Making parenting mistakes since 2008
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Category — steam release


Some friends of mine and I used to have a code, when things were tough we would say we were F.I.N.E. and it meant – Fucked up, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional – if you are offended by the language you don’t know me very well but trust me when I say swearing is necessary in this post.

The last 23 days of my life have been F.I.N.E. and so much worse than that I can not even begin to figure out what can be blogged and what can not.

We are all fine, no one has died and everyone is healthy but things have been really, really hard. There are many reasons and I know that this to shall pass but it is hard, really hard and the fact that it is Christmas is making it harder. Should I say that it has been really hard one more time just to drive the point home.

Although I have wanted to blog I have not had it in me, someone pointed out today that I missed a Monday Moments and that I always blog on Mondays – she was right, I do. This week the blip in my world meant that I felt as though I could not write here. Today I know that I can and that as upset as I am the world will continue to rotate and the sun will rise again in the morning.

I am going to nurture my kids over the next few days, I am going to try to keep their explosions to a minimum and help them to stay regulated. I am going to celebrate Christmas with my family and friends and look forward to the fact that there is no school for awhile.

If you see me and ask me how things are do not be at all surprised when I tell that everything is just F.I.N.E. I will be back on Monday, I may or may not have a post that is longer than a sentence or 2.

December 23, 2011   5 Comments

Dear M.

Dear M,

We had our last session today, I left after that hug with tears in my eyes, there were so many things I wanted to say but did not. I could not find the words I needed to say to make you understand what you have helped me to do, who you have helped me to become and so tonight I put it out there for the world to read because you deserve this. A public thank you.

14 years ago I picked up the phone and called an intake worker. I was assigned to you, we set up a first appointment. I remember being nervous as parked the car and then sat in it for awhile afraid to come inside the building. I had never talked to anyone before about how I was feeling.  I walked into your office scared, depressed and unsure if I wanted help or even if life was worth living. You listened, you were the first person in a long time to listen to me, to hear me. We talked for an hour about what was going on and you told me that we would try out a few sessions to see if this was a good fit for both of us.

Clearly since I am writing this letter to you today we both felt it was a good fit.

Those first few months of therapy were intense, I was struggling to stay alive and you were pushing me in the all the right ways to do that and be the person I was meant to be. Healing is hard work, I had a lot of healing to do. You gave me your home number, I carried it around with me, it was like a security blanket, a life line for when the darkness tried to take over and I felt all alone. I would call you and your calm voice would bring me back from the edge. Time and time again I interrupted your life on weekends, in the evenings, when you were with family and you always took time for me.

I will be forever grateful that you thought I was important enough to give me that time. It was your time and yet you gave it to me, a client, time you took from your family or your personal life and you gave it to me. That gift of time made all the difference in my life. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months, things began to change for me. The meds worked and the darkness became less overwhelming. I was healing, you were helping.  I learned to cope with my new realities, I began to learn that the only person I could change was myself.

Over the years I began to need you less but your presence in my life was still a comfort when things were hard. You were there when my grandmothers died, there were the calls and emails when I lived overseas, you were around when I stressed about getting married and after we adopted, I need you again. I knew you, you knew me, I would not have to start at the beginning and again you made time.

There were the sessions when we talked about knitting or about how our outside world was intersecting with our therapeutic one. There were days when you just listened to me talk about my dysfunctional family or about how proud I was that I had walked away from my raging kid. It was all therapy, it was all getting me to the place where I am today, alive, loving life (most days) and better person because you took the time to help me heal.

When we met I was a scared and depressed student, now I am Mom, a teacher, a wife, I am healing. I never thought that I would make it, I never thought that I would heal, that I would be happy and yet here I am. I know that I did the work, I know that I deserve that praise but you made time, you made time to teach me the skills I needed to heal.

How exactly do you say thank you for that?

Maybe like this because this is very much how I feel.

And now I move on, with my skills, and my memories, forever grateful to a woman who believed that I was worth her time.

Forever grateful


 If you need help coping, please go find a competent therapist to help you through the darkness, it is worth the money and the time. 

October 27, 2011   4 Comments


Michael’s  (aka E’s) family is about to get a baby to foster and I must say that I am jealous to say the very least. I have written about learning to be happy with the family I have, about it being enough and it is enough. In fact it is great but my heart still longs for more children and I am working on it.

