Saturday, October 27, 2012

I can still have Courage

I am afraid.

I have this necklace I wear.
I had it custom made as a reminder, not a statement, but lets call it a gentle nudge, lodged close to my heart...telling me what I already know.
It holds a moonstone, a tree of life, one angel wing and a medallion that says “Courageous”.

I wear it on days I need to be reminded to be brave.
Some days that is just getting out of bed and parenting children that are from hard places.
What I am learning about bravery, is that is does not mean "without fear."
You can be brave and still be terrified with every breath you take.

In one week I leave for my first of many Medical Trips for Haiti, as a new School Sponsorship Coordinator.

This time three years ago, I was in Haiti. I had led a small parent trip, and then with a dear friend, stayed an extra week to complete updates for the children at our Orphanage. It as a very difficult week. Sick children,  R.O.U.S. (rats of unusual size)...and one very very beautiful night burned in my brain forever.
We were invited to a dinner, and told to “Dress fancy", the nicest thing I had in my motley luggage that was still "somewhat" clean and child urine and vomit free was my black swimming suit cover up.
I dawned that, used my lip tinted chap-stick on both my lips and cheeks and called it “as good as it gets.” As my friend and I entered the dinner, it was as if we had entered a Prom/wedding/ball. Both women and men wearing their finest, professional hair up-dos and very formal taffeta dresses sashayed by.

People from all over the world greeted me as I was soon to learn I was at an International Rotary event where our Orphanage Director was being acknowledged.
Surrounded dear friends and live music, the incredible food, colors, company and laughter of that evening still stays with me to this day. It is the Haiti I remember.
In my minds eye, I can still sit at that table sitting next to Junior, Wilson, Kenia, Pascale, and Gauelle.
I can still hear Kenia teasing me about almost drinking the Icy pink Rum Punch, not knowing it was stiff with Rum, and that I don't drink. Teasing the men about how handsome they looked.
Junior patently trying to teach me some samba type moves I was clumsy at , and laughing.
The pride and beauty in my friends eyes as they danced around the ballroom.
Guesno as he stood to receive his award and speak about the good and hope that is happening in Haiti. How all of our eyes shown with pride and hope.
I remember crawling into bed that night with sore feet and a mouth tender from smiling.Little did I know the waltz was ending.

A couple days later, exhausted, heart aching from saying good bye to my children for the 11th time, kissing them as they wailed....I boarded my plane. Knowing this would be the 4th Christmas that would pass since their referral, and they still would not be home.
Reaching the states, I received a hurried phone call that Baby Faiths birth Mom was headed to the hospital, in labor.
On my next layover I learned a beautiful 8 lb. Baby girl had been born and my husband was headed to the hospital, by himself to retrieve her.
Oh the anxiety...I wanted to scream at everyone to “Hurry”...I felt like I might burst.

Once home I flew into the frenzy that is delicious/delirious newborn, complete with sleepless nights and 5 days later being Thanksgiving.
One month later Christmas.
Two weeks after that the Earthquake hit.
I remember calmly doing homework with my oldest, when my Sister in Law called and told me to check CNN, a huge Earthquake had hit Haiti, and after shocks were continuing to ravage the poor defenseless country.

I could not call, or get a hold of anyone.
Phone calls and emails from desperate parents began flooding my phones and e.mail.

We were all desperate for information, the biggest and simplest of plea's.
“Please tell me my children are still alive.” It was a prayer entwined with every breath we took every pounding heart beat, as all we could do was stare blankly at the T.V. Screen, try for hours in and out, every five minutes via phone, e,mail and text to contact anyone that would know anything....crying and praying.

