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Monday, April 30, 2012

It's only Monday...

I sobbed into the phone as I was preparing dinner. Jelly Bean was in a mood and today I just couldn't deal. It was a long day at work (I work full time.) and Hubby requested steaks on the grill which I obliged because I was crabby yesterday. So I stopped at the grocery store where at one point Jelly Bean decided to run and actually fell in the middle of the store sliding across the aisle.

She was in trouble from the morning. She nearly missed the bus because she wasn't getting out of the car because she was busy trying to lace up these "converse" type boots that her sister got last week and her Mom bought for her this week. (Gabby hated them. I agree with Gabby.) she ran to the bus nearly wiping out because they were falling off her feet and she was tripping over them. The rule in our house is no accessories or new footwear if it's not on your body when you walk out of the house.

She did something as we were getting home and I yelled. She tantrumed and threw the shoes in the garbage without me knowing. I then emptied stuff into the garbage can.

She screamed and screeched. I listened to how mug she hates this house and this Mom. How I'm the worst Mom ever. I screamed and screeched back.

Then I nearly lit myself on fire with the grill and finally lost it when Hubby called. I sobbed into the phone. I'm tired of being the punching bag. I'm tired of being the target for someone else's mistakes. I'm tired of feeling guilty when I don't do a good job of being a therapeutic parent. I cried because I don't know if I can make it the three weeks until our vacation. And it's only Monday. It's not even Wednesday.

We opened a bottle of wine with the steaks. I'm headed to bed and praying that tomorrow is a better day.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Here are the bullet points:

- Every child except my 4 year old had a meltdown after their visit this Saturday.
- One of them gave a repeat performance for the CASA worker when she came.
- I think the CASA worker may have thought I wasn't responsive enough because she said I'm going to go she needs you.
- In my head I responded if I react every time she throws a tantrum I'd never come out of that room.
- Mom tried buy affection with candy and gifts from the Mexican Mall again. There was one toy that is not appropriate and the kids were upset with me for saying so.
- Jelly Bean's therapist praised me for setting limits when I called to tell her that due to the meltdown and visit I didn't think she was going to have a productive session and I was not going to drive an hour each way for her to eat snacks in her office.
- Out of the blue my niece texted and asked if we'd like to go out she would babysit for us.
- We went and saw two movies.
- I paid my niece in makeup.
- It was still not enough time away. I blew up at my husband and left the house 15 minutes before our guests were supposed to come for his birthday.
- I drove to a park chilled for 15 minutes. Then drove home mainly for my kids.
- My solution was to pig out and drink Margaritas all afternoon. My emotional eating is getting out of hand. I had spinach dip and Hawaiian bread for dinner.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wednesday is my new favorite day.

- There was so much bickering this morning we instated a no speaking rule. Literally if you can't say something nice you can't say anything. At. All.
- At 11:00 am I got a phone call from Day care. Mr. Mohawk needs to be picked up. He got kicked out of daycare for the day.
- He ignored me on the phone then passed the phone to another 4 year old.
- He took his hand and tried to get poop on it to wipe on other kids. And I was worried about pink eye.
- He slapped a teacher in the face.
- After discussing the incident and telling him he is to keep his hands to himself he said "Mama I'm going to tell you the truth. You have an H on your car."
- I could only mutter. Yes. That is true.
- At 4 pm I came back from a meeting to find several missed calls and voicemails. Little Mama got on the bus instead of waiting to be picked up for family therapy.
- I know to others this will look like week 3 of foster parents failing to deliver all children to family therapy even though we don't take them there.
- I also knew she did this on purpose because she didn't feel her Mom cared what she had to say last week.
- When I asked her about it she told me the truth - she did it on purpose.
- I was so proud that she didn't lie that I did not hand out any consequences.
- We did have a very long discussion about the choice she made and the ramifications it may have.
- Inside I cheered her on for at least making an outward gesture that she is not ok with how Mom is handling herself. I also didn't blame her for wanting to be in control and skip a session. Good for you LM. Good for you.
- Jelly Bean did not have a tantrum. This is because Hubby told her he felt one coming on so just go ahead and get it over with.
- She tried really hard to get in trouble during homework time and dinner. She did not win.
- Less than a month and then we get a 10 day break from foster care land and got to Disney World where it will be encouraged to live a fantasy life of no worries and all fun.
- I need to find a great gift for my Mom who not only picked up the holy terror from daycare but has been coming to my house to spring clean before the CASA worker comes Saturday. Any ideas please leave them in the comments. (Last year hubby got us a matching ring. He went to Jared. No, seriously. It's where he always goes.)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Shaken Loose