I am frustrated by the fact that we were the right family for two very broken boys that no one else would take but that we can not be the right family for another child. I am feeling the sting of infertility as more and more people around me announce pregnancies and new babies and my life is destined to remain without a baby to nurture. It is hard, it hurts me to core and there is little to be done but to learn to cope with the pain and these feelings.

To be honest, I have had to learn to cope with a lot of things that were out of my control and it’s crappy. It sucks to not be able to dictate how and when our family will grow or not. It is hard to watch other people get to nurture children from infancy while I know that I will likely never get that privilege and that is not to say that my children are any less fabulous but there is a part of me that longs to have a baby in my arms. Sometimes the realisation that it is unlikely to ever happen is hard to swallow and makes it hard to keep the tears in check as another person tells me their due date.

To add to my overwhelming feelings of loss I am also trying to wrap my brain around the fact that tomorrow is my last appointment with my therapist. With a woman who has journeyed  with me for 13 years and has seen me through more than anyone else. She has held my hand through serious depression, through loss and grief,  through joy and wonder. I am working on moving on, I have not seen her all summer on purpose, I have stayed away so that I can start to move on but saying good-bye to her tomorrow is looming large and yet it needs to happen, I need to close that door.

My grief at this moment is heavy, it is weighing me down and as if that was not enough I spent 30 minutes doing homework with Fudge. I need you know that this alone would make anyone crazy let alone me given the way that I am feeling this week.

I know I will survive, I will learn to cope, to let this be enough, to let go of the dreams of more kids and babies in my arms, but it is hard and sadly I do not think that it is going to get any easier in the next day or two.

September 28, 2011   9 Comments

Do you even care to begin to understand?

I spent my weekend running a camp at the university that both P and graduated from. This is the 4th year in a row I have been there for 4 days in the summer providing programming for the children whose parents are attending or presenting workshops. Many of the presenters of the workshops are people I studied with and they have kids now as well. It is like a family renunion every summer where proffessors, alumni and current students spend 4 days learning new things and being togheter. Most people seem to have a lot of fun, I spend four days chasing kids so mostly I am just exhausted. It is good too see my friends during meals and in t he evenings though. We sit around and talk about our lives, about parenting, partners, marriage, we argue, we disagree but it’s all good cause have been friends for years.

There is one huge difference between us though, glaring in fact and it causes me more trouble than my left leaning, gay marriage is a right, woman should be ordained views.

I have adopted children from foster care. I am the only one of us who is raising kids who experienced trauma and neglect, raising kids whose brains have been altered by the choices their first parents made.

When I am with them they judge me. They comment. They stare. They do not get it nor do they care to.

It’s hard. It’s hard to hear them joke about my being so strict and teasing me about not letting them out of my sight. It’s hard to hear them tell me loosen up and let them be kids. Trust me, I would if I could.

Sometimes I try to take a step back, to see if the boys can do things that would be developmentally appropriate for a child their age and each and every time I do it fails. Why does it fail, it fails because they are not ready. They are not ready to have full control over what they take in the cafeteria line because they will take enough to feed four children and then refuse to eat it. They cannot share a bed in a hotel room because no one will sleep. If they are left alone for any length of time something will get broken or someone will get hurt. They cannot resolve their own conflicts because they do not yet have the skills needed to do so without hurting one another. They have to be reminded to use the washroom or they will wait until it is to late. Most statements that come out Calvin’s mouth are lies and have to discussed at length to determine their accurateness. They have to be within arms reach of an adult they know really well at all times or something crappy is going to happen to someone nearby.

This is behaviour that pales in comparison to the what we used to deal with and yet the comments are still made. They still stare and snicker and tell me to back off. I’d like to tell them to shut up, I mean really I don’t tell  you how to raise your kids. I don’t comment on their appalling table manners or smart ass comments to adults whom they should respect. I do not mock your parenting or suggest that because you are raising your children in the way that you feel is right for your family that you are doing a less than perfect job.

Yet because I am raising my kids in the way that is best for them, that gives them the structure they need to be successful, I somehow appear to be in need of parenting advice from people who have never been here, have not walked a mile in my shoes and probably never will. It drives me crazy and although I know that it is not going to change I would really like to be able to educate the masses but really is there any point because it seems as though everyone thinks they are an expert on how I should be raising my kids.