It took 36 hours to have any word that the kids were O.K, Also learning the worst of losses, of friends, family and loved ones. 36 hours preparing myself for the worst, staying hopeful for others, and promising anything, anything to a God who had let this happen, that if the children would please be spared...and then feeling guilty and selfish when so many had already been lost.
Days and nights molded. Hours of phone contacts, with the Red Cross, different churches, being in on amazing missions of bravery simply to get food and water to the children.
Being apart of desperate phone calls with our government that was doing very, very little on behalf of the children that had U.S. Adoptive parents...and suddenly days later, everything fell into place. 9 nights without a full nights sleep, I spent the last preparing 40 + children's documents and pictures, we kissed our sleeping children goodbye, told my Mother, I didn't know when we would be back and left in a giant blizzard, driving over the icy Malad pass at 3 a.m. in the morning to catch our flight.

I prayed silently as Trevor white knuckled drove the borrowed 15 passenger van in the white out, praying we were still on the road, praying we would make our flight.

Miracles began that moment, Angels tangible and heavenly were everywhere. I have never and will never experience anything like that again in my life. The way the divine was in the details is what carried me through hell and back. For you see, Walking off that plane, into my beloved earthquake torn Haiti was walking into hell.

The silence, the death, the despair and the fear were thick and heavy in the air.
It was a warzone,of pain, and loss, hollow eyed zombie's with bandages walked around in a daze, some carrying each other or limping next to one another. That first night our vehicle had to swerve to avoid clumps of people, careful of not to run over sleeping in the middle of the street too afraid to not only sleep inside a building, but anywhere near them.
The numb , blank, terrified hollowness in everyone's eyes, including the children's.
The bodies. The smell. The names of our lost loved ones not being spoken on our lips, but seen in all of our eyes when we looked at each other. The aftershocks, that weren't aftershocks, but earthquakes of massive proportion. I will never forget the shattering sound like an iceberg breaking off and falling into an ocean and how the ground actually rolled beneath me as I slept next to 30 sleeping children on cement. The way they screamed. The way I shook with 15 children clinging to me feeling powerless. Because when the ground beneath you waves as if made of liquid, there is no Power, there is no say, you just pray and hold on , and the thing you are holding onto is shaking too.
10 days. Many spent in the embassy. Many holding children that were meant to be life flighted to the U.S.A....some made it, many did not. Evenings ending at the Central hospital picking up our Pediatrician friend,and witnessing the hundreds of tents and people, so very many people, and so very much blood. I wrote a specific memory down here.

When we returned with our children, after spending days in limbo in a Florida children's' housing, we returned to our home, and other children.

Much like a Soldier must feel like after returning home ( and sheesh we had only been gone two weeks) We were in shell shock. After walking out of hell, to running water, a change of clothes, medicine, food that didn't come from a rations was like walking through hell, and no one could see it, or have any idea what we all had been through. They wanted us at family parties and church, they brought us balloons. Everyone wanted to celebrate us, and our kids being home, and we felt like these survivors of something no one could understand, worn, terrified, exhausted and feeling guilty that we had gotten out when so many of our fellow survivors didn't, or prepared for the rainy season living in tents.
Returning to a newborn, our fearful children, and introducing 5 traumatized siblings . Our family in less than 8 weeks had grown from a family of 5 people, to a family of 11.

I don't remember much of that first year.
I don't think there was a lot of sleep.
I don't think there was much of anything but, eating, sleeping, crying,and raging, and surviving .
I learned how to gather wagons.
I learned how to make my children's worlds small.
I learned how to wait out 6 hours of screaming and breaking things.
I learned how to restrain a child hell bent on hurting me.
I learned how to tell other people "no".
I learned that no matter how much you love someone, it really can't be enough.

I have grown so much in these last 3 years, I am stronger, I am braver, I have a better understanding of what is, and what is not important.
I have a differing view on Orphans, and the way I can believe to help solve a very small portion of that problem.
I am passionate still about my children's country, and country men, women and brothers and sisters.
I am actively doing something, now that I am standing on both feet again (most days), I am going to Haiti, and taking on a new responsibility and calling for the children of Haiti, seeking free education, food programs, goat programs, and Medical care with the Organization of Sionfonds.
I leave for Haiti in two weeks.
I am terrified. I have big feeling and hard memories attached to this first trip back.
And that is O.K.

