Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Stodgily Proud

We'd gone a very long spell of my sons filling out reams of job applications, even getting some interviews, but no jobs had materialized.  Now all of a sudden jobs are more prevalent, not sure why, but I'm certainly glad of this turn of events.

Tony's been picking berries in the hot sun at a nearby farm, stashing the daily cash in his bank account, and yesterday had about his 10th interview for various jobs.  I was up to my neck in chores, so Martin took him there, and he has a follow up again today, leading me to have hope here.

He's been offered the 4-9 p.m. shift at Sam's Club, which means a lot of driving for me, but I'm OK with that as it's a huge step forward for him buying his own vehicle.  He's starting his senior year, I'd held him back on purpose, his CP diagnosis has stunted him in many ways.

If I could have an Adoption Do Over, I'd have held every single son back a year, knowing it'd only benefit them according to newer research.  But not Daniel as his late birthday already made him one of the oldest in his class.  Like I told Big Joe the other day, knowing what I know now?  I wish I'd known about trauma in the early 1990s when he demonstrated so many issues that I then didn't know were trauma related.

One of his older birth sisters who finally tracked us down had later told me of the many, many ways that Joe'd been traumatized differently than Yolie and Daniel, his two other birth sibs that I'd adopted.

I'd studied up on grief and loss, plus other adoption issues back then, but trauma just wasn't recognized which now seems an antiquated notion as trauma was the universal common denominator.

CW took Nando to the knee rehab appointment, plus ran in to the grocery store to get me some Ajax, seriously I'd rather be stuck at home cleaning, which is exactly what I'd done, it's been nearly 48 hours since I've had to leave my house, today however isn't looking great for me, predictably we need groceries.

I've kept Martin on my car insurance policy and on our family account for his cell phone, but here at age 20, he's finally paying his own share, giving me $100 yesterday to cover both bills.  Buying significantly older cars, such as his 1995 Jeep, and us having a high deductible and minimal coverage, keeps the premium lower than him having to go out and get his own policy, something at some point that clearly he will have to do, but for now I'm gad he's living here so I can hopefully teach him some money management issues.

As I've stated, they can live here rent free and I'll feed 'em happily, but they need to start taking responsibility for their own personal expenses. I need some breathing room, clearly I've struggled financially for nearly 41 years of parenting.

Also for years I've just tossed freshly picked tomatoes into a freezer bag in the freezer, my free time so limited, but this year I've spent a little more time, chopping them into a sauce with fresh basil and oregano, some garlic, cooking it down, freezing it, now ready to use on winter nights.

I despise store bought jarred sauce as it's sweetened, which is an affront to my taste buds, and then the canned sauce has BPA issues, leaving one little choice but to tend to it my own self.  My peppers still not producing very well, but we're eating tons of tomatoes.

I also have a great deal of fresh basil, today gonna mix up the chopped leaves with olive oil and then freeze in sheet-like layers, having read I can them slice off what I need as I cook throughout the winter.

Even when I'm down to just me here, I'll still cook, knowing that's both the healthiest and the tastiest way to go.  Even when I can go to a restaurant some day, it doesn't appeal to em all that much, knowing the food is doused in cheap oil and low rent ingredients, mass produced for a fakey taste - nah, I'd rather grow and cook it my self.

I'm still keeping myself as sugar free as is possible, a little dark chocolate is nearly all I've splurged on, but hey, it's summer so I have tons of sweet, fresh fruit - such as my fresh figs.

Watching a DVRd version of The Road to Cooperstown - Class of 2014, three former Braves to be inducted including three of my all-time favorites, Maddux, Glavine and Bobby Cox, another local TV special to be aired tonight I think.  I'd forgotten what mastery was displayed constantly by the three of them, to me baseball is a brilliant, fascinating game of statistics and strategy, drive, motivation and determination, always enthralling to me.

Two weeks from today will be the start of school.  Half of the kids still living here are now out of school, so I won't exactly have each day to myself, but these are great kids, and I'm enjoying watching our roles change as they grow independent but aren't self-sabotaging - unusual in the adoption of older children, but I've had these guys for as long as they can remember, and that longevity has helped.

A heart-wrenching message on Facebook from a longtime friend/adoptive mom of many, facing the stomach churning stress of having a child arrested for violence.  I wish I could hug her, sit with her as she cries.  I know exactly how she feels.

Again that's why my blog gets read.  I don't just brag about how wonderful my kids are - and they are wonderful, but our challenges have been universal to the experiences of others.  Most of us taught through MAPP or PATH that these events could, and quite likely will, happen to us all, but probably most of us, especially me, thought our love, massive efforts, stability and security could change the course of events - finding out it isn't necessarily so leaves us all blaming ourselves for what had been set into motion long before we met our darling kids.

That hard-wired inner rage, the dysregulated emotions, the mental health challenges, and emotional instability has left them so damaged at times, unable to stop themselves from acting out.  After the arrests and court dates, the fines and probation, often the kids then blame the police instead of their own actions, hanging with other thugs who perpetuate that wrong-headed theory, leaving us parents so deeply sad on their behalf.

