Making parenting mistakes since 2008

Category — parenting

No I am not

Yesterday soon after Fudge and Ramona left for school my phone beeped, it was Calvin messaging me. He led with a comment about ” why was I so mean to people” and it went down hill from there. He carried on about how horrible I was for awhile and when I told him I was not going to respond to his abusive statements anymore he made a few more comments and then stopped.

One of the things he brought up in his rant is how I stopped letting him into our home when he missed curfew and came home in the middle of the night because he feels that I should of let him in. He neglects to recall that this went on for months and once I did stop letting him in I did make sure that he had a safe place to go for the night and that the social worker involved in our family was totally on-board with this strategy. It may of not been the best idea ever but we drew a line in the sand and explained our choice to him again and again but he still is unable to see or acknowledge that all he needed to do was come home by curfew or communicate with me about where he was and when he would be home.  Instead he is using as a way to complain about what a bad parent I am and one of the many ways that I have wronged him.

I think that is the hardest part of dealing with his mental illness and attachment disorder is that he is unable and unwilling to acknowledge that his choices impact his world. Everything is my fault. I am his punching bag and every time he is unhappy with anything he takes it out on me. Intellectually I know that it is not me, I know that I have done my best and that love and all the years of therapy were just not enough for him but emotionally he rips my heart out and steps on every single time he verbally attacks me. It takes every ounce of self control I have to remain calm and not to freak out and rant back at him.

There is no page, no chapter, no anything for what to do when your child becomes abusive to you. I would not put up with behaviour from a partner or friend but because he is my child I am expected to take it, to be resilient and strong and to keep on loving him. I do love him but I have zero desire to be with him in any capacity and the thought of him coming home at any point sends in a full blown panic. It is so very hard, impossible even to acknowledge that parenting him has led me to a place where I feel as though being with him for any length of time would be the hardest thing I have had to do in years.

 

November 29, 2017   No Comments

From Crisis to Crisis

I love pinball machines, really old ones with actual buttons and paddles and million lights. I could waste a pocket full of change playing them, happily pushing those buttons and flinging those balls from paddle to paddle. The various themes amuse me, the lights and sounds are familiar and comforting, they remind me of the 80’s and of a smaller calmer world.

Lately Pinball has been a pretty good analogy to explain things. I feel as though I am pinball machine ball between paddles and in a giant pinball ball game full of children’s crises. One of my kids is always in crisis it seems and although there are calm patches they are small and filled with the repercussions of the last crisis.

This week Fudge ran away, again. This is not a new behaviour, it is one both Fudge and Calvin have used extensively to try to cope with things that they find overwhelming. This time he was missing for close to 24 hours and he was found quite by accident because someone who knew he was missing saw him. He had mad no attempt to contact us, no attempt to get help, he just wandered the streets all night scared and alone because he could not make a plan to fix the situation he had gotten himself into. It was horrible, it is always horrible when one of them is not where they are supposed to be. Once we had him home we had to pick up the pieces and the running away stemmed from school issues that were underlying things that have continued to blow up all week long. Fudge just does not understand why other teens will not be as forgiving of his behaviour as he would be of theirs.

Ramona creates drama daily, 11 and puberty is killing me. It’s all stuff I can handle but it is so exhausting have to keep your eyes on a kid at all times. She is stealing, sneaking and lying to the best of her ability and I think she gets away with a lot at school that no one even notices. I have been to her rodeo but I was hoping this 3rd trip might be a little less exhausting.

And then there is Calvin who messaged me last night to ask for stuff that we have here in the house that he has decided he has to have. It is stuff I am not going to let a transient 17 year old have, stuff I have saved from when he was a kid and stuff that is not just his but also has been shared with his siblings. When I said he could not have it and explained why he told me yet again that ” he is not my child and it I can control him”. This is his new mantra, I am not his parent and yet he messages me to demand the things that I have saved for him from all the years that he lived here and the memories we built together. He doesn’t seem to understand that he if he hateful and mean to me I am not likely to do the things he asks and there doesn’t seem to be a way to get him to understand that. He is not living in our home, I have million mixed feelings about what has happened with him and am trying hard to work on process it but when he says things like that I just go straight to mad.

