Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Between the Navy and his other family, a wife and a child, I've not lived with Jesse in some ten years, yet he was such a sweet son, that I still miss him daily. He, Joe and Sergi were my first sons, way more argumentative with each other than with me, a tough trio at times, but with an underlying niceness that would later prove to be something I'd not appreciated enough at the time.
I had no earthly idea what was headed my way, barreling down on me to change me forever.
I blog in my head as I work, rarely is my Ipod taken out in the summertime, as there'd be too many interruptions, so my podcast list is growing exponentially with the days, unheard and unenjoyed.
When I sit down to write each morning, fueled by caffeine, and the ensuing 24 hours since the last post, my thoughts bubble and swell, tripping up my uncoordinated typing fingers, omitting most of what has happened, as there's just too much to say or write about in any one previous 24 hour period.
Last night as I cut back the blackberry branches that fed us this year, admiring the second year canes that'll feed us next year, I ate another couple hundred blueberries, fresh off the bush, bathed by a pretty decent rainfall that afternoon, and I thought about you readers, how probably so few of you proportionately have either commented or emailed me, and I wondered if overall I've hit the mark in this adoption blog that gets waylaid daily by my over enthusiastic cult-like devotion to gardening.
But I can't really control the flow of sentences and tangled emotions that erupts outta me each day, other than to continue being vague regarding names, and extrapolating some sort of clarity in my feeble attempts to convey how our life really is each day. An odd life full of issues and challenges.
A tearful phone call first thing in the morning from a grown kid who's frustrated with others, as the actions of said others directly influence her world, oh honey, you know I understand.
I'd taken two kids to the DMV to get learner's permits, not something I do the minute someone turns 15. Martin is 16 and a half, I'm just now capitulating. He's not bugged me about it, my children have all expressed a surprising level of fear over the imminent responsibility of a vehicle, I believe more maturity is always needed first off.
Turns out Texas had given me a copy of the birth certificate that'd been legally changed to reflect the adoption of an older child. I'd not even noticed it was a copy, but I grew aggravated when the lady insinuated a copy meant the ease of potential fraud. I said nothing, I just smiled sweetly, which must've unnerved her, because she then fell all over herself with helpful suggestions.
But to no avail, as we're given no choice but to return someday with an original.
Jack had turned 10, I'd already given him a hefty birthday gift before he'd gone to Seattle with Grandma, but he'd been desiring a tommy nerf gun, and it's so joyful to me to watch his impending happiness level swell in response to a nice gift. Unlike all the others who automatically make me pay for being nice to them. As if in so doing, I'd deliberately ripped off the scab covering their emotional wounds and feelings of low self-worth, an issue I work against much as a salmon hits its proverbial stride in the upstream fight of their lives.
Several grown kids have mentioned wanting to do something for me on my own upcoming birthday, yet I resist, knowing it just won't be any fun for me. I'd rather just pass and know there'll be no subsequent hell-to-pay fallout.
I studiously avoided the upper garden beds yesterday, terribly afraid of the symptoms of early blight I'd again seen in my tomatoes, if I don't look, then it doesn't exist, a lame avoidance tactic that never works, but conversely my okra and other plants looks so nice in comparison, that I simply chose to toil in an area that makes me smile with unwarranted pride.
I've lit upon yet another delightful book, Coop: A Family, a Farm, and the Pursuit of One Good Egg, so well written as to intimidate me early on with the author's hilarity. As I weeded, I designed my future living room in my mind, the one I'll have when the kids are grown. A lazy boy recliner in the middle of an overly-empty room, echoes bouncing off the hardwood floors, surrounded by stacks of unread, yet used, books with a large screen TV blaring baseball games in the background.
Folks at my age sometimes remarry for companionship, yet I've not been given that chip in my brain, so obsessed with what I need and want to get done each day, I've neither never been bored, nor lonely, in my entire life. Conversely I have to fight within myself to even want to go participate in social activities, inwardly afraid of the 'doesn't get along well with others' mark on my imaginary report card. I tend to hang back, surrounded by my family that demands every waking second of my existence.
I just get a better sense of who I am when I'm engaged in an activity that I love, such as gardening or reading, writing or producing something.
Tonight is our last night of VBS, even my big boys have totally enjoyed their roles in helping with the games. CW, Chuy and Martin have happily labored at the church alongside Sabrina and Mayra, who'd both been terribly snotty to me yesterday, sniff sniff, as if my stuffy, old-fashioned ways are their own personal obstacles to a more exciting life that includes Hollywood pole dancing or any other Miley Cyrus look alike escapade. "Go get outta them skanky pants," I'd demanded yesterday. Who wears short shorts?
"Mom doesn't even know who the characters are in the Twilight movies," dismissing me as an ignorant backwoods, barefoot fool who giggles inappropriately while digging grubs out of a new garden bed, dressed in outdated rags with no makeup on. Well the grubs thrill me for two reasons: I'm eliminating potential Japanese rose-eating beetles for next year plus thrilling my hens with fat bites of nasty bug delicacies.
I do too know peripherally who they're talking about, I'm just mind-numbingly disinterested in pop culture and disenfranchised celebrities. If that makes me a stinky, sweat dripping hog in girl clothes, then so be it.
What vegetarian hasn't been concerned for decades about antibiotics in meat? Or corn fed beef and the fat globules dripping from each bite that'll put us all in adult diapers for our resulting incontinence? What do you mean there's no proven connection? Look around us folks. We all see sluggish human beings with zero energy reserves and glazed eyes. Is that really what we all want for ourselves?
Dang, no wonder I prefer to stay home all socially isolated and busy as a bee.
I can be odd all by myself.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
While I would never argue that disengaging is not an appropriate technique, the very essence of it also seemingly invites escalation. I've been fascinated with The Adoption Counselor's writings of mirror neurons.
When one of my children is acting out, I know not to feed in to it, not to engage in a pointless argument, but rather to allow my own quieter nature, at the moment, to calm the situation. I've learned, over the years, that it is an irrational situation and my logical responses only infuriate the one who is positive I don't understand anything at all.
But children with severe negative attention seeking behaviors, often then up the ante dangerously in response, sometimes crossing over into the no-return exit ramp. We've had kids bomb out spectacularly from our family, so much so, that it reaches the point that everyone's safety is tragically compromised, or we know we'll be robbed, or in some cases, the court has ordered no contact.
I'm left baffled by the intense inner issues that precipitated an adulthood that will likely be lived in and out of confinement. It's shocking to me. What was the point of all my parenting? My sacrifices and love?
In spite of programs and resources, therapies and interventions, some ships simply cannot be turned around, and I wonder aloud to God over why He led me down this path.
Even some more normal children, and I use the term loosely, as my children's ages run from 7-36, but some grown ones have become so unpleasant to be around, so malicious, or jealous, or combative, that I'm left slamming shut my locked gates, turning on the burglar alarms, and diving under the covers, seeking emotional peace from within as a balm and a salve, sure I'm gonna lose my ever-loving mind.
Regular behavior modification, or simple redirection, singing praises for the positive gains - it's all ineffective in the face of such enormously severe issues. I think about all my long ago education courses in college where we'd learned to write measurable behavior objectives, indicating what we planned to accomplish in a lesson...all now appearing to be silly, ineffective and frivolous when I think about the danger, damage and destruction of some nights around here.
I do remember loving the psychology and sociology classes, the childhood development professors who taught me so much...but all about the normal school age child I'd later encounter, not the issues I'd learn via adoption from the foster care system. I started college in 1972, the world has changed so much as to render my education obsolete, thus I keep reading and seeking.
I have Pathways Counseling Services coming here to the house, as does Dr. Mandy, we're all taught admirable character traits at church and Sunday School, and Vacation Bible School this week, I nag and cajole, teach and reinforce, yet often to no avail at all, leaving me frustrated.
Trying to remember my initial excitement when I was called by God into the adoption world, so full of hope and promise, enthusiasm and determination, deeply desiring to make a difference in the lives of children. How did I think this would work? I dunno now.
"I don't want to stress you out," a grown kid will start a conversation and then proceed to do exactly that, as if my heightened response indicates concern or reflects the gravity of a situation? Yet that same child will do exactly what I advise against, and then he or she will query everyone else, mangle facts, and cause disruptions and conflicts in relationships.
I simply don't want to be involved, I don't like thorny complications, nor any ill will. Drama makes my hackles rise, my adrenals to nosedive, and completely and successfully shoots out my entire nervous system.
The kids here at home, overall, are pretty decently behaved. We have meltdowns and rages, fits over nothing, skirmishes and attempts to control the entire family via refusals or noncompliance, again leaving me to wonder how was I ever excited about this long time ago? Seriously? I thought this'd be fun?