I wrote this on the 20th and it didn't publish.

So we had a status hearing today. Judge granted DCFS discretion to allow unsupervised visits. They won't begin happening anytime soon and I'm pretty sure that the kids therapists are going to fight pretty hard against it so I'm not worried. The judge cautioned everyone to tread carefully.

Then the kids attorney called us in a room. And shared information with us that let's us know she gets it. She sees the problems we see. And she is going to fight for my kids to have stability.

Finally I feel like we are headed towards an end. We have a long road but at least I don't feel like no one is listening anymore.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Love is a Four Letter Word

Driving from work to daycare to a doctors appointment tonight (we have pink eye and an ear infection and the stomach flu at our house this week) I heard this song. It brought tears to my eyes. I've been looking for a way to verbalized my feelings lately and this song lays some of them out there perfectly.




"I Won't Give Up" By Jason Mraz
Hmmmm ... Hmmmm ... Hmmmm ... Hmmm ...

When I look into your eyes
It's like watching the night sky
Or a beautiful sunrise
There's so much they hold
And just like them old stars
I see that you've come so far
To be right where you are
How old is your soul?

I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up

And when you're needing your space
To do some navigating
I'll be here patiently waiting
To see what you find

'Cause even the stars they burn
Some even fall to the earth
We've got a lot to learn
God knows we're worth it
No, I won't give up

I don't wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I'm here to stay and make the difference that I can make
Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use
The tools and gifts we got yeah, we got a lot at stake
And in the end, you're still my friend at least we did intend
For us to work we didn't break, we didn't burn
We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I've got, and what I'm not
And who I am

I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up
Still looking up.

I won't give up on us (no I'm not giving up)
God knows I'm tough enough (I am tough, I am loved)
We've got a lot to learn (we're alive, we are loved)
God knows we're worth it (and we're worth it)

I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up

This song is on the album, Love is a Four Letter Word.

My oh my, do parents of traumatized children understand that statement.  Love is such a foreign concept to our kids that it is a negative. So many of them were told they were loved while awful, rotten, unimaginable things were done to them. Some were never held or told they were loved. Love is evil for kids who have experienced trauma. It is not to be trusted. Nor should you trust those people who might actually show you what real love can be like for they too will disappoint and hurt you with it. 

I'm sure the artist chose the title because so often romantic love can be painful.  So can the love between a parent and a child.  Surely, this kind of pain is nothing compared to the actual trauma our children experience but recovering from that trauma and being the person leading them through it is hard, lonely work. Often feeling impossible to do together because the goal of healing for the parent is often at odds with the goal of survival that our children have.  In order to SURVIVE they must not feel love.  And they will do everything they can to make sure you know that your "love" will not hurt them.  

My kids have trauma in their past. Some more than others.  I understand that my kids' behaviors would be considered mild compared to a lot of other kids in foster care.  I'm not into comparing this sort of thing but I mention it to recognize that a lot of other families are dealing with much tougher stuff than we are.  And I'm grateful that those families are willing to be open and honest with their struggles as it allows me to keep looking up and see how far they've come. Because they have not given up.  They have given their love. And their kids have learned to trust it. To believe in it.
This song has become an affirmation to me.  Of how I want to approach this journey on a daily basis.  That on days that I've listened to the 45th minute of screaming rage, handed the 10th time out, refereed the 15th tattling, answered the 100th nonsense question, and doled out the 14th consequence I have something to hold onto.  Because I haven't given up.  Though Lord know I've asked myself if I should.  And the answer back is always a resounding No. Because we're worth it. Because we are an US.  We are a family.  We have love.  It may not always look like the love of other families but its there. 

