Saturday, December 20, 2014

Are you choosing kindness?

15 days loom in front of me.
15 days of holiday splendor and family togetherness.

This morning we have rung in this 'festivus of fun' with tantrums, orchestrated fights, screaming, and a plethora of door slamming. Fa-la-la-la-, la-la-la-la.
Here we go...

It's a lot.
It's a lot to expect children with trauma backgrounds, and spectrum autisim to cope with a 2 week 'vacation' void of their norm, daily structure with added twinkly lights and anxiety driven entitlement, and very little availability for therapies and here you have a poo storm a-brewing.

I get jealous of neuro-typical familes, where a movie night might consist of some pop-corn,blankets, fire in the fire place and : enter scene.
Sure kids might argue about movie title choice and who gets to sit where...thats expected....there may even be a “ so-and-so got more pop corn than me.”
I miss that, sometimes our movie nights do and can look like this.

These days the “Movie” is chosen before the night is planned...its a take it or leave it kinda thing, “sure sweetie you can stomp your feet that we are watching “A Christmas Story” but I guess what you get to choose in this moment is whether you want to be mad about the movie choice and sit down here and eat your popcorn, or go upstairs and read in your room, your choice baby cakes.”

“Oh, you don't want your brother touching your blanket? Awesome, could you have said that without throwing your shoes at him. Lets pause the movie and figure out a repair....and get the blood out of the carpet. “

I am not seeking peace this Holiday season. With 10 people shut in a little house, while it rains outside, I have very little expectations than a couple moments of quiet and some alone time hiding in my closet eating chocolate.
By the handful.

I am seeking kindness.
I am going to be the ambassador of kindness.
At least 13 times since school released my fanged cherubs from the bond of the educational system yesterday, I have asked and prompted all, but specifically one child on this one thing.
In the moments they become revved up, over all the fry sauce being gone, me asking them to sit at the table , and not stand in the middle of the kitchen glaring at me, to go put pajamas on, “Oh silly duck, is that frilly church dress the new style of pajamas?”
Maybe to brush their teeth with toothpaste this time. “No I don't think they were tying to make you mad by giving you the yellow bowl, I don't think they know you wanted the pink one , because you didn't use your words, and we all forgot to put our special mind reading socks on today...I think mine are in the wash, again.”

“Baby, in this moment, is being angry(sad, mad, depressed controlling),and looking for a fight bigger and more important to you, than having a good time and enjoying the time you have with your family?”

"Take a minute. Decide what you want most in this moment and get back to me.
Sure, blink the lights off and on and stomp up the stairs while you decide, EXELLENT idea!"
Once you are calm, can you choose kindness?”

When words get harsh, or more adult than I prefer.
“Are we choosing kindness with our words?”

Yes, why yes, if you are wondering if I have gotten the response “F#%# KINDNESS” from one of my children, why yes, yes I have.
Its adorable.
But I still go back to it, for them and for me.

In the moment.
When there is a cross-road.
When one reaction can manifest the outcome for the next hour.
I am helping them recognize just that. Can I look at this situation, realize what I really want from it, and choose the kind reaction. Can kindness be selfish? Sure, at first, but it has this wicked way of flipping it and allowing it not only to be self serving, but selfless.
Sneaky kindness.

Up until Christmas, I am rewarding my kids with special treats for accomplishing their secret elves duty. We don't have a sneaky elf on a shelf lurking around our house. Why would I need a fictional imaginary elf that gets into random Shtuff around my house? That service is provided for free.
What we do, do , is have an assigned person we preform secret random acts of kindness for.
Its a chance to be sneaky in a very good way. Some kids need a little more help than others, but I am truly touched by the gifts and smiles we are seeing as we continue to give this practice a go for the 5th year in a row.

This being the first year 90% of my children were enrolled in school, to watch them excitedly give their teachers the gifts we had prepared for them, it was a one of the first times I could again talk abut the joy of giving vs. receiving and actually have a full car of understanding head bobs.

Kindness doesn’t have to come from a fully healed heart. It has healing properties of its own.

And importantly.
My need for kindness to myself.
This year my little local Farmers Market booth has exploded to a small online business and has me spread in a very good way, thinner than I am used to.
These next 15 days I am beginning my own radical practice of self kindness.

30 minutes of exercise daily, reading 30 minutes by the fire, eating healthy amongst the handfuls of chocolate, 30 minutes meditation. Forgiving myself completely when I loose my patience and mess up completely....and don't choose kindness in the moment because in that moment I wanted to be frustrated and mad, or angry and loose my SHHHTUFF, for a bit.
Being kind to me...because this whole dang practice has to be modeled...and it sure isn't easy.

Merry Christmas dear ones....even to your Angry elves.
And if peace is waning a little bit this holiday season, lean into kindness...lean in deep.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Alright, STOP....and break it down,stepping stones in their puddle.

I wish I could beat box.
That would make this post soooo much cooler, O.K. Well at least for me...
Cuz in my head I am back in the 5th grade, and am sporting some sick Hammer pants yo, hanging in the 8 th row at the M.C. Hammer concert right now. “Rollin' with the Flow”...
And just in case you are wondering, yes, I am THAT cool.

So I know you know this, because I KNOW THIS...and since you are not up at 1 a.m. Typing a blog post, you are already 5 x smarter than me.

Lately my sweeties have struggled with what I call “puddle jumping.”
They get stuck over things I can't tell are a massive flowing river to them, because from my point of view, they just need to put on them rain-boots and JUMP, HOP, SKIP....over a very simple object, issue, frustration, project.
They need to get over it,
because well,that would make my life easier. And lets be honest, I don't always love getting my feet wet while joining them in their muddy puddles. I want to stand outside of the puddle and direct them. With a mega-phone.
Let me tell you how well that works.

(insert crickets chirping)

So here we go, waders on.
A lil refresher on remembering to create stepping stones in your kids puddle.
Because I know that you know, that I know, you and I already know this.

I have a preteen that struggles with a mood disorder and also is on the Autism spectrum. This kid fights and craves structure in even steady breaths.( Imagine those rockem-sockem red and blue plastic fighter the yellow boxing rink.)

Sometime getting though a single day for him seems the most impossible thing in the world. My point A to point B....for him has numbers and 3 alphabets in a different language tripping him up.

I remember one day this summer , we were watching a movie mid day, due to an unplanned rainstorm, and he looked PANICKED.
“Bud ,whats up?”
“Um , its just that I don't know HOW the rest of my day is going to go.”

Big brave words.

“O.K. I can feel that with you, not enough plans for you to know what is going on, since we are off schedule today...I know...lets make a “just for today schedule.”
And so we did.
He doesn't always require this, but occasionally on a weekend, or day school is out, his need and craving for structure becomes debilitating..and man did I have fun helping him create his half hour, by half hour schedule.
We tossed some boot-ay shaking in there, a bunch of snacks, some jumping jacks, and stair runs, and reading mad libs.
And we got through a giant, sensory messing with, plan destroying rain storm.

Sometimes it is my 4 year old, that literally can.not.clean.her.bedroom.
As if the object vomit of my little ponies, littlest pet shop and dress up clothes is holding her room hostage and refusing her to enter.
There is A LOT of wailing and gnashing of teeth going personal favorite are the dramtic body throws onto the carpet in slow motion...
“O.K. Babe-doll lets just start with all of the yellow things.”


“Yeah...lets not worry about ALL of the THINGS....lets only work on the yellow, and after you are done with that , we should 'high five' it and have 3 yellow m&m's to celebrate.”
Next it is Green, then blue (saving the tide-pool of Purple and Pink for last).

Room clean.

Specifically for kids on the spectrum, trauma, children that struggle with regulating mood and emotion, stepping stones are crucial for there daily success.
Does it get old?

Their successes, are our successes.
When we take the time and energy to set our kids up for small consecutive wins, they in time, learn slowly to believe in themselves and their ability. It is slllloooooww.
But it can happen.

Today I had a child that was so very emotional about a project that was due, that they hadn't let me know about, and was know refusing with ever fiber in their being to attend school.
The broom grabber in me, WANTED to say “Oh heck YES you are going to school.”

and then I took a deep breath and said, “Sweetie lets just start with getting dressed, do that and come back down and pick a song you want to hear.”