The majority of my family now are teenagers, they'd had a blast at Forward '10. I'd taken these pictures off Facebook, wondering about copyright laws and photo sharing, all my teens are so terribly bummed over losing Pastor Bronson. "Mom his office is empty," CW'd blurted after VBS, as if only the man would be gone, not his pictures and personal belongings?
We've moved on after losing two dogs this summer, it was the right thing to do, we've made some major renovations and deep cleanups, my fruit and vegetable gardens look wonderful, the flower beds not so much at all.
I'm a bit afraid that I have another tomato blight, it initially appears similar to blossom end rot, then taking out entire plants. To lose 200 tomato plants again this year, two years in a row, is liable to leave me crying into my raggedy t-sirt. But it does look to be a banner years for peppers and berries. I'll find my happiness wherever.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Even though it's annoying and stressful for the parents, what grandparent doesn't inwardly get a kick when the grandkids pitch a fit about leaving Abuelita's house? My three grandkids, who live way over in Jonesboro, were so not ready to leave yesterday, after two days of pool time and all my ridiculous kids, their aunts and uncles, all like JoJo who are willing to play the clown, to then leave this self-contained nuthouse seems kind of boring.
My granddaughter, Heidi, is going into third grade, she and Tabby'd been inseparable in the pool for two solid days. With two brothers of her own, she'd enjoyed their girl time, also not wanting to leave yesterday. Well, hey, I too hated to see 'em go.
As we were headed out to church yesterday morning, hardly a two mile jaunt, as we approached the four-way stop, I saw several deputy cars and remarked aloud, "Sure hope that's not someone from church," which probably isn't a fair thought to then, by default, wish it upon someone else.
"Oh no," I sucked in my breath, seeing my son-in-law, Preston, walking on the side of the road with a couple from church. I rolled down my window, willing my heart to crank back up, "Y'all OK?"
It'd been a bit more than a fender bender, both participants were from my church, and I'd found that Preston had dropped Sarah and the kids off and gone back to help.
We're now in Vacation Bible School, four nights this week, but I only have my three remaining elementary kids involved, Tabby, Jack and Nando, and my high schoolers all volunteered to help there each night.
First though, we had to get through our good-byes to Pastor Bronson at his send off last night, even I had to choke back tears when I'd hugged him goodbye. He's gonna be a very hard act to follow, but my sweet Pastor Tony was telling me he was interviewing candidates and looking for another Eight Year Man, not someone who'd burn out with teenagers quickly.
This affects 11 of my children, they'd had a blast at Forward '10, all now recovering from a major lack of sleep, one of their other favorite pastors, Jentzen Franklin, had preached over the weekend, and they'd brought me home two of his books to read. Sadly none of my younger kids are big readers, and me, a former media specialist, gets irked at the thought, but both Martin and Tony were reading their copies of Fear Fighters: How To Live With Confidence in a World Driven By Fear, late into the night.
I glance each morning at news headlines, I'm very aware of the standings in the World Cup, but overall becoming more and more disenchanted with current events, preferring to work in isolation in my gardens, producing rather than fretting over stuff I can't do anything about anyway.
Lily, Tony and I dug another 15 pounds of taters last night, I weeded until dark. I counted for some weird reason, picking and eating 200 sweet blueberries and a hundred blackberries. Summer nights in Georgia are a time in which you're only a little less drenched in sweat than when the sun's shining, but the velvety air just transports one into Heavenly realms. I inhale the many scents, my fragrant four-o'clocks so abundant from reseeding themselves that I've had to yank a ton of them out, they and the rudbeckia would take over the entire garden if allowed to do so.
I'd literally sent Lily out right before noon dinnertime after church, to gather more jalapenos as we've consumed all of the Fire Hot Pepper sauce, I brewed up another batch immediately glad that fresh, frozen, canned, or mellowed in the fridge are all possibilities for this miracle brew. It's in varying stages of hotness as we combine various peppers each time, no batch tasting the same, all jars making us swoon with complete and utter addictive intoxication.
My teenagers were all explaining what all they learned at Forward...all stuff that I preach here, and I said so reproachfully. "Well duh, you're a mom and we tune out sometimes," was the consensus.
There was a group crash last night after VBS, after Forward, after Pastor Bronson's departure, and the grandchildren leaving. None of my kids do well with goodbyes, we had a Post Party Syndrome mentality, but I'm the opposite in that I barreled outside to plant something, in this case it was more sweet potatoes and hibiscus I'd grown from seed, moving on in my mind, new projects, more books to read, older children to deal with, this not adopting in the last five years or so has allowed for a heretofore unknown stability to settle from within, providing a wonderful, comforting layer of peace overall.
I'd talked with Vanessa last night on the phone, she's doing very well, holding down a job, catching extra shifts, and it was so nice as I kept expressing my pride in her abilities. "I do just wanna make you proud," she's always claimed, and it's been awhile coming, but it's still sweet to me.
All y'all know I pray about everything, not always getting answers I like, sometimes thrilled with the results, but with absolute, unyielding confidence and total assurance that I'm walking where I should walk, it's completely second nature to me, and that's where the sermon series at church is headed to this month, reinforcing my beliefs and teaching me more. I may be a know-it-all, but I am teachable and reachable.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Because we're coming surprisingly close to the 25th anniversary since I'd once trekked down to Honduras for two different lengthy stints, back when Sarah was barely a teenager, in the midst of a rough political era in Central America overall, to have spent some time recently while my daughters were on a collective head up their butts roll, now that the tides have shifted, or the prevailing winds reversed their course, the estrangement fell away as if it were a mere mist.
Figuring they'd get an earful of my, "you really need to work on your mama issues with me," they were pleasantly surprised to find I took a different tact, nearly bored beyond measure with this onerous subject, that pops its head up amongst all my relationships with my all of my children, grown or not, I just didn't feel like going there yesterday.
Whatever, girls, so we had a remarkably pleasant time, one in which I stayed in the pool so long that this farmer girl now has red tinged shoulders.
I'd made a mongo feast of black bean tostados with tomatoes finally from the garden, the girls gulped it all down, us all swooning over the mixture of black beans, garlic, brown rice, sour cream, pepper jack cheese and tangy tomatoes, stuffing us and my five grandchildren in order to have been tanked up, full for the pool, so we could play longer out there.
Indeed, as the sun was setting, and we were still in the water, Tony went back inside and made us seconds, he and Scotty dragging platefuls up to the pool area. It's been so long, after so much stress, potential altercations, furious children, raging issues, and deputy intervention - well I've been sadly unable to swim in peace for years and years, so totally enjoying our bliss yesterday, I remained in the pool while eating my supper. Is this Heaven or what?
My four year old grandson, Alexander, was so visibly thrilled to be back at his Abuelita's spread, that I wasn't about to drag my butt out of the pool, even to eat. By then Yolie and her children had joined us, giving me 7 darling, rambunctious, happy grandbabies to enjoy.
"Ven Abuelita," he kept hollering to me, wishing to hang onto me in the deep end of the pool, me so happy to oblige. His Spanglish prevailing as he lives in a totally Hispanic neighborhood.
Sarah was on a mission, detailed in her blog post, asking a neighbor if we could again, this year, harvest from their blueberry bushes that remain untouched if we don't, putting my Fire Hot Pepper sauce recipe on paper, and tending to everything she doesn't get to since all week long, she indulges in Ray and Hazel's hours long demands for pool time.
We're gonna do it all again this afternoon after church. JoJo'd hit the roof, late last night, upon his return home from Forward '10. "She's back? She got over her crap?" he'd bellowed after learning I'd been with Alexander.
The Bubbas had not been privy to the reasons for our spat, it'd involved my unwillingness to keep quiet when a married one had gotten involved where one shouldn't have done so, some things are just wrong. I never want anyone to assume my silence indicates condoning, like anyone has ever wondered what my opinion might be?
"Sorry mom," and it was over.
"OK," I always reply, usually adding an unsolicited suggestion that involves one making proper decisions, choices and ways of life. I don't care who's in their 30s, that's not the issue. She, at almost 34, is a little past the age I'd once been when I'd adopted her and her two sisters.
So we splashed and played until we shrivelled like prunes, nearly cold when the evening air, still in the 90s, hit our skin, as we'd substantially lowered core body temperatures by remaining submerged for hours.
We'd finished off a pint of my FHPS, it's not that I wanna burn the skin off of my body, I just crave the oomph that it adds to every dish, the slow after burn that is good for the soul, the capsaicin in peppers has long been linked to better health due to an amped up immune system, and it is truly addictive in a very good way.
