Making parenting mistakes since 2008

Category — self care


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

If I build it?

Will you come?

Before Orlando I started to think about planning a much smaller Trauma Mama retreat in Ontario, near Toronto to be specific. But before I go ahead and put the time into doing that I am wondering if there are people who are near Toronto who would be interested in coming, or perhaps you are not near Toronto but you would be willing to travel.

I have looked at a few places and am thinking about the end of September which would mean that the kids are all back in school and it would be easier for Mamas to get away. The places ( all with in an hour of Toronto) that I have looked at would be reasonably priced and including food we would be looking at about 200.00 each if we had between 10 and 15 woman for a Friday afternoon through Monday morning weekend.

If you think that you might possibly interested let me know either in a comment or an email, my address is in the left sidebar.

Now I must go and wash dishes and retrieve children and work on processing the fact that Calvin has raged and tantrumed (is that a word) and Fudge had suddenly forgotten that he knows how to use a toilet. But that is a post for a different day because I am busy floating on “de Nile” river

March 11, 2011   9 Comments

After Orlando

I got home in time to pick the boys up from school yesterday, Calvin hugged me good and long as soon as he saw me. Fudge did not. He did much later though and was happy I was home. The moment of “oh it is so nice to see you” ended quickly because I had to pick up some pieces with my kids. Calvin was less than stellar for his father and Fudge made trouble at school. Even though there were no broken toes or windows, amends still had to be made and so we talked and Calvin got mad and then we had to talk some more. Finally they went to bed, I did feed them first though, I am nice like that.

They were both happy to see me though and although there was some behaviour last night from both of them that was designed to drive me crazy, it was not awful though. I was also the recipient of a lot of affection from Calvin which is a new thing and a wonderful sign of attachment. I missed them and it turns out that they missed me as well. It’s nice to be missed.

I have been thinking a lot about what to say about my time in Orlando, I was trying to think of something profound and meaningful that would make people think. But to be honest I was finding myself unable to say anything at all except that it was amazing.

I taught this morning and when I got home I sat down to write. Soon after I arrived home the phone rang, it was P calling to tell me that he was not dead. He had received a call from a worried friend who hear that he had died, same name different man, thankfully as him being dead would really throw off my day. As I was hanging up with him there was another call, it was the school. Calvin was being restrained on the yard and I needed to come right now. I did not even put on my coat I just grabbed the keys and left.

We live 10 minutes from the school, it was a long 10 minutes.

I arrived and was told they were outside and as I jogged through the hall to get out there a million thoughts ran through my head about just how bad things might be. When I got outside I discovered that Calvin had finally calmed down and was on his way in. I tried to hug him and he pulled away, I forced him to let me touch him so that I could whisper to him that I was not mad and because I knew in that moment that my touch would help him calm down.

I brought him home because there was no way that he was going to recover his day and frankly he was in trouble anyway. As we drove home we talked, I like talking in the van because eye contact is not required and it is easy to talk to angry children that way. He was mad because he was being excluded, he was triggered, he reacted, it went to hell in a hand basket from there. I remained calm, I did not yell or assign consequences but I did inform him he would be spending the remainder of his day doing school work or reading and not playing. We talked about what he could of done differently and then it was done.

I did not dwell on it.
I did not yell at him.
I did not shame him.
I did not punish him for being triggered.

That is what Orlando did for me, it reminded me that:
I am a good mother
I can be a therapeutic parent
I do not need to yell at my children to be heard
I can be in their corner when they make a mistake and help them make it right
I need to put myself first at times because otherwise I am exhausted and then I am not a good parent
They can survive without me for a few days
I am not alone


Neither are you.

March 9, 2011   12 Comments

Help for the Adoption Journey – Self Care

One of the hardest things about being a parent is making sure that your all of your needs ( physical, emotional, spiritual) are met along with those of all the other members of your family. Often parents put themselves at the bottom of the list because there are just not enough hours in the day to get it all done.

Here is a perfect example, my jeans never got hemmed and my socks don’t match. Now for some folks this may just be a quirky style for me it is a lack of time to meet my needs. I don’t really care about my clothes so this is not a huge issue but for some people it might just be the thing that put them over the edge.

When we first got the boys there were a lot of conversations with other people about what it was like to all of a sudden have 2 very needy kids and little idea of how to actually help them. When people asked how I was coping I used to make comments like ” I drink more wine now”, “I let the dog lick Fudge so I can give him drowsy allergy meds before bed” and ” I look really forward to Mondays because they go back to school on Mondays”. All of those things were true. As that first year progressed and things got harder we realised that we were quickly getting burned out and needed some help. We were coping but some days just barely it seemed and I really did not want to get depressed ( a path I am very familiar with)

We got some help. The boys were still on adoption probation then, so some of the help came from our local agency. We had respite for 3 hours every 10 days or so. It was not tons but it was enough for us to get out together or stay home and get stuff done. It worked. I don’t know that we would of made it through the first year without it.

That support stopped last summer but I am still very aware of my needs and the needs that P and I have to be together without the kids sometimes. So we work really hard to make that time, this is one of the reasons that we do not homeschool even though sometimes I think we should. It is hard to make time to be together and it is hard to carve out time alone but I need it and so we find ways.

Now that we do not have a sitter to watch the boys and only a few friends who can handle them we have to be a little creative in our time management. Here are some of the things that we do to make sure that I get some time alone and that P and I get some time together.

– Our boys are in bed by 8pm and they stay there until 7:30am, this is not up for negotiation. Children need lots of sleep and parents need time to talk and decompress. You are in bed and that is where you will stay.
– P gets up with the boys on Saturday mornings so I can have one morning where I do not have to worry about breakfast and such. Then they watch cartoons/movies together.
– Sometimes P and I meet and have lunch out while the boys are at school.
– When I go into the city for therapy I make sure that I also make plans to have lunch with a friend and I enjoy that day just for me. It happens about every 3 weeks and if it is the summer I make P book time off or I pawn the boys off on a unsuspecting friend.
– P and I arrange to do things on our own that interest us personally or professionally and we give each other a lot of notice so that the other person can be home with the kids. Sometimes this fails because P is a therapist and thus has client emergencies but it usually works.
– I make time for things that make me feel good like a long bubble bath, reading or writing. These things usually happen when the boys are in bed or early in the morning. There is time but it has to be carved out, it has to exist for my sanity. I make this time and ignore the housework.
– I go to bed at 10 unless there is reason that we are all up late. I need to have enough sleep. I am useless if I tired and grouchy.
– I get up 30 minutes before everyone else so that I can have a cup of coffee and read blogs before the kids get up.
– I work in the garden, sometimes I make my kids help. It feeds my soul and the food feeds us too.
– I make sure I eat. I don’t always make the best food choices ( I love fries) but I do make sure that I eat a fairly balanced diet because hunger leads to grumpy Mama.

All of that being said you must find time for you so that you can be a great parent. You can not be a great parent if you are tired, hungry or emotionally drained. You can not be a great parent if you always feel as though your children and dancing on your last nerve. You can not be a great parent if you work yourself to an early grave. You need to take care of you because then you can be a better parent to your children who really do need a lot from you each and every day.

Yes this means that everything does not get done. My house is usually messy, there is always laundry to put away and there are always dishes on the counter but I think I would rather have a messy house and be happy than a clean house and be exhausted.

April 27, 2010   6 Comments