Next they fed their animals.

Put their lunch and agenda in their bag.

At breakfast came the meltdown of them “STILL NOT GOING!!!”

And I made a deal if they could just make it to lunch they could call me, and there was a guarantee of a special lunch item and a secret note in their sack.
We stepping stone, mambo-ed our way all the way through school today...and tonight?
After an email into the teacher, we sat and knocked that project OUT.

I think sometimes I forget how much these little humans need their finish lines brought to them.
As I promise myself...”if I can just stay calm and kind and patient...I can go to Starbucks once every last tushy gets on that ever-loving bus.”
It is the same thing.

We all need rewards for getting through our day.
We all sometimes need survival broken into hour by hour, second by second, to just pick up the yellow things first.
We all are puddle jumpers.
Its the experience and perspective that gets off.

I know, I know that you know, that I know, you and I already know this... but because we all have our own lakes and giant rushing rivers...and all need at sometime or another someone willing to put their waders on and walk us through....
I am just gonna remind you, while I am reminding myself.

Mmmm. Kay?

I wonder if waders come in MC hammer pants style?
Stop. Beak it down.

Monday, August 11, 2014

“But HE looked so Happy!”

“But HE looked so Happy.....
and he WAS soooooo Funny, and talented...."

Many tears have been shed today once hearing word of the great loss of the great talent and human that was and remains Robin Williams.

We are all blessed by the poinent moments of evidence, of his light on this world that can stay with us even though he is not. I am not only sad to hear of his death, but more the loneliness and great battle to depression and bipolar disorder he lost his life to.

Mental illness remains such a silent killer of young and old, male and female alike.
Soul Cancer.
Except the cure is hard and often not easily found because the symptoms are so easily masked.
The issues not prioritized among medical corporations, and the stigma attached creating the ultimate handicap of things becoming easier and better for the millions that ever day walk the road of mental illness.

Robin Williams possessed talent and humor, until today I had not ever heard of his battle with depression. We often hear of celebrities that travel in and out of different rehabs for different “Substance abuse problems”...but how often have we heard, “So and so has entered a facility to help them gain tools or cope with their, depression, bipolar or borderline personality disorder," how often is it mentions WHY the person was in rehab in the first place? So often substance abusers are self medicating something they can not fix with out the help of trained, educated, involved mental health professionals...and believe me finding those involved individuals that “truly get it” are few and hard to find.

Lets talk about the Root of the 'WHY'!

I today have read “But he was SO FUNNY”, “He SEEMED SO HAPPY!”, “He was rich and famous, he had EVERYTHING, I just don't get it?” Many of us Mama bears who are constantly seeking help for our hurting and healing little people would like to think that he of all people had access to the best, could he have gotten the help he really needed?

This proves one thing.
Mental illness is not a respecter of gender, religion, occupation, race or bank accounts. It doesn’t care if you are young or old, attractive or if the whole ugly tree fell on you. Being famous may have created more hardship,MORE judgement, because of the lack of privacy so many people in the spot light face....we forget how very human they, how very human we ALL are.

Today I spent the entire morning speaking with and leaving messages for my children's Principle, District Special Education Directors, Receptionists, School Councilors and many more.
The most difficult conversation was with one of the educators vocalizing “ Well I guess I struggle to understand all of these so called much needed boundaries you say your children need. I understand they have been through stuff...but haven't we all? I mean I have watched them on the play ground and they look SO HAPPY, like Happy, nice normal kids.”

Me calmly, as I could feel my ears getting red, “Yes...but then again you can't walk around a grocery store and guess who has lost a child, is recently divorced, or dying of cancer...nope they just smile at you while you pass them in the frozen aisle, or bump hands while picking out bananas.

No one wears a t-shirt that says “ Hey I feel like killing myself today.”

I am sad that Robin Williams will be remembered for his lost battle with such a debilitating disease.
But then again, if such an incredible man had to leave us in such a sad dark way...
Let this also be his legacy.
Talent and torture are not far from each-other, nor is addiction and depression.
None of us are exempt from pain.
Trust others with that pain, you will be surprised how much they want to help, and understand more than you know.
Vocalize in your Dr. Offices, with your politicians, in open conversation TALK, about the need and importance for better mental health care.
Watch your loved ones, listen to their words and actions.
Always remember mental illness does not define the whole of a person,
and, happiness can hide a multitude of pain.
Let his loss break down this wall of stigma that serves nothing and no one....

I quote the perfect sentiment given by Rachel Evan Wood today.

“Genie. You're free. “

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

It's the most WONDERFUL time...of the year!!!

I remember as a Homeschooling loving mama watching this commercial, and seriously NOT.GETTING.IT.
Fer reals.
I was all "Summer is my favorite time of year with my kids, what parent wants their kids to go back to school?"


I had home-schooled my little people for the last seven years. I loved exploring and learning and delving into my kids passions with them. I loved watching my Haitian babies learn, become confident and excited about their abilities. 
I valued the time and room homeschooling allowed my children for healing and much needed breaks and growing as a family.
I someday may in the flux and flow of my kids needs bring a couple of them home to educate here and there.
I got to a point last year, mid fall in the process of parenting children with heightened behaviors and special needs....I didn't LIKE it anymore.
LIKE AT ALL.  I kinda COMPLETELY hated it.
The excitement to delve into studies, to balance rages, and tantrums, and the needs of other children began to wear on me in new ways that left me waking in the morning, staring at the ceiling, whimpering, "I don't want to do this again today." I don't have the energy to ask them to read one story and answer find they read five stories,all BUT the one I had requested.
If they pee on one more composition book.....

I got really honest with myself.
I realized with some of my children, their needs would exceed childhood into adulthood...and NOW was the right time to recognize I needed to begin to build our resources as a family, now was the time to realize...I couldn't be my children's everything,not all of the time. Not when there is eight of them, not when some of the behaviors would eventually require hospitalization, not when I was losing parts of myself that I needed to be available for the most important parts.

Last year by April, I had all of my school aged children enrolled in public school.
This was not with out enormous requests of the district, multiple meetings  and testing. Me stalking chasing down Dr.'s and therapists for records and letters recommending aids, and para professionals to ride the bus and be available full time for my children while in the schools care. 
I became "that Mom"...the one on texting, emailing and  on cell phone terms with my kids teachers, Special Ed directors,secretary,principle and School Counselors.
The one that worked in the classrooms and ate lunch with the kids.
I was blessed by the willingness and understanding we as a family received.
 Much of my burden was lifted, as I took a deep breath and trusted..while I let go of some major reins.

Was it perfect? Nope. Did my kids pull things and charm the pants off people, and shocked the heck out of the teachers as they got good and comfy? Yep.
There were absolutely growing pains...and we moved through them.

As that golden chariot daily pulled up that first week and whisked my cherubs away, I felt like Cinderella in sweat pants, or maybe sleeping beauty...because I went right back to bed and slept into 9:30...that whole week. I hadn't realized how completely exhausted I had let myself get.

Anywho...after a lllllllloooooonnngggg summer, I am looking forward to fall.
Yes.I .AM.
As I prepare again for my kids to begin school I am actively hunting out best deals on school supplies, and shoes and socks, making lists, taking into considerations the new schedule and added short people that will be going this year.
I begin stalking once again the district, and therapists for meetings and letters to prepare for the upcoming year.
I by no means am an expert, but I do believe I have found some ways that are more effective in communicating my children's needs to the amazing adults that will be working with them every day.

Treats or small gift cards.
Never underestimate the value of gratitude and chocolate.
At all meetings , I try to bring a bag of Reeces Peanut butter Cups, a plate of cookies, something that says...."please know I am kind loving mama and am trying so hard to advocate nicely, but there is a Honey Badger behind these treats...."
Every time I show up at the kids school, I try to bring the sweet Secretary that calls me 3 to 6 times a day for behavior or diabetes needs Lindor Balls, or fresh flowers for her desk.
I write thank you notes, when my children's behaviors become increasingly difficult.
I say thank you, all of the time.
Even when they tell me no.

