Saturday, May 23, 2015

Tony Did It







An extraordinarily stressful phone call left me crying at the Sheriff's Department most of the afternoon, I don't even wanna talk about it, but I cried at graduation, and cried myself into a restless, sleepless night.

I stinking hate trauma, mental illnesses and emotional disabilities - all of it has cost my children so very much throughout their lives, but Yolie said it best at Tony's graduation last night, "You worked harder than the valedictorian and you deserve this victory the most!"

True that.  It makes me cry now too, knowing what all he's struggled against, and persevered through, for 19 years.  His birth mother was an inhalant abuser and was drunk when she delivered him.  He paid the price.  How unfair is that?  He has diagnoses out the wazoo, yet has been accepted at the University of North Georgia.

The cut on his forehead came from diving around the river recently.

We live in a wonderful county, now considered upscale, my kids go to school with rich people, with other peers who've been coddled and protected, as all kids should be, but who are given brand new cars at age 16, who have yard workers and weekly maid service, who don't get free lunch at school - complete opposites of our own hardscrabble existence, and to my kids' credit, they aren't complainers about the income gap, if anything they enjoy our acreage and the very active, rambunctious home life - but I so see the differences.  My kids tell me that they constantly hear from their peers, "I wish I had more brothers and sisters, y'all must have fun ALL the time."

Well...

And, as always seems to be the case, something else was going on with another kid that was breaking my heart on two separate levels with that one alone, no make it ten levels.

I never got back to returning a call from a daughter in Atlanta with a dog bite concern, her dog biting someone, "What do I do, Mom?" She left a message, "I do have proof of the shots."

Thank goodness.  I'll call her back this morning.

I'll be transparent and tell you I literally (and unreasonably) seethed in an unsettled jealous rage at the over achievers at the high school graduation.  That's exactly how I grew up - not privileged, but a grade grubbing, highly emotionally supported by my parents, and a wonderful middle class existence.  I was just completely unglued yesterday, the entire family so upset over the other issue that Tony nearly didn't even make it to his own graduation.

I had to push him out the door, Martin drove him, while I tended to the fallout at home of the other situation, trying to get it together, showerless, for graduation, my nose big and red from crying, my eyes screaming from within, my head pounding way too much inner pain.

The ups and downs of my life are so severely rocky.

Fabian put a warm and cuddly Jaylene in my arms which brought down my blood pressure, hugs from Aliya his other (kind of step) daughter, and, of course, I felt better.  Fabian's doing so much better than back when I blogged about his tumultuous youth.  He's working with CW, third shift and taking care of his family.  Grandma and I gushed over him so much he was nearly blushing.

Miriam, Elias, Fabian, Sandra, Aliya, Jaylene, JoJo, Allen, Tasha, Martin, Teresa, Sabrina, Sarah, Ray, Hazel, Chuck, Yolie, CJ, Mae, Grandma, Jack, Nando, Tabby and Scotty all accompanied me to Tony's graduation, and he was beaming at the turnout.  Bless his heart, he's spent so many years doing his confused best to alienate the world, that to have this much support after all must've meant the world to him.  25 of us there just for him.

I'm so freaking broke, we don't ever do graduation parties, or much in the way of gifts, but honestly family presence, family pride, love and support is what I've always wanted to encourage over material things anyway.

It has carried over into their adult lives.  Overall most of my grown kids still buy used stuff or on sales - by virtue of necessity of course, but I pray I've taught them all to be thrifty and money wise.

I'm just physically sick over the other situation, which may or may not be resolved in a proper manner.  I just don't know, but I became even more wrinkled overnight, a crushing weight on me, I swear I feel the stress slowing taking me out at the knees.

If I didn't love my kids this wouldn't matter to me, but I love them more than they care about their own selves, and I take it harder than they do it seems.  I know what it can cost them in the long run, while their neurological brain misfirings and their lack of impulse control, or their diagnoses plus emotional disabilities either makes them a suspect, a victim, or a person of interest at times.  It's so emotionally distressing.