This road that we walk, the one where we adopt kids who other people have damaged and try to make a family is a tough way to create a family and the next person who makes a smart ass comment might just get to kiss my fist. You  know or something like that.


July 20, 2011   14 Comments

well it could be worse

It has been a rough two of days around here. The crapiness culminated last night when I lost it at Fudge. I am human, I lose my temper, it happens. I apologised and we moved on but I know that my losing it undoes months of work with him. It was frustrating because the I had maintained my composure in the face of both of them working hard to get me to yell at them after they got busted for sneaking Cokes. I was not be baited and I just went about my afternoon with both of them within 5 feet of me. Then Fudge pushed a little to hard and I blew, it was a bit like Mt. Vesuvius and it was not pretty. After I blew I called P and luckily for all of us he was on his way home.

We rehashed what had gone on with Fudge ( then he was sent to bed) and then Calvin. Calvin is in a much different place that Fudge in terms of healing and what started out as discussion about behaviour turned into a conversation about abandonment and his birth parents. It needed to happen and although there was a lot of “poor me” going on there was also truth in what he was saying. He needs to talk about it and even though his timing was less than stellar it is good that he talking to us. We got him through the hard part and on to the good parts and the day ended on positive note.

The sun came up this morning as it always does and  I was still mad at them over yesterday. I managed to keep things in check but I did tell them that I was upset by their choices. We got through our morning without to much drama and then I walked outside and discovered this lovely mess.

 That would be grass seed in my flower bed, yes the one that I am constantly picking the grass out of.

 And if you look here you will notice that the lovely critter who did this opened and spread not 1 but 2 bags.

Luckily for me most of the larger bag was still in the bag and it did not rain last night so I managed to get a lot of it cleaned up. But holy hannah I was MAD at something – probably a raccoon.

I am off to run errands in the city and then go for an afternoon margarita with a dear friend. I can assure you it will only be one but after the last couple of days I wish it was a pitcher!

June 1, 2011   3 Comments


I don’t go to therapy to find out if I’m a freak
I go and I find the one and only answer every week

And it’s just me and all the memories to follow 

Down any course that fits within a fifty minute hour

And we fathom all the mysteries, explicit and inherent

When I hit a rut, she says to try the other parent

And she’s so kind, I think she wants to tell me something, 

But she knows that its much better if I get it for myself…

 – What Do You Hear In These Sounds, Dar Williams. 

I went to therapy yesterday. I needed to go, I needed to talk and vent and be understood. It was good, great in fact, until I learned something that literally took my breath away. My therapist is retiring in November. 
After 13 years ( off and on)  of working with her she is leaving me. Yes I know that she is not just leaving me but that is how it feels, I am sure that all of her clients feel the same way.  She is going back to her own world, to her family, her grandkids and her hobbies. I am not sure that I know how I will cope with the loss of her in my life. I mean that. This woman, she saved me, she taught me to value myself and that I was worth it. She taught me to take care of me and ways to process all of the crap that happened in my life.
When I was the most depressed, the most vulnerable she held my hand, she gave me her home number, she talked me down off the virtual ledge more times than I can even count. She believed in me, a stranger who I was paying her to listen to me did much more than what was required in that 50 minute hour. She believed that I was worth all the extra time, the free sessions when I was broke, the reduced rates when I could not afford her, the late night phone calls on holidays from across the country. She made a commitment to me and my my healing. 
She believed in me. Yes that is her job but with a good therapist it is so much more than that. She is good at what she does and it can be really hard to find a person who gets you in the way that she gets me. I have known her longer than many of the people who exist in my world today including my husband. She has seen me through so much, helped me work  through so much and now she going. I am aware of the void this going to leave in my world, aware and scared.
I have the skills, I know how to cope but having her as a support makes it all a little easier. She gets me, she understands my triggers and issues and there is not need to re-explain things to her. I would have start again with another person, not at the beginning but it would take time and work to develop this type of relationship with another therapist. That is the hard part of working with someone for this long, it hurts when it ends. I always knew there would be a time when this would happen but I hoped it would not be so soon.
I will always encourage people to use therapy, it is an excellent way to deal with the crap that goes on in our lives. It helps, it makes a difference to have some support because sometimes just getting out bed in the morning is hard. As hard as this is for me to wrap my mind around her moving on, I must say that I happy she has given me this much notice because it will gives me time to get used to the idea. To decide what is next, to move on on my own or to look for someone to walk with me.