That's me in the inner tube, trying to prove to Daniel that something has held up around here.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
This old lady insomnia serves no purpose other than to deprive me of much need sleep, in which rejuvenation is my goal. Sometimes it’s the only peace I find, a mini-vacation from stress and pressure. My onset of night terrors, as a result of crimes and events I’ve survived, producing twitching that awakens me and drives me downstairs to wander the house, checking door knobs, much like Barney Fife on Mayberry RFD used to do.
It’s a wonder I haven’t started bedwetting.
I can’t shake it all off, months and years later, having gone through more trials than the average bear, I am able to eat, I have put on weight, and I’ve certainly crawled out of what had been a fairly debilitating depression.
Reading, or writing, when I can’t sleep, I’d finished My Empire of Dirt with no less than a measure of shock as his entire experiment in Brooklyn failed, other than providing him with a superb learning curve, it wasn’t what I’d expected when I’d started the book.
It makes me wonder if I’ve failed in some regards, looking at some of my children who will likely never hold a job. What’s up with that? What is it about the chronically unemployed? Who wants to live hand to mouth? Who doesn’t feel a great deal of inner satisfaction from one’s labors?
Is their inner insecurity so severe, their anxiety level so massive, that the mere act of putting one foot in front of the other is just too much to expect? Or is it a matter of pure plug laziness?
It baffles me completely.
Did my own energy level just totally intimidate others? What about the thrill I obviously demonstrated from completion of a job well done?
Sarah genetically received my love of physical labor, passed down from Grandma whose own grandmother I also remember clearly. Granny Miller, leaning on her walker at age 88, when I was still a child, making biscuits from scratch every day for a noon dinner, her real name was Lulu, who begat Eloise, then Martha Ellen, Cindy, Sarah, on down to Hazel.
I’m blessed to have known well a line of six generations, knowing I’m healthy enough to wait it out for the seventh or so, really spurs me on.
We’re having another birth mother glitch. Yolie and I call it the ‘long arm of the birth mom’ as the mom's original choices, which resulted in her/my children entering foster care, emotionally scarring them for life, yes the scars harden up, but fester odiferously, and get pulled off with each perceived abandonment or rejection that a child will face growing up, carrying over into adulthood, such a burden.
Yolie explained how nowadays foster mothers work with birth mothers to create circumstances that are conducive to getting their children back, which I know in my heart is the best case scenario…yet as my own children’s case histories have demonstrated, many birth moms will never get it together, and to have that so obviously in the children’s faces can be even more devastating.
I’m nowadays a big believer in birth control, or voluntary sterilization at younger ages because the fallout from random sex, producing an unwanted child, sentences that child to severe emotional distress for life.
One of Vanessa’s friends had remarked on how often I addressed Vanessa as “Beautiful,” and I truly thought she was, yet she didn’t. No matter how many times I complimented her, or any of my other daughters, that stamp tattooed within of inner rejection prevented them from hearing what I was telling them, their resulting behaviors thus finally convincing myself that this would be a lifetime endeavor. Much of my major parenting influence is coming in their so-called adulthood.
Today, two of my 30 something year olds are coming over, we’ve had a tough time for several years, a detente certainly, their birth mom passed away, they made choices that sentenced them to difficulties and too many challenges, their inner stubbornness and pridefulness has kept them away, but as one told me years ago during another of their estrangements, “Mom always forgives us,” which I do, but that’s not the issue. They need to forgive themselves for what they’ve done to themselves via their own frustration, hurts and disappointments.
In the sometimes frantic, frazzled emotional world of the adoption of older children, some only had lived with me for three or four years total, maybe five, so what they may now refer to as ‘unresolved mother issues’ has more to do with their unspoken anger towards their birth mothers, yet they still wanna heap it upon me, as if I were the cause for them entering foster care years before they ever met me.
I went to Honduras in the 1980s to meet my first three older adopted daughters, so naïve as to be completly laughable, what a joke, and the ensuing decades have hardened my shell, helped me distance myself from the irrational finger pointing and complete rages that were spawned by neglect, abandonment and abuse that every single one of them encountered, in varying degrees, in the many years before we met.
I had no clue what I was in for, probably the reason so many of you come here each morning, is that you obviously feel the same. I’ve been emotionally steamrolled, taken out at the knees, knocked slap down and out, but I’ll be glad to see my two daughters today, having let them go their own ways lately and find their own way back to me, me knowing the real reason for their distress, them having to find it out, but them still comprehending forgiveness and renewal.
The ups and downs of our relationships will continue…this I know from long illogical experience.
Because I throw myself into gardening as therapy, preserving food as living proof that I do exist to myself, not having totally lost my soul in this heart-numbing process, I made another batch of Fire Hot Pepper Sauce, but because I'm clearly ignorant as to the proper methods of food writing, Sarah's taken it upon herself to write it up properly, soon there'll be an accompanying link on my sidebar in response to the many inquiries I've had as to the recipe.
The kids and I hit a couple of unproductive yard sales this morning, coming away empty handed other than some PS2 games and an earful from a teacher friend of mine, from the school in which I'd retired from, giving some more insight into my children's behaviors over the past school year.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Nando, born in Florida, taken to Texas, separated from his three other siblings at times, had lived in shelters, foster homes, and multiple crash pads by the time he moved in with me at age 3, along with two older siblings and a younger one. Rattled to the core by his many jarring moves, his big brown eyes have ever since been latched onto me, surprised that I never move. "You've lived in this one house for 17 years?" Now almost nine years old, he repeatedly questions me, in his young mind, 17 years is forever.
He's an incredibly good soccer player, a very decent student, and he deeply, truly, passionately loves the great outdoors. He was born to be a farm boy, he's the one who'd excitedly helped me plant the potatoes, I'd dug the long triple rows in three different permaculture beds, and he followed behind plopping in the seed potatoes, watching me later dig them with unbridled delight. He's the first one in the hen house to gather the eggs, fearing no half-cocked rooster, and the last one in the evening to stop stuffing himself with blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries or figs.
Pictured here with his birth brother, Scotty, they'd had to wrangle through the woods last night running after this escapee hen, the thrill was in the chase, the victory even sweeter.
When we'd finally gone swimming yesterday, late in the overly busy afternoon, Jonathan took a trip to his dark place, glowering at everyone, knowing the Bubbas, the big boys, were gone, testing his limits, coming very close to having a major rage simply because I wouldn't let him hold the hose that was refilling the pool. I'd told him to wait his turn, and my children's EQ isn't what it ought to be.
I flat out ignored his warning signs, the pre-explosion noises that are designed to provoke me into correcting him, which he then wrongly thinks justifies his fury, so he stormed off from the pool area, also a 'no no,' as I sure didn't want him in the house unattended. He also banked on the fact that I couldn't leave the pool area unsupervised, but somehow, someway, he got a grip and returned within minutes, and waited his turn, badgering me every few minutes or so, but impatience I can deal with.
Finally, it was after a pasta supper, the big kids gone on their retreat - get this, a Third Day concert last night as part of Forward '10 - I skipped like a third grader out to my gardens, little kids on my heels, picking fruits while I yanked up all the gone-to-seed lettuce remnants to feed to my hens, picked cucumbers galore, squash and peppers.
Something's been eating my collards, leaving bedraggled lacy leaves, and since I won't spray poison, and subsequently kill us all by degrees, I yanked them up to for the hens nightly snack. They rewarded me with fresh eggs, again making my life make sense.
My life always makes sense out there. Work in equals produce out. Logic on parade, even though there's also challenges and failures, but it's all part of a learning experience, even after all these years. This is my 37th season gardening, easy to keep track of as I was pregnant with Sarah when I started.
I'd gotten my hair done this week, shaking it every whichaway, fishing for a compliment or even an acknowledgment that anyone noticed it was shorter. "Well it looks um better," Nando piped up, after visibly struggling for an adjective. They do not like change. Change is emotionally threatening. In their minds it equals a furtive explanation such as, "Is Mom stepping out now?"
Not likely, I can only snort.
Last night at dark, after nine p.m., I sent everyone to their rooms, soooooo much easier to do without my teenagers predictable feet-dragging stall tactics of every night of my life. Just seven children here until Sunday, so much easier, giving me a delightful taste of how my life will be in just a few short years from now.
An unexpected phone call from a grown kid who's chosen to distance herself, whenever I ask anything about her from a birth sister, I get various responses, as we all are told different versions of what's going on. This same sister recently told me, "I just leave her be," which is something I need to learn to do.
I'm always questioning their lives, wanting to help, but it probably comes off sounding judgemental. Vanessa'd once told me, "Well I'd rather lie to you, than see the disappointment in your eyes," which startled me, made me rethink how I deal with my grown kids, which is the large majority of my family. I was very glad to hear from the one who called, sometimes we all need a cooling down period, they definitely need to spread their wings and earn their own independence. It's hard for me, as a 'fixer," to watch them fall flat on their faces, especially knowing that, with a little advice, it wouldn't have had to happen.