I grieve bitterly and deeply.  It is all so unfair to them.  Why? Why? Why?

Friday, May 22, 2015

Grandbaby's Award Day


Curtis and Marcela's daughter, Marissa, won four Pre-K awards that she's displaying, but that I cropped out, not wanting her name and her school's name sprawled all over the Internet.  I'm proud of her.

For many years I'd wander around my house watering my hundreds of houseplants, strategizing, thinking, stewing sometimes, and planning.  It was a form of therapy for me, and I've since learned that our brain is better activated when we are simultaneously involved in a mindless physical activity.

Now, years later, I'm not wanting to spend hours watering inside houseplants when I could be outside working in my gardens.  Nowadays there are not constant explosions and violent, destructive outbursts within my house, and I'm greatly freed up to step out back and work.  I have so many outside gardens, so much work I've not gotten done, that it'll take me the rest of my life to even begin to catch up.

Looking back?  Which I try not to do, as it makes me simmer with resentment, I don't know how I did it at all.  I do know though that even those who've only adopted one older traumatized child can, or often do, experience the same level of Hell due to the issues - a mild term that doesn't begin to depict the acting out that's sure to follow.

In the spirit of moving on with my life, shedding the old afraid Me, the traumatized one who feared being stabbed in her sleeplessness some night, well I've tossed dozens of these plants, the smaller ones that needed watering too often, into the compost pile.  I never paid more'n a buck for each plant pot/container - thank you yard sales.

I've removed hundreds of books and book shelves as well over the last few years.  It took me a long time to comprehend that these books were indeed little more than projectiles for angry kids, that the bookshelves were constantly being overturned just to frustrate me, while equally expressive of their self-righteous fury.  I get it y'all, I truly do understand your inner pain.

My house is very quiet now even with 13 residents still ensconced here, most are employed, most own cars that they've paid for, and in this upcoming school year I will only have four school aged kids who will be in 7th, 8th, 10th and 11th grades.

The last time this school system saw me with just four school aged children was in the 1980s when it was Sarah, plus Deysi, Saray and Marcela.

When I see Yucca plants blooming, it's time for me to head to the beach, just as the oak leaves unfurling indicate specific planting times.  Yesterday I noticed a blooming yucca plant...

I do have beach plans this summer, thank to my brothers and Grandma, and I'm taking so few children compared to years past that I briefly entertained the notion of inviting a grandchild or two.  No.  I desperately need some time with less responsibilities.  I need to walk and walk and walk to clear my mind, I need to sit mindlessly by the water's edge and stare for hours, and I want to read.  We're going to such a private place, reachable only by 4 wheel drive, that maybe I'll even sleep one night in the dunes.  Just because.

I told Sarah yesterday that I'd blog if and when I felt like it, I doubt I'll give it up, more likely it'll just be whenever.  Due to her own trauma, she routinely checks for it each morning, after years of learning of police visits and violence via my blog, she's uneasy if I don't post, but we both know that me texting, "I'm OK," each morning would be a silly time waster.

I'm OK nowadays and I'm so glad about it.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Gone Camping


Today's the last day of school, three out of five kids were bus left.

JoJo's at work - words I never thought I'd be typing, he and Peter Pan both gainfully employed at the same place.  Chuy bought a car, Paloma texted and called several dozen times yesterday as we tried to determine the source of her ailment, even an X-ray provided no answer, but she's better today.

CW and Dennys practiced putting up the tent to go camping this weekend, both having completed their first year of college.  CW was told not to go to work this week after two different trips to Urgent Care for a seriously gross ingrown toenail issue, now on antibiotics.  A week ago he'd turned down a beach trip due to the painfulness of it all.  "Hey, I can sit around a campsite," he informed me.

He'd told me that three pretty blonde nurses had been working on his toe, I'll spare y'all the gross details, but my response had more to do with why it took three pretty nurses?  "You're a pretty girl magnet," I'd finished up with, him just shaking his head at my Momness.

