Making parenting mistakes since 2008

Category — adoption

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

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

Then the penny drops

Then the penny drops and I figure it all out. Sometimes I am really slow, like painfully slow at realizing the obvious and even though other people point it out to me I still don’t really get it.

Let me back up, things have been hard here for awhile, some of it is my kids behaviour, some of it was winter, some of it was my depression and some of it was just that lately life was not quite what I had thought it would be. I was lulled into this false sense of security with my boys and around December things started to fall off the rails with them and things have been really hard ever since.

They have both come so far and I thought that things would just keep getting better, that the healing would continue and that it would all be good. Then it stopped being good, in fact it got really hard and as a certain small girl started to attach to me, to actually love me I realised that the boys only are still  insecurely attached. That was a big moment for me. It is normal for humans to give and receive love, it is part of taking care of one another and it was not until I started to be loved by Ramona that I realised that the relationship I have with the boys is much different.

You can google insecure attachment if you want to learn more about it but what it means is that they both still struggle with trusting that I am going to meet their needs, keep them safe and that they will be loved unconditionally. Neither of them is very good at understanding that love is a reciprocal thing that is both given and received.  They are both stuck in the stage of toddler/preschooler where it is normal and appropriate for it to be all about you and what you need. They are unable to realise that the needs of the people around them might be impacted by their behaviour and choices. They both often go straight to a tantrum just like a toddler when they do not get there way. There is nothing quite like a 12 year old having an actual stomp your feet and scream your head off tantrum to remind that something is not right in their brain.

We have had the boys for 5 years his July and we are sill having the same conversations about boundaries, personal space, sharing, talking, not hitting, etc that were having when they were 6 and 8. When I say the same conversations I do mean the very same ones.

Calvin is still unable to maintain a relationship with kids his own age, when we go out he gravitates towards the younger children and will happily play tag or in the sandbox for hours on end. I have no problem with his this but other kids are starting to wonder about his behaviour. Kids his own age whom we have known for years will no longer really associate with him because they are maturing and moving on to being teenagers and he is not. Calvin is unable to understand that other people have emotions and that his choices affect how other people are feeling.

Fudge is a different story, there are other factors at play for him and in many ways the profound  neglect he suffered as an infant has  and will continue to affect his daily life. That being said he has made huge strides in his attachment to me and unlike Calvin he feels remorse and tries to make things better after he makes a mistake. I have some of the best apology letters from him because he although he has cognitive issues that effect his impulse control and other aspects of his daily life he genuinely wants to be in relationship with people even if it scares him to death because he so very afraid of losing the people he loves. He works at having friends and although he struggles with being socially appropriate he wants, and  is mostly able to maintain superficial friendships with his peers.

And although I try not to compare my kids it is really hard because parenting Ramona is so different.

Ramona has been here a year, her ability to understand when she crossed the line, ask forgiveness and change her actions amazes me. She is empathetic towards others when they are in pain and tries hard to make amends when she has wronged someone. She gets that she makes poor choices and can talk about how her choices effected the outcome of a situation. She is attaching to both P and I and actually desires to be loved and accepted by us as her parents. Now that being said she does rage, tantrum and manipulate every single situation and without her meds I can barely contain her. She struggles with friendships, sharing and tries to control everything but I expect that from her and things are getting so much better and she grows and feels safe here.

So the other day when I realised that Ramona was loving me, that she was genuinely concerned for my well being I had to stop and have a little cry because I have never felt that from the boys in the same way. To be honest  I am not sure that they are able to love in the same way. Not because they do want to but because the damage done to them as little kids means that their brains are not wired the way they should be. I know that, I understand that,  but my heart often forgets because I pour myself into these kids everyday.  I do everything I can and when there is nothing in return it hurts, it hurts because being loved is a normal part of relationships and it makes me so sad that they are still having such a hard time loving and being loved.

 

April 7, 2013   No Comments

Someone broke my babies.

Someone broke my kids. It was not me. Before I knew better,  I probably made things worse for a while  but I was not the one who broke them. I quickly figured out that I was in over my head and started to learn about how to parent these kids in a way that would ensure we would all survive until they were adults. I am still learning though.

That being said my kids are not like kids who were born to me. I have never birthed a child but I do know about family, relationships and child development. My kids are not like biological kids and it frustrates me when people tell me that all kids behave like my kids. Yes all kids do the things that my kids do but attached children who have not experienced trauma do not behave like their whole life depends on lying about whether you took the nail clippers and stashed them in your room. Taking the nail clippers should not create a raging tantrum and days of fallout. But here it does. For kids who have experienced trauma and neglect, this is their normal. Taking those nail clippers, testing that limit with your forever family might mean that you have to leave because you have had to leave so many other places where you wanted to stay so you better deny it, you better protect yourself because if you are vulnerable you might get hurt.