May 25, 2011   8 Comments

Please excuse me for a moment…

while I scream.

I am a tad frustrated with my children. They are being sneaky and manipulative and I am so not wanting to play their games.

That being said they are going to spend a lot of time working in the garden with me this morning and we will get a lot planted and that is a really good thing. Then we are going to a wedding this afternoon where I will have to pretend that we are happy, go-lucky family because I am so not willing to let my kids ruin it. Tomorrow I can go back to being frustrated by them and their choices.

When blogger went down on Wednesday it ate my comments on my last post, I know there were some but I never got to read them. If you said something profound, or fantastic, or thought provoking can you say it again so I can know what you said. Thanks.

I am off to plant and rake and work in the rain.

May 14, 2011   2 Comments


My BIL is stable, he is alive, we are hopeful that he will survive even though his life is going to be difficult in coming months. My sister and her kids are coping as best they can with an impossibly difficult situation and there are any people who are helping them through this nightmare.

Today it needs to be all about me. This is my blog after all and I am really struggling as a parent today.

I am struggling because as much as I love my children, as special and important as they are to me I wish in this moment, today, that they did not need me. I want to be on a plane, I want to hug my sister, to hug her kids, to help make it better for them. I want to be there for her, I want to do for her exactly what I know she would do for me if the roles were reversed.

But I can’t.

I can’t because leaving my sons with their father at this point would be a nightmare for all 3 of them. Calvin’s greatest fear is of losing us. He did not cope well when I was in Orlando, he talked afterwards about how scared it made him to have be away from him. He payed me back for days and days when I returned so I would know just how pissed off he was with me. And then there is Fudge, slowly but surely attaching Fudge who would also make me crazy when I returned if I were to leave him now. He would behave for the most part in my absence but when I returned I would be in for all kinds of wonderful things. Just knowing that their cousins father is sick and that we are stressed has been enough to have them both on edge all week. There have been any tears, much arguing and some great tantrums, I can’t leave them right now.

Attachment is complicated.

I feel like I have to put my kids my first, in fact I know that I have to put my kids first. My sister has people with her, she is not alone. Her friends can do all the things that I can do just well as I can but they are not me. They will take care of her and buy her candy to help her cope, they will hug her and hold her and drive around but it still means that I am not there. I am here, with my kids, trying not to be grouchy and letting them watch TV all day just so that I can have the space to be alone till I feel a little less sorry for myself.

I am hoping that things will work out with time, that when there are less people in my sisters little tiny house I can go and help her. I can take the boys and instead of an early summer vacation like I had been planning and plotting in my head it will be a spring vacation. I can help her get their lives back together. I can distract her kids and spoil them rotten which is one of my favourite things to do. I can buy her candy and hold her hand as they begin to recover and move on with their lives. Until then I just have to trust that others
are doing the things she needs them do.

I just wish I did not have to be patient. I do not do patient well.

April 2, 2011   7 Comments

Not a good choice.

I just watched Grey’s Anatomy and even though it is the only TV show that I faithfully watch it was not a good choice tonight. It was a ll a little bit to real, a little bit raw, watching characters fighting for the lives of people they love was a bit to close to home.

My BIL is stable but still fighting to survive, my sister says she is “cautiously optimistic” at this point as he is finally not getting any worse. The last 72 hours have been hell for me and I can not even imagine how hard it has been for her. Every fiber of my being wants to be in California tonight, it wants to be with her and her kids but instead I am at home. I am here because I can not easily leave my children and that is frustrating and challenging for me to accept. My kids did not deal well with my leaving earlier this month and as hard as it is to put them ahead of my sister it is what I have to do. I know that their are people looking after her, loving her and holding her hand. They are not me and it is not the same but they love her too and they are doing everything they can to help her through this most difficult time.

I am hoping that we can swing going, either on my own or with boys in the weeks to come. Things are further complicated by the fact that Calvin is not doing well, emotionally or physically and I have that to contend with that as well. Fudge is not great either but he holds it all inside so it is bit easier to contend with in the crisis moments. Calvin lost it numerous times today and although some it is related to how much his body hurts, a  lot of it is related to the fact that me being this stressed about someone I love is really hard for him. One of his greatest fears is that we will die on him and although we have been really careful about language around my BIL being very sick he is a bright boy and has figured things out. We are working on him talking about how he feels rather than creating chaos, we have a long way to go.