However maturity does help, it takes years and years sometimes until that frontal lobe kicks into gear.  I'm still kind of concerned over two of mine whose severe mental health diagnoses may render them always unable to make good choices, but who knows?

To that other mom, I'd advise a hands off approach, professionals have also advised me to not bail out my kids, the kids would then misinterpret it as, "I can do what I want, mom'll bail me out, therefore these behaviors must be OK, right?"

Wrong.

If you assault people, if you steal or break laws, then you're choosing to accept the consequences. News flash, y'all.

It pays to be straight laced, it works out just fine to be an employed, stodgy bill paying, law abiding quiet citizen.

To not be so leaves one at the random mercy of the courts; homeless, couch-surfing, and unstable.

But they counter, calling it an exciting, adrenaline rush fueled fun time. They brag on Facebook about 'tying one on' or participating in crazy parties.  Are y'all freaking nuts? Potential employers check Facebook, my friends see y'all's wild status updates, I'm so embarrassed on your behalf, have you no shame?

I'm baffled at times, clearly lost as to how I can properly explain that being locked up just can't be all that much fun?

But sloooooowly, oh so sloooowly, we're experiencing progress.  Two steps forward and then a heart breaking arrest, or custody battles because someone won't pay child support, or sadly, a kid is repeating the abandonment routine that was once done to them, rationalizing it all in weird ways.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Is Parenting Pointless? Or Just On Some Days?

Martin's photo has nothing to do with this post except that I complimented him yesterday on being spiritually mature.  Young adults are the most unreachable to the church, I know I was so at his age, and he's not rebelling against church. I'd swiped this photo from Pastor Brandon's collection, taken the other night at a social.

A very long late night phone call where I listened to an angry, crying daughter blast what's not working in her life, me just listening and watching her wind her way back to the point that she realized her own self, always better than when it comes from Mama.

No sudden, "Hey, you've been right all along," but instead a verbal rendition of that point eventually, after her tears and rage dissipated.  I'd be angry too if I'd endured what she'd gone through, but it was only my job to talk her down.

When someone walked in the room there where she was, she suddenly changed over to Spanish to me, me responding the same, but then asking her, "Why'm I speaking Spanish?  They can't hear me."  Cracking her up which helped diffuse her fury.

Another daughter was unbelievably rude to me, as she often is when she doesn't get her way.  I don't respond with rudeness, but I do shut down emotionally.  Self preservation at its best.  If you can't treat me with respect then back off, get out of my face.

Imagine if I lashed back with even a fraction of the anger I feel when I'm mistreated?  Someone has to take the higher road here, and clearly it must be me, but I gotta tell you, it isn't always very easy.  Silence is my best friend, and I retreat within, the only place I always feel emotionally safe.

I don't generally run to a doctor every time someone complains of a sore throat or what have you, but yesterday an 18 year old usually non-complainer listed several symptoms that my gut told me needed medical attention on a weekend.  Sure enough, he tested positive for strep, and we were prescribed the antibiotics that are free at the Publix Pharmacy.  Then this one nutted up on me later as if this sickness was my fault.

I suggested he was demonstrating very A-Hole behavior and that the real world isn't gonna be as understanding as I am.  My words falling on irritable, deaf ears, back to watering a million houseplants for me, my plants are nice in return.  See?  I ask for so little, just nice.

I retreated to my room, tired of being the punching bag, thinking about an article I'd recently read telling how traumatized children eventually feel as if they deserve no better than what they have - in a chaotic, neglectful household, thus the transition into a stable adoptive family is always challenging for just that very reason.

So I made it about it all about me; sick and tired of the constant crap I endure.

But, like a trauma victim, I realize that I, too, now rarely feel I deserve any better than what I have, or more so that this is just the way it is, and it isn't gonna get any better ever on this flawed earth.

I used to be unbelievably optimistic, I want me back,  dang, I used to be fun, and I need to comprehend it took 25 or so years of being emotionally battered by angry family members, who'll stoop to crazy depths to make me feel as bad as they feel - which initially has nothing whatsoever to do with me, I wasn't even there in their early childhood.

I'm often cooking dinner while figurative dysregulated lions prowl about, lashing out, leaving emotional injuries, usually on me, because it's safe to hurt me, in their minds, knowing I don't lash back.

The cumulative effect of all this is a social misfit who isn't sure she can make a complete sentence in public. It's certainly no wonder that I avoid human contact as often as is possible, never sure that someone isn't gonna attack. Yes, I do comprehend that I now have an issue.

And a full circle moment when last night's crying daughter unloaded on me, all the stuff she's truly done to help someone, that mean someone being a long time Professional Victim and Master Manipulator, and my daughter is left feeling used and emotionally abused - only for trying to help someone.

Hello?  Sound familiar?  Words I didn't say, she's smart enough to figure it all out.  I pray that she can safely get out of that messy situation, a reassuring text yesterday boosted my morale.

------------------------------------

The sick one, the patient of the other day, apologized within 24 hours, and, as always, I graciously accept apologies, forgive verbally, and we move on.

Not going back to proofread yesterday, feeling I was a whiner, but knowing if I don't show that side of myself then this isn't then a relatable blog.

An extended family member dealing with a sudden, scary ER issue put everything again into perspective for me.