Dude, don't drink and then you won't get a DUI. Don't spend more than you earn and you won't be broke. It's these little things I need to contain within, keep my comments to myself.
They see it as bossy interference, so I've learned to back off. That said, I don't then offer help when they crash and burn, as it would then only reinforce an enabling relationship, which is something I don't want.
A friend of one of my sons had tracked me down on Facebook, wanting to explain what he was up to, buying his excuses hook, line and sinker, which is something I absolutely won't do. "I don't wanna be involved in teenage drama," I'd told her, even though the participants are in their mid-twenties, the emotional maturity is still about a decade off.
I don't have to be anywhere today, no appointments, no nothing, just a long stretch of daylight that allows me to get everything done, pretty much joyfully, which is a great feeling. I picked enough jalapenos for another quart of Fire Hot Pepper Sauce, a batch I'll freeze rather than can, because it's too early in the season, and there's not yet enough produce to drag it all out. Canning is a major production and I have two deep chest freezers to fill initially.
Nowadays people are intimidated by the process, we've lost touch with this ability to supply ourselves easily with a higher grade of food, so, if nothing else, I want to, by example, teach my children the rewarding simplicity of this one creative act. They've watched me, for years, throw seeds outside and reap a ton. Get it? You reap what you sow? Duh?
And my frog-catcher extraordinaire? Never, ever bored, curious and entranced by all he sees, I pray he can carry that over into his adulthood. I truly think it is the source of all happiness.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
A long, long time ago, in one of my very first naive-to-the-bone adoptions from the foster care system, I'd had a fairly severe issue spring up from an angry teenager, after I'd verbally corrected the behavior of the troubled one, who would later cause all sorts of problems, but as we got through that evening and I called my caseworker to report, "All is well," in a tone of voice that clearly indicated smugness on my part, I was told, "Well please understand that this will happen again."
Because Sarah, my birth child, then in her teens, and I rarely had a spat...ever...I was totally unprepared for the next 25 years of my life, years in which kids think every issue is worth battling mindlessly and violently over.
I'll label kids, here within my blog, as birth siblings to each other only because their birth bond is so profound, and their later behaviors are either influenced, or reflected, by those ties.
Yesterday two birth brothers, both teens, both emotionally co-dependent upon each other to the extreme, got into a fistfight. They only fight with each other, mainly because they know it is emotionally safe for them to do so.
I can point out, until I'm as blue as a puffy Smurf, that my sister and I never ever physically fought. We just weren't raised like that, we were never that angry with each other, nor did we rely on physical aggression, as we both were oh so much more on target with each other verbally, snidefully even, because we didn't always agree with each other, but we'd never have dreamed of resorting to violence. Ellen in her pearls, me in my bell bottoms, would clash over political and social ideals, but always politely so.
Mayra and I leaped into the fray to break it up, she was slung backwards over a sofa, landing on a surprised Shadow, the weird terrier dog. I wasn't touched, and the combatants were pulling apart by the time Martin got into the living room from the family room. I'd hollered, "Get Chuy!" to Tony, who just stood there watching in shock, because there truly was no reason for this skirmish and, as such, it was immediately over, with only a few successful fists making contact. I sent the attacker to his room, and I stayed with the victim, although I use the terms loosely, as this particular victim could provoke a nun to cuss.
Later, after my family just about emptied the entire premier jar of Fire Hot Pepper Sauce, all of us swooning with joy to have it back on the table for meals, the two combatants went arm and arm to church for our Youth Pastor's GoodBye Party, then all going on a trip with him to Forward '10, leaving today, sadly knowing Sunday is his last day.
Another teenager was in tears by bedtime, lashing out in me, when the reality is The Losses of This Summer have been fairly overwhelming. We stayed up very late, yet another teenage son later sobbing on the sofa in commiseration, having lost two elderly dogs and our very beloved youth pastor is just too much for children with such terribly limited coping skills.
So blaming me for all of the above is standard procedure, but after the sob fest, I went upstairs and shut my bathroom door and cried until my face swole up, blaming the full moon for my tearfulness, so exhausted from being the emotional punching bag around here, so constantly emotionally battered. I did, for once, put down the toilet seat, as I've been known to just plop my butt down heedlessly, yelling in surprise when making contact with the water. Well duh, what did I expect?
I come running to you ladies first thing every morning, to process the previous events in the company of them that knows, my imaginary prayer group, like-minded individuals with the same battle scars and stressed out adrenals.
What's left of my mental faculties ends up poring over gardening and farming books, transporting myself to the side of these authors, it's as if I'm peering over their shoulders, watching them harvest, and I find it ultimately engrossing on every level. I'm particularly intrigued by the northern people battling the elements, who can work in such cold? I wrap myself into their words and command of the English language, laughing aloud at times, plunged into deep thought and reveries.
From My Empire of Dirt: Being a locavore in 2010 must be a very different experience from what it was in 1991. For one, the historically disinterested mew media is suddenly providing affirming details about the crisis in food production, constantly squawking about the global food crisis. In 1991, as far as the population was concerned, food described as organic was still the manna of the lunatic left.
No kidding? I became fascinated with nutritional concepts while in junior high school in Miss Winslow's Home Economics class, but I'd never have chosen to major in it in college, as the Feminist Movement was in full sway, you'd have to have lived through the 1950s to understand the resulting fury of women. I sure didn't wanna grow up to be a housewife...although some might point out, it's turned out to be so anyways, I'm a house slave now to complete ingratitude and wall-to-wall so-called women's work.
Alas the poor doomed organic foods movement, just as it moved out of the yurts and freak caves towards the light of general acceptance, Big Food swept in, co-opting the term, undermining accepted standards for what constitutes organic food, and plastering snack bags with shamelessly misleading claims:"Contents 70 Percent Organic."
Yurts and freak caves? I went into gales of giggles. "What's so funny?" JoJo asked and I read it aloud to him while he stared at me wordlessly. "You're kinda retarded," he politically incorrectly responded, "That's not even funny, it's stupid."
Stuff like this creates intrigue in my brain, it's all I ponder as I weed, rather than answering a reader's comment on Why do kids act like this? Since I dunno why, it seems so stinking illogical, yet it's all we ever see, even the therapists and psychologists scratch their heads, while we, the beleaguered parents, constantly struggle to cope with the emotional destruction and fallout.
I'm choosing to enter LaLaLand in my mind, where visions of perfectly developed pepper plants dance in my head, morphing into quart jars in my pantry this upcoming winter.
In The Seasons on Henry's Farm, the author's sister grows 100 varieties of fruit, selling them at the farmer's market, a line six deep always at her tables, as there's no comparison on earth for the discerning palate when one chooses organic strawberries with delectable flavors versus the fungicide-tasting orbs of commercially grown balls of tastelessness.
This same woman quilts all winter for therapy, just as I putter around watering hundreds and hundreds of houseplants, this world jangles us to our souls with it's illogical mindlessness whether it be in food production, raising children from the foster care system or a mind-numbing commute to a soul-stealing job necessary in order to pay the bills for stuff we don't really need anyway.
It seemingly all boils down to every human's basic desire for a stressless, meaningful life that is tempered only with joy and simplicity...something we adoptive parents would sell our blasted souls for maybe, and oppositionally we all went into this life with the simplistic desire to share our earthly goods with those in need, to give instead of take, to just to make someone's life better. We wanted a mindful life.
But that's not what we've got, so I'll brush myself off mentally this morning, I've now flushed out my thoughts, figuratively the toxins, and I'll smile at my children, clean the kitchen, help the seven pack up for their trip, and I'll serve a satisfying meal tonight to the remaining seven, who'll look at me hollow-eyed and nervous with half of our family gone, as we all know it tugs painfully on their crusty scabs covering their raging abandonment issues.
The picture today? Tony napped on the sofa, trying to shake a low grade bout of nausea, only to have JoJo post signs reading, "I'm gay," or "I poop in my pants," because JoJo's zero impulse control is limited only by his complete inappropriateness at all times. My troublemaker extraordinaire, no thoughts ever to the repercussions of his actions, no cause and effect link available for contemplation. Me in Smurf mode to no avail.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I'd had to fly my flustered self back home yesterday from one of my very infrequent outings, but there does come a time when I have to get my truck tire fixed, take Sabrina to Cheerleading Camp, buy groceries, and get a tenth ballpark estimate regarding the flooring that needs replacing. I'd taken Grandma with me, wanting her opinion, and I'd also talked the man down $150 at the salvage yard, as I have my heart set on 100 year old heart of pine from mill that'd closed down around here.