I am not doing this alone. I am being carried by so many friends and family with their love and support, I am riding on the coat tails of so many other brave people in my life, who by walking up and doing what they do makes the world a better place. These warriors, walk with me, and even talk time out of their day to text, love on and emotionally support me.
I have been so very touched by the overwhelming support I have found in my Paypal box, propelling me forward into doing more, helping more...because of others bravery and generosity.

I can still have courage.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.  ~Ambrose Redmoon

I can still have courage.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Three for the Price of One...

I am not a Robot.

Though it would be so much easier to be rejected, stick poked, have my things stolen and hid, pee randomly showing up everywhere, and being lied too everyday, if I were a robot.

Sometimes my reactions are human, sometimes my “programed responses” of “Wow, looks like you are having big feelings”, “Wow that's silly”, “Yes and...”, “Can you try asking me....”,
“Lets give that another try”....default and go to my natural tendencies to be sarcastic, snippy and or annoyed, which I can turn into rants, my own tantrums of “I HAVE HAD IT”, “THIS IS CRAP”....I am human....I am uber talented at these rants.

I remember, before my first son was adopted, before Bugs had made her appearance, I was 20 and doing child care for my mothers foster son. He was 4, and had some very peculiar behaviors.
He was obsessed with knowing when his next meal was coming and what it would be. He had no hand eye coordination, he would hide, anytime there was a loud noise. He had controlling bathroom issues, and would cry for small reasons, but fall out of tree and refuse to show any signs of sadness or pain.
“Max” knew my buttons, and how to make me batty.
I was 20 years old, studied child development and special education and was flabbergasted at the amount of crazy he could toss out. How? How could a kid that had been so severely neglected and not know his colors, know how to do this?

I learned yelling, putting him in his room, or giving him negative attention for his behaviors were not working....and lets not even talk about the “Good Behavior” sticker chart made him.

BUT; when I came up with somethings that helped him feel safe, and used complete consistency, reminded him in gentle ways, or let natural consequences reign...things slowly got better.
The day we decided to cut up all of my recipe magazines and make a flannel graph of “What we are eating today”...was AMAZING...he didn't have to ask, I didn’t have to be annoyed...It wasn't about control, the kid had lived with a Meth addict, whom would forget when the last time it was either of them had eaten...I learned empathy for his weird behaviors, and patience for the times in his own way he needed to let go of his pain.

Had I only known all of this was so very preparatory, for my life 13 years later.

Yesterday I had some precious reminders of my humanity.
My four Haitian children had their Medical Physicals to complete their citizenship. We had to drive 45 minutes into a rural farming area, majority servicing the Immigration needs of our Mexican brothers and sisters....we dealt with racism for my children, I was profiled as a Hippie mom, with a nose ring, who home schools and has too many biracial children. I went toe to toe with a nurse who wanted to give my kids 5 immunizations each.
I stood my ground, not wanting my kids to have that many injections, on top of the chemical reactions and how tough that many anti-bodies would be on their kids watched me fight for them.

Even though I had to hold kids down, even though I was punched and bitten in their terror of getting hurt, even though all of their eyes looked wounded as we four hours later walked out of that office grasping a pathetic assortment of stickers (those kids full on deserved medals) we stomped in rain puddles, and walked over to the neighboring gas station/mini mart for some junk-food booty...soaked, exhausted but invigorated by our mad dash and puddle stomp. A well meaning civilian asked if we were a field trip, I did not have my “sing songy”, “Nope just a family” available, I reached down deep and , nope,there was nothing...I wanted to say something rude and ignorant, because I was DONE with idiot people today, but I practice biting my tongue often and
so my inner thumper silenced me and I glared and ignored....

Cookie came to my rescue “Ain't you never seen a family before?”

“Yeah” answered three or four more children, “we are a family.”

As we got back in the car, and I buckled and and opened goodies the kids winced and whimpered...
I rubbed lavender oil on all of their foreheads and tucked them in for our long drive back home.