My sweet, darling, deeply loved son, Jesse, turned 32 yesterday, pictured below with his lovely wife, Lena.  They've been married now for almost ten years.

I pondered another kid's issue all day long, talking it over a bit with Daniel and Megan.  Daniel's quite vocal in his opinion, turning this into a learning example for Tabby and Scotty who were with us.

Everyone knows how I feel about Baby Mama Drama, I don't care if I seem too conservative for today's society, if you are a Baby Mama, or if you have a Baby Mama, then you have a one hundred percent chance of your baby being uncomfortable, unstable, and unhappy with his or her parents' situation.  Yes, the divorce rate hovers around 50% for marred folks, but that's just half of the other miserable statistic.

I realize that I personally cost Sarah having a father in the house during her childhood and I own it.  It was my fault 100%.  I was young and oblivious to the research, that would soon come available, as a large wave of women were also doing the same, now there's a generational issue about it all.  Now we know...

I am thankful however that her dad, who at least I was legally married to, and I have kept it civil enough.  Now we're grandparents together for Hazel and Ray, "We're family," as he's stated, coming down here about one a year, plus Sarah just went to his house. I'm thankful he's there for Sarah, but hey, we've known each other for some 43 years now.

So in response to the first issue, my crying child who is mid 20s now, I'd used the analogy about not giving a drunk a drink - Dave Ramsey's words regarding enabling.  "Honey, you're not helping when you allow someone to remain a professional victim, unable or unwilling to take responsibility for supporting them self."

"I know!" she wailed, having watched enough Intervention shows in her life.

Then I had yet another kid, who wants to be all grown in the big city call me, getting kicked off of another sofa, wanting me to fix it, when the problem lies in how she treats people - demanding, selfish, unresolved mental health issues, and just plain violent.

"Here's your only option," I'd suggested, being logical which just pissed her off.  She's not mature enough yet to accept logic, nor to participate in rational behaviors.

Lord Have Mercy it's a wonder I don't lose my ever loving, cotton picking mind.

I went outside and weeded for hours in a damp mist, picking tomatoes and cucumbers, mulling everything over in my mind, coming up with no answers, no easy solutions, but trying to help my bad attitude to evaporate.

At the Doc-in-a-box place on Saturday, my 18 year old blurted, "Dadgum Mom!  Your phone has beeped 50 times for each one text I've gotten.  Who the heck keeps bugging you?"

In reality, no one was bugging me.  Kevin, my favorite brother-in-law, Jesse, Miriam and I were all working on various issues.  Clearly I don't have time to talk on the phone when I can be balancing texts all day long.  Miriam sending me the cutest ever pics of Elias, while Kevin, Jesse and I are making Some Big Plans up ahead.

Isn't he adorable?  I've long told him how handsome he is, how much I love him, how blessed I am to be his Mama.  He was almost 13 when I met him, a quiet, parentified Sweetheart.  He was an inch shorter than me back then, now he's about ten feet tall, seriously a 6'4" Mexican with a beautiful wife and an awesome son.  Exactly what I wanted for him, the life he so deserves.  He's an incredible man, giving me hope that parenting works...if the kid wants it to work, right?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Colorblind Southern Mexican Majority Surrounded By Books




Five years ago I'd blogged about a wonderful book I'd read.  How do I know this?  I just did a search on my own blog trying to figure out how long ago that had been, regarding Janisse Ray's Ecology of a Cracker Childhood.  There's something nearly undefinable about the South, authors have spent their entire careers extolling the uniqueness of a life way down here, and I eat up every book, treasuring each word.

I do not go back and reread my blog, not wanting to re-traumatize myself.

All of my ancestors on both sides of my family are Southern, it's in one's Wisteria-soaked blood I suppose.  Yolie'd shown me a video about Sh#t White People Say To Mexicans which was hilarious as my family is now majority Mexican.  Cristy'd sent me an even funnier video about Being Latina, knowing I'd crack up.

I've exposed them to Southern way, equally as much as they've exposed me to a Mexican culture, thus creating a very Southern Hispanic family.  A Southern Mom speaking Spanish with a Southern accent and Mexican kids immersed in Cornbread Culture, pulling for the SEC with all their hearts, guzzling Sweet Tea, and using Redneck Ingenuity in most endeavors.  We are weirdos all.

Up at the mailbox yesterday I pulled out a package addressed to me, unusual in that I have no discretionary income for ordering items, compared to my sons who now sport jobs and their own personal debit cards, ordering (from my Amazon Prime account) that which they now have the funds with which to pay, after they reimburse me for their vehicle insurance.

"Can I open it?" Scotty'd asked me, and I'd replied in the affirmative, shifting gears in my truck as we headed down the long dirt driveway.  It's not like I'd ordered something embarrassing such as Viagra, indeed I'd ordered nothing at all.

Oh, Pat!  Again with an exclamation mark.  Seriously, Sweetheart, you remind me of my late sister with your super amazing thoughtfulness, a gift I was not born with at all, my sister getting all that genetic material straight from my mother. I'm more like my Dad, plowing through life, dreaming and reading, but rather oblivious to a great deal in general.