Letters from therapists and Dr.'s Supporting your requests
. Whether your child suffers from PTSD and needs not to have someone sit behind them, or has attention issues and needs to sit at the front of the classroom to pay better attention, needs to sit on a yoga ball instead of a chair for sensory reasons, or needs a full time aid to keep their needs in constant eye sight, a letter from a professional supporting your request goes much further and allows the district the capability of accessing funds, with the recommendations, supported by professionals.
I have found can be VERY helpful inviting your childs therapist to the actual district meeting.

Don't be afraid to ask.
Don't get offended easily.
Be prepared to explain and re explain your childrens needs.
It's O.K. to be the crazy Mom...Eventually most adults who work with your children will eventually see the warning and concerns you have for your chilren, and if they don't, that's O.K.
It feels terrible to be judged by other adults that don't "get it"...but sweetie, this isn't about you...don't make it be. Let  it go.
Yes ....So much easier said than done.
Come, vent here...I will eat a snickers bar in solidarity with you.

A clear plastic backpack.
Really, Amazon has them in all colors.
I can't remember what parenting group I heard this recommendation from but I am so grateful for the idea of transparent kids have "wrapped things" in paper to hide, but still they serve as a literal transparent stealing detourant.

A plan. For Mornings and Meals.
We have Eight people counting my husband to get out the door, dressed and fed by 7:15, five days a week. This is no small feat.
Most mornings I go back to bed, mostly because I have already run a physical and emotional marathon.
The rule is the night before:
Clothes, socks, undies, shoes are all layed out.
Lunches are packed. Here is a link for EASY Breakfast and Lunch plans. This was before we went all Gluten and Dairy free.
Having a solid weekly rotating menu for breakfasts and lunches, keeps the guess work out of what we are having, it minimizes battles, it is a consistency they cling to.

Most of all:
The most effective way I have found to articulate my kids special needs, issues and fears...wasn't in my words at all.
It was in theirs.

Individually after other kids were in bed, or occupied we will sit down together, and talk about what it was they are worried about struggling with in school. Things my child as their student really wanted their teacher to know about them, see in them and help them with... along with a promise that their teacher would still like them, and be nice to them. 
Once I have typed or written out their "Things I want you to know about me"
I handed them a large index card and let them write it out, in their own hand writing.
Sometimes pending on the penmanship attaching the typed version as well.
I also like to include a wallet sized picture of them, paper clipped to the index card.
It makes them human, and see the person attached to the pain, and fears and needs.
Sometimes we make copies for reading aides, special ed teaches and counselors.

Some examples of things my children have written on their large index cards:

"When I get loud and hyper, sometimes it means I am not being able to calm down, you might see an overly happy kid, but really inside I am freaking out, and might need a quiet minute to calm down."

"Please know I have a hard time taking things that don't belong to me, not because I am a bad kid, but I have lived without and sometimes take things and I don't even really know why. Please keep a good eye on me, and check my desk and bag occasionally. "

"Sometimes I seek attention from grown ups...or act really cute and friendly,but when you or someone else touches me, my hair, or to hug me, it scares and make me feel really uncomfortable...and I don't have the words yet to say that."

"Because I know what it is to be VERY hungry for a long time, I get scared that could happen again. I don't like food being wasted. I will eat until I get sick, even things I am allergic to. Please keep an eye on me and your classroom door locked, I have been known to sneak back in during lunch recess and finish up other kids lunches, or ask during lunch to have the rest of everyones' food."

"I will see if I can get away without doing all of my work, or lose homework on purpose. I need people to stay on top of my work and require my best. I am very smart and capable, and sometimes use pretending not to be, as a control and behavior."

"I have tools I am afraid you won't let me use in the classroom. I need them, They may seem silly but they help me feel safe."

"Sometimes I am mean on purpose to adults and  other kids, because I feel bad about myself.
I don't like losing friends, and I don't know why I do this, please help me make repairs with my classmates and help me know the best way to communicate if my words get sharp, I swear, or even get physical, making repairs are very important for me."

"With that, because I look different, sometimes people let me get away with things, and I know it.
I need to be held to the same rues and consequences. When adults go easy on me, I feel unsafe.
I need you to tell my parents when I struggle or misbehave. Sometimes I try to triangulate the adults in my life, because earlier in my life I couldn't trust the adults in my life to keep me safe.
Sometimes I wonder if there is a better family for me, and this scares me, please, please don't let me think you will be a better mom, too much physical and emotional freaks me out. I need kind, consistent,and distant."

"I get sneaky, this for me is a safety thing.
I like to see if I can be in charge of the adults.
I will purposely lose papers, and not give information. You might have to text my mom and let her know stuff, because I can sabotage a field trip or spelling word list, sometimes because I get anxious about doing it, and sometimes because I don't want either you or my mom knowing absolutely everything. I want to be in charge. I know this doesn't always work best for me, so please. ..if something seems out of sorts, let my mom know...."

"Thank you so much for seeing all of me, teaching me, and helping me feel safe.
School is such a good opportunity for me to learn and continue to heal.

These words.
All verbatim from my littles.
They know so very well what their needs are.

If I am forgetting anything, I will continue to add to this post as thoughts and helpful tips arise.
I hope we all can prepare ourselves for another school year (squeeeeeee), with love, understanding and patience.
I am blowing you all "first day of school" kisses!!!

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Friday we had to Call Child Protection, On Ourselves.....

I have stared at a blank text document for over a month now.
Having words and thoughts so jumbled I could have made a great crossword puzzle, but no legible blog post. I would just sit, soaking the key board with tears, sometimes with overwhelming sadness, sometimes with fear..and sometimes with overwhelming gratitude at peoples kindness and support, and still the words couldn't come ...and then eventually, I would seek my safe place and message Christine.
That woman, she is the gift I have allowed myself even when I feel completely unworthy.

SO, yeah.
Over a month ago...

Do you ever notice that we all have that pinnacle defining point of ….
”Everything is going to be know as long as “THAT THING” doesn’t happen?
I have had A LOT of those,
and DAMN-IT;
every.single time. I have put a ceiling on “things I thought I couldn't handle”....the Universe started rubbing her hands together, giggled and said; 
Happy? Smooth going? Ha, Hold on for one second...”

Dear God, I will be faithful and strong as long as one of these “things” doesn’t happen....and then;
My first Pregnancy ended in a car crash, resulting in multiple miscarriages after that.

Umpteen failed domestic adoptions, and the continuation of miscarriages.

The loss of my son's twin, and maintaining his pregnancy, bed ridden on IV therapy for 7 months, while parenting a three and one and a half year old.

A four year old Autistic son being taken to the Emergency Room late one Sunday night, hospitalized and later diagnosed with Type One Diabetes.
So, life, really not fair.

In 2007, our small tiny son languishing in an Orphanage in Haiti, 9 months into his adoption, took his final breaths, and they weren't in my arms.
Somehow we survived.

That same year my husband came home “early from work”, as he informed me, not early but his company without his knowledge had committed Medicaid fraud and was being shut down, we had just bought a new house, and were working on selling the one we were in. Two mortgages, no job, and in the process of adopting 3 children.
And, it turned out, O.K.

And so it continued...with an Earthquake...
A “Smooth transition” of a family of five in six weeks avalanching snowballing into a family of eleven.
Followed by years of constant screaming, crying, urine, feces, broken,lying,controlling, alienating, therapeutic HARD.

E.R. Trips with children due to self harm.
(well check THAT off the list of stuff I didn't think I could handle)

One child not being safe, or healthy enough to stay in our home.
That loss. Almost broke me....but, it didn't.

Before Christmas I had a long, invasive Breast Cancer scare.
That sucked.

Later another child needing more help that I, or my husband could provide, making the decision to seek professional help for behavioral and a severe eating disorder.

As you all walk this know these “breaking points”, they keep on-a-comin' don't they?

Still I was unprepared for June.
When my oldest daughter came down the stairs with a look on her face.
As she explained to me what she had witnessed between two of my healing kids.
I sat and shook my head.
No. just NO!

