Allen's constant goals.
I've had excellent parental role models. Thank you, God. Please help me to be one as well while I get a ruler out and figure exactly where I am on the line here between the red and the green. I choose wet and warmer please.
Good Golly Claudia and Linda, y'all are in for a scary winter blast, and dear Suzanne, I obviously survived my freezing moment last night. You were a first to respond to a Tweet. I didn't even know one could do so. Another learning moment for me.
Nando and Lily, fearing a first frost that fortunately didn't happen last night, ran outside to pick peppers. My kids eat my deliciously garden grown bell peppers like one would eat an apple. I cut them into strips for me, salting them first, but I've been known to eat a plateful. This is living.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
One of our pastors sends Care Ministries email updates with prayer requests, which is an awesome way to quickly get the word out regarding prayer needs. Lord knows I want folks praying for me, so I return the favor when I receive these updates.
To a traumatized woman though, I always inwardly cringe, fearing bad news. I could get off the email list to avoid this several times a day trauma, but I'm the problem, not the list.
I'm the traumatized one. I'm the one with the always pounding heart, adrenaline coursing haywire-like through my ravaged system, and the too-often very validated fear ruling my days.
But I'm as strong as a horse, as stubborn as a mule, as old as a goat, and still raring to go each day.
I had a lengthy conference phone call where, likely I was the oldest and most experienced, at least in the realm of troubled teenagers, ya know 25 years in the public school system, 25 years in the adoption of older children arena, nearly 40 years as a parent - duh - I think I've learned just a thing or two about the dangerous and predatory proclivities involved.
A psychosexual evaluation, an Abel screening, has indicated a severe risk to offend sexually with an underage target group identified.
A slight risk would send me over the edge.
An identified, severe risk makes all my hackles rise up, I will struggle against those that think they know best. Basically it's a funding issue, I get that, but a later prison stay after an offense would be more expensive, it behooves us to get him/her the help they need NOW. The potential therapy that would be involved for later victims is as scary as anything else, there's too much potential for immense damage to be done.
I cannot take that chance. I will not do so.
It is IDENTIFIED. I have the evidence that could later be used against me, if something happened here on my watch. I'm begging for help so that this will not happen. I'm literally begging, even though people then look down on me contemptuously, as if I've given up on this one. I owe it to our community, our family, our school system, our church, our soccer teams, everyone.
I'm not the 24-7 therapy that he/she needs. By me "giving up," then the system is reluctantly forced to step in and get them therapeutic residential which is deeply needed. I think we have a very good CPS county.
It also deeply embarrasses me personally, as a committed "forever" parent, but it is a price I will pay in order to obtain help and to prevent what I fear will happen based on the written evidence.
Yes, I have sought outside counsel for advice, quite a bit of it.
I'm not deserting him/her. I will still be massively involved and available, even though the easy thing to do would be to walk away, relieved of responsibility, but that's not who I am.
I'm the one with potential victims here, I doubt these same ones, the funding overseers, would allow their own children to be exposed to such a clear and present danger.
I like these funding overseers. I've worked with one particular lady many times, for nearly all the kids in one sibling group. This woman knows her stuff, she's a great lady, working hard on the state level with very little funding available.
Again the large family mentality might be involved, but as I've repeatedly told this most excellent therapist who I've learned a great deal from, "If he/she were my only child, how could I, in good conscience, even allow them to ride the school bus? Or go to the soccer field, or a football game, or anywhere that there could be potential victims. This screening indicates a high probability for opportunistic attacks of a sadistic manner. This makes my blood run cold, we need further psychiatric residential. He/she told us that she/he's not raging here because there are external controls available. They need them, they want them. Please help us find them the help they obviously need."
The conference went well, those in the know, particularly a specific therapist clearly stated, "with these symptomatic issues, being in the home would be problematic," which is quite the understatement.
It is written in the evaluation that they are a specific threat to the community at the moment.
I will still be involved for life, I just can not risk allowing anyone access to potential victims.
I care deeply about this teenage, as well as the others, that might become victimized.
I'm stepping out in to uncharted, treacherously difficult waters, but I must do what my gut tells me to do, this isn't a popularity contest. I'd sure lose if it were so.
This same gut has kept me alive.
Speaking of alive, as these Care Ministry emails roll in, I'm stunned at the health battles so many of my peer age group are fighting.