Janisse Ray's book Wild Card Quilt and macrame hangers for my birthday from that darling Pat.  I squealed with delight.  I've never come across that book, never read it, and I am so dang excited.  Most of my kids were then in the kitchen with Scotty and I, all staring at me, as I never make any kind of a deal about my birthday, due to the ensuing negative acting out that I've long experienced.  Translation:  Mom's old, she's gonna die and abandon us.

"It's your birthday?" several asked me in their dumbfounded surprise.

"No, not yet," I brushed 'em off.  I've rounded myself up to 60 for several years now, liking the sound of it.  CW had recently looked at me in shock at that massive number, as if it just can't be.  Mom's that old?  I can only hope and surmise they look at my energy and don't feel my days are numbered.  Certainly my immaturity has helped my cause, right?

CW's even more oblivious overall than I am, learning this week that one of my very longtime BFFs is Asian, had completely knocked his socks off.

"What the heck?"  I'd shouted in surprise, "How could you not know that?  She's been my friend for 37 years."  He hugs her when he sees her, he has eyeballs, right?  Dude?  CW's entire life here, born right here, and he's grown up knowing her very well.  Even JoJo and Allen echoed him, "We didn't know either."

She's short, she has jet black hair, and she looks Chinese also, how could they not have known?

"You never told us," they agreed as a group.  Her last name is Fong, couldn't that be a clue?  Do my kids have zero powers of observation?

She'd spent 30 years as a foster care worker and that she's still my friend is amazing, considering that coming over here might've seemed a great deal like going to her stressful job...

I overheard all my kids discussing this, not a one of them ever realizing she was Chinese, as if I've long kept a secret.  Well, I don't introduce people according to their heritage, I've never stated, "This is my Chinese friend," anymore than I'd introduce my kids as, "These are my adopted kids."  Adjectives are unnecessary, these are my kids, this is my friend.

She doesn't read my blog, doesn't even have Internet at her home, but this story's gonna crack her up.  I can hear Sarah and Yolie laughing right now as they read this.

"Y'all know Emily's white, right?"  I'd snarked, figuring that pointing out the obvious is even more needed that I'd once originally thought.  Emily's kids are Hispanic, her grandkids Hispanic/AA, probably buffaloing my kids' ability to discern race?

All that said, I'm sure gonna refer to Pat as, "my extraordinarily thoughtful friend," as she's amazing like that.  An adoption worker in the Midwest, she's brought me readers, now also friends (Darin) along the way, folks nodding their heads in agreement at my words, having experienced similar bouts of either dysregulated rages, or fun successes, in their families with their own kids via the adoption of older children.

My Martin, 20, went out of here yesterday morning for a job interview at Mickey D's where Miriam had once worked years ago. Martin was wearing a tie and looking super handsome, feeling confident after having absorbed my advice for some 15 years, came home still feeling optimistic, and receiving a phone call within hours offering him a job.

Even more importantly (to me) he'd driven himself to a mixer of sorts with the College and Career Group of our church, a cancelled bonfire that turned into a social at Pastor Brandon's house, due to the rain I'd sure been praying for this week.

Martin's thinking about taking a class or two via higher education.  Certainly my dream for him, but it must spring from within him to be a go.

Daniel and Megan are here for a wedding of one of his longtime friends, he's again a groomsman, further proving to me how he'd picked very awesome friends at a young age, and has maintained those connections for so long, most of his original friends now all living mainly in the Atlanta area, all now married and buying homes, having jobs and making their families proud, Daniel's nearly 29 now.

And me here at 59 and holding, Pat also sending a Whoopie Cushion that my sons had argued about, each of them wanting a shot at it.  "Heck no," I'd replied, thinking of all the ways I was eventually gonna chump each one with it.

"Just don't bring it to church," one of them advised, super suspicious of my own immaturity.  Yeah boys, don't think I won't.

And books?  They've long defined, illustrated, motivated and decorated, plus heavily influenced, my life.  Sarah spent last night on Assateague Island, Ray's reading Misty of Chincoteague, a book that caused every woman of my generation to be a horse lover.  Today they head back down South, home to God's Country.

Oddly enough the day they snapped the photo at the Delaware state line I also had a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law and a grandson, plus Sarah, Ray and Hazel, in that tiny state at one time for about a one hour overlapping time period.

It's raining today so I should clean the house, but, hey, Janisse Ray is calling my name this morning, thanks to Pat.  Thank you sweet friend and blessings to you, I know how tough it is, the similar row you are hoeing so to speak.  I'm counting the days until I can join you walking and talking on that beach.


Friday, July 18, 2014

Popcorn Ceiling Fail


This may seem to be a weird photo but I was sitting on the sofa with Dubby (CW) who was playing charades with these guys who get very loudly involved in these games, as if their manhood depended upon it.  Over their heads you can see the ugly popcorn ceiling falling off, this winter I'm gonna need to scrape it all off, it's hideous and outdated anyway.

Notice the size of Allen's snack cereal bowl. Left to right, Scotty, 16, Allen, 18, JoJo, 17, Martin 20, and Nando, 12.

A generalized anxiety disorder involves excessive, unrealistic worry and tension, even if there is little or nothing to provoke the anxiety.