A 14 year old was acting up, I had the younger kids with me, but a phone call telling me he was fixing to blow, ended my short jaunt out into the real world that holds very little allure for me anyway. I only go out of necessity, preferring to say home where there's more to do than time allowed each day.
That same 14 year old remained extremely rude, disruptive and verbally abusive for the remainder of the day, eventually breaking out of his funk, and apologizing to me. I'd made him apologize to his older birth sister as well, and explained to him that he was the reason I hadn't gone to get more groceries.
In adoption it is commonly explained that older adopted children will 'push your buttons,' as big of an understatement as I've ever heard. They'll destroy family photos, maybe even your expensive wedding album, break windows, they'll kick holes in the walls or taunt others inappropriately, they'll attack your docile cat, or set fires, maybe peel wallpaper or pee down the heating vents. They'll steal your prized jewelry, crap up family heirlooms. All negative attention getting behaviors that'll send formerly well-adjusted adults slap over the edge. More than button-pushing, a ridiculous euphemism for the intense reality of parenting difficult children.
I've long ago learned to disengage, to not feed into it at the moment by physically removing myself from the room, finally after many, many years, learning oh-so-slowly that it'll likely burn its ownself out, if I - the offending parent by my very existence - do not defend myself against their wild-eyed accusations of favoritism or involvement in the Cuban Missile Crisis, seriously, do you think logic is ever involved?
Another of my 14 year old sons is the worst offender, his teachers complain that he spikes their blood pressure, he'll make racial insults, and one time even, had harassed a classmate cancer patient mercilessly. He provokes intense hatred from others at times, yet will dissolve in screaming tears when his behaviors are sternly addressed. Very developmentally delayed, he projects his own savage insecurities upon innocent others who feel as if they've been hit by unseen, oncoming freight trains.
I've lost it at times, "Do you WANT people to hate you?" I've screamed in aggravation, dumbly knowing there's no answer here.
He'd pulled a good one two nights ago, to the point where my own veins were bulging with fury, he stood there pulling apart one of our hapless sofas, remember we're the place where couches come to die, stuffing all over my living room floor, rips in the upholstery, my blood pounding in my ears, I'd stormed outside before I blurted what I was feeling inside, and it wasn't pretty thoughts of motherhood at all.
Yet last night he was glued to my side, as he often is, his major insecurities visible to all, helping me make a mongo basin of lasagna with whole wheat noodles, herbs from the garden, spinach and ricotta cheese, smothered in a garlic tomato sauce, "Oh my this is delicious," Marcela swooned as she and her daughter, Marissa, came by for dinner and a swim. Marissa will be two this fall, speaking quite well, loving the way the word, "Tabby," sounded to her, repeating it over and over.
I'd bottled up my first jar of Fire Hot Pepper Sauce, now I can enjoy life oh so much more immensely now, I'd steamed me some squash, pigged out on taters I'd dug, swooning with dollar signs in my eyes as Sarah explained I'd could sell 'em for $3 a pound, so desirable are organic potatoes in the farm market world, but they're worth way more than that to me, I crave 'em.
When Sarah was a baby, she'd loved steamed squash with butter for breakfast, loved it with an unusual intensity for good food choices even as a toddler.
Cucumbers everywhere, blueberries and blackberries bursting with earthy flavors, figs galore, all conspiring to joyfully thrill me to pieces.
We swam past dark, Nando entertaining Marissa with cute frogs he'd caught, both Sarah and Mayra had happened upon two different black snakes yesterday, Mayra in our meadow, Sarah again on her front porch. I keep doing laundry, wiping down over-used kitchen counters, watering houseplants, hauling wood chips, and weeding. We have on the AC which makes me emotionally struggle against the concept of canned air as I desperately crave the fragrant outdoors, gagging over this article today, how folks buy air fresheners that are poisoning them, when they could simply drag in fresh air into their lungs, versus deadly chemicals.
Do we really wonder why children have comprised immune systems and lowered IQs nowadays? Reading this article about the Catch 22 of Roundup, which I'm positive originated in hell, the spawn of Satan, why can't we all just physically weed? Why resort to chemicals that contaminate the groundwater? Just weed. Then you can be as far behind as I am, yet certain I'll have sweet drinking water on this property. The jury's been in for decades now, organic is the only healthy, sustainable way to go. Duh, folks.
My mongo tray of lasagna'd been inhaled yesterday, all gone, time to keep on cooking, hopefully tonight I can attend the adult Bible Study that other grownups get to go to regularly, with Paloma gone, it's been easier for me to do so. She'd called me yesterday, explaining her own willfulness and inability to follow any directions there at OTP. "OK, darling, who do you think you're hurting by your non-compliance?" I'd again tried to bark at the moon, so futile our my explanations.
"Me," she'd blurted, "but I DON"T CARE," she'd once again roared, even though I spent a few minutes explaining behavioral consequences and how she needs to get on task for her own benefit, but the issues here are so deep rooted, so entangled in her own severe emotional challenges, that it will take that entire staff of trained professionals to even begin to get through to her, even though she's in delightful circumstances, a beautiful mountain setting, versus a punitive lock down facility that could've been her option.
I watched a very happy, inquisitive tiny little girl, Marissa, pictured above, yelling happily in the pool, emotionally secure with her two parents, thriving, not in day care even though they both work, they've made it possible by working different shifts and hours, producing a child who's gonna not be like the children I've adopted from the foster care system.
The fact that the majority of the world is normal still startles me, that they're all fairly regular people, my own world is so circumscribed by irregularities, acting out, rages and fury, grieving children who've been so severely damaged in their early years, well it makes me marvel when I hold my grandchildren who've broken the generational curse of poverty and lack, neglect and self-medication.
That I have to calm myself and wait for the fruits of the next generation only serves to build within me that which I sorely lack...patience and deferred gratification.
So once again, happily fortified with my deep craving for Fire Hot Pepper sauce, I'll continue climbing the emotional mountains I find myself facing each day.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Taken in front of the place where Ace of Cakes is filmed, probably the only food show I've ever watched much of, as I just get ravenously hungry simply passively watching that channel, I'm also fighting a bit of envy over Daniel's freedom to travel at will. My favorite brother-in-law and I've briefly been discussing a joint beach time, yet with my teenagers' schedules, I'm finding it difficult to get away this summer at all. He, Kevin, only has one window week of opportunity.
For so many, many years my entire extended family would meet for two weeks at Nags Head, times I dearly miss.
I'd meant to weigh and total my garden produce output this season, to have kept better field notes and records, yet have found myself with my usual loss of any available free time in which to do so, another casualty of a big family, this is just something I can tend to in my later years, for now consoling myself with just dragging in and enjoying all the deliciously uncontaminated food.
I do know that this particular stainless steel bowl, holding about this many potatoes, weighs close to ten pounds, and, as such, I know I've dug 30 pounds so far, digging delectable red taters, and slapping in the sweet potato plants to double team the garden bed, knowing the soil is strong and fertile enough to withstand the demands on it.
Sitting in the psychiatrist's waiting room yesterday, three little white kids, school age siblings, were in right violent fist fights with each other, shocking my usually badly behaved Jonathan into an irregular silence, his large brown eyes beseeching me to discipline these other children, yet I, of course, did not do so. They're not my children.
A large, kinda sullen, African American man sitting next to me leaned over my way and remarked, "Someone needs to slap the sh*t outta those young'uns," loud enough in his pseudo stage whiper for JoJo to also hear, trying to muffle his resulting laughter, me dreading the repeat performance bound to later erupt from JoJo's complete lack of impulse control antics, surely to later mortify me in Kroger, where I always run into folks I know.
Clearly obvious reasons, from quite a few in that waiting room, examples of why they were there for much needed mental health tune-ups. usually it's my own children swinging from the light fixtures like monkeys on a vine, with me hissing time-outs to the offenders.
Still on my quest for new bedroom flooring, still reluctant to whip out a charge card and get it done, coming up with another option again yesterday, but walking away as a negotiating tactic. I always do the 24 hour cool down plan. I'll lowball them, folks are needing work, and I'll live with a subfloor as long as it takes, in order to get a better than decent price that I can live with on my budget.
Dave Ramsey tells that some 78% of folks, who take out a same-as-cash 12 month interest free loan, do not pay it off in time, ending up with 24.99% accrued interest charges later. I'd once missed a monthly payment, mentally planning to pay it off in full the next month, not understanding that I'd needed to make a minimal payment, well within my 12 month time span, hit with finance charges later, I'd called and had a fit, which resulted in me paying them off in entirety, and them eliminating that one-time finance charge, even though it was my own ignorant fault.
Whatever, live and learn.