I'm spinning my wheels trying to get everything done that just seems to be piling up no matter what I do accomplish.  Lily lost her phone last night, so I suspended service, Martin accidentally on purpose broke Tony's phone, and I'm pushing these older kids to get these lines in their own names.

I wanna breathe.

I'm reading, and thoroughly enjoying, a free ebook, Walden on Wheels, downloaded from Book Bub. It is really good but I've hardly gotten a page a day read.  I find myself shaking my head vigorously in agreement, the author is funny and spot on.  I'm tired of reading about trauma issues anyway.

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33 years of David Letterman ended last night, I don't think I've ever seen it, 33 years ago I was past my Master's Degree and working on my EdS in Instructional Technology that allowed me to 'retire higher' but all I then learned is completely obsolete now as I finished the degree in 1985.

Truthfully the last 25 years have been a blur.

I only see life through my own eyes with my own perspective, duh, and reading this article about therapy misconceptions struck me.  Dr. Mandy, our family's therapist, has been so necessary to the relative success of our family, calming explaining that which we'd been mired in so often.  Yesterday I spoke with another professional in her office while Dr. Mandy conferred with one of my kids, the other professional explaining to me, in succinct language, why one of my kids had recently spectacularly succeeded against so many odds.

What I would've bet on 15 years ago regarding three kids of the same age as toddlers, didn't turn out as expected at all by early adulthood.

The fawn from the other day ended up following us around, this was 8 hours after we'd first seen it, my dogs barking in a friendly, even encouraging fashion, so I called an after hours vet who referred me to the UGA Vet Clinic who said they'd tend to the fawn.  I loaded the van with excited grandkids plus Tabby, drove the curious happy fawn across town only to be told it'd do better if we put it back at our house and walked off.

Well, we ran off, leaving the befuddled fawn looking around confused as night fell, gone the next morning, hopefully to its mother as the vet had predicted.


Monday, May 18, 2015

Championship Game Win



My favorite brother-in-law and my lovely niece are here, the latter recovering from surgery - what better place than a cray cray, loud and boisterous place to do so?

Kevin and I spent two days in Atlanta, well south of Atlanta, to watch four soccer games in which Nando's team pulled out a championship win. I was so very proud, the last two games were intense, Nando scored 5 goals, and he has some incredible teammates, they are all very fun to watch.  This travel team has been a wonderful experience for him, I'm so glad I relented and allowed him to join one.  But now with less kids it is physically possible to do so.

JoJo and Tony were recognized at church for graduation, as is the custom there, Jojo a predictable no show, and then I had to duck out before the sermon to get back to the tournament.

Sarah's dealing with the sudden, tragic loss of a friend, I haven't stepped foot in my gardens for days, and Lily just literally had a fawn in her arms while I called Animal Control to have them back me up in convincing Lily to put it down and stop interfering with nature, this after she'd been bitten at school by a white mouse she'd caught in her bare hands after the Senior Prank went awry.

The school nurse, per protocol, had to call me and inform me, I advised her she best check up on the mouse, Lily will be just fine.  Seriously I can't make this stuff up.

I'm glad Claudia's blogging again, her What If They Don't post will speak to you all.

I get emails, phone calls, or folks stop me to chat - these issues we see and endure are all such common elements in the adoption of older children.  One foster father having to call the police and have a very violent kid removed that evening after threats and cuttings - yet we adoptive parents don't have that luxurious option.  We must find ways to 'deal with it,' that often don't help our safety chances at all.

Another mom bemoaning her kid suddenly moving out/running away - it's often hard to tell.  Nothing precipitates these events, the kids just pull up stakes and leave, so self-righteously furious at the world that no reasoning can penetrate their thought processes.  It never ends well either, there's no happily ever after scenario, it then becomes couch surfing, street living, shacking up, or a pregnancy, chronic unemployment, and then baby mama drama.  There's also domestic violence or self-medication or a host of other ills.

We parents already knows this, and stand there with broken hearts and our shattered dreams and hopes for their future.

Another mom reminding me of one of the reasons I blog - that I'm also telling your stories as well, we live parallel lives, yet I just sent a prospective foster/adoptive mom to go read my blog as a kind of cautionary tale.