After years of trauma, heavy anxiety is coursing through me at times, I feel unable to discern my own level of anxiousness at times.  Am I sweating our finances or am I fearful over all that could go wrong for my sons who are basically emotionally immature?  I love them so much that when they hurt, I hurt.

A call this morning from an unrecognized number set my heart to pounding, and I'm from that era before there were even answering machines, much less caller ID, but when I get a 6:50 a.m. phone call, my nerves go into overdrive.

It was merely one of my sons at work who'd forgotten their cell phone.

Leaving elementary school for middle school my Tabby isn't the least bit anxious.  A friend of mine, sweet, pretty Kimberly, one of her upcoming potential teachers dropped by yesterday and Tabby hugged her, very excited about the upcoming school year, properly demonstrating anticipation rather than any anxiety, which is great.  Both Tabby and Nando are super ready for the school year, both are great students also.

My almost 19 year old, who has always demonstrated nerve-wracking high anxiety, and with good reason considering his trauma background, has been amping it up around me into over drive.  Now that he's bought his own car, he's not following me around nagging me about a ride here or there, instead he's using his car for an Amp It Up Torpedo.

Yesterday claiming he needed new headlight bulbs desperately, wanting to ride with us on errands, so Dubs and I took him to AutoZone, and CW later patiently changed it all out for this one, telling me, "Mom nothing was wrong with his old bulbs."

So not surprising, all of his behaviors are geared to get my attention in order, to continue proving to him that I'm still there...and I am.  I've told him a billion times that he can always live here if he wants to do so.

He'd texted me last night from his friend's house, wanting to borrow a utility trailer that I'm wanting to sell, as we don't have proper tail light hookups anymore, knowing already that I wouldn't allow that, so then predictably asking me to help a friend move a bed with my stick shift truck that he isn't comfortable driving.  So I did, continuously having to prove myself to this one, 14 years into his placement.

His baby brother is struggling way too hard in school, virtually and physically unable to concentrate on boring desk work. What I once viewed as trophies in my own nerd mind in the form of finished assignments, he conversely sees it all as paralyzing discrepancies to his own ego.  I get it.  I totally understand his diagnosed issues, and I've been suggesting Plan B for years.

Now he wants this Plan B, this choice had to stem from him, not being forced upon him by me, but both Joe and Jesse, now 31, and 32, successfully and very happily, had also chosen this option years ago, and it proved to be a mighty fine one.

I printed out the 14 page application yesterday, filled nearly everything out, got supporting documents, I now have it complete, except for a mentor that can't be a family member, instead it needs to be someone willing to go to Ft Gordon for the 4 hour course and then basically touch base with my son a couple of times.   I so wish I could use Big Joe, he'd be perfect, they're not even the same sib group and I'm gonna call that military man back and plead my case.

My son with zero fine motor skills also needs to write a 150 word essay in his own scribble scrabble handwriting about why he thinks this'd be good for him.

We might as well tell him to put on a pretty pink dress, which he'd sooner do than write a dumb essay.

"How about if I dictate it to you?" I suggested.

"NO! You use BIG words that I can't even spell," he howled, "Dumb it down for me."

This oughta go well.

Then I had to run all this by his emotional twin, he of the Generalized Anxiety Disorder, knowing that a physical separation could send them both over the edge, even though they're now 17 1/2 and nearly 19.  The other ET agreed this was a good thing for his pseudo twin.

I've only recently pried them apart enough to sleep in different rooms, right across the hall from each other, they are deeply emotionally enmeshed, bonded solidly via their mutual trauma survival.  Yet they'll also punch each other out in a heartbeat, I've jumped between the two of them for years and years now, hollering frantically for back-up.

Oh my, boys, man up.

Lily just hollered at me from the front porch, investigating a ruckus amongst the dogs, and the fattest black snake was in my day lilies, not bothering anyone.  "Just walk away," I told Lily, "Make the little dogs come inside."  Black sakes are harmless and beneficial, but this one had a very large bulge in its midsection, I can only hope it was a rabbit that's been eating my garden vegetation.

I did a quick head count of my little dogs:  Pudding, Tia, Junebug and Cholo (Riley).

We have a very large raccoon that's taken to visiting my garage every night, prying the lid of the galvanized trash can that holds the dog food, lounging on an old sofa I need to haul to the dump.  "That's thing's as big as Shadow!" JoJo hooted last night to me, taking a sack of garbage out to my truck...that the mischievous raccoon strowed everywhere overnight in my truck bed.

Martin has a job interview this morning, his WIA job opportunity now over, his 1995 Jeep now needing a steady income.  He'd bought a stereo for it from an online warehouse, knowing CW knew how to hook it all up properly, saving Martin the labor costs.  I was trying to explain to my sons how Daniel, back as a young teen, somehow had figured out the light harness for that utility trailer to my former truck, either you're born with that ability or not, and I remain very impressed with those who've been given that mechanical ability.

Asked about co-signing yesterday by Dubs in reference to a friend of his, I spouted off a Dave Ramsey answer, "We don't use credit.  If someone needs a co-signer that's because the bank knows they can't pay, and the bank is looking for a sucker who will pay off someone's loan, yada, yada, yada."