We had been doing so well.
My arrogance in the “WE ARE ALMOST A NORMAL FAMILY NOW”....was back-flipped and tossed into a brick-wall of ...”nothing is ever going to be O.K., I was lying to myself thinking I could help these so severely hurt children, WHY ...did I trust and remove boundaries? I should have KNOWN they weren't ready.”

After talking to my children separately, calmly, with a broken heart and voice, hand shaking, I called my husband at work.

“ You need to come home RIGHT NOW.”
“We need to Call Child Protection, there will be an investigation, and we will have to call your bosses.”

You see our family depends on my husbands income.
My husband works actively helping Trauma victims heal, he is a therapist, a clinical social worker who spends his days walking with people through their pain, offering hope.
He also contracts with Health and Welfare, and works on call in the evenings and weekends with Child protection, seeking safety and support for families, mostly children in their ultimate time of need.
And so, he made the call.
His hands shook as he made the call to the people, co workers, friends, people we admire and have true relationships with...on ourselves.
Out of city officials, and workers had to be called in to avoid conflict, and an investigation was launched.

In a numb whirlwind, his on call job was put on temporary hold. We began restructuring our home again into fort Knox, as we put back up the door alarms our therapists had assured us our kids were ready for us to take down. As we prepared our other kids that they probably too would be questioned, and moved bedrooms and children and floors between kids...and waited, and prayed, and cried and worst of all, questioned everything.
And I mean everything.
We worried and wondered, would children have to be removed?
I mean we hadn't KNOWINGLY allowed THIS to happen.
Had we followed all of the kids therapists recommendations...were their warning signs we missed?


What is going to happen?

Are we going to financially survive if this investigation takes a long time?
How is this going to potentially effect his job?

Most of all.
Are are kids going to be O.K?
HOW did we miss this?
Has this been going on under our noses forever?

Is this a Latent Trauma Time Bomb?
Remission of Old Behaviors...
or Part of the Ride?

Yes, with new therapy, more structure, boundaries,more safety put in place and non shaming open conversation and unconditional kids are going to be O.K. And continue on their path of healing.

Yes. Time Bombs, healing and then mistakes and spiraling downward happens, bombs blow, and then you access the damage, and move on.

Yes. Humans Regress.
But humans move forward.

Yes. Trauma is a monster creeping under the bed, waiting to grab your ankles....this too is part of the ride.

Eventually, after phone calls, and interviews, and an investigation was done and the charges unfounded. We began to breathe again. Slowly. Not with the same ease as before, but breathing and moving froward non the less. Before we knew it, we found peace and laughter and fun slowly beginning to seep back in...because the love and acceptance of healing our kids and family never left.

What I have learned since that Friday.
Pinnacles of Impending Doom, are not Road blocks, they are Jerk Ass Speed Bumps that take our your undercarriage...but it is your choice to keep moving.

When you have people, a tribe that walk, stumble and crawl your same path,and you trust them with your Impending Doom....they rise and carry you. From there you can see the sun again, their hope and faith in you become contagious....and you begin to believe again too.
They walk with you in messages, in the Pay Pal of “get your kids therapy and don’t worry about the electric bill this month.... ”
They shine in loving texts, and funny emails, and packages so filled with love you can't read the cards because of the tears. To you....
I LOVE you with a deep, beautiful, grateful ache that is with out words.

So, what am I saying in this long, winding post of hard?

Yep. So that happened.

And also, Dear Universe....bring it...I no longer am giving you my fears, apparently what you have been whispering all along is...
          You are way tougher than you think darling, nothing can destroy you.

Hold your head up lovey, keep your true friends close, everyday seek healing and gentle understanding for those beautiful beings I have placed in your care, and keep walking.”

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Steel Magnolia's

My Dear Steel Magnolia's,

You. You, human that though vulnerable, and even more delicate that you appear, are also stronger, wiser and more damaged than you appear, you, sitting there. I see you.
Today might be a good day.
You know a HARD, but good day.
Because all the days regardless of how sweet, also hold some bitter.
It is a path you walk, a sharpness with each breath.
You also have an ability many people don't, the standing and brushing off and holding your head up high, seeking the light, the sunshine and moving forward.
You are amazing.

Whether you are parenting kids from hard places.
Perhaps that child is no longer in your home and you are feeling the aftershocks?
Helping a parent, or spouse through a mental or health illness.
Surviving something yourself, a loss, an illness, a depression, a fear.

I see your invisible backpack full of bricks you strap on. I see the worry lines you hide in your smile.
I see the tired, behind the sparkle in your eyes.

YOU. You are brilliant, and shiny and strong.
You deserve a medal today, just for getting up and doing it again. Give me your address and I will send you one. You like crayon and construction art right?

Last night after, returning home from an extended weekend, visiting our child at her Residential Treatment Center, I had a lump. You know “the lump”, lodged in your throat, the well of tears just under the surface of your eyes that makes things hard to see.
And so you tuck in children.
Unpack musky wet swimsuits straight into the washing machine.
Make lunches.
Re-tuck in children.
Get one more glass of water.
Wonder if you have the energy to brush your own teeth and change in to pajamas, and then you crawl into bed, exhausted, and
Because silly you, after 3 days, and two sleepless nights in a hotel room with 9 people, non stop “fun” of swimming and movies and arcades and rides, and tantrums, and pouts, and ear aches, and crying, and fighting and F.U.N. thought crawling in your soft bed, you would automatically fall asleep, much like your snoring three year old who is curled up in your spot on the bed.
That three year old is a jerk. That sweet sweaty little face all sleeping, and dreaming...all ASLEEP.

And then you feel the lump, you have been ignoring. It's there. Waiting.
Kinda like the phantom “ Oh yeah, I had to pee 3 hours ago, that goes away and comes back” condition many busy mothers know.

And, hello Netflix .
Where is there a ; “I need a sad movie to make me cry about someone else's sad story, so I don't have to sit here and cry about my own stuff” category.
Too many words in a description?
Dude, they have a “ Because you watched My Little Pony:Twinkle Wish Adventure, recommendations”, category.
I am writing their customer service, after this post dangnabit.

Linds, FOCUS.

So yep, me, needing a good cry.
I have my go to's:
Greys Anatomy scenes.
Bridges of Madison County.
Simon Birch.
The Painted Veil
What are yours?
Steel Magnolia's is a double whammy for me.
You see I have a diabetic son, daily I worry “If today could be the day.”
Every morning is still a “is he breathing morning.”
I also have daughters, I would not only give my kidney to, but all of my working limbs.
I also have friends. A tribe of miraculous people that will walk me through and have times of ultimate loss.

Your show will begin in 17 seconds.
Let's open the flood gates.

I needed that cry.
I needed the multiple times I was touched and reminded that hard and sad and loss, is a human condition. During the funeral scene I thought of all of you. The parents that carry tragedy for their lost and living children.

When Malynn cries, “I -I don't thing I can take this!
I -I don't thing I can take this! I-I just want to hit somebody
'til they feel as bad as I do! I just wanna hit something!
I wanna hit it HARD!”

We have all felt that.
That alone and desperate, and empty in our pain.

When Annelle says;
“When things like this happens. I pray real hard to make heads or tail of this.”

I think of the people I know, sitting at desks getting through their days with the lump in their throats, not sure if it matters, regardless of how HARD they work, the money just isn't going to add up.
I think of Mom's driving to IEP and 504 meetings again. Fighting for rights of their children, being judged for their kids behaviors.
I think of someone holding the hand of a loved one in a hospital, not sure to plea for healing, or the peace of letting go.
I think if the broken still beating hearts of relationships torn and hurting...and still walking around.
I see you.

I walk next to you in this marathon, of hills and valleys. Dips of high highs and low lows...all with a small pebble in our shoes.
You are a warrior in yoga pants, a suit and tie, Mom jeans and a stained sweater, dress casual, 3 day worn pajamas. You, amazing. You, medal, for just breathing.

Today I got up.
I walked my autistic son through four separate triggers and melt downs.
I redirected my ADHD son a gazillion times, and though I am not confident his socks match, I am pretty sure he didn't wear penguin pajamas to school.
I made a hot breakfast for nine people.
I have already sat my five year old in 3 separate time outs and wiped pink sparkle nail polish off two walls and a counter-top. Today I walked past my child's empty bedroom at least a dozen times, each time feeling the subtle stab in my heart as it whispers, “will she ever sleep in that room again?”