My kids brains are broken. It is not their fault, they did not ask for this.

In-spite of their brokenness I love them fiercely. I love them when they are raging at me and throwing boots at my head. I love them when they scream that I am bitch and that they never wanted to live here anyway. I love them while they sob  ( my heart breaks and I cry right along with them)  about just how very unfair all of this. I love them when they use pee as a weapon of mass destruction and when try to beat the crap of adults and kids alike. I love when they tell me I am not the mother they wanted or that they did not want to be adopted.  I love them they break my stuff and steal things that are special to me. I love them when I have to supervise  them  like a jail guard at every event because one of them might be totally inappropriate of they feel as if they might away with it this time. I love them when they try to manipulate other adults into feeling sorry for them when they are not getting their way. I love them when they pretend they can not do something just to make me crazy or run away and scare the crap out of me. I love them when they remember the pain of their trauma and then spend days making everyone around them miserable because that is how they are feeling inside.

I love these kids in a way that only a mother could and there are days when the last thing I want to do is love them. There are days when I am so angry that I wonder why on earth I ever agreed to this, when I wonder what was I thinking when I signed up for this.

Deep down I know why and most days I actually have to stop and remember that I was thinking they deserved a chance. I was thinking they deserved a family, that they did not deserve to grow up in a world of uncertainty and that knowing you are loved to the core of your being, regardless of your choices,  is so very important.

Parenting these broken babies is so freakin hard, their pain, their anger and their grief has overwhelmed me and yet I am still here. I am still committed. I never knew I was strong enough for this but I am. It is the hardest thing I have ever done, it hurts. There are days when I wish this was not my life. Days when I wish I was just like those people who I used to be friends with, the ones who have regular lives where the effects of trauma does not permeate  every moment. We are not friends anymore, they do not know how to cope with my kids or with the way that I have changed in the last 5 years. There are moments when I miss them, moments when I wish they were able to understand but they are only moments. Then my kids start screaming and they pull me back to reality, that is not my life.

This is my life, someone broke my babies and I am trying to help them heal.

 

February 28, 2013   9 Comments

Dear Ramona

Dear Ramona,

This letter marks the end of your 11th month as my daughter. It also marks the last first that we have celebrated together, your 7th birthday. This last year has been a year of new things for you, new traditions, new experiences  a new family and now as we approach a year since you moved in with us, since you became our daughter,  there is little that you have not already experienced with us.

We had a party for you on your birthday, it was a good day, you handled it all so well. You wanted a princess party and that is exactly what you had complete with a pink castle pinata ( although there was not a disney character to be seen because I am still anti disney princess even though you are not) . There was no stress, you were comfortable and happy surrounded by people you love.  Actually that is not completely true, when someone told you that you could get your ears pierced now that you are 7 you burst into tears because as much as you want them pierced you were afraid that it is going to hurt. Aside from that though it was a fabulous day.

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You continue to be full of life, to challenge me every day and to remind me to slow down because you are not going to be little forever.

The other day I came down stairs and saw you sitting in the kitchen like this, making notes in notebook about something that your brothers had been doing, it was the cutest moment. You have a lot of cute moments and you still talk like you are 65 most days. You keep us in stitches when we are not totally frustrated by your choices and as hard as it sometimes is to be your Mom I would not trade you for anything.

I am not sad to see the last first for you in this family pass, I look so forward to the many years of celebrations and experiences that we are going to have, you me and all those boys that we love. May your seventh year be filled with joy, love, many blessings and at long last a sense of security, cause baby girl you are stuck with me.