Claudia and I spoke of Joni Tada Earickson, our generation grew up with her very tragic ministry story imprinted in our minds. She's defied all the odds, remained alive against the probability statistics for someone in her condition, ministered heavily to others, and has not been angry and bitter (like me, Oh Lord, I apologize again and again). Her new book will soon be read by me.
But the point for me should be, I'm as healthy as a horse, and I should be more mindfully thankful. God infused me with incredible energy levels. I remember when my own mother was the age I now am, working circles around all the younger woman in her field, she still does so at nearly 81, with a huge garden and an active social life, she's my role model.
Two women I've known for decades, Sandra and Linda, both now battling immense health issues, both cheerful and emotionally strong, I'm afraid had it been me in their shoes, that I'd have childishly railed against the world, curled up crying in a corner. I so respect and admire them both.
Here at home, dealing with severe ODD in one kid, CP in another, major adolescent hormones exploding all over the place, these are some troubled teenagers, but not mentally ill, not intending to victimize, just ornery, immensely difficult, and challenging, but none of us are in any physical danger. They're right funny as well.
Yesterday the chiropractor realigned one son who had rib, shoulder and arm pain, I took two others to the pediatrician, large teenagers who've by seen by that pediatric group for many years, running into a 16 year old classmate there with her baby, startling my teenagers quite a bit.
"Both of them see the pediatrician? The mom and the baby? That's weirder than us," my 16 year old daughter expressed.
Between that phone conference call and two doctor visits, plus grocery purchases, the day was shot, then there was Wednesday night church, plus Karate class, a teenager bringing her Wednesday night friend home from school to eat with us and then attend church.
"You know you're my only friend who even goes to church," this pretty young lady told my daughter, who naively thinks everyone goes to church.
Notice lately that I do not use names? It's about the issues, and my too often uphill battle to find the help they need. This phone call might've been in previous years, not necessarily yesterday or tomorrow.
God gave me these children because He somehow trusted this dork, me, to keep seeking help, even if others view it differently, as if they could parent better?
I, too, once was a naive, innocent, inexperienced mom that also felt love would cure everything. Claudia and I both agreed that we'd both once thought, "Al this won't happen to us, we're better parents than the average bear," before we were ever presented with the immense challenges of mental illness, mis-wiring, FAE, FASD, ODD, PTSD, Schizophrenia, Bipolar, RAD, and a host of other astonishingly difficult challenges.
Thank you Lord for Your strength and wisdom, please continue leading me."
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
I do feel revived, thank you Claudia. That it was a UMC pastor's wife who did the trick is encompassing every level of irony, since it was me who long ago told her own UMC pastor/dad that the entire UMC church just didn't 'feed my soul,' as I immaturely rejected everything, backslid for years, finally settling down happily in the Church of God denomination where I remain well fed.
My parents met through a sub-district MYF event in Greenville, SC some 60 years ago. I was asking Mom about exactly when they met and she couldn't quite remember, yet she can recall nearly every hand in her beloved Bridge games. Sentimentality isn't a strong suit in our blood line.
I re-read Claudia recent blog posts again this morning, the bitterness and anger is a shared trait, the result of pouring ourselves into folks who seemingly hate us, and I surely do understand that hatred, if someone had tried to take me from my parents back then, I'd have been hateful as well, but Claudia was explaining how she'd managed to pull through.
That said, I'm ten or so years older than Claudia, she's also gonna have to tackle menopause, and the crazy hormonal rushes, that it provides so merrily for us older women.
I should feel revived. My double digit load of children still at home are a pretty decent group of young'uns.
I'd gone to visit Paloma yesterday down near Macon, who is getting more physically beautiful by the minute. She really is a lovely young lady.
Yet she'd punched out a girl, given a boy a recent black eye, and made what we hope are false allegations against a male staff member there.
"We're reviewing the tapes from our 250 cameras," the therapist informed me, I watched Paloma's eyes bug out at the revelation of some 250 cameras. I could nearly see her mentally revising and rehearsing her story on the spot.
"We're starting to see quite a bit of her aggression," I was told. I'm baffled that anyone can be aggressive with 450 mg of Lithium ER twice a day, along with 30 mgs of Abilify capped off by two .1 mgs of Clonidine. Any one of those psychotropic medications would put me in a coma, yet it barely touches, hardly subdues, her internal and immense rages that manifest into violent forays.