I keep an eagle eye on my Excel Spreadsheet system, my Quicken checkbook, charts and flow sheets, and my on-line banking reports. I have no choice. I have to live within our carefully hedged limitations. But I look around me at our home and acreage, and, with bubbling pride, remind myself I've done a right decent job with everything all by myself.
At one point last night, two of my son-in-laws were here helping me, Chuck fixing the fan in my freezer, Preston working on the family room AC, me comprehending they were both saving me a bucketful of cash. I do thank God for both of these men, their hearts for God even more impressive than their abilities to save me the cost of a repair tech. Good to their wives and families, that's enough for me to be happy.
Cheer Leading Camp again this morning for Sabrina, she who attends one of the best high schools in the nation, six of my children are now there, I'm gonna get Grandma, the champ of negotiating a great bargain, as she ran a large real estate rental business for decades, her own business, over to the place where I've spotted the flooring that might do the job. We need more groceries of course, but no major appointments, allowing me some time to expand my compost heap.
I've just added another row of cinder blocks next to it, to allow more decomposition and manufacturing of brown gold that feeds my soul, I mean soil. To my astonishment, I've already used more than half of the truckloads of wood chips I'd ordered in the spring, how is that even possible?
"Mom! Puhleeze don't put a picture of the compost pile here, Camille reads your blog," Allen loudly protested to me this morning.
"Son if this is a turn off, then you have bigger things to worry about," I'd rejoined, knowing tons of my friends will read and see this. So what? It's the process of decompositon that's vital, not the appearance of it working quietly in the back corner.
But my feet churn the earth, in double time to Wiley Coyote's recorded tempo, my speed resulting in many careless mishaps, but also a large amount of work to be completed each day, but never satisfied with myself, as I see even more work that desperately needs to be done, eliminating the need for a costly gym membership for me to get a workout. What's more strenuous than my life? And do I mean the Roadrunnner's effortless speed?
Summer is almost halfway over for my children, as they'll head back to school on August 5th, in the dog days of summer, but hey they've been out since May 21st. It is flying by without incidents and police intervention, thank God, as I stay busier than is humanly possible sometimes, so many projects filling me with happiness and excitement, so little time, but completely eliminating boredom as ever being an option for me.
Big Daddy Weave CDs, two of them for a buck total at yard sales, blaring in my Ipod as I yank at the crab grass rhizomes, my full-time nemesis, I've eliminated much of it after 18 seasons here in my Big Back Garden, but it is relentless in its own pursuit for land domination, I'm equally as determined to win this one battle, it's a pretty fair fight I gotta say.
But I am blessed with the same steely determination as Miss Too Cute.
Monday, June 21, 2010
The first time I'd ever seen solar tea was at a Summer Solstice gathering way too many years ago to even consider counting back to, Sarah wasn't even born then, and she's soon to hit 37 years old, so it had to have been in Virginia.
A lady then, with tea leaves simply sitting and brewing in a Mason jar out in the sun, jarred my mind with possibilities, and I was transfixed. I'm part of the generation where our parents, especially Southern parents, were nearly paranoid about being considered backwoods folks, as modern was so the way to go in the 1950s, giving rise to brick ranchers and endless suburbia, which only spawned the Back to the Land Movement that entranced me like no other. It just made so much sense to me.
Even as a teenager, living in parsonages, my mother considered her gardens to be vital, crying once in complete frustration, when her daylilies were mowed down by a careless Murray Mower pusher. They obviously did not divorce over this, but I 'spect Grandpa learned to watch what he was doing better.
About the time I started my media specialist career, the very engrossing Foxfire books were making a hit, as the quaint and rural Georgia mountain way of life seemed to be slipping away, supermarkets taking over, and eventually nearly becoming the death of us all. It takes my entire willpower, and some elusive vestige of graciousness, to not holler aloud when I see some bulging buggies go past me, filled with boxed foodstuffs, that have less than zero nutritional value.
"Oh Cindy, I wish I had your energy," I'm told time and time again. All you gotta do is eat right. But I just smile, and claim it's genetic, yet generations of my family have always eaten from their gardens. That's good sense, not genetics.
I'll have freshly dug taters for breakfast in a minute, so yummy and flavorful that only salt and pepper are added by me. Real potatoes have a taste, they're not the bland nasty rocks in the stores.
But Martin has an orthodontist appointment at 8:30, Sabrina has cheer leading camp all week some 15 miles away, JoJo and Jonathan have a psychiatrist appointment, and Dr. Mandy will come by later for therapy.
I'd picked up a cloth covered notebook at a yard sale, of course, for a quarter, and in it, I'm holding myself accountable for planting something everyday, jotting down each night what I've added, thinking ahead, which is only borrowing trouble, wondering what I'll do in the months of winter. I'll repot and plant seed trays for everything for next season.
I'm reading The Season's on Henry's Farm by Terra Brockman and realizing their entire family makes me appear so lazy in contrast. They're in mid-Illinois, the winter temperatures that they routinely encounter would make me carry on ridiculously, as if all my yelling could affect weather variations. I'm a Southern hothouse flower, or weed maybe, unable to cope with cold on my skin.
Daniel spent the day with me yesterday, Gina came by, as did Cristy, bestowing, "Happy Father's Day,' remarks upon me, claiming I've been both to them for so many years. I caught my own dad forcing himself to eat finally, a little rattled by what the physician had recently told him of his shocking weight loss. He's some 6"2" and weighs the same as me. That's unacceptable.
Grandma was scrambling around in her gardens, which look fantastic, absolutely wonderful, and not just for an 80 year old woman, but anyone'd be glad to have those productive garden areas.
I didn't even try and get the kids all to church yesterday, a little fearful over the holiday atmosphere, knowing it too often feeds into their profound insecurities. "I don't care if I have a father or not," one snapped at me, only to later get incredibly rude over nothing. Point made son. Glad when Daniel came, as his very presence seems to soothe them all. It's reassuring, to my children, to have a grown man wanting to see his mama. We wanna see him.
Well I'm fairly sure they wouldn't even have had a mother, would've all grown up unclaimed in foster care like so many other millions of kids, had I not submitted the only home study on every single sibling group of mine. I never competed for children, knowing there were sadly too many children available for adoption, competition would be pointless and a waste of time. I wanted those children that had no other option, but I never took just any children, just these specific seven groups of kids that I'd prayed over and read their studies, full of questions and seeking resources, still to find myself so often utterly buffaloed.
Ain't as smart as I thought I was apparently.
Talking on the phone to Pepe last night, our tumultuous, too dangerous relationship has mellowed by time and distance, yet what he says still alarms more often than not. We tell each other, "I love you," but we both know how prickly our relationship can be, he unwilling to truly accept maternal love, me now physically afraid of him, after so many violent encounters. I'm not a fearful woman, but experience and my own gut feelings have played a large role in my decisions.
He's living in Atlanta, in a therapeutic placement, doing fairly well overall now, without that very difficult, thorny and complicated relationship involving a mom figure who angers him for no other reason other than I'm doing what his birth mother could not, nor would not do. That singular thought can piss off a kid for a very long time, following them into their adult relationships, poisoning and ruining it for unknowing others.
Not what I signed up for, but it is what I have with him, we'll have to make the best of it, in the best way we can manage.
My son-in-law, Preston is coming over early this morning to check on my faltering AC, while my other son-in-law, Chuck, fixed my riding mower, reminding me how blessed I so often am by others.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
One potato plant produces many taters of varying sizes. I'm craving the new potatoes so I'm digging up just what we can eat in a meal, leaving the other potatoes safely tucked under soil and mulch to continue growing. This year I planted three large garden beds full, hoping to extend the harvest, and I'm planning on doing a fall planting as well.
I'd recently read that commercial potato farmers won't even eat the potatoes that they grow due to the huge amounts of pesticdes used, as such I don't eat the peels unless I've grown 'em. I use zero pesticides, never touched 'em in my life, sure won't start now. I've never lost a potato crop either. I've handpicked my share of Colorado Potato Beetles, squashing them on the bricks.
Store bought potatoes have no flavor. Home grown potatoes are delectable.
Lily's holding what we'd dug up under one plant. My self-discipline in saving seed potatoes for next season is less than admirable.
This is what I dug for today's meal, sitting on the garden cart I'd bought at a yard sale for $5, list price $31.99
Yeah I could go buy a comparable sack of potatoes at Kroger for little money, especially when one factors in my time, maybe I've earned about 25 cents an hour, but I'd rather be a producer than a store consumer.
One might think, lately, that I'm in a Disneyworld Adoption LaLa Land, so benign have been my posts. Now linking my blog bravely on Facebooks, I find it courageous only in that many folks from my past have had no clue about my family, but I'm picking up new readers, and fretting that they may think it's been all hunky dory all along. I don't wanna misrepresent.