I am here to stay and make the difference I can make.  After 5 other families tried to do the same thing.  My kids really need to BELIEVE that I won't give up.  Especially when things get rough. The only way to do this is by proving it. Showing up time and time again.  Staying patient.  Giving them their space when they need it. We DO have a lot at stake. We have an opportunity to break a cycle of abuse that has lasted generations.  We have an opportunity to heal hurt inflicted over years. We have the ability to model for four children what health relationships look like so that they can go forward armed with this information for adulthood.  We have the time to be able to make education a priority and college a possibility for four children who had never finished one year in the same school.We have the ability to teach what LOVE is. What it should be.  I am tough enough. I am tough.  I am enough. On days that I question this I look back and see the strides we've made where others failed.  We haven't broken and the world has not caved in even though there were times I was sure it would. Like the day I had to admit Jelly Bean to the hospital or the day Little Mama was triggered and dissociated, and the day that I figured out Gabby was throwing up at visits due to anxiety, and the day of the worst migraine of my life.  We fought through it.  We got up the next day and the next.  And we are stronger for it.  Because I won't give up on us.  I'm giving them all my love.  E.V.E.R.Y. D.A.Y. Even days that I feel beaten down.  Especially on days that they reject my love and me.  Because that is how I know its working. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Equal

Dictionary.com defines equal as below:

e·qual

[ee-kwuhl] Show IPA adjective, noun, verb, e·qualed, e·qual·ing or ( especially British ) e·qualled, e·qual·ling.
adjective
1.
as great as; the same as (often followed by to or with ): The velocity of sound is not equal to that of light.
2.
like or alike in quantity, degree, value, etc.; of the same rank, ability, merit, etc.: two students of equal brilliance.
3.
evenly proportioned or balanced: an equal contest.
4.
uniform in operation or effect: equal laws.
5.
adequate or sufficient in quantity or degree: The supply is equal to the demand.
 
Equal is something we've been talking about a lot lately.  This is a BIG GIANT issue for the kids and their Mom.  The kids do not feel that their Mom loves them equally or the same.  They feel she loves them when she buys them things.  However, when she buys them things she is not equal in doing so. We highlighted this in the pointless meeting. We gave the example that she sent home Easter baskets and the kids literally counted and compared the contents.  The psychologist at the meeting explained that she needs to give them the SAME until they understand that she will always even it up or make things fair between the four of them.  Her defense was she can't afford to spend as much as the foster parents. The psychologist explained that its not the cost. Its that the items are equal.  If you give one a pencil you It is better to get them all a pencil than give 2 a pen and 2 nothing. Or 2 a pen and 2 a piece of paper.
 
So today when the 2 oldest came home with new shoes, candy, a bottle of perfume, key chain, decorative pens and chips after a visit to the Mexican Mall and McDonalds I was hoping she would rinse and repeat for the other two.
 
I'll give you a guess.
 
A bag of chips (she's supposed to bring back next week?), candy to share with the other kids, a hair tie, a blow up sword (which for the child who was written up on Friday for hitting and kicking a  student and teacher wouldn't be my first choice) and a balloon animal heart and sword.
 
Does that seem equal to you? Because it didn't to the kids.  Even the kids who got the shoes and perfume saw the gap.  They didn't go to the same McDonalds either.
 
The Mexican Mall was a questionable choice too.  Wednesday one of the children told her she didn't want to speak Spanish.  She was told by her Mom that she had no choice.  She told me she felt that her Mom didn't care about her feelings.  So the decision to shove it down her throat wasn't the best in my opinion.  And was evident by the emotions I dealt with last night and the confession that she tells people she is Puerto Rican because she doesn't want to be Mexican.  "All Mexican people are bad and hit their children."  Which is her experience.  And certainly something I spent a lot of time discussing with her.  She did enjoy the mall (mainly because her Mom showed she cared by buying her things) so I guess it worked out. 
 