But I realized I'd not yet covered this issue in everything I'm trying to teach them about personal finances, so much to learn, so little time.  "Dubs, you've gotta constantly investigate these 'too good to be true' issues.  You gotta keep reading and learning."  I went on and on, blah, blah, blah.

But I know they're listening, looking at the majority of my grown kids who are all driving paid for vehicles that are quite reliable overall.  You're not what you drive, you're who you are regardless of the vehicle.  Duh.

I'd recently taught Chuy to drive my stick shift truck, such a smart guy anyway that he picked it up immediately, surprising even me, and I'm well aware of his intelligence.  Hey, I'm smart too, but I didn't learn as quickly as he did.  Seriously within the first mile he had it down pat.  Dang, son.

Everyone should be able to drive stick, I think it does wonders for a male ego certainly to posses that knowledge that, to me, ranks right up there with the ability to swim and to grow one's own groceries.

"Mom?"  My blogging interrupted again just now, "Show me how to balance this bank statement."

See ya later readers, boys take longer to teach than girls.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Feral New Ones


Tabby, Nando, CJ and Mae had the entire pool to themselves as Yolie and I yapped on the sidelines, us remarking over and over this summer that we just don't know how we'd ever survived previous summers when some of my severely disturbed kids ran rough shod over our family.

Indeed one who'd viciously attacked many of us, who won't listen to anyone about anything, who'll fist fight even the police over nothing, feeling irrationally justified in response even to an imagined slight, got into a mess yet again in another state, a police officer calling me to explain what had happened.

I immediately paid over the phone for a bus ticket out of there, this kid not facing criminal charges thankfully, Yolie searching her phone for the bus schedule and pricing as I listened to the officer.  Mission accomplished within minutes, the potential jailbird telling the police, "I don't want my brothers to know about this," like I'm not gonna tell?

You gotta be kidding me?  I'm gonna guard secrets that could be harmful?  Stop making bad choices as if it's that simple.

One brother calling me about an unrelated issue, me texting another one of them.

The bus ticket was not in my budget of course, luckily Yolie'd found an astonishingly inexpensive one, but we're having a tough couple of months due to unexpected stuff.

Any why would this kid hang with people who dump them penniless in another state?  The million dollar question.  Why don't these kids find jobs instead of home boys?  Brain miswiring issues will plague them all of their lives and there's just about nothing sadder on earth.

Sarah and her kids are having a blast up in Washington, DC with her sister, Jenny, and her family.  It's unsettling for many of the kids in my family to consider Sarah's other side of the family - too many layers of distress that goes unacknowledged or even understood.  Sarah's kin to white people?

Yolie and I were discussing her own extended birth family, the effect it has had on her, even with a Master's Degree in Social Work, the profoundly primal pain of being an adopted child never totally goes away.  It's not the adoption that's the issue, rather it's the why a kid was up for adoption that leaves a burning hole in one's soul.

Hearing other stories, both Yolie and I still find ourselves surprised looking at others - one wouldn't necessarily know the trauma behind their eyes, but in hearing their stories, it's just mind boggling, especially when one considers that often CPS was never involved, although they should've been, and these now adults are left with searingly damaging stories.  We meet these various adults at school, church, on the soccer fields, and in many places - their stories always stun me.

"At least I got out," Yolie expressed yesterday.  True that.  Not only did she get out, she married well and has lovely children, yet there's always that tiny nagging injury in her psyche.  It's nothing as deep as it once was, but she's in her 30s now and has benefited from time passing, higher education, a solid marriage, therapy and life experiences.  Having a LCSW BFF has been priceless too.  Thank you, Audrey.

Not only due to her job as a social worker, but also due to the openness and the warmth she projects, but folks spill their stories to her quite often, maybe just knowing she'll understand.

Bottom line from both of us?  Even though we don't necessarily know the same people, we both agree that everyone on earth could, would, or should benefit from therapy.  Neither of us ashamed to admit how much we've personally benefited from a neutral, super educated third party who has helped us find our way through blazingly tough circumstances.

Yolie's boss in the adoption world is my original caseworker - I wouldn't still be standing without her input, same with Yolie.  Another LCSW foundational support for us both, plus this woman too has adopted from the foster care system, thus baptized by fire.

The older I grow, the more I read, hear and learn, the more struck I am by the fact that I led a truly sheltered childhood with two staunch middle class, nurturing parents.  Us four bookwormish children didn't have a clue about how blessed we were to have our parents, who we thought were just too square for words.

Nowadays I sometimes see very angry adults who've often not even begun to start resolving their childhood issues, and I'm left feeling profoundly grateful that I was so totally protected emotionally, physically and spiritually in my childhood that I grew up to be initially fearless, overly motivated, driven and determined.  The trauma I later experienced beat me down certainly, but without my solidly conservative childhood, I wouldn't have had the strength to endure, much less to come out on the other side without being a bedwetter.