Its all chaos all the time and I know that the kids thrive on the chaos, I know their brains think that the chaos is normal but the banging around like a pinball could stop for a bit and that would be ok. I think we would all be able to remember how it feels.

 

November 17, 2017   No Comments

so in addition to the whole this is my normal post

I have been parenting since the summer of 2008 and I am so very tired. Not in a “parenting is hard” kind way. Not in a “I wish this was different” way but in a  weary to my core way that is not changing.  Weary in a way that when one of children does something like hides my shoes it sends me over the edge and I contemplate fantastical options like boarding schools as a solution ( yes I know it is not so don’t start)  to all my problems because I really do not want to keep at this for this another minute let alone for more years.

I am tired of the line of sight supervision. I am so over the stealing, lying and manipulating. I am done with pee. Triangulated teachers, hidden food, and gas lighting can all be left in the past as I want to move into a world where people enjoy being together and have relationships that are not always focused on healing and restoring relationships. Where people can watch kids play and not worry about what is being whispered and if kids are being sexually inappropriate or sharing information that is designed to exclude a sibling or friend from the group so they can be the center of attention.

I love my kids but I feel like I am facing a sentence where I count the days until I am legally free and clear. When I sit back and actually think about how often I feel this way it makes me sad that this is my reality. I’m tired of all the adoption storied where everyone talks about all the joy but no one is talking about when love is not enough. No one is talking about what happens when you 16 year old packs their bags and moves out because that is easier for them then them getting the mental health help you are saying they have to have.

This is not what I thought I would be doing when I became a parent in 2008.

November 10, 2017   No Comments

Normal?

I was talking to someone last week about some of Ramona’s antics, I often refer to her as my easy kid and she had gotten kicked off the bus, created some chaos at a birthday party that spilled over into school and then tried to make some other kids feel as bad as she did. While I was rambling on and laughing about how ludicrous it all was the other persons eyes got big. They had been parenting a long time and they had never ever encountered behaviour like I was talking about in any of their kids.

I guess when your version of normal involves having video cameras and door alarms in your home so you can keep everyone safe your reality tends to become a little skewed after awhile. But this is our normal and although it exhausts me and I am so very tired of chaos I often forget that everyone does not live like this. I forget that other families are able to do fun things and not have it end in melt downs or kids asking to go sit the car because their sibling is excluding them and they can’t cope. I forget that tantrums from older kids might not involve smashed dishes or calls to the police when someone doesn’t come home after storming out the front door in a rage and isn’t home by curfew.

The version of normal in my house is exhausting. It has worn me down and there is very little joy found in parenting right now. I try to find it, some days I try to create it or to build it in so that I can feel some joy with my kids who are at home but it is so hard because I have little motivation to do so because it so often ends in disaster. It is easier to let them watch TV and entertain themselves while I hide in my room binge watching Netflix so that we do not have manage functioning in the world outside our home. I know I am not alone, I know other families who are doing the very same thing, trapped in their homes because it is just easier that way.

This is not what I thought I would be doing 10 years after I started parenting, this is not what I planned but this is where I am.

November 6, 2017   No Comments

And so very much has happened.

I have kept this space, paid for the domain year after year because I was not sure that I was ready to be done here, I was not sure if I wanted to say good-bye to this little corner of my world and to all that it contained. In the last few months the desire to come back here has weighed heavily on me because I used this place as a spot to process feelings and there is a lot of processing going on in my world. I also know that in my own processing there is so much that can be learned from others and so much that I can share, a reminder that although I do feel terribly alone at times I truly am not.

In the last 6 months Calvin has left our home, he is now 17 and there is a story there that will come out with time but to say that it has been hell would be putting it mildly. Fudge is struggling in huge ways with choices Calvin has made, the choices we have made as parents and with being a teen a who has experienced all that he has in his life. We are hanging on by a thread moving from one crisis to the next begging for help and services where there are none and hoping that we make it. Ramona has not been untouched by the drama and trauma that has ( and continues to) unfolded in our home, she adds to in her own ways and withdraws from it in others.  She also misses Calvin and adjusting to him not being in our home has been very hard for her.