I am going to be O.K.
She is going to be O.K.

“That's what my mind says,I wish someone would say that to my heart.”
You. You, human that though vulnerable, and even more delicate that you appear, are also stronger, wiser and more damaged than you appear, you, sitting there. I see you.
“You know, I love you more than my luggage.”


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Milk Before Meat...and the Kitchen Sink

The hard thing about parenting:
( O.K. , O.K. There are LOADS of HARD things about parenting) but one I am finding the most precarious right now is the ever pending “How will I know when they are ready or can do it for themselves?”
This is a constant question in my mind.

When raising kids we tend to look at it as this slowww steady, step-by-step progression of things.
In Hebrews they talk about accomplishing one thing before the other. As in giving an Infant Milk before they are ready to eat the meat.

There is also the proverb of walking before you run.
Some of our kids missed those basic steps.
Some of our kids went straight to gnawing on a T-bone before they ever learned to stomach being rocked and fed a bottle of milk.
In those cases it makes it insanely difficult to differentiate between normal expectations and situations where we as parents need to slow down and recognize our kids didn't get the melody before they learned the lyrics in any given situation.

Dear Gandolf,
How do I know when my darlings are READY, or if they will EVER be ready or trusted to:
Have a real play date?
Get there Drivers License?
Handel a extended Family Holiday?
Eat Solids?
Dive Deeper into therapy?
Potty Train, again. And then again?
Feel safe with another Care Giver?
Be safe around a pet. A sibling, anyone?
Try Medication?
Celebrate themselves?
Try a class?
Sleep with out a diaper, or at least try?
Go to a Birthday Party?
Safe to go on walks and bike rides by themselves?
Start a job?
Use scissors safely, without harming themselves, their clothing, any one else?
Be self sufficient?
I would really LIKE the answer to this PRONTO....and a magic wand, and to be admitted to Hogwarts. K? thanks.

Some of these things for neurotypical, and typical developmental kids, leave"regular parents" in a cold sweat curbing the decisions of when is appropriate.
The difficulty while parenting kids that are healing, is...the pockets of development loss make these questions and time-line WAYYY more peculiar. I have a child that can ride a bike, and is still diaper dependent.
I have had a child that was old enough to get there drivers license, yet still didn't handle extended family holidays.
It is SO VERY difficult, and such different parenting children that due to trauma in their young lives, they too have lost also the natural process of development, socially, physically, emotionally. There seems always a possibility we have to revert back, and then back farther when teaching our children what would seem to many as a basic skill.
A simple game of Gold Fish, could start with an easy read off of the rules.
Soon after, the issue of playing fair leeks out. Which requires the importance of playing fair, so everyone can trust and have fun, and yes, the PURPOSE OF THE GAME IS FOR EVERYONE TO HAVE FUN.
OH, you didn't understand the rules, you got mad, and started cheating...and then got madder as your sibling threatened to stop playing with you....
It's like that.
Like all of the time.
Back up, let's try this again.

Milk before meat.
ALL of the time....and then tossing in the kitchen sink of ALL of the things. The Empathy, the Patience, the deep breathing and understanding needed as you here the “beep, beep, beep, reverse and back up noise of your proverbial parenting vehicle.

Some of my kids could totally run before they could walk, they had to,they are still ALIVE aren't they?
Some of my kids could totally win the reality show Survivor, and knock those adults into next week, but couldn't pretend play and interact with their peers to save their life...

It is a wicked dance of catch up.
A dance that can cause shame and fear and more loss if the steps aren't just right.
Man I wish I was burning more calories.
Those Dancing with the Stars people ain't got nuthin' on the therapeutic parenting tango, disco, waltz, twerking, macarena madness of it all that we do.

It's hard to remember in the moment that our kids are missing steps.
It's hard to look back along their journey and see the massive things lost in the pot holes of trauma, so many things have been taken from our kids.
When they are actively screaming in our faces, or pooping in our shoes that make it harder to see.

For many of us, we have to teach our kids in reverse order.
To practice gratitude,  before they can appreciate.
To  be in the habit to make repairs for wrongdoings, far before they feel the emotional pull to make amends.
To require being told constant truths over and over again, before honesty holds any value to them.

Milk before Meat...or back to the Meat, a GIANT glass of milk, and then cut it up in smaller pieces...and then another sip of Milk.., milkshakes are delicious too.....
mmmmm I like Milkshakes....

Wait...parenting, we are talking parenting.


I don't have all of the answers, I don't think anyone really does.
But I can tell you, while I am playing hot potato/and doing the hokey pokey, while standing on my head singing the A,B C's backwards and reteaching my kid how to properly use the vacuum, the toilet, or introduce themselves to a group of children for the 18 hundredth time, I find comfort in knowing, I am not alone.

None of us Are.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I am not Titanium or Bulletproof

Ow, Owwwwwwwie, Yo, THAT HURTS.
Sometimes the behaviors we try SO HARD to not let aggravate, puncture or hurt us that are kids do, break through that bulletproof vest and hit us straight in the heart.
And it should. Hurt.
Occasionally the stuff our kids do, should hurt us. Because if it didn't it would mean we weren't human any more.
And that is why we are here, because we wanted to be parents, we wanted to help and love and heal, we wanted to help a small one with their hurts and didn't realize how contagious their hurts would be.

Sometimes I blare this song, in the car, while sobbing and driving away; when my emotional endurance has been tested past breaking. And dude, I have great emotional's the water boarding, the subtle everyday stick poking, that pushing on a permanent bruise feeling that tumbles me over the edge.

It's the “adorable and nice and kind to everyone” , everyone except me.
It's the triangulation with adults, the way they can ask for and need things from others, but hold their breath until they are blue in the face in order to NOT have to talk to me.
It is the capability to ask a stranger for a band-aid, but not tell me that they may have broken their arm.

That stuff there? Damn it , it hurts.
It hurts to so badly to WANT to be a soft place for them, and they would rather land ANYWHERE but near you.

This too is the symptoms of trauma, of severe trust issues. The hardest part? You are on an island where no one else see's the rejection and mind games, except you.
You can try to explain to the teacher, the aid, the therapist and in the beginning even to your own partner, and you will be met with a blank stare and a pat on the back.

It feels alienating.
It feels like you are going a little bit nuts.
It is SO SO SO hard to have these feelings of frustration and being rejected by a kid that YOU more than anyone else in the world wanted to care for and love, and now is feels like THEY would prefer that attention and love from anyone else in the world BUT YOU.

My son once hugged a homeless man.
And before you go all “Auuuuhhhhhhh, sweet, that man probably really needed a hug”...he hugged him, before he was ever willing to hug me.
For reals.

That is that grand prize of SUCK-I-NESS.
That is the grand pooh-ba of attachment hardships, you being the one person they focus their rejection on. You being their safe place to dump the stuff they wouldn't dare trust anyone else with. Stuff they protect and will SHOW NO ONE ELSE, e.v.e.r.

They throw a “I feel like crap all of the time party”, and only invite you.
It is one hell of an RSVP.
Since no one else ever gets invited, they can't know.
I know it isn't fair. I know it makes you feel worse and desperate and mourn.
I know it makes you feel like no body GETS really what is going on.

I know, many of us do.
You aren't alone.

I can tell you why your kid may be choosing these behaviors.
I can tell you why actually YOU are the most important person in their lives.
I can tell you ways to respond, ways to self care, ways to not let it hurt so bad.

Or, I can tell you.
It's O.K. To cry.
It's O.K. Not to always be made of Titanium.
It's O.K. To drive and cry and turn the music way on up.
And listen to sad, loud songs.

Now tell me, what is YOUR "let it all out", "this is wayyy harder than I thought it would be" Jam, cuz folks mama needs a new playlist. <3

Monday, March 31, 2014

“Hey I see you”

Today I literally had three goals.
  1. Drink an entire mug of peppermint tea with out yakking it up.
  2. Eat at least half of a baked sweet potato and again confining it to my stomach.
  3. Taking a bath and washing my hair.