However I don't think there's any way to possibly prepare folks for what will most likely happen.  I'm changing the subject right now because it brings up all of my trauma issues.

I got to see Daniel and Megan for about two minutes this weekend, Miriam and Elias for 30 after she came upstairs waking me up one evening, I just try daily to focus on the good stuff and to let go of the resentment and hurt feelings.  I forced the issue with the one who'd gotten drunk and cussed me out.  "I forgive you," I said, out of the blue, hating conflict, and not wanting it to spark an argument

I got an, "Ok," as he walked off.

It's gonna suck for whoever winds up marrying a guy who can't admit he was out of line.  Whatever.  If I forced it then all Hell would break loose.  BDTD, all I can do is to try and demonstrate calm and rational behavior to kids who'd never ever seen it before moving here.  Don't know how much of an impression I've made on some of them certainly.

The potential foster mom I was speaking to recently only had Nando as an example of a former foster kid, she'd not even know about all the other siblings except Tabby.  They are great examples, most of my kids are good examples, but some of them have seriously endangered us over the years.  Today's understatement will end this blog post.




Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Yelling Weeds

The  know-it-all older boys upstairs in the five bedrooms over the triple car garage area, one car bay walled in for storage, think they know everything, and anytime I attempt to explain how the real world works, they emotionally shut me out.

Living rent free at ages 18, 19, 19, 19, 19 and 21, I'd even been helping them out with cell phones and car insurance, although they'd each paid for their own cars.  All but one has a job, the one who super needs one isn't doing much about it.

He prefers sleep over filling out job applications and is facing an onerous court date.  I'd shut his phone off six months ago, one can use the computer for online applications and my phone number. I've also shut off his insurance now, plus taken away his keys for his own good - yep, on a car he paid for by himself.  But I simply can't afford to pay his bills nor would it help him grown up.

I pitched a complete hissy fit until another son brought me $60 for his share in car insurance this month, and I taped five notes on the walls upstairs detailing the changes that will now be made.  If you have money for going out, you can pay your minor phone and insurance bills.  If you're in college however I'm sure gonna help, yet I discovered after an hour and a half long phone call to Verizon yesterday, that it was my college son that'd been hogging all the data.  He has enough sense to have been sheepishly remorseful about it.

Because I don't like being on bad terms with people, because God knocks me in the head about it constantly, I extended two other olive branches - even to the one who got drunk and cussed me out five months ago and still hasn't spoken to me in my own house while he eats food I've paid for, uses electricity - you get the picture.

"I forgive you anyway, because I'm a forgiving woman," I began a conversation, to which he shut me down with an, "OK," and walked off.  Wow, that was cold.  He'll never apologize, too mean-spirited and stubborn.  I'm not gonna push it because he'd explode and we'd again be in a fight.  OK, I spent more'n a dozen years trying to teach all of this to him, it's on him now.  Lemme know how it works out for you.

One of the notes upstairs on the wall states his phone line will be shut off on the 20th of this month as Tabby needs a line.  She and another girl yesterday at the middle school were the only two who didn't have the technology with which to finish an assignment while sitting at their desk.  I don't mind that she had to do the work at home, nor did she, but there's some self-consciousness about being immediately excluded due to money issues.

A two year contract ends June 14th for another one who's almost 20, "It's fixing to be on you then," I informed him.  "I'm not doing you any favors by mommying you.  Time to start budgeting and paying car insurance and your cell phone while you aren't worrying about rent, kids, groceries or utilities."  I'd paid for his original phone but I'll let him sell it and keep the money so he can buy another one.

Picture me on the phone for an hour and a half?  Fidgeting, but patient, knowing I had to get it all done.  The very sweet Verizon lady sending me lengthy emails telling me what I could get done on my own online, but of course life got in the way immediately.  Nando needing a ride from Spring Football Practice to Soccer Practice, while Tabby and I ran to Isaiah's last soccer game, then to the grocery store, as both kids needed hot dog buns for a school cook-out, not an item ever found in my own vegan pantry.