Tears were reaching my eyes as I looked back at my kids and softly said “ Guys I am so sorry that hurt you and scared you, and made you feel like you weren't the bosses of your own bodies.”

and Chatter said “But Mom, you fought with them you told them you didn't want them to give us so many shots, worried that we would get sick, we knew you didn't want us to hurt. We know.”

I stopped an fed them a lunch of apple slices and french fries. Once we got home I tucked each child in with our special saying.
There were no fall outs, there was not a single tantrum, or wall being kicked.

As I walked away and went to tidy up the wet shoes and socks, It hit me.

Therapeutic parenting isn't just for them.
Even though it is hard, and against every natural urge I have to react. I am having to have better practices, and the more I practice modeling healthy loving reactions to crazy hurtful things, they are learning and healing, and I in my very messed up, crazy, unhealthy habits am getting better, smarter and kinder too. Three for the price of one.

The harder I am trying to love and respect my children, the more I practice empathy and understanding where they are coming from, the more I am loving the person I am becoming. The more I am loving my messy hard, the more I think I can do and be more, even when I screw up.

I am not a robot.
But I am a bargain shopper;
and three for the price of one, is a pretty damn good deal.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Maybe Baby

This is all just hypothetical, of course.
Because this NEVER happens all of the time....

My children are in a constant battle, with them selves. They somehow think it is with me, but it is not, until I am stupid enough to engage , then I have welcomed the fires of hell and brimstone with a couple of my favorite word faux pas by asking the "W's":

WHY did you do that?
WHEN did that happen?
WHOSE was it?
WHAT were you thinking?

Do you get that I want to "know WHY?"...and let me tell you how much that is working for me.....ummm, it's NOT.

I have learned after grilling, demanding, begging for these answers, is only an opportunity for a control battle, that I WILL NOT WIN.

It also impedes my children's healing, when I literally with these "W"s am triggering my kids over and over again to lie to me.
I  am shoving them into a stressful state of fear, handing them one thousand opportunities to lie, strech the truth and try by all shapes and forms to either tell me what they think I want to hear...or control the information, therefore controlling the situation.
and this is not good for anyone.
Also, this makes my eyes shoot red scary lasers.
For realz.

Again for "hypothetical fun" lets say a blanket was urinated on and shoved in a make believe closet.
Lets say once found, said child that is owner of the closet swore up and down that the cat peed on said blanket.
"Interesting, Hmm, well next time you want to play kitty sweet cheeks, let me know and I will get you a litter box in here."

Said child giggled, and then remembered she was MAD.
Because well, somehow the Sunshine-esk sprayed blanky was my fault.
....She quickly tried to gain control with a ....

"I didn't do it today, I did it LAST WEEK, I promise."

(Since the blanket was on said child's bed, YESTERDAY)...but I didn't remind them of this....though both cheeks are bruised from the biting of the insides.

..if I engage in this , I will lose my evening,if I want to be "right", "right" will take the form of hours of wailing, and swearing and doors being kicked down...I soooo don't feel like being "right" I give er' a "Maybe".

"Hmmmm, O.K., maybe you peed on it last week."

Her eyes light up with power.

"Or maybe you did it this morning"

Eyes light up, smile/anger/justified rage shoot across heat rises...

and I defuse the bomb with;

"Maybe you did it Last Christmas, or for the Easter Bunny...maybe, a Green one-eyed Alien beamed down and turned time back and you did it three years ago? "Hmm that would have been interesting."
."..maybe you did it this morning, or last week, either way sweetie, lets toss it in the Washer with some soap, and while it washes, could you get your room vacuumed for me?"

Light of fight goes out of her eyes, her shoulders slump jus' a little from loss of engagement....but later, while I am sharing Marshmallow fluff on a Dark Chocolate Dove bar.
Her bed remade and floor vacuumed....I am so so VERY glad, I didn't decide to be right.

The truth was in the mix of "Maybe", it was there, she knew it, and I knew it....
And what is important is not the moment of being right, but the moment her eyes light up while I eye to eye pass that chocolate into her beautiful mouth and know she feels my love.

Maybe Baby, you will love me...Maybe baby, I will wait right here until you doooo....