    O.K., O.K. Maintaining the short and furry and feathered living beings in my care were up there on the list too.
    So far , half a mug of tea, the potato is baking and I no longer smell like old cheese.

    I have had the flu for around 24 hours. Dry heaving, body aching, sleeping like a drunkard, chills type-evil flu. Thank goodness it hit me Saturday night and at the tail end of Spring break.

    Today after feeding the little’s lunch, one down for a nap, the other in my room watching Frozen,I sat in the tub deciding if I actually had the energy to wash my hair, or if dread locs would be a good look for me.

    My youngest walked in stating she had watched Frozen 7 times, holding up 4 fingers.
    I sat there and used my fingers to manipulate her hands and count what seven looked like with her chubby teensy fingers.
    A loud noise from the movie happened, interest averted and she ran to see what was happening.
    But then she stopped, twirled around and said. “ I fink what we are doing is 'portant, I don't want to miss the moobie, so I am gonna pause it and be right back.”

    Wha'? Did my four year old just validate me? Not want to leave me hanging?
    Saw that the relationship communication we had going was important, and was sensitive to my effort and interest?

    In that moment I felt what I have been working towards and wanting so much for my kids to feel towards me. That I valued them, above all else, that talking with them, being with them is important to me.

    I sometimes suck at this.
    I sometimes get stuck in a texting or Facebook personal messaging abyss. I sometimes am tired of the squeaky needy voices. I sometimes ache for adult interaction. But, I also know this is my season to teach them about their value and worth. For me to validate the importance of who they are, simply because they breathe and are loved.

    When my kids first came home, there was a desperation in needing to be seen, heard, witnessed.

    I think the most devastating part of growing up in an Orphanage, living in neglect, or being a transitioning Foster Child, is the way there is no way to see and validate needs, wants and wishes of the individual. The mass, the basic, the day to day becomes the rhythm of life.

    Behaviors crop up in place of the basic need of being seen. Attention positive or Negative, it doesn’t matter, being seen, having two pairs of eyes, words meant directly for you...that becomes the goal.

    I saw this much in the Orphanage. Kids would either be the helpful, perfect child that adults leaned on and praised, those kids lost any childhood to being liked, and called on by adults.
    Others screamed and fought and did out right naughtiness in the plight of being seen. Both were attempting to fill a vast hole.

    As humans we have holes. Holes that need to be filled. Kids with Trauma and Neglect issues feel and fill those voids more creatively.

    I remember being a somewhat normal kid, resenting my mothers need to be on the phone to her girlfriends. I remember staring at her in the kitchen , phone cord tangled around her, holding her hostage from me. I remember coughing loudly, purposely wrecking my bike and coming in with scratches , so she would see me, talk to me.
    I now as an adult woman get, she also was filling needs, need to be seen, heard and validated in the midst of a difficult marriage. This need is such a human condition.

    I remember when my children first came home from Haiti, they were SO LOUD.
    They banged and broke everything. They did REALLY weird things, like peeing on my clothes, and couch, coloring on walls, and plugging every toilet in the house...and when I finally realized what they were doing was literally screaming “SEE ME!!!”

    So I started saying it to them, full face and eye contact, sometimes holding those hurt,angry sad faces in my hands.

    “Hey, I see you.”
    “Hey, I am right here with you.”
    “Hey, I hear you.”
    “Hey, you, right there, your important.”
    “Hey I can sit right here with you and feel this with you.”

    As I practice this more in my life with my loved ones, and they practice it with me, I see the effects. The effects of, “yes, what I am doing is important to me, but not as important to me as you are, give me a sec to finish this -K-?”

    I have a friend who says this to me often.
    “I am here with you, I hear you, I am sitting with you in this.”

    I never feel more loved and more important than when she says these things to me.
    That, that is how I want my kids to feel about themselves.
    You know the scene in “The Help” with little chubby Miss May Mobley, we all identified with her her imperfections, her desperate need to be told:

    Let us be ambassadors of kindness in our lives.
    To see and be seen is a priceless gift that only keeps giving.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Double Sided Healing

The other week there was a group forum where an open, mature, passionate discussion was held about how adoption is portrayed in the media.
Particularly, older child and Foster Care adoption.
Many feared that too many “Rainbows and Sunshine” of a representation could set potential parents and available adoptable children up for failure, disappointment and possibly even disruption. This is true.

Others were concerned that if people only were warned of the negative and worse case scenarios, possibly amazing adults willing to open their homes and heart to waiting and transitioning children would be dissuaded from becoming foster and adoptive parents, because really some kids do attach well and can become a seamless part of a family. This is also true.

We all agreed, that some (not all) kids CAN heal. Kids can come into families with a lot of broken pieces and bit, by bit, heal in a family situation and become an intricate happy, functioning member of a family unit. This is a truth in my life and many others.

I talk so very much about the broken pieces I wanted to literate on the healing ones. The ways as parents, caregivers,friends and family of them can slowly begin to see and support a child transitioning from the world of distrust and pain into “Normal Kid-dom.”

My friend Billy Kaplan of House Calls Counseling, gives the advice ; “ If you are questioning a transitioning childs behavior, reaction or motive as whether it is neurotypical or not, error on the side of Neurotypical.”
Isn't that lovely and hopeful? It is Magical when you can start actually SEEING those fruits of change.
I have to be honest though.
It's a double sided sword.
I have to let go of the past junk, my past reactions, and fears and my stuff, my attachment/trauma parenting blinders, and look and see the hard won progress.

Because in order for me to accept and celebrate my kids willingness and ability to heal, I have to heal and be willing to move on too. I have to be willing to see something as NORMAL, when for such a looooong time it WASN'T!

One of my little my little Diva's go-to behavior was irrational anger and defensiveness when she got caught in a lying, unkind, even regular naughty child behavior. She would scream, and knock things over, throw shoes, kick walls, and Waaiiillll for hours. Like really h.o.u.r.s.
I forgot she used to do that. Yesterday I had a friend over and Diva got all sassy about what we were making for Dinner. I told her she was welcome to go out side collect whatever she could and stir-fry her very own dinner on up next to the curry chicken salad I was making for dinner.
She rolled her eyes.
She pouted that “it sounded Dis-gust-ing”.
She said she would probably hate it and be sick, and that I was the worst cook ever.
And then she went outside and played.

I was giggling after her.
My friend looked at me “Um, why are you laughing.”

“Because all of THAT Dramatic girl stuff?, TOTALLY NORMAL!!!
Bratty, snotty as hell, but so normal I kinda wanted to throw it a birthday party.”

I could give a thousand other examples I am seeing day to day with these brave little people.
Ways they can love and enjoy,process and get mad and be annoying and silly and fun and bratty.

And to be honest, that is what healing looks like for all of us.
Not perfection, not a shiny picture of smiles and magazine covers, we still have our ripped jeans and our warts...

But being in the land where the hugs are real, where the apologies sincere and the smiles go all the way up to our eyes?
I will take it.
Because it means we both, though we may have miles to go, are past the fire swamp in so many ways.
We are holding hands and heading in a similar direction together.

If you are in a place of wanting or seeking help and support your and your trauma challenged child, there is a conference coming up in Chicago this month. The Parenting in SPACE annual conference has changed my way of parenting, given me a support system of incredible like-minded parents and given me so very much hope in the healing of our family as a combined unit.
Consider going.
4 years ago I sailed in, almost drowning in my children's trauma and need for something, some lifeline and hope that things could get better. It was one of the best parenting decisions I ever made.
This year I will be doing a Pre-conference with the lovely and amazing Christine Moers, as well as a Breakout session during the conference.
Come, let me and so many others love on you, and remind you of the kind of parent you want to be.
THIS conference is unique in the fact that it is created for Caregivers, it is catered to YOUR needs and questions. There are handfuls of professionals primed and ready at all times to give you answers and listen to YOU.
I will see you there.
Greeting you with a hug, and yes, there is always chocolate.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Grieving the Living

We all do it you know, grieve for a relationship, a loved one that for one reason or another is gone, misplaced, or has left you somehow. Perhaps they fell out of love with us? Perhaps another person, object or substance got in the way? Maybe it was pride, a disagreement, they or you changed, and now the once tangible part of your life leaves a phantom absence.At times it is someone whom has never actually left that you can stand right in-front of them reaching out, and never reach them.
Sometimes I think we can even grieve for the thing that never was. A inactive parent, a sibling relationship that fell short, a child we didn't get to raise the way we wished....
Sometimes, I think it is things and situations that block our intentions, and so we grieve, and maybe
sometimes those intentions no matter how honorable taint the reality, and that too sours and spoils what might have been.