I realize I can't expect her to get this stuff overnight.  But its something I've brought up over and over to the case worker and Mom.  And it makes it more clear she doesn't get the importance of this point.  And while buying them stuff may temporarily make them happy it is not going to help build the trust especially when they compare that one kid got shoes, one kid got perfume and the other two got balloons.
 
And even still my heart broke a little when we I dropped off at the visit. Mr. Mohawk hadn't said goodbye to me before his visit and as I was leaving he said "Bye Mom!" Bye bud. "Wait" and he came running to give me a hug.  I was a little stunned.  I didn't want to hurt her feelings.  I hugged him back but it was awkward.  More awkward by the fact that when she walked in he didn't run up to her or hug her.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Did I tell you I ran into my therapist?

At the school fun fair? I sit down at a table across from my family and look up and there she is.

She hadn't returned my phone call. I had made the decision to find a different therapist. But hadn't gotten around to finding one yet. Because honestly the thought of explaining my life failures and issues seems really daunting. And I am tired. I mean really tired. Beat. Beat up.

I know self care is important. I know I'm depressed. Those are in conflict with each other. A person can't operate at this level of stress and chaos without some sort of internal reaction. But I'm afraid to start taking the meds the doc gave me due to the dizziness.

But then there she was. And she said - I moved practices. You should be getting a letter. I'm sorry I didn't call you back. I should have called you back.

And I thought ok I forgive you. I got my letter yesterday and will be calling to check the insurance. Because I know I need her. For me. For my marriage. For my kids. And at least I can get somewhere with her. And if that point I decided to find someone else who isn't volunteer of the year at my kids school maybe I'll have the energy to do it.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I love Wednesdays.

Oh yes I do. I love the 9:30pm text on Tuesday night revising the original message that no therapy is to take place on Wednesday and to only send the 2 older girls. I love the 1:30pm text on Wednesday afternoon telling me the youngest is now supposed to go too.

I love that I let said youngest go out with her former foster family to see her teacher win an award. I love that immediately upon walking through the door I paid for it.

I love that Gabby was beyond struggling. I love that she took en entire chapter of behavior out of Jelly Bean's book. I love that behavior I haven't seen in a year has shown up. She had a tantrum of her own.

I love that JB let Gabby have her turn and then took over. It's so nice when they let the other go before them.

I loved the 45 minutes of screaming at full force by JB. Every.Single.Minute I loved. Hearing how she hates us and doesn't want to live here and that she'd rather live with the other family was fantastic. Refreshing really. Hearing how wonderful I am gets so boring.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

So Little Mama Says

"My visit was boring. I was really hoping that we'd get to the play land like Jelly Bean and MM."

You know me being right in what the kids need makes it's seem like I am feeding these kinds of statements to the kids. And my email relaying this information to the case worker is just going to seem like picking on Mom.

So the challenge becomes how do you assist Mom in being "good enough" help her learn what her kids need and then not seem like a witch pointing out when she doesn't follow those pointers?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Need time to process.

We had a "team" meeting yesterday. Except it's really clear that there isn't ONE team. I want to write more about the tough feelings have about all of it. I'm conflicted and frustrated, sad and scared. I didn't have any positive feelings leaving the 4 hour meeting. I felt weary and then came home to are for a child with a fever an 11 year old with separation anxiety (from me) and a work issue.

Phrases like "good enough Mom" " at her level" and "basic parenting skills" were used frequently. And no one seemed to hear the "high level of need" "severe trauma" phrases.

Even after giving the specific example - they need to go to the SAME place for visits she took them to 2 different ones this morning.