It is late and I am past exhausted, sleep has not been on the list of priorities but that 3rd glass of red will make it priority tonight although I might regret that in the morning. Thanks again for all the amazing support this week, it means a lot to me.

April 1, 2011   5 Comments

Clinical Depression is one of the things I do not talk about much

Yesterday was a much better day, a fabulous day in fact. The boys were regulated and happy and I took some much needed me time and that helped put a lot of things in perspective. I had brunch with a friend, I ran some errands and  then I went to therapy. Yes you read right, therapy, alone, for me and not for or with my children.

I have been seeing the same therapist on and off for 12 years, I have known her longer than I have known my husband or my children. She is good at what she does and having seen the same person for all these years makes everything easier to talk about because she understands how my past effects my parenting.

I started seeing her when I was in my first year of university. I was depressed, not oh my that is so sad depressed but like I think I should drive this car into a brick wall depressed. My depression came on suddenly and although there were a variety of reasons, once it started it knocked me on my ass with it’s force. I spent days and days in bed, I did not eat, sleep or socialize at all. I got up, went to school and then went back to bed. It was a very dark time for me.

Looking back on that time in my life there are three things that kept me alive over that first 6 months, literally alive, my therapist who gave me her home number, anti-depressants and an online support group that I stumbled into one day. My therapist and that group of woman held my hand as I dealt with some of the hardest things I will ever face in my life. Those woman listened, reached out, they cared about me and made sure that if I felt like I was going to drive the car into a brick wall or down a bottle of pills that I called one of them first. It gave me the smallest glimmer of hope to know that I was never truly alone, that many people had walked this road before me and sadly many more would come after me. Those woman, strangers that I only knew on the Internet and on the phone saved me from the jumping off the edge more times than I care to count. They reached out because each and everyone of them had been in that dark place that I was in and they were willing to hold my hand until I saw the light again. I am still thankful for each and every one of them.

It took years for me to heal. I worked hard. I went to therapy, I took my meds each and everyday.  I visited the world most annoying Doctor weekly and then monthly so that I could get more meds because for along time she would only let me have 7 days worth of pills at a time. I made new real in person friends, I put me first, I learned coping strategies and self care.

It was a very dark time in my life but it was a road that had to be walked. There was healing that needed to happen and until I spoke the words, until I acknowledged the feelings there was not going to be any healing. That time in my life is a large piece of the puzzle that makes up who I am now and how I chose to live my life.

The first year was the hardest. Looking back I can remember when there started to be a bit of light, when the hope started to return. After that first year I stayed on meds and in therapy for the next 5 years. Then one day I got out of bed and decided it was time to stop the meds and see if I could take on the big, big world on my own. If I had learned enough skills to deal with the chemical imbalances in my brain on my own. I was slowly weaned off the meds and I kept going to therapy because I needed it. I needed to talk about what was going on and how I was coping. I did cope, I saw the darkness but it did not return with the overwhelming  force that it once had.

I was healing.

In fact I decided that I was going to take on the world and I left the great white north and went to Asia by myself for 18 months. It was difficult but I coped and I had fun and I lived. There were days when I was sad and hid in my apartment but those days never turned into weeks and I knew to reach out and talk to people when I began to feel that way. For the first time in years I felt as though as I could do this, I could cope with life.

I came home from my time away, I got married, we adopted traumatized kids and the darkness returned. It did not happen all at once but it started to creep back into my days, slowly like a mist but it was definitely there. I was scared of being really depressed again so I reached out. I went back to regular therapy appointments, I found support in the Internet again and I began to take care of me as well as my family.

There are days when the darkness feels overwhelming but I continue to reach out. I am not ashamed. If one day I need to go back on medication then I will do that.

We do not talk about how very hard it can be to parent children from trauma, we do not talk about how that effects us as parents but we should. Because I was depressed before I look at the darkness from a different place now and I deal with it differently but I do not doubt for a minute that if this was the first time I experienced these feelings I would be completely overwhelmed by them. Instead I continue to see my therapist, we talk about me and about how I feel and right now that is enough to keep the darkness from taking over.

If you are walking in the darkness know that you are not alone, reach out and let someone hold you up because there is hope and it gets better.

You are not alone.

January 14, 2011   9 Comments