It can't be easy to be her. I do have an enormous amount of sympathy for her, as these aren't choices she makes, but rather it is reactive actions due to an extreme mental imbalance.
I'm barely able to contain my own relief that it is not me having to manage her behaviors while trying to protect everyone else. If they, with a staff of trained professionals, plus an arsenal of medications, are struggling with her, then how much more impossible is it for a raggedly ole 127 pound lady with many younger potential victims?
I'd later told Yolie about my trip, she shuddering, her own PTSD coming out again, remembering what all we'd endured for so long, as she'd often been present during Paloma's irrational and violent rages.
My Atlanta visit, planned for today, has been postponed by the therapist, as Jonathan might be fixing to be moved. He is doing very well where he is, without the minimal demands or simple expectations of a family, with no younger potential victims within reach, plus the major external controls provided by very large men, and PRN shots to subdue, he's kinda scared, and thus is intimidated into not raging.
It's still the same relief for me here at home. Indeed I've taken the loathful step of ensuring our continued safety via the court system. I know that I am a very fortunate woman in that our local courts totally understand the danger that he presents, specifically to our family and potential victims.
Claudia mentioned that way up in the cold midwest, they don't have such warm and fuzzy deputies as what we seem to have. "Just hug 'em all," I'd suggested to her, she recoiling at the thought.
"That'd be a good way to get shot," she mused aloud.
Hmmm, I'm buffaloed then.
Sweet Ms Carr mailed me the sack of coffee envelope that one needs to go get a free cup of coffee there, I'll squirrel it away in my truck, fantasize for weeks over what a delicious cup it's gonna be, before finally getting by to enjoy it. She's also texting me when the sacks of leaves are available all over her tree filled neighborhood. Yeah boy! Lemme use an exclamation mark to convey my excitement.
We'd had a beautiful rain last night, packing down all the leaves I'd dumped here the day before. That's what makes me deliriously happy, it really, really does.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
"Well, You have no peers," Claudia said to me yesterday, stating the blazingly obvious that'd not occurred to me at all.
We said our good-byes and I got in my truck to go home, she to her two speaking engagements.
I stopped in a neighborhood, filled my truck with sacks of leaves, and came home to work in a record-breaking heat wave of 86 degrees, but with only 28% humidity, it felt delightful. Do folks in areas of low humidity rarely sweat? I'm so used to our soggy, leaden, dripping air, that I found the one day of low humidity to be very pleasantly different.
No peers, huh?
That could explain my social withdrawal, how I rarely chat at church, even in Sunday School, sitting in the back of the group, keeping a low profile, what am I gonna say? It's hard to contribute socially when basically you're a freak of nature.
I don't know another single woman with 39 kids, outside of a woman in Pennsylvania that I only know in cyber space, and she has severely mentally handicapped children, with a great deal of outside help in the form of PCAs, nurses and other caretakers.
I have no one.
I have Grandma, Sarah and Yolie, as the only ones I'd ever trust to babysit, they're the only ones who could handle my prickly bunch of emotionally needy children. Preston and Chuck as well.
I have Emily in which to confide, thankfully, but there truly is no one with a similar life that I can relate to.
I'd recently blurted to CW, "Dude, I might be the only one in the world with my own description, a single 57 year old mom with 39 kids, I'm kinda alienated from the mainstream, ya know."
I'm not bothered by it, neither subdued nor enriched, only puzzling it over in my mind, swimming upstream alone in uncharted waters.
I can't begin to say how much these two days with Claudia have meant to me. She is still very buoyant and active in the adoption world, she's had some very tough times in her own home, but isn't beaten down at all, still very passionate about finding homes for older children, she's not fakey syrupy happy, but deeply passionate, knowledgeable, and I greatly admire her.
She was exactly what the doctor ordered for me. I tried to tell her that, but she waved me off about it, so un-insipidly. We're two bossy, smart women, greatly opinionated, and clicking on the same page with each thought. It was fun to be with her.
I've obviously fought against a monster wave of feeling as if I've participated in a lifetime of pointless parenting for those who'd reject all forms of logic and law abiding behaviors. Why did I even bother? Why was it so one-sided? Me totally committed, them raging against all my efforts, you think that doesn't wear away at one's personality, hopes and dreams?