I have lost much in my young life. Parents to divorce, young friends to death, children in both miscarriage death, and mental illness. As we age I think we keep doing that losing and gaining simultaneously.

When I stop to think of some of my greatest losses of those I have loved. The ones that remain living, are the ones that continue to lend the most hurt.
I don't know if I would have believed someone if they had told me that 21 years ago when I my neighbor knocked on my door to tell me at 13 one of my dearest friends had taken her life.
Or at 18, when a sobbing phone call related that my boyfriend had died in a motorcycle accident.
Definitely not to the heaving, heart broken woman who delivered her 22 week early son on the bathroom floor. Or to the mother who answered the phone call that her 11 moth old baby boy passed away from dehydration without her comforting arms around him in his homeland.

And still to this day I ache and hurt, my throat begins to swell and my eyes fog in memories of those times. Those are days and weeks and months I do not wish to live again. Times I wish I could go back now, hold myself tight and promise, “you will get through this baby cakes, sit and feel this deeply, lie face down on the bathroom floor if needs be, and then lets find you some good chocolate and a wash cloth for your face.”

Today I am grieving again. Grieving my inability to on my own fix my broken girl. I have been here before, and perhaps that is why it feels so familiar and raw. Today we admitted one of our children into a Residential Therapeutic Hospital for help with her self harming and eating disorder struggles. Late last night we did loads of laundry and paperwork and made this step.
I am grieving selfishly that this is not what I wanted. Grieving that when I naively decided to bring hurting children into my home I had already painted a picture of expectations. Of how I wanted our family to look and function.

They were basic.
Pancake mornings, Homeschooling debacles, Saturday farmers markets, silly teasing and 'normal sibling rivalry.
No where did my mind make room for door alarms, safety plans and restraining holds.
No where did I think I would need to own bottle of ipecac for overdoses, and butterfly band-aids for intense skin cutting. No where did I expect to need to constantly protect other sibling and animals from a dis-regulated sibling or worse them selves.

I remember the day my oldest son was diagnosed with Autism, I sat on a curb outside the psychologists office and cried. I mourned all the things I thought I wanted for him , and the fear that many of them may never come to be. I remember when a dear girlfriend gave birth to a beautiful daughter with Downs Syndrome, and how she fiercely loved her little girl, but too needed the room to mourn.

As much as I ache sometimes to call out my late son “GIBSON” 's name in from playing with his brothers and sisters, I have closure of his loss, I have a tree and a photo book and places to go and feel and miss him.

With Papillion, I don't have that. I have worry and regret, sadness and concern. Will she ever be O.K.
Is her healing ever possible? Will she ever see and know or remember the love I had and still have for her? Borderline Personality Disorder is such a tricky beast of a disease.

I think of my friends that have lost parents,partners and children to substance abuse. How even after the initial break, the wonder and hope stays alive and pulls at you like an anchor attached to your ankle.

There is no clean break with the living.

With the hope of my child returning home, hoping she is willing to allow someone else to do the work with them she could not do with me. Hoping she is willing and able to want us, me, her home more, more than the monster in her head. I grieve all that I want and hope for my child.
Hope in a way begets grief. Hope can be an open wound.

I grieve the living.
I think we all do.

I think in ways it make us stronger.
I think in ways it makes us kinder.

I think in ways I need a future me to stop by with a ; “you will get through this baby cakes, sit and feel this deeply, lie face down on the bathroom floor if needs be, and then lets find you some good chocolate and a wash cloth for your face.”

Monday, March 10, 2014

I want to see you be Brave

My Name is Lindsay. “Hi Lindsay.” and I sometimes am to quick in the need to fix things.
Like swoop in and slap a big fat band aid over a gaping wound. I used to like think it was about my extreme and generous need and want to help and serve and love on people, and yes, that is sometimes true. ( Hmmmm I wonder how I ended up adopting 8 children?)
But, If I am more honest with myself, it's a little selfish. This peace maker stuff? Total Bull crap, I need things to be O.K. , I need the people I love to be O.K, mostly because I love them, but also for me. Because Honestly? I FEEL BETTER, when they feel BETTER. I can have a total emotional reliance on others emotions to equate my emotions.
And I am working on that, a lot.
Me this bundle of self improvement.

I sometimes when someone is sad, depressed, or angry, worry and stress that somehow it is my fault, somehow I should and can fix their feelings.
Children of divorce find this a common theme. Heck, sensitive humans, find this theme common.

So you need to be O.K., for me, because I am not comfortable with your feelings. Geez, that’s a little embarrassing to admit.
While parenting children with a traumatic past I have learned better to not take their feelings onto my plate, and try desperately to not make what they are feeling, about me. Sometimes they are sad or angry, and actually have no identifying reason why.
I used to prod, “Come on, there has to be a reason for the way you feel.” ( I NEED there to be a reason, so then we can look at it together and I can help fix it, neat and tidy with a bow.) All kids are full of these unidentifiable feelings, and sometimes we can and should help them dance them out, and sometimes, we can sit with them and let them feel those feelings until they are ready to move on.

Just last night I was reading “Dear Sugar, tiny beautiful things” by Cheryl Strayed, and there was a phrase that I locked onto. “Fountains of Inconvenient Feelings.” Oh my goodness, yes.
In this day and age, feelings are inconvenient, you can be fine and stand next to me, or not be...and um, go sit over there. The sincerity of the phrase “How are you?” is lost in pleasantries.
No wonder sometimes our kids and we feel like Aliens.
We live in the land of Big and Inconvenient feelings.

Yesterday at church, while wrangling 5 semi-well coiffed children into a church pew side booth (strategically blocking them in) we sat and faced the pulpit. Behind it sat my darling 8 year old daughter, getting ready to sing with her age group to the congregation, her face was shiny with excitement and pride, I grinned and did the proud mama scrunchy hand wave. I then looked over to my brood. Her eight year old brother had enormous crocodile tears streaming down his face.

“Psssst, dude, come here, whats going on Buba, whats with the tears, big feelings?”

“Sniff, Yeah guess so, I am kinda jealous of her getting to sing in front of everyone, and that everyone will come up and tell her that she did such a good job”, big sigh, deep breath,” and I am the one, out of the eight year olds that likes to sing, it's my thing, not hers.”
Man, he looked sheepish and sad sharing that with me.

And I leaped.
“Yes buddy I can feel that with you, with 3 eight year olds in our family it must be so important to have something that is 'your thing', what can we do to help you feel better. Do you want to try a “Yay me”, or Maybe you can pick a song and sing it to all of us in the car on the ride home, or in front of all of us after dinner and we can clap? How does that sound?”

“Um...Or maybe I can feel this way, jealous and sad for just a little while longer, and work to feel happy for my sister when I am ready, and if I get stuck, we can try one of your idea's mom?”

“Yes. Or that, because that makes a lot of sense that you might just want to to sit with those feelings a little longer. Awesome, great.”


Sometimes as parents, partners and friends we are too quick with the swoop in and rescue. We are too uncomfortable with other peoples feelings. Sometimes we are in such a hurry to fix their feelings, put a bandaid over a gaping wound and keep them moving, when really , we need to allow them to sit with their feelings a little while and feel them, roll around with them, and release them when they are ready.
Because someday, especially with our kids, we won't be there. They are going to have to learn to brave their feelings on their own, with the tools we have given them.

Or we could potentially cause more damage.