Maybe it's the very young moms that I wish to stress to about how important their time with their kids is, in that early childhood absolutely flies by in a blink.  I'm not happy with one daughter of mine who feels overly burdened by motherhood, not considering the distress her own birth mom dumped on her by abandonment.  We've got to break this generational dysfunction, we've got to break the Baby Mama Drama BS, we need to treasure our children, nurture them, even to dote on them while treading the fine line that might push them into entitlement attitudes or ourselves being helicopter parents.

I had to fight with myself the other day at CW's college orientation.  I'd planned to help him register online, but the college had other plans, separating them from their parents for this registration.  Initially I was afraid he'd take all P.E. classes or something, but my conscience nudged me to butt out, not text him any suggestions, but rather let him figure it out.  And he did so.

This is why I continue to see, to learn, to discern answers.  Parenting might be the toughest job in the universe, the only job in which one can enter so woefully unprepared, it's forced upon some via surprise pregnancies, and it's never ever easy.

And yesterday Yolie compared Sarah's puppy, who spent the afternoon with us, to a feral foster child who was irritating the adopted kids that already knew the ropes.   I cracked up at her irreverence, but it did appear so, in that new kids coming into our family over the years all came in angry, wild, unfettered by rules, alarming the previously adopted ones who'd already figured out how to act here.  This puppy was endearingly rambunctious, and my own bad dogs were staring at him as if he'd just landed from another planet.

And then the new baffled parents call the adoption caseworkers, "Come get these kids, they've torn up my sofa.  I'm not gonna have those behaviors in my house, plus they told me to 'F*^k ff."

Disruption occurs, angrier kids result, and why wouldn't they be so?

New adoptive moms and dads, the kids are gonna be totally pissed off, deal with it.

But to end on a happier note, Sabrina's been pouring her heart out in letters to us, expressing how deeply she misses everyone and has now learned to appreciate her family.  Finally.




Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Weighing On Me


A selfie; Tabby and Lauren, my niece who has never known me to not have a large Hispanic family that had begun before her birth 25 years ago.

I've been facebooking with the brother of my childhood friend who died Sunday, and some other guys there who've lost siblings.  It's a loss that's hard to wrap one's mind around, as siblings were our first best friends.  Losing them kinda takes a piece of one's heart away also.  Losing a younger sibling is crushing, leaving the older sibling to feel as if they'd not protected the vulnerable one, but how does one stop cancer?

Lauren reminds me so much of Ellen, yet her Dad's side of the family is so much imprinted on her also, maybe more so than Ellen.

We'd lost Ellen's first husband, Alan, to cancer in 1983, he'd grown up with us, and it was a blow that stuns Gary, Jim and I to this day.  Facebook has reconnected me to his family and that's meant a lot to me.  Alan and his older siblings had lost both parents six months apart when Alan was only 12, thus his strong attachment to my parents.

See?  I'm doing it again, grappling with the concept of death, grief and loss.  A friend at church has a 95 year old mom who has stated she's ready to go now.  I've known her since she was in her early 60s, close to my ow age now.  She's the great grandmother of my Marcela's childhood friend's daughter who married my longtime mentor's son.

Follow that?  Of course not, these are the convoluted Southern relationships that develop over decades and leave non-Southerners sure we're marrying our own cousins and becoming our own grandmas as a long ago country song once played on an A.M. radio station that could only be heard through a transistor radio.  Try and explain that concept to a millennium.

But back to Ellen and Alan, both times I'd stuffed my grief down for various reasons, unable to deal with it, maybe too young to grapple, certainly too busy to just take to my bed and cry, so it still comes out at times, surprising me with the intensity of loss.

Sleeping hard until 7:30 is a shock for me, usually I awaken at first light, but I know I'm emotionally whacked out from this last decade.  I can quickly recover from physical exhaustion, a couple of good nights of sleep, but this emotional exhaustion has left me feeling gape mouthed, overly tense, and worn to a frizzled frazzle.

I'm still dealing with a medicated one, some heavy duty emotional issues, inner confusion, and poor choices, which is, of course, terribly stressful.  Clearly I never want to adopt again as I honestly feel just too whacked out to deal with anyone else's emotions, issues and challenges.

I don't even care about my own emotions, I just wanna wander around out here, picking tomatoes to put up for the winter, thinking about nothing at all, but, unfortunately, my mind races.

I need nice.

I need for people to not take out EVERYTHING on me.

It's not my fault when computers are down at the place they are calling, the price of gas is out of my control, your girlfriend's PMS is not my issue, and, certainly, if you can't say something nice to me, then just walk away.

If I'm in a bad mood, I don't go find my own mom and yell at her.  I weed, I walk, I haul wood chips, or just find some physical method of dissipating negativity.

"Girl!" the wood chip man shouted over the truck engine, "I think I can bring you several more loads this week," no doubt taken aback by a raggedy ole fart jumping up and down, clapping her hands in excitement, but heckfire, nothing makes me happier.  These would be several hundred dollar loads apiece if I had to pay for them.

So I do not seek out human company as a rule. I've been trained by unfortunate circumstances that I'm seemingly the whipping post.  I'm automatically, and irrationally, afraid that everyone's gonna treat me the same, thus I slither through life, sitting in the back, avoiding human contact as much as is possible, or I only gravitate towards those I know I can trust, such as Kevin's family the other week in the mountains, or longtime friends.

