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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

Just to add

The comments from yesterdays post are interesting, one of them is from my sister who points out that all the behaviours I talked about are ones that I had as a child. She is right, I did all of the things that my kids do I lied like trooper, I stole, was sneaky and did my best to make the world pay attention to me. I am sure that my mother secretly loves that my boys are driving me crazy. She claims that she does not remember how awful I was as kid, I think she has blocked it out as a coping strategy because I was challenge to say the very least. There is pretty much nothing that my kids can try that I have not done. Yes, I even almost blew myself up with the barbecue but I was much older (14ish) and I was supposed to be using it. The singeing of my bangs and eyebrows was because I screwed up lighting it and the propane built up,  when I finally got it lit there was a huge ball of flames, it was bad. There was also the time I accidentally lit a box full of jars that was sitting on the stove on fire and luckily for me managed to put the fire out before it got out of control. Those two were accidents but dead could of easily of been the outcome in either case, like I said there is little they can do that I have not done

There is also an element of these (super annoying drive a mama crazy) behaviours being developmentally appropriate which they are.  I  know plenty of typical kids who are being raised by their biological families who have behaviours similar to the ones that my kids exhibit. The thing is, my kids (and other hurt kids) often do these things longer, louder and with persistence than perhaps a typical kid would. They continue long after one would think that they had learned it was not ok. It is not unusual for one of my kids to get caught red handed at something and to still try to lie their way out of the situation even though they are totally busted. It is not unusual for them to repeatedly do something just to see what I am going to do this time, maybe this time (insert annoying behaviour here) will make her yell/send me away/lock me in the cellar/turn me into a carrot. The frequency, duration and degree of their behaviours is what makes them perhaps more challenging than those of a typical kid.

Besides it drives me crazy and that is enough of a reason for me to write about it. That and the fact that all their behaviours remind me that this parenting gig is a lesson in patience and repetition and that is the same for all parents.

October 6, 2011   7 Comments

How it looks now

It’s been just over three years since I became a parent, since I began loving two wonderful kids who really needed a family who was never going to give up on them.

There have been days when I want give up, yesterday was one of them.

My kids have stopped raging, they have stopped using bodily fluids as weapons of destruction, they have begun to learn to burst into tears when there emotions begin to overwhelm rather than beat the crap out of the closest person. It is progress but there are still days when the crazy lying, the sneaking and pushing me away dances on my last nerve. Yes even though things are better old habits and protective behaviours die hard.

Some of my kids choices are old habits but others are behaviours that are meant to protect them, behaviours that kept them alive when adults were not keeping them safe. For a long time my children were taught that adults would not meet their needs, they learned to fend for themselves and protect themselves at all costs, lying, stealing and sneaking were ways to be fed and to stay safe. Not investing in relationships with adults was a way to protect their hearts from the pain of the loss that they were certain would come if they began to care.

On one level my kids know they can trust me, but when they are  faced with a situation in which they feel threatened they often react in a way that will keep them safe no matter what. I would be lying if I told you that it does not make me crazy. I would by lying if I told you that I took it in stride every time that it happens and reacted to the behaviours in a calm and understanding manner.

The lying, stealing, sneaking and rejection makes me crazy in the moments when it occurs and sometimes I am able to take it in stride and talk the offending kid through the moment. Other times I react like many frustrated parents would and yell. The thing is, when I react like that we don’t get anywhere because my yelling just triggers my kids and then we get caught in a circle where we argue with one another. It is really hard to be the adult in those moments, it is so hard to step back and be calm, to take a deep breath and talk through the moment without creating more drama.

Sometimes it helps to remember that these behaviours are way better than the behaviours I dealt with when I first began parenting. These behaviours pale in comparison to the places my kids used to go and if I can remember that in the moments when I need to I can be a better parent. I can be calmer and more therapeutic and that means that with time these behaviours will lessen just aa the other have and that will be a good really good thing.

I am going to put on my patient pants before I pick my boys up from school, hope they help.

October 5, 2011   7 Comments

35

It was 35

It could of been 60 or 80 or 249 but it was only 35

35 what?

Minutes

What was 35 minutes?