I remember one day my brother came home from a Boy Scouts Activity.
Instead of working on knots outside, they decided to practice jumping off the church roof, because 12 year old boys have the reputation of really thinking things through.
My brother had jumped and while landing heard a crack and felt a stab of pain.
He was slow to admit in all his preteen masculinity that he 'might' have broken something. Once he did, it was met with denial and possibly fear, most likely because the boys were worried of the repercussions of their leader finding out that instead of perfecting their sailor, slip and square knots they were all going Condor man off the roof of the building.
So they did what any anxious group of man children would do. They started playing keep away with his shoes forcing him to hobble after them, calling him a whanny and telling him to buck up.

By the time he got the x-rays back they found 4 fractured bones in his foot and quite possibly had fractured only one bone, but added to the damage walking on it and ignoring the pain.

While living in the world of sadness, shame, guilt, grief, fear, jealously and anger I am learning to wait out and let them use the tools I have been handing out to them for the last 4 years, recognizing they too are getting better at seeing and processing what they are feeling in the moment, and trusting them to come to me if they get stuck.

I am not sure who this is harder for.
There is such a deep importance to allow the pain to cycle, for the grief fountain to run dry, for the healing to happen before continuing on.

I need to let them be Brave.
That makes me Brave.
I can be ready to catch them...but mostly let them ask, let them feel, and me be O.K. with whatever those feelings are.

I want to see them be Brave.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Digging Out of a Funk

Parenting is HARD.
Parenting neurotypical emotional children is HARD.
Add trauma, a mood disorder, toss in a little sensory stuff and attachment, and well, there are days you wonder why you bother getting out of bed, getting dressed or making any sort of effort. Speaking period can be dangerous and triggering.

Are you with me?

I hope you nodded a little or even shouted a resounding “HELL YES” at your screen.
I promise this post will not include a purple “back-pack, back-pack” and a fox named Swiper.

Are there days the the idea of facing one of your angry elves has your head and mind racing, even before the alarm goes off and you just DON'T WANT TO GET UP, FACE THEM, SMELL THEM, or BE IN A ROOM WITH THEM?

I mean rrrrreeeeeaaaallllly don't want to get up and face the angry, sad, sullen, yelling, screaming, silent treatment control games, that seems to be an endless game of specialized torture just for you?

Can I get another “HELL to the YES.” Even if you don't always feel this way, come on, sometimes you do, right? RIGHT?

My kids (cuz lets be honest I have so darned many) like to take turns with making certain seasons of parenting them an extra hard painful (like pulling my fingernails out with pliers) affair.
So very painful. When they are struggling, when their shame is eating them alive and holding them under, when their ability to regulate emotion is null. You become, after themselves their favorite bonding buddy of misery.
In their need to explain their pain they enroll me in their boot camp of “Feeling shitty, angry and rejected.”
And I can be a damn good soldier.
They want me to join their ranks. They poke and prod and pee and lie and steal and hurt me so that I can 'get' a fair understanding of how they feel 99% of the time.
They are Share-bears on crack. The result being, neither of us end up feeling too great about each other or ourselves.

We BOTH get stuck.
We both need to be dug out.
And since I (unfortunately) am the adult, I eventually have to realize, we are either going to have to stay stagnant in the stuck, or I am going to have to grab a friggin shovel.
Because even IF I want THEM to do it and unstick themselves, they can't.

At this point in the stuck, my usual, booty shaking, music playing,goof ball tactics are not working, and really, my heart isn't in it as much as I want it to be. When they roll their eyes at me, I want to join them, in a “Right this is ridiculous that I am EVEN TRYING” eye roll of solidarity.
I want a bag of mini snickers and a good Netflix series to get lost in, not dealing with their crap and my emotions surrounding it.

Shovels up. Clink here we go.

Ways to dig out.
These are not sure fire, they don't all work for all kids, and I would LOVE to hear different idea's from different sources.

Somethings I have learned about the dig outs, is: a) the least obvious and ostentatious the better.
When we do something for our kids when we don't want to, they can smell it.
Might as well drag it through the dog pooh of “See you are mean to me and I STILL DO NICE THINGS FOR YOU.”
Not that I have done that 5 hundred million times.
Because to them, it is still shaming, it is still saying, “You are mean, you won't let me love you, SEE I do nice things, and am nice and you are not and this is proof.”
Yup, and that reception? Not going to be taken well.
You might get a brand new pink swimsuit with glittery butterflies, or a Green and Blue Bey blade spinner thrown back in your face, but there I go being all specific and shit.

You have to be stealth.
The stealthiness, the sneak, and the dig, gives our kids the oppertunity to react without the pressure of us looking for their response. The dig sometimes is a big back hoe brought in the middle of the night, or at times is bit by bit, teaspoon by teaspoon.

If these reconnections can be made without the need of them having to accept it from you, or you even expecting an acknowledgment, it creates a safer environment for them to accept it.

Around Christmas time and my now favorite tradition is the “secret elf”.
Instead of elf on a shelf, we all draw names on Thanksgiving and begin a season of random anonymous acts of kindness. There is no pressure to preform the duties, or acknowledge them.

So when I am hurting, with and about one of my stuck kids, I like to become a Secret elf, to my Angry Elf. There are simple things bit my bit that can help knock out a season of stuck.

My beautiful brilliant friend Christine is an AMAZING example of this. I am soo thankful for her day to day reminders and examples of how fiercely she loves and parents. Many of theses ideas are her gems.

So, here is my list of a handful of ways to still be emotionally protected, in a healthy way that protects both of you, and slowly bring you both back to a better place.

For smaller people
Hidden sweets in their pockets, or shoes left on their car seat or under a pillow.
A new coloring book and crayons just sitting out.
A new blanket or soft toy, sprayed with your scent, left somewhere it obvious it is for them.
Gentle music is a biggy, PLAY it. Have a wind up something available.
A reason they need lotion or you do on feet or hands.
A class that you as parent and child participate in.
Cooking in separate bowls (even if they are just stirring yogurt) something that you then eat together.
Just sitting listening to your favorite music, closed eyes.
Planting flowers,or seeds and bulbs in their own pot with complete permission to through the dirt and anything else they feel like throwing.

School aged kids and readers ( again given and done stealth with very little expectation)
*Any of the recommendations above.
*Random unsigned notes in pockets, shoes, lunch boxes
*A book on tape or music you know they would enjoy when you are in the car with them (avoids arguments too)
*$1 store Puzzle Book and fun new color pencils
*New socks and under clothes left on their bed ( because we all know how often they go missing)
*Random “just because” snacks they can bring or have dropped off to their classroom or Day Care
*A new to them shirt or item they have been wanting or that has been taken away returned with no words
* An after school movie date with Popcorn
*Craft Supplies left on their bed
*Their favorite music primed and ready for specifically HARD mornings or trips in the car.
* A surprise outing planned with a friend or sibling unearned, like a picnic and trip to the park.
* Having finished their chores for them, or cleaned their room wordlessly, without expectation of acknowledgment.
* Putting a framed picture of them up in their room, with a sticky note of why you love this picture of them.

Teens and young adults * all of the above, including the coloring book and crayons
*Gas, music or fast food gift card just laying on pillow
* Their favorite movie rented and a bag of microwave popcorn sitting out
* New Body wash, soap, shampoo, waiting in bathroom (always a bonus when a teen smells better)
* Tickets to somethings they really have been wanting to see or go to, left somewhere they will find.
*Making their favorite dinner and having their favorite snacks around on a particularly hard day
* Sticking gum or mints in their wallet or purse.
*Picking them up at a time they were expecting to walk
* A journal and new pens sitting on their bed
* Taking care of a problem for them, without being asked
* leaving flowers in a vase in their room
* making their bed with clean sheets

Is anyone dry heaving yet? Hand raised. I know all of this sounds HARD when you are being treated like dirt, I KNOW. And I can't promise at all that any of these teaspoons of digging them and you out of being stuck will work, but what I can promise? Doing something, is way way better than doing nothing.
And while you may not get a single positive reaction or change, you may be cracking a foundation, you may be loosening some soil, you gasp, may be giving your child the room for them to have a single positive thought about you, and therefor themselves.

    YOU have got this .
    Give it a try, can it hurt or cause any more funk in the funk you are facing?

    Shovels up, Clink.
    Here, we go.