I have been left feeling as though I have been broken. I am working at putting the pieces back together but the process of having Calvin go last spring was devastating and as we tried and tried to get help and were turned away again and again I became very hopeless. I felt like we worked so hard and that no matter what we did love was just never going to be enough. It was a hard place to be, not wasn’t, is.  It is a hard place to be, because I am still very much in that place and I know that even though I love my children and have surrounded them with people who love them and have met all their physical needs it still might not be enough to heal them.

So here I am, a much different Mom than when I started this place but I need it as much now as I did then. I am going to keep it real, to be honest about parenting adopted teens with mental health issues, about adoption breakdown, about openness with birth families and the lack of support for families struggling like ours. Happy to have you if want to read along.

November 3, 2017   No Comments

Orlando 2013

I wait all year for Orlando, I literally count the days until I  get to spend days on end with women who get me, women who accept me, women who love me just because I am me. I did get to do that this year, I did get to just be me but this year was not the same as last year. Last year Orlando changed who I am. I know that is a lot to say about a 4 day event but it is true. Things happened in Orlando last year that made me a better parent, a better person and a stronger advocate. I went back this year thinking it was going to be as amazing as it was last year and then I was disappointed when it was different.

See that is the thing with annual events, you get your mind set on what it is going to be, you pump it up in your head and then when it is different you are disappointed.

It was not what I expected it to be, it was not what I hoped it was going to be, but it was still good. I mean that. It was good, fantastic in fact. Looking back there was no way that it ever could of been what it was last year, my expectation that it would be was unrealistic and in many ways I set myself up to be disappointed.

I see that now.

So what was so fantastic?

Where do I even begin? It is so hard to explain to people who have never experienced Orlando the wonder of being welcomed and accepted by all those women who live your life. Women who struggle with attachment, PTSD, RAD, depression and so much more on a daily basis. Women who laugh about the volume of pee that we see in places it should not be and who can joke about the antics their kids have pulled lately without shocking anyone. We laugh, we cry, we support one another, it is unlike any support group I have ever attended. These women get me, they love me, they think I am a rock star even when I do not.  There are women from this group who would move heaven and earth to help a friend in need, a friend who just 3 years ago was a stranger or perhaps just a virtual acquaintance. There are women will take your kids when you have reached the end of your rope and women who will hold you while you sob because you are so tired of your life. There are women in this group who talk to me and check in on me more often then I talk to people who have known me my whole life.

There is something amazing about being so deeply understood by others, by being accepted just as you are that does good things for my soul. Knowing that I am not alone makes world so much less challenging. Knowing I have a place to vent and talk and cry gets me through the hard days.

Last year I walked away from Orlando knowing that I was enough, this year I walked away knowing that no matter what I have friends who have my back and love me to my bones. That love is going to get me through the really hard days around here especially the ones that start with a certain finger being showed to me over and over again.

I am, you are, we are, it is ENOUGH was the theme this year in Orlando. It says a lot about how we should think about ourselves and about how we parent our kids who are from hard places.  I am enough each and everyday and so are you.

 

March 14, 2013   1 Comment

Supporting one another

I have been blogging since May 2004, that was a really long time ago, really long. I lived in a different place, I was single, I was teaching, I was travelling, it was a different world. When I started my blog it was to keep in touch with my family while I lived over seas and as my world has evolved so has my blog. I moved here to Stellar Parenting when I felt as though I needed some anonymity in order to respect my kids privacy. It was a necessary move and not one I regret at all although my first blog still exists and I have not blogged there in years.

I was looking for something in the archives here earlier today and I was amazed at all these years of my life, all this joy, excitement, devastation, learning, changing and growing stored in on place. There are so many memories here, so many things that I might want to forget because they were awful but that I learned a lot from and are really worth remembering. While I looked though the archives I was struck by something, there is a lot of love on these pages. Love from people who I love, from people I have never met and from people who have over the years become some of my dearest friends.