love you

Mom

February 13, 2013   1 Comment

Monday Moments – Grief

  • There is some serious grieving going on in my children’s lives. 
  • This is nothing new for any of my kids, they have a lot to grieve, older child adoption means that they remember their losses in a way that effects their lives on a day to day basis.
  • Ramona has been doing some serious grieving for her foster family, she held out hope for a long time that she would go back to them and with her adoption she has realized that this home is really where she is going to stay.
  • Her realization of this fact is both fabulous and devastating, she is really challenging to live with but I am so proud of her because she is processing some really challenging emotions and she is only just 7, 2 whole days of being 7 now.
  • The boys, both of them are dealing with the permanency of the shift in their family, I think one of them was holding out hope that she might not stay although he never said that in so many words.
  • The completing of her adoption process brought up a lot of feelings for both of them though and they too are mourning people that have moved through their lives.
  • To add  to their grief and pain,  we had to tell them this week that one of their foster parents had died.
  • He was not an old man, he lost a long fault battle with cancer and although he was not someone they were close to any longer, his death was yet another loss for them.
  • Fudge took in particularly hard, his cognitive delays make his questions that much harder to answer and deal with.
  • He for the life of him could not understand why the world did not stop rotating when B died and how exactly it took 3 days for us to find out and then tell him.
  • There is a lot of being gentle going on, a lot of hugs and a lot of trying to work things out without anyone losing a limb in the process.
  • Last week was really long, I think this week may be longer.
  • I need to make time to be here more often because I also have my own grief and lately it seems to be looming larger than life, writing helps, I need to make time to write.

February 4, 2013   4 Comments

Keeping it real

I know it’s been quiet around here.

Things have been hard, really hard and when they get hard like that I turn inward, I get depressed and I tend to bury my head in the sand.

About 6 weeks ago something happened with one of the kids, something that made their future, the reality they will live, the challenges they will face seem so much more real than they ever have before. I was angry about what they had done, the child in question did not really understand why I was so angry. 36 hours later after my head and exploded the child did the same thing again. I was so far past mad I could not even talk to the kid. Then 2 weeks ago just after Christmas that same child did a different thing but it was the sort of thing that really made me wonder if anything we ever said was heard or if it was all just gibberish.

The reality is that the child question does not have the ability to understand cause and effect. They should be able to understand that when they bend their finger all the way back it will hurt and then stop doing it but this child can not. They are bending their own finger all the way back, crying because it hurts and not understanding that they are the one who can stop the pain. That may seem like a rather primitive example but some days things just like that are happening.

To top that we are in the heart of  all sorts of big anniversaries for Ramona and that is bringing up all sorts of behaviour which in of itself is more than challenging. I am pretty tired of being called a bitch by a 6 year old. In the midst of all this Ramona made some allegations against a person from her past which a probably true and now we have to deal with yet another interview with social workers.

Last week was one of the hardest weeks I have had in a long time, I was depressed and hiding in my house in my footie pj’s hoping that if I hid long enough spring would come, the light would return and the all the hard anniversaries for my kids would pass and we could just go back to it being summer. It didn’t happen. It’s still winter and they are still being tough as nails.

I did reach out to some friends to vent though, I did express my frustration and sadness and one of my very dear friends made an offer to give me a break, to take all 3 of crazy homeschooled kids so that I could have break. So that is what we are going to do, take a break, without our kids for the first time we are leaving them for a whole week and heading to the southern sun.

The thought of this break, this time to recharge is going to carry me through the next 10 days or so, it is the carrot I so needed. I will also leave all of the people I love and head to Orlando in March which is totally different kind of break and much needed one as well. (If you are interested in coming Orlando because you parent or have parented kids with attachment issues you can find information here)

I am going to be ok, I just need to take of my needs as well as theirs.

January 10, 2013   3 Comments

wash, rinse repeat.

Things are on the repeat cycle. Twice in the last week I have been ready to throw in the towel and each time it has been with a different kid.

I went to our adoption support group tonight and after it ended I stood talking with other Moms, Moms who live my life and it made such a difference.  I so needed them tonight. There are a group of us who keep going, I think we are scaring away other people but oh well, this is it people, this is real, adopting older kids is not all unicorns and rainbows and it most definitely not the same as parenting biological children.

I am tired of trauma.

I love my kids, I would do anything for them but the feeling like a hostage because one of them tries to hurt people when I leave, we do not need that to happen.  And the pushing me till I explode part, we could lose that too, I would be okay with that.

What kid spend 3 hours pretending they are unable to learn to count by 5’s and tells you to go ahead and take their favourite stuff away because they DO NOT CARE – my 6 year old that’s who. That would be the same child who uses every swear word in the book and then hits me when those are not effective.

Yesterday was so many levels of insane I can barely even talk about it without getting angry. I mean that in all honesty. I was so angry and so frustrated that I sat silently for more than hour because if I had spoken I would of said something so horrible to one of my kids that we might never of recovered. They knew how mad I was, they played together without fighting for over an hour. Amazing what  having an insanely angry parent can do.

Someone I love is coming to visit tomorrow and holding on to the joy is going to get me there.

Sometimes it is the little things that make it so that I can try again tomorrow.

November 21, 2012   1 Comment