I'd told myself yesterday no garden time until I finished every freaking piece of paperwork that I'd procrastinated about for too long, but still didn't finish it all.  It only takes turning your back on a Georgia garden for five minutes before there are monster sized weeds out there.  I can hear them taunting me.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Two Out Of Three



I feel that I've been bitter and agitated, frustrated and overflowing with hurt or angry feelings, as it's so challenging to parent those who'd prefer their birth parents.  And who can blame them?  Even if they'd been neglected and abused, they loved their birth parents, and they do not comprehend why they are not with them anymore, why does this other lady have all of these dumb rules such as school attendance and a 'no hitting each other' policy?  How rude of her, how invasive.

So they push me to a breaking point via defiance and ugly behaviors, so that I will eventually have to correct their behavior.  Even if I never even raise my voice, to them the fact that I dared to correct them means they feel justified in punching holes in walls or cussing me out.  I'll quote another mom's post from Facebook, my friend Tina's Mother's day experience:

I have received several wonderful Happy Mothers Day from my grown children and how sweet it is to know they love and appreciate me. 
HOWEVER, around here, we call this wonderful holiday, "I am pissed at my birth mother so I am going to make this mother pay for it day"
As expected, I have been the recipient of many foul names and hateful sneers, rolled eyes and cussed words under breath.
This is what Mother's Day is to children who still grieve the birth mother they lost. So every Mother's Day I put on my big girl panties and my biker bitch armor and take one for the team. 
Eventually they will all grow up and work through their anger, oh what a Mother's Day that will be. I can wait. 
Until then I just reply, I love you anyways, boy does that really make them mad.

I was mostly ignored because I never ever mention the upcoming day, and I have zero expectations.  I don't want gifts, I truly don't.  I wanna own less, not more.  A text or a "Happy Mother's Day" statement slung over one's shoulder at me is good enough.  But since I've so very lowered the bar, some tend to try and dig a hole deeper than that with which to make sure I know they aren't gonna express anything to me.

Whatever y'all.  I know who I am.  I know how my life will turn out, with or without your participation.  Indeed I'd extended an olive branch on Saturday to one who has soundly rejected me, only to be met with an, "I'm too good for y'all" attitude and the predictable blurting of bull hockey.  Okey dokey.  I'll retreat.  I tried, I'm out.

Nando had three straight soccer games, Friday-Sunday, two in the Atlanta area, and a grueling tournament this upcoming weekend.  He played on his sprained ankle, scoring in two out of the three games, this week he has Spring Football practice at the middle school.  Last night at the 6th grade Awards Ceremony Tabby got one for the A/B Honor Roll all year, plus another for Family and Consumer Sciences.

Two out of my three seniors will graduate, the third, who is by far the smartest, but is very sadly entangled in some deeply disturbing emotional diagnoses will not graduate in May.  Maybe this summer, but not if they fall any further down.  It has broken my heart.

So I've stayed away from blogging, knowing I whine too much, but I'm truly trying to comprehend trauma - on me at least, since my attempts at helping others has been so soundly and violently rejected so many times.

I finally came to understand that my exposure to other people’s trauma had changed me on a fundamental level. There had been an osmosis: I had absorbed and accumulated trauma to the point that it had become part of me, and my view of the world had changed. I realized eventually that I had come into my work armed with a burning passion and a tremendous commitment.

van Dernoot Lipsky, Laura; Burk, Connie (2009-05-08). Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others (p. 3). Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.

And again, not just absorbing their trauma for decades, but also experiencing firsthand trauma due to the violent behaviors, criminal activities and destructive tendencies.  PLUS I'm not an employee who can go home to a sweetly supportive family after work.  I don't get a day off.  I live here.  I'm on duty 24-7, 365, for decades.

So I whine and carry on here, but, at least, knowing I'm not putting on a false face to other foster and adoptive moms.  I'd never want y'all to think my kids are great, and yours would be too if you do this or that.  Apparently NOTHING we do, right or wrong, makes much of a difference.  I see this in y'all's emails and lives as well.