The tantrum that Calvin had last night because while he was at a birthday party I had the audacity to take his little brother out for a spontaneous play date with their little brother E and his Mom. We went bowling, it was fun and of course Fudge had to tell Calvin all about it. Calvin was jealous, sad and angry.

Of course he could not tell me that he was feeling that way, he needed to be mad about something else instead. He started to fight with me, I knew what the reason was but I let him get all upset first and once had stopped hollering at me we talked through all his big feelings. In the mean time the rest of us went on with our evening routine because although Calvin was mad he was not raging or trying to hurt anyone and thus could be left to be angry and upset by himself.

Since no one goes to bed angry in this house he had to work it out and he did. He apologized, received some comforting hugs while he had a good cry about missing out on something and learned that sometimes having friends means you miss out on family things, it’s a hard lesson to learn.

 

Please consider buying a raffle ticket to support Adoption in Ontario, I am giving away some great stuff, tickets are only 5.00

 

September 11, 2011   3 Comments

Moving on

We have all survived the Mommy meltdown of summer 2011, it was not pretty, I regret saying the things I said and getting as angry as I did but a person can only be pushed so far. There is a part of me that does not regret letting my kids know that I am human too and if you poke me long enough I will burst. I explained that to them, I also explained that I am an adult and I should be able to walk away or find other ways to deal with my mounting frustration. I have been really angry at them before and being yelled at is nothing new but the things I said were and that was the problem. I will do my best not blow quite that spectacularly again.

Thanks to each and everyone who took the time to check on me and make sure I was ok, I appreciate it. Having this community of friends makes all the difference on a day like that, in fact it makes a difference most days.

In other news we are enjoying a quiet week at home this week and much of next week, I am slowly making some plans to do things with friends but my garden needs so attention and my yard looks like a scene out of Deliverance because we have still not got grass growing on much of after they dug it all up to  put in the new septic. It looked really great out there before they dug it up, now not so much.

So I have grass seed to spread and a garden to work and veggies to pick, wash and freeze. I have been doing this huge garden thing for a few years and I finally decided the other day that I really should have the tools I need to make things a little easier so I shelled out a big 20 bucks and bought this

It’s for blanching veggies before you freeze them, it is not necessary but it sure makes life easier. I am all about things being a little bit easier right now because although there are not very many beans in that pot today I have this to contend with as well

plus a 10lb bag of potatoes that is not in the picture. That is just what I picked yesterday and now that I have pulled the potatoes out I want to plant beets and spinach in that bed because I have tried twice this summer to get them to germinate and have very little success. I have also planted more beans and peas but they do not seems to want to come up so I think I will plant more.

Just and FYI I have started to answer people in the comments cause this is WordPress and I can do that easily – yeah for WordPress.

August 10, 2011   6 Comments

The Club

I saw a member on the beach yesterday, her daughter was dancing on her last nerve and she finally started to holler at her to listen and obey. I stared along with every other person in earshot as she berated her daughter. There was a difference though, I wanted to walk over and give that mom a hug, I wanted to tell her that I understood and that she is not alone. She was clearly parenting a child who was not hers by birth, a child who was doing her best to make mount mama blow her top and it was working. I did not agree with the woman’s parenting but I understood every single comment that she made to her kid.

I have been that parent yelling in public, in fact I yelled at both my kids yesterday and people stared, people who do not live the life we live judge us. It’s hard to be judged and stared at, to know that of all the people who are staring there might, maybe be one person who gets what raising adopted kids with attachment issues is like. I am among the lucky few who have friends both virtually and in real life who get it but there are so many moms who are all alone and as I watched that Mom I wished there was a way to let her know that I understood without coming across as some crazy person putting my nose into someone else’s business. I longed for some sort of a signal, for a way to say hey I get it, you are not alone. I know that you hoped and dreamed for this child, you longed for her, you wanted nothing more than to be her mother and now there are days you wished you could roll back the clock and change the past. I also know that there are good moments, moments when it all seems as though it will get better, good days, maybe even good weeks and then there is a trigger and all hell breaks loose again. I wanted a way to say that but I did not have one and as I watched her leave to beach my heart ached for her.

So if you are a member of the club know that you are not alone and if you are here in York, Maine this week and you see me yelling at my kids as they dance on my last nerve at the end of a long day don’t judge me cause I am doing my best.

August 4, 2011   7 Comments