Yolie, as well, had mentioned that as part of her adoption training process at work, she felt she was preparing parents up front for much of what they could expect, and I know Yolie will not sugarcoat anything, but also she doesn't want to send folks running for cover.
For several intervening years within this blog, it was nothing but a litany of depression, attacks, court dates, arrests, and very frightening violence at every turn. I don't go ever back and read, nor am I even positive that I want to still turn all this into a book, as reliving it wouldn't necessarily be in my best emotional interest. I've yet to be able to process what happened this day.
Perhaps the mere survival should be enough for me?
Right now with Paloma gone to her Outdoor Therapeutic Problem, Jonathan is fairly calm, allowing Chuy to glower if he so much as misbehaves. Jojo is JoJo, 'nuff said. He's never gonna be an easy child to raise, but the physical aggression of his older birth brother, Fabian, is not the issue we're now facing. Thank God.
CW and Martin, now 14 and 16, are just simply adorable and sweet. CW's gone to the mountains with a friend, leaving Martin a tad bereft, as they've spent almost their entire life within just a few feet of each other's company. CW will be back tonight.
Because he is so sweet, because he's been nurtured from birth, secure and stable here within this one house, on this sweet piece of land, CW'd gone and filled up the wheelbarrow, and several buckets, with wood chips, before I'd even asked. That's just the way he is, and I deeply appreciate his inner goodness.
Tony's a handful. "Who's that chubby kid who's always glued to you?" I'd once been asked. I'm so used to Tony's hovering tendencies, his insecurities, and his shorter than normal stature for a 14 year old, so developmentally delayed, so full of residual issues from Cerebral Palsy that only damaged him ever so slightly, but will have lifelong ramifications, I've long since become accustomed to him clinging, buzzing around my ears, and his level of provoking others to anger, with his ridiculous proclivities toward negative attention getting behaviors.
Scotty is high-level anxiety at all times. "Breathe son," I'll suggest, as he's amped up and nervous as a cat, as I might've been also, had I lived the first six years of my life in various shelters, programs and foster homes, too often separated from his other three siblings. He's now hyper vigilant which can be emotionally exhausting in, and of, itself.
These though are the behaviors one might expect from troubled older kids adopted from our society's broken foster care system. It's the fistfights, threats, the grabbing and lunging with a kitchen knife, or kicking in the sheetrock walls, that have often sent me into a heart-pounding inner turmoil. The broken windows, rampant thefts, and attacks upon others that's left me wondering how on earth I thought I might ever reach children with something as stupidly tenuous as love.
Age and experience has finally taught this hard-headed woman that we're a Bell Curve.
Likely a quarter of my children will lurk on the fringes of society, sociopathic or just too disturbed by inner demons, to participate normally either within a family or amongst any other law abiding citizens. Conversely I'll probably have 25% eager beaver, over-achievers, while the remaining 50% will be plug average which is good enough for me.
I will have raised them all the same, with boundaries, expectations, with education and spiritual guidance. I'll have provided stability, security, a very decent home with a swimming pool and regular meals...yet most of everything will be loudly rejected, as accepting me painfully signifies and acknowledges their horrific loss of losing a birth parent, no matter how terrible their former circumstances may have been. It's an awful ordeal to have lost a parent, sentencing a child to a lifetime of grief, abandonment and rejection issues that will simmer under the surface forever, coloring everyhting they will ever do to some degree.
I can step back and comprehend, through my own tears sometimes, that they're not rejecting me, not furious with me, but with what I represent.
I represent LOSS. I unknowingly illustrate it each day to them,
In adulthood, they can choose to remain angry at me, or they can work on their relationship with me, knowing I always forgive, but also knowing I'll demand reasonable standards of living from within. I too can then choose whether or not to be involved in the lives of people. I can avoid toxicity if it continues.
It then becomes their own empowering choice also, and I'm secure enough in who I am, to deal with the final outcome.
I'm deeply grateful for Sarah and Yolie's very different relationships with me, they're very unique women, just as my sons and I all have varying levels of emotional relationships. My Jesse was texting me yesterday, literally sending me into gales of laughter regarding vegetarianism, his wife is on Day Five of her attempt to be meatless.
"Veggie mama, veggie wife equals a veggie life," I'd smirked, to which he'd fairly warned me about my hens potential futures.
Small price to pay to receive a visit from my darling son who's moved waaaaaay up north with his wife and son. You can eat fried chicken dear.
I've dried four very packed jars of oregano for the winter, and still have another jar or so to go. I pick up these sometimes colorful jars at Goodwill or yard sales. Folks buy all this decorative stuff, paying the big bucks, only to discard them later at yard sales, to my benefit.
I listened for hours to Dave Ramsey yesterday as I weeded. They have a weekly "I'm debt free," celebratory scream fest, in which callers call in to brag and explain how they did it, on what income, and how long it took, and I find myself so happy for them.
Such logic attracts me like bees to a flower.
Father's Day, like it's counterpart Mother's Day, is fraught with difficulties for adopted children, reminding them of major losses and deep inward yearnings, creating an explosive mix. I'm downplaying it, of course, even the fact that I have a dad is kept low key. My own father doesn't get all excited over the day anyway, yet really? Do you not think I'm not gonna go bug him to eat?
"Dad you can't fight this battle without nutrients," as he struggles against the Pulmonary Fibrosis that's slowly robbing him of oxygen each day. He'd gotten good news, "Your lungs sound great," by his physician, yet it was countered with, "You're gonna accidentally starve yourself to death," as his weight is shockingly low, leaving him skeletal. I'm praying for an appetite increase soon.
The though of losing my dad, me now 55 and he's 80, well you'd think I'd be emotionally prepared, but I'm not. What kid could ever be ready?
No wonder my children act out.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
List price brand new $129. Are you kidding me? Who has that kind of money? I paid $8 today at a yard sale. Scotty is ecstatic.
$24 Gap sandals for Sabrina for one buck.
And for me, several books for 50 cents each:
Ten dollars to keep both me, and most of my sons, entertained for hours.
Frugality is the new status symbol, at least in my narrow world.
Mayra bought handbags and jewelry for a few dollars, Grandma spent one dollar for a slow cooker, I bought Yolie a waffle iron for $2, and homeschool, hardback books for Ray for two quarters apiece. Tabby bought roller skates for 50 cents, and a sidewalk chalk mongo kit for a quarter.
Eight year old Nando, wearing his Ninja costume, blushed visibly when he ran into his friend from school, a beautiful little Mexican girl, named America, who has long been his crush.
Wonder what's contributed to my easiness around here lately? Planting something everyday or the enforced one day at a time attitude? We've had nearly no violence, nor physically aggressive explosions, little flare ups certainly, antagonistic attitudes and solitary sulks, but overall, we might could even have passed for a halfway normal family.
JoJo's been begging for me to go get two dogs to replace the two elderly departed ones, but I don't want to do so, eight dogs still left here are plenty. Three of the eight are elderly so that frets me out a little. The scruffy white one, Amelia the three-footed terrier, has become glued to JoJo ever since Paloma went away.
She, Paloma, not Amelia, has recently been released from her crisis intervention, mental health stay, as she'd expressed vague homicidal ideations, "Yeah, I'd kill her," in reference to a bunkmate who'd crossed her, but is now returned to her OTP residential stay, where her non-compliance has become predictable.
I'd called to check on her and couldn't stop myself from gushing my appreciation to them for dealing with her issues, as I'm more than a little exhausted from eight long, tumultuous years of strife and turmoil with her.
Five of my children, a scrappy difficult sibling group, she and her four brothers, could lay claim to the title yesterday of 'my mom's a killer,' as their birth mom did violently murder their father some ten years ago, and no, she's not in prison, later serving time for possession of 96 pounds of pot, soon released and she's somewhere in El Ciudad Juarez.
Dr. Mandy is wanting to keep a visible profile around here, just because my kids are not acting out as badly as, let's say, last summer, doesn't mean their inner wounds are not still festering and do not need attention. I'm with Dr. Mandy on this, of course. My kids view her as a friend, even knowing her credentials, she has an amazing rapport with them all.
Somehow I managed to spend a great deal of time outside yesterday, other than taking Nando and Tabby both to the Pediatrician, as Tabby had some viral stomach ailment, but Nando complained of ear pain, which turned out to be a case of swimmer's era.
I weeded happily, soaking wet with sweat, but y'all everyone nowadays avoids sweating at all costs, as if it's deadly or something. Maybe not sweating is at the root of society's major overload of depression and anxiety symptoms. The dirt is my Zoloft? The sweat is my Prozac? Am I losing it here in my old age?