P and I were talking about this very thing last night about how some of the best supports that I have on this parenting journey are from women who I have met here on my blog and in Orlando, (many of those people over lap but not all Orlando Mamas are bloggers). They are women who watch my kids when I need a break, they call me multiple times a day when they know my cheese is sliding off my cracker ( a polite way of saying going insane), they mail me surprises, they love my kids and they have become my family. I am not kidding when I  say that without some of these women I would not be here today. I would not be the parent that I am, I would not be helping my kids heal, I would not be coping, I know in my heart of hearts that if these women were not a part of my life things would look very different and not in a good way.

It’s one of those things, these women, the ones who hold me up, they make me a better Mama and a better person

It’s not just about being a Mama though, right now my world revolves around my kids but once they are no longer in my house every day I will still be me. The woman who started on this parenting journey 5 years ago is not the same woman who is typing this today. These women, these Mamas who parent kids just like mine have taught me that I matter, that I am worth it and that I deserve to be loved just as much as any other person. I have always struggled with my self-esteem, with why anyone would want to be my friend, what I had to offer others and have really just felt like I was taking up space in the world. .  These women, who would move heaven and earth to help a friend in need,  have taught me that I am worth it.

I matter.

I am lovable.

I am ENOUGH.

I would be lost if it were not for these women and I am eternally grateful that I have them in my life.

Thank you to each and every one of you, you make getting through a challenging day so much easier.

 

February 22, 2013   3 Comments

honesty

This hard. I have said that before and I am about to say it again. This is hard. It makes me feel better when I voice that, when I speak the truth openly and let world in to all the pain and frustration that is parenting kids that other people hurt. I must say that I also know that parenting your own bio kids can be hard as well but I can only speak of what I know and that is older child adoption.

We have spent the last four years of parenting Fudge and Calvin and there are days when I feel as though there is no way that I am ever going to make it through their adolescence and they are not even actually teenagers yet. Then you add Ramona to the mix and not only am I outnumbered but their joint super powers are like kryptonite against my therapeutic parenting powers.

This week has been really hard.

Epic tantrums, big emotions, pee in places I would rather it not be, hurt feelings, mean words, anger, sadness, thrown food, lies, manipulation and triangulation just begin to scratch the surface of the things I have dealt with.

Tuesday was among the worst days I have had in a long time. Once it was over I took a deep breath, changed my expectations for my kids and talked myself into changing the way I had resorted to handling things lately. It was not working and if something did not change there was no way that I could keep the gray away until 40.

I put on my patient pants, I lowered my voice, I challenged myself to remember that some of this was just kid stuff and not only hurt kids behaviours. I worked on that for Wednesday and Thursday, it was a bit better, not great but better.

Then there was today, I threw a curve ball at my kids. changed up their routine with the announcement of unexpected ( although welcomed and loved) guests for supper. The house looked like a bomb went off, there was nothing to make for supper and I was busy canning peaches. Guests were not on today’s list.  But I need to say aloud that my kids pulled together, listened to me, cleaned, got along and made it all happened. Were the chores all done properly, nope, was there bickering yep, did kids have to repeat thing, oh yeah but no one hurt anyone else. Progress I tell you, progress.

My kids look for fights with one another and with me, they long for the chaos that an argument brings and when I do not engage, when d I just call them back and make them fix it ( even though it is the 3rd time they are sweeping the bathroom because they have missed behind things each and every time even though it has been specifically mentioned multiple times,) in those moments I am Wonder Woman because when I can stay calm I am not feeding into the chaotic crazies that they want.

It is hard to stay calm in when yogurt is hitting the fan or when they walk away in the middle of a sentence but it really does work. I did not raise my voice once yesterday and although there were lots of  reasons for me to yell my head off ( and trust me I am one loud mama) I didn’t do it. I was calm and quiet and it worked. Today was a little tougher but I did not yell about the big stuff although I did raise my voice but mostly just to be heard over the lawnmower or for kids to stop carrying one another like sacks of potato up and recently mopped staircase because the paper work after the big accidents is horrendous .