And disengagement, to a certain degree, is excruciatingly necessary and equally as difficult.  If we quietly correct their behavior, they rationalize that we've attacked them, thus they must retaliate.  Best we lay off.  That's hard to do as a parent because we know we are also teachers of manners and behaviors, but they don't wanna be taught by us - it just means we are trying to be The Parent.  That pisses folks off, they want their real parents.  I truly understand, I'd want my real mom too.

However, and eventually, many, if not most of mine, and your, children will come around to some degree.  The majority of mine have done so, I got some very surprising texts from those who've matured over the years, and, of course, from those who are close to me because they've chosen to be so.

Some have rejected me too.  OK, their choice.  I don't wanna fight about it.  I'm tired of conflict.

And what really took me out at the knees last week was knowing Chuck took off at a specific time in a particular small plane, and then immediately learning an identical plane taking off at that exact time had crashed on the Atlanta I-285.

CW, who never becomes unruffled, came out to the garden with tears in his eyes, "Mom, there's a probability that was Chuck's plane."

I turned to stone, threw out objections to him that he matched with logical responses as an EMT guy that he is in real life.

"No, CW, this is trauma talking," I tried.

I casually texted Yolie, who saw right through my fake calm, and I asked her if he'd taken off from the Peachford-Dunwoody Airport.  She didn't call me back because she was unglued, but texted back some extremely wonderful news, that he'd taken off from an obscure airport in Winder, of all places.

I cried in abject relief into my weed bucket for the next hour.

When Mother's Day was finally over I cried in relief.  This is what trauma has done, I'm a freaking crybaby, whiner, social outcast, a hermit, and my nerves are shot to H E Double Hockey sticks.

I don't like that about me.  It's icky.


Friday, May 08, 2015

Free Bamboo

If  only I did yoga, maybe I could look like Sarah, here months before she hits 42.

Nando was looking and feeling a great deal better yesterday evening, not 100 percent, but so much better.  I haven't yet awakened him for school, knowing sleep is such an enormous aspect of healing.  He hasn't missed any school this entire year, makes good grades, and is on the Student Council, so he can afford these absences academically.

Got to watch Ray's baseball game last night, nice very warm weather, just a lovely evening.

A very large plant, four feet tall and perched on a desk, came crashing to the ground in the middle of the night last night, I lurched out of bed, studying the mess, and thinking I'm not about to go repot this sucker until morning.

I'd again donned heavy work gloves to attack the poison ivy infecting probably 10% of the garden area, but this area is over an acre or so, thus a large amount of roots and vines to dig up.  It is not a chore I hate,  If anything watching my own progress makes me smile, and the mindless repetitious work eases my stress more'n you could imagine.

Someone asked me about curb alerts.  In the Free section of Craigslist there's often notifications when stuff has been put on the curb for anyone to come and get, generally from people who don't wanna bother with either a yard sale, or don't feel like hauling it to Goodwill.

I just texted someone in regard to their free bamboo, a 'you dig, you haul for free' as it has been running rampant there.  I have room for it, and the sound of a breeze rustling through a grove of bamboo makes my heart sing.  That's how I find my inner peace.  Truly.

Hugging some old friends last night at the ballpark makes me happy, my constant companion Junebug attending the game, watching intently and acting right, seeing Hazel zipping along there on her scooter while wearing a pink dress, her hair flying, and my Tabby organizing a group of Hazel's friends into games - priceless.

Instead of noticing how much progress I've made in my Big Back Gardens and The Upper Gardens, CW asked me when I was ever gonna work in the front gardens.  "Dude," I began, "I've been stating in my blogs that I might never get around to all that."

He has never read my blog, doesn't even know the name of it, couldn't be less interested in the writings of a 60 year old.  "I read it every day," Tony crowed.  "I look at the pictures," JoJo said, "Sometimes, OK , maybe once or twice."

Well y'all kids aren't my target audience.  I am.  I use it to process, and maybe on some level to encourage others, in that y'all are having just as much issues with your traumatized children as i am.