We discussed the infinite worlds of maybe, the whys we don't understand, her theories that I liked a lot, yes I do believe, deeply believe God is that involved in everyone's unique lives, she really gave me a great deal to think about.
I was a total taker, not very much of a giver, as I absorbed everything she had to say, knowing I needed to hear it. She'd be very surprised to learn how deeply she ministered to me these past two days.
Thank you, Claudia.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Claudia did, as I often do, round up my numbers to 40 for simplification sake, let's say I have parented ten superb achievers, ten average to above average children, ten drifting into the iffy area, and ten that are nearly incorrigible, then it's about the same as in a family of four children with one bad apple, one that's up and down, one that's usually doing pretty darn well, and one that shines constantly.
My own numbers are just inflated to reflect the size of this oddball family.
Looking at it that way helps me absorb the fact that ten are struggling so much, it'd just be one in a regular family, the ten that are excelling are doing so by their own volition, it wasn't my parenting, it just is as it is, they've made great choices.
Everyone was parented the same, yet some kids just had more inner gumption, or more of an innate ability to see further down the line, choosing more education instead of self medication via the bottle or street drugs.
Some chose mates with similar goals instead of just settling for anyone who walked by. Marrying into occupied clothing just isn't the same as selecting a person with brains. Dumb stays dumb ya know, call me an elitist if you will, but seriously consider what you might get stuck with first.
"Yolie's your favorite," some might unreasonably whine and protest. Her choices might be my favorite. That's the difference. Her choices, or those of Daniel, Gina, Jesse, etc. makes me smile, rather than to gag, knowing the outcome is inevitable
Claudia and I ate at The Grit last night, her heavy midwestern accent so different from that which surrounded us. I'm gonna go to town and meet her for breakfast this morning before she has two presentations to give, and I rush back to the demands here.
CW has a fever, sick as a dog, he even turned up his nose at the leftover Grasshopper Cake I'd brought home, a made from scratch chocolate mint delicacy. "Eeeuuwww," he gagged, "Don't even mention something sweet to me."
Grandma's doctor had called in a strong antibiotic to control an abscess she has now, one that has caused her face to swell. Nando too was fighting the Crud, waking up today thankfully with no fever, as he has soccer and karate tonight.
I unloaded on Claudia, knowing she knows, I left a former UMC pastor's wife babysitting my kids (Grandma), while I ran to eat with a current UMC pastor's wife.
I thought Claudia looked wonderful, absolutely so, her smile transforms her, she seemed younger than the last time since I'd seen her, I feel as if I've very rapidly aged from all the stress, I'm 80 miles of poorly paved road nowadays, my face lined and cracked, from bearing up under tremendous ordeals. It seems as if I'm often fighting back tears or anxiously waiting on the next disaster, cringing in advance, knowing I'm gonna get hit with something bad.
I'm beat down and beat up.
Yesterday though, as Claudia drove here, I worked outside with Lily keeping me company, talking to me as I weeded, in astonishingly beautiful weather, readying a large garden bed for next season's planting, loving the scent of the outdoors, the feel of the sun on my skin, my hands happily skittering through the very rich soil.
Michael came by to get the boys to play disc golf down at the park, Martin and Allen trotting off happily with him, Chuy brooding instead.
It was too dark when I left Claudia to be able to pick up sacks of leaves to bring home, but that's my goal today, knowing it should rain tomorrow, packing down the foot thick sheet of leaves I'm leaving everywhere, eventually developing it into rich leaf mold to further strengthen the soil.
I can't begin to express how happy that makes me.
I struggle forward, still shocked and appalled by what we've endured here, taking pithy signs from Facebook that speak to me, leaving me to fight alone this bitter feeling of failing to get any level of decency and goodness across to some folks.
Claudia reminds me that the story's not over yet, there are the grandkids who lives are now better since there are caring grandparents who are involved, which is true, but again, due to poor choices made by some parents, I won't necessarily be very entrenched in the lives of some grandchildren.
That I may not even know of the existence of some, rumors floating back to me of so and so fathering a child, or another making it impossible for me to even consider going near due to difficult circumstances. If the parents make bad choices still, if they then influence the grandchildren into a life of deceit or criminal activities...then color me cautious, distant, and wary.