It’s hard, this parenting stuff,  but keeping some perspective about my reactions is helping make it a little easier this week.

May I be wise in the coming week.

 

August 24, 2012   5 Comments

Dear Ramona,

Dear Ramona,

Today marks 2 months since we moved you from your big city to our small town. Last night while your father and I were talking over you so that you might assimilate some of what we were saying about how we thought you might be feeling after a difficult day you said something brilliant. You said, “I am nervous cause this is my last family”.

That sentence speaks volumes about what has gone on here in our family in the last month. We have had good times and really, really tough times. There are days when you manage to push the buttons of every single member of this family in a way that I never knew that a six year old was capable of and yet at the days ends and you melt into my arms, wanting and longing to attach.

Even though you can drive me absolutely crazy, I am loving getting to know you. This month you officially became a Beaver and you were so proud, you wanted to come home and tell your brothers all about it and show them your new necker. We went camping (only for one night) and you charmed the pants off every Scout leader you encountered. You had strawberries and rhubarb for the first time and loved it. You learned that spring around here means gardening and that means picking weeds and rocks. You are not a big fan of the garden but I think that you will get used to it.  You love bubbles, playing house and jumping on the trampoline. You are learning to love your brothers and to annoy them in that way that only a little sister can.

The other day you were playing with them as you ran through the house screaming that you were going to catch them I paused and marveled at how well  the 3 of you could get along. There was a minute when you tried to swear at them but caught yourself and then spent the next 30 minutes shouting that you were going to catch those puckers, it really was rather cute and there was really no way to correct you cause you were not really swearing after all.

Ramona, you are a fabulous little being, even if it is hard I am thrilled to be your parent.

love

Mom

May 12, 2012   4 Comments

False Allegations

The title of the post is pretty self explanatory. Last week someone over heard something one of my children was saying to other children. They questioned him and then took the information they had and called the child protection authorities.

The reason they called, the reason my son said it, and the fallout from what he said are all details that I am not going to share here.  But, that being said I wanted to talk about what happened because I am not the first parent to be in this situation and I may find myself in it once again although I must say that once is more than enough.

So when the phone rings and the call display send you into a panic or there is a social worker on your doorstep and they tell you that someone has reported you for hurting one of your children you need to talk to them.  Do not slam the door in their face or hang up on them cursing. Remain calm and find out as much as you can before you say anything. Then be honest about what goes on in your home. Be honest about your feelings, experiences and about just how horrific your kids behaviour can be.

You have rights and you have the right to find out what you are being accused of and when the report was filed. You also have the right to expect that your children (who have experienced more than enough trauma already) may need to be interviewed/talked to in a way that may not be as conventional as the worker would like it to be. You need to act in the best interest of your child and you also need to try to manage the fallout that may follow. For example we did not let any worker into our home but met with them at other places so that the kids would not be triggered by having social workers in their safe place.  They offered to come to us, I said no.

Spend some time trying to piece together what happened on the day of the allegation. In our case there was almost a week between the call coming in and us hearing from them. Once I knew what day it was I was able to explain that little day in out lives to the worker, it was a doozy of a day let me tell you. In fact this month has been horrific on all sorts of levels and I have not hidden that fact from our adoption worker who was able to shed some light on that for the worker doing the investigation which was really helpful.

Make your world an open book, sign consents so that information can be shared between therapists and other professionals who may know your family. Talk to your friends, offer references to the worker, share documentation that you may have. Talk to a lawyer and see what your rights are and what can and can not be done. If you are secretive it is not going to do anything but drag things out.

Stay Calm – yeah I know easy to say, it was brutal to do. I was only calm when I was talking to the worker doing the investigation, for everyone else I was a basket case. I was hurt and angry, I am still hurt and angry a week later. This was not a club I had wanted to join, I know it is one that a lot of parents who are raising hurt kids belong to but it was one I was hoping to avoid.

Perhaps we should make t-shirts and make it a real club.

December 27, 2011   14 Comments