I've begged my five oldest sons living here with me, JoJo, Allen, Martin, Chuy and CW to drag me a wheelbarrow load of wood chips, each day, to the Big Back Garden, as the weeds can be rampant in such fertile soil, but the piney fragrant wood chips suppress their germination, conserve water, feed the soil as they rot, and also look nice. I'm violently opposed to the dyed red commercial wood chips I see in town. Ga-ross, folks, that's so unnatural and nasty.
I'm enjoying tons of figs, blueberries, potatoes, squash and cucumbers, so many blackberries that I've freezed some to make smoothies in the winter, last night stinking up the house by drying oregano in the oven, crushing it up in apothecary jars to use all winter. Pulling up the gone-to-seed leaf lettuce for the hens, our intense heat makes lettuce season way too short in Georgia.
Still 90 degrees as the sun was setting, Nando was picking berries in that Ninja suit that Dee had sent, I was sweating just looking at him wearing long sleeves. He wants to wear it this morning to yard sales.
"Hey girls," I bellow, as I go through the garden shed/gate, as glad to see my hens as they are to see me, knowing I feed 'em good, they scamper comically to the fence line, happy in their 300 linear feet of chicken moat, when I have more spare cash, I'll lengthen it further. So many projects on hold, as I sure as crap won't use my charge card, deathly fearful of consumer debt. I'd rather do without, thank you stupid ad campaigns, that never tempt me.
See, peacefulness is still prevailing, and I'm loving it. My boys have been nothing but silly, CW had worked hard outside on the pool, Chuy's in charge of the mouse traps, as rural living tempts the cute little bugger rodents inside. Martin was dragging some cinder blocks to a new compost pile area, Nando loves to pick the berries, treasure hunting for him. No one, but me, ever weeds, as I have too many emerging and reseeding perennials to allow marauders in my garden beds. Clear cutting deforestation is repugnant to me, stay away boys, who'd love to crank up chain saws and decimate everything.
Seven kids go away to Forward this upcoming weekend, leaving me with only the seven youngest here at home, a break for me, such as it is, but more importantly Forward is an amazing event for my teenagers, and they're looking forward to it. Their last trip with Pastor Bronson, "It's gonna be fun, not a sad time," he promised them as June 30th is his last day on the job.
But I'm not gonna dwell on our loss, I'm gonna just deal with today, maybe go to a few yard sales, definitely plant more seeds, and just be glad that I'm glad lately.
Friday, June 18, 2010
I'm pretty sure that the majority of society does not ever come home and need to cook supper for 30 other hungry people. Yet that was a routine chore for me for many years, now only having 15 of us in the house right now, feels very easy to me. I still cook too much, I never want a kid to whine that we didn't have enough to eat, then knowing they'll generally chow down all leftovers fairly soon.
When I remind myself that the demands on me are still about 4-5 times the normal averages, when I find myself behind the eight ball and completely and terribly frustrated, I have to take a second and mention to myself within my blaring thoughts, "Big deal Cindy, get a grip."
And even so, suppose it were just us 15, I also must factor in the myriad diagnoses within our emotionally mangled family, the issues and mental health challenges, the proclivities towards criminal behavior, the severe oppositional behaviors, the "normal" adoption baggage overload of trust, security, stability feelings, plus the hard-wired inner responses they've come to learn for survival, long before they ever had to adapt to our oddball family.
I read one of the best articles ever in a magazine I was flipping through while waiting on Allen's haircut, doing my usual muttering 'bout why aren't there ever any garden magazines, griping about bimbo Glamour, but bingo, "I Found Out My Mother Was A Killer," was well-written, allowing me, as an adoptive parent, yet another troubling glimpse into the inner psyche of a once very troubled adopted child who later redeems herself mightily.
This was a baby adopted at birth, not an older child from the foster care system, yet the abandonment issues spring forth anyway. The maternal bond, that very primal link between mother and child, seems to be so irretrievably and sadly broken from within children, damage done, where do we go from here?
Many of the children now living with me, nearly all teenagers now, have almost all been here since toddler hood, or as very young school age children. Their pasts so traumatic that their brains have protectively shut down, shielding them from sad and tragic memories, most do not remember not living with me, yet all have that inner alarm system that clangs from within time to time, most especially during times of stress.
It behooves me to remember, even if they cannot seem to do so, because especially in adolescence, when once delightful normal birth children can also turn into strangers to their bewildered parents, how much more so in a family like ours?
One of my sons had his feelings recently hurt, by a remark, that another parent now doesn't want their kid to hang around with him anymore. I'm kinda on that mom's side, I get it, I wouldn't want my kid to hang out with him either, especially out in public, where his zero impulse control, and severely disruptive behaviors, flare with complete and rude regularity.
Does that then entice my son to change his behaviors for the better? Oh heck no, it just makes him angrier, since he's not really capable of understanding cause and effect behaviors. His birth parents were heavy drinkers and raucous partiers, that didn't bode well for the many children she'd later birth, pickling their forming brains in alcohol, sentencing them to a lifetime of confusion and inabilities.
It just flat pisses me off.
I'm the teetotaler parent now dealing with the collateral damage.
My children are extremely frustrated, slowly noticing that they're not exactly like other children, to whom life comes so much easier for, at all times.
Their sweet youth pastor, the man who is accidentally breaking their hearts, came by to swim yesterday, kinda bittersweet as they know he's leaving them after eight wonderful years of stability at our church. "Y'all can still call me, even you Cindy," he noticed my own stricken face, knowing we're losing a gold mine of spiritual guidance for my children. "There's Facebook," he reminded us, knowing we can see pictures of his wife and incredibly cute seven month old son.
The new incoming youth pastor is unknowingly going to have a taste of my life, trying to woo stone-faced, hard-hearted teenagers, who'll be molassessly slow to even begin to think about trusting anyone again, openly grieving long and hard over losing Pastor Bronson.
I know better than to hurry them through their grief process. Losses are maximized in their minds, their greatest fears realized. They are being abandoned. That's all they see. Period.
Chuy, Allen and CW are facing high school in just six or so more weeks, CW here since birth is totally emotionally stable, yet terribly upset also over losing Pastor Bronson. Heck I ought to know, as I lost a Pastor, David Cooper, an incredibly brilliant and anointed man, that I cried over for months and months many years ago, before I had any clue as to the number of tears I'd later shed when I got good and heavy down within the adoption world.
Looking back now, David provided me with so much information, and Biblical ammunition, that I never knew I'd later need so desperately.
My own parents, then still living in Virginia, products of the staid United Methodist church, versus our much more emotional and personal Church of God denomination, were baffled at my grief back then, countering that with the happiness they'd felt when I drug my once very rebellious, product of the 1960s turmoil, happy butt back to church, surprising them with the very unexpected suddenness. I'd walked out on a long term relationship, just turned my back, and dove into church happily.
So I know we're gonna survive this loss, BTDT, I'm old enough to know better nowadays, and I'll guide my kids through this, remembering we'd also lost Pastor Anthony 8 years ago, then leaving Big Joe, Jesse and Sergi, in particular, in tears.
Grief and loss, deep-seated scars that will rule my children's every move for many, many years until much more maturity ever sets in, until they finally comprehend that I'll, at least, always be here for them.
Yolie'd pointed out to me recently, "As weird as it seems, Allen grew so much closer to you after he'd accidentally burned himself last year. He watched you like a hawk, how you dealt with it all, how you cared for him throughout it. Remember he was fixing to become hard-hearted and rebellious, yet he turned it around last summer?"
Her eagle eye combined with her very innate intelligence, a Master's Degree in Social Work, her long sad experience as a former foster child, and her emotional closeness to me has also served me extremely well, giving me a bird's eye view into an arena that can be terribly closed off to an adoptive parent. Her translations of the behaviors, and her complete understanding of their inner workings, has helped me so much over the ensuing years.
Then Sarah, a totally different daughter, grounds me emotionally, silently reminding me of nearly 37 years of successful parenting, a shining example to me of my parenting abilities, that I so often question, as I look around me here with my other challenging, stubborn children.
We'd closed out a very decent day yesterday, with Sarah calling the Bubbas to come help her get two very long, large black snakes off of her back side porch, a 30 minute ordeal, as even I was wondering, "who're ya gonna call?" Her husband was working late, fixing everyone's AC units, just as he'd fixed both of mine that morning, leaving Sarah to tend to the household stuff, yet snakes are not in either her, nor mine, repertoire of desirable activities.
Finally JoJo, Chuy and CW got both snakes individually put into Ray's wagons, and they hauled 'em both off into the woods, where we all know they'll just both come right back at some point.
So I'm a gonna sit here til the sun finally comes up, reading My Empire of Dirt, then I'll go weed until I'm soaked with sweat, but that's my way of coping, and it's always served me oh so well.