I know this is my issue, I know that most of the world is normal, friendly and untraumatized, this is one of the reasons I seek therapy, to resolve my fear and distaste regarding human interaction.  Like a dog who has been kicked more often than not, I flinch inwardly, expecting criticism, ridicule, or just a general hassle.

Overall, it's so much easier for me to just stay home, lock the dern gate, to avoid potential stress (which ironically all sprang from here at home), and to be a shut-in.  To my credit, I like to be alone, I crave solitude, I was born rather solitary minded from the start, most readers are so.

Remember when one sneaks up on a gardener, they're likely to find the dirt digger smiling - gardening too is geared for the solitary minded individual.

If it's pathetic to say, "I love my dogs," and to end up alone when I'm 90 with the dogs, a canine version of a cat lady, then I'm OK with that descriptor, if anything, it seems super appealing to me overall.

My dogs are nice to me.

I'm not depressed, I don't wanna leave that impression inadvertently.  I'm happy overall, happier still when left to my own company.

But it's not to be today as Nando has knee rehab, and I have a couple of errands that I've put off for days.

Grandma's social calendar is super full, she's not even a gadabout, she likes to be alone too, but she's gracious and a card shark at the same time, enjoying her Bridge games, social events and obligations that would have me cowering in a corner so to speak.

My calendar, the events that force me out into the world are basically therapy appointments or doctor obligations, nothing else.  I wouldn't mind taking Nando to the Dollar Theater to see Million Dollar Arm, but the thought of it seems crushing to me, too many people, and Nando also doesn't care much about going to town.  He chooses to play basketball out front or soccer, swimming or baseball games in  our meadow, and, like me, most of my kids are also happy at home.  Where else can one find so many like-minded, understanding of the trauma, instant BFFS and this much food available at all times?

Also ironically two of my longest running BFFs, Emily and Janet, are, or were for 30 years, social workers in the child welfare arena.  Yolie's BFF, Audrey, now a supervisor of foster and adoption workers.  We're picky about who we trust.

Hey, maybe we're the normal ones?

Not needing validation or artificial entertainment?  I have BFFs here too, Sarah and Yolie available much of time if I, or they, need to talk or to process stuff, four grandchildren basically here on the same acreage, we're blessed with an abundance of really good food available, and always someone to hang out with at any minute of the day or night.  Hey, wait, my mom's my very trusted confidante also.

If Chuck strikes up a bonfire, like cockroaches we all come scurrying out of the woods toward the light, right?  We all feel emotionally safe with each other, and now after so many, many years, the trust amongst us is deep and intense.  Daniel and Megan'll be here this weekend, my other kids drop by sporadically as I'm not one to go visit them, my presence needed here at home.

My second oldest child, Deysi, turned 38 this week.  To me she looks exactly the same as when I met her lovely self in the late 1980s, married to a nice man with two gorgeous kids.  I'm gonna soon get to see my sweet Jesse and his wonderful family, he'll be 32 in just a few days.  Jesse's the best, a wonderful and handsome grown man, a responsible husband and father, and I adore his wife too.

So I'm blessed.  I'm not a pathetic dog lady telling Junebug through my tears how my day went.  I'm a happy, goofy camper for the most part.

I set a goal weight to hit before I officially turned 60, and I hit it, much to my surprise.  I'm not a stress eater, I shut down during stress, but now that most of it has lifted, I've been a complete pig at the trough, but I've been a vegan pig, and it's paid off for me.

I'll close with a cool article of a couple who did the same, shedding a ton of weight.  The gorgeous lady now weighs a whopping 167, yet looks a million times better than my 129, further illustrating that muscles weigh more than fat, and that my loose skin, wrinkles, and bonyness at age 60, well that just comes with aging.  I'm just glad to have survived.

It sure hasn't been easy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Good-bye Cleomes


Love it when the wood chip men surprise me, showing up this morning with yet another dump truck load for me to spread.  I've been going outside to work first thing in the morning, it's cool, quiet and fragrant, but the air starts boiling soon though to our usual humid thousand degrees even before the sun gets half as high as the treetops.

I've been ruthlessly pulling up Rudbeckia, Cleome and Four O'Clocks since they self-seed everywhere, crowding out the food plants

But by not blogging first thing, my day gets away from me.  My coffee buzz has worn off.

I got the boys over to the courthouse so they could get their Jeeps registered properly and buy the tags.  An eye opening experience for them both.  I've spent all their lives explaining about grown up responsibilities, but they must not think any of it applies to them.

This was the first morning all summer that I didn't need to take someone to work first thing. If Sarah's bad dogs, Dumb and Dumber, hadn't come here to stir up all of my dogs I'd likely not have gotten the front gate unlocked and might've missed the wood chip delivery.  I drove Sarah's dogs home only to have to do it again later.

Sarah and the kids went to her Dad''s house in Virgina, now at her sister's house in DC, and these dogs miss 'em big time.  I miss them also.

A non-Medicaid therapy appointment today, my kid coming away telling me how much they feel this is helping them, not a usual occurrence in my experience.  Too often I take home a kid who just doesn't know what to do with their feelings, dysregulated, uncomfortable, and often angry.  I like this turn of events.