Sorry for the annoying pounding. Still banging my head on the wall.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Love Should Be Multiplied: One Year Later

The original post is one of the most viewed and searched upon posts I have written. It was written one year ago in response to us taking the rest of a sibling set of four kids who were 9 months into their DCFS case for physical abuse. We had less than 4 hours notice before they arrived on out doorstep with garbage bags of belongings (at least they HAD belongings) while my husband and his best friend worked furiously to get the beds set up and my Mom did her best to stop crying in order to keep them occupied.  I had a beautiful post in my head where I was going to hyperlink to that original post and to the post about my Mom's reaction to our announcement we were going down the foster care path - but i just spent the last 30 minutes dealing with Jelly Bean and a monsterous meltdown and to be honest I'm spent. This was the second one of the evening. Hubby said to me when I came home "I'm not sure what is causing it today?". I flippantly responded "it's Wednesday."  Then I heard my statement out loud and remembered the call I got from Gabby this afternoon worried that she had family therapy today.  It's Wednesday. Now I wrote in January how the anniversary of living here a year bothered JB. Gabby and LM were excited. So we bit the bullet and celebrated for their sake. We ordered pizza like last year and got a special dessert. (Long story short-we ended up with 2 cookie pizzas. Hubby wanted to know what we were going to do with the other. My suggestion was bring it to the staffing meeting on Friday. It said Happy Anniversary on it. Hubby actually laughed at my joke. He doesn't often do that it made me feel good. I was only 1/2 kidding though. I wish I could bring it and all the evil people could choke on it...another joke...maybe.) We thanked them for being awesome kids and celebrated how far we have come as a family. Gabby and LM appreciated the gesture. At least for today. Tomorrow (or 5 minutes from Now for JB) could be a different story.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Irritated

Still dizzy. We had 2 tantrums today. Oh and Case Worker texted about this meeting on Friday for the case and the providers. I'll admit I got snippy on the phone with her. The meeting was supposed to be for the providers (therapists) to meet with the clinical supervisor so that they can all get on the same page.

Someone should give the woman a heads up that there is not a snowball's chance that all 5 of them are going to get on the same page.

This meeting of course is in the middle of the morning. And is supposed to last 2 hours. At least. The last thing I want to do is go be the scapegoat and lightning rod because I disagree with how everyone is treating the kids and how much they bend over backwards for their Mother EXCEPT when it comes to actually teaching her about HOW to parent.

I think it's going to be a waste of time. I hope I'm wrong.

Friday, April 6, 2012

I don't often let them see me sick.

I have an incurable illness. I've written about it before. My kids know that I have issues with headaches. They have no idea how sick I've been. They know I may never have biological kids because of it and that is why we became foster parents. But I don't flaunt it in front of them. In fact I handle all doctor appointments an testing without them knowing. Except today. Today is the first time they have ever been to the hospital with me.

The dizziness and the anti anxiety meds I took to curb my colossal freak out when being put in the MRI machine meant Hubby had to dive me. And since the kids had the day off they had to come with.

I assumed that Hubby would have them watch movies in the car. But 5 minutes in the waiting room and the crew comes running up to me. Now they are waiting in one room while I wait in another.

I feel bad. I hate people fussing over me. I hate ending an inconvenience. I hate that this may cause the kids to worry about me. I hate that with these results I may get news that my disease has worsened. Or that someone is going to tell me to stay off the rides at Disney World. Or be off work.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Day 4

Oh yes. There was a 4th day of trantruming. I was hoping that since I had left work and gone to urgent care for the mother of all migraines and unbelievable dizziness that maybe, just maybe Jelly Bean would keep it together.

NOPE.

So I'm laying on my bathroom floor- the room is spinning I've just spent 10 minutes vomitting from the pain and she's screeching at the top of her lungs. Hubby is pleading with her to please stop crying. He asks her what he can do to help her stop and she tells him to hit her.

It was a new low point for me. Totally powerless. Unable to soothe my child. Unable to stand up. But it reminded me how much I love my husband. He came in after and apologized that he wasn't more calm. Asked me how he could make me feel better. Made the kids dinner. Got the homework done. As helpless as I felt it was nice to be reminded I'm not in this alone .

So far (fingers crossed) no tantrum today. But I'm sending her to bed in 3 minutes it could still happen.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Day 3

My 8 week vacation from drama, trauma, and tantrums is over. We are in the third consecutive day of 20+ minute temper tantrum/meltdowns by Jelly Bean. These episodes leave the entire family drained, feeling helpless and worried that she'll end up back in the hospital. The fear of seeing her Mom is pushing everyone over the edge. Me included. The sense of calm and control I had has quickly vanished. I'm reacting to their big feelings and I feel guilty about it. I feel sad I can't fix this for them. But man oh man do I feel pride in how far they have come.

The thing about the tantrums is that they drain us but once Jelly Bean gets it out she's fine. Pleasant. Back to normal. But just as that happens Gabby starts up and at 10 acts like a dog. She actually growled at her therapist tonight, for the second week in a row. She's regressing in a big way. She also decided this week she wants to tell her class she's in foster care. Unfortunately, Gabby is heavy on detail and it will be hard for her to balance her story with her privacy. Not to mention the peer reaction (or that of their parents).

Little Mama is dissociating from it all. She's thrown herself into her schoolwork. Which for a kid who had 28 missing assignments before winter break is pretty amazing. She actually worked on a project with the goal of getting it done BEFORE the long weekend. But when discussing family therapy in session tonight she was triggered and detached from the present.

So to review we have an 8 year old having toddler tantrums, a 10 year old accessing animalistic behaviors and an 11 year old who is avoiding.

But everything is fine because the visits are going to only be with 2 kids an out in the community.

Day 345 of me banging my head against the wall.

So in an attempt to get my groove back I'm vegged out on the cough watching mindless tv- Vh1's Pop Up Video, Jersey Shore edition (and if you are confuse so was I since Jersey Shore is on MTV). These people are cracked and make my life seem down right normal.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I hit publish and all Hell broke loose

I couldn't make this stuff up if I wanted. I hit publish with my final sentence about no issues and BAM I hear Jelly Bean crying hysterically. Full on meltdown mode. So after a few minutes of trying to get her to deep breathe and tap herself back into reality (a technique the therapists have taught us to use with the kids when triggered so they can realize they are in a age environment and not flashing back-think Inception) nothing worked. I opened my arms and she came running into my arms and jumped up onto my hip.

She was sobbing that she wanted to go home. "I miss my real house."

The "real" house was at least 4 houses ago. Which I'm sure she does miss. And I think that's the issue. 4 houses she ha lived in and now Mom has moved again. What was can never be put back. And this constant change of living spaces is really hard for her especially since she's lived here for a year. She had never lived ANYWHERE for a year. EVER.

Apparently the contrast of an annual tradition was too much and she needed to let it out. Jelly Bean and LM had spent the majority of the day together as they were squabbling at bedtime last night and because I could not determine the truth, both got grounded for the day. Apparently LM telling JB she wasn't allowed to play with her toy was too much.

After we got calmed down though the girls did really well. LM apologized to JB for her mean tone an JB let out some feelings. Then they cut up a cardboard box and played Toy Story with MM while Gabby kept at a craft I started her on.

I still made a rookie mistake today thinking this day would be over without Trauma appearing but it left much quicker than it used to.

Now it's 8:30pm. Why do we think the odds are that I can get them to sleep before 9:15?

Rookie Mistakes

Last year we took all four kids to see the Easter bunny like 7 days after they moved in.  I was excited to get them all dressed up and go do this ritual Moms participate in. Man, was I stupid.  The line was an hour long, the girls weren't getting along, there were tears, and when we finally got up to possibly the saddest looking bunny I've ever seen, Mr. Mohawk was terrified and refused to sit on his lap. (Little did I know this would also be his reaction to Mickey Mouse until we bribed him with Ice Cream.)

So this year I'm taking a do-over. We did not make grand plans. The kids went in kid clothing (although despite me telling JB to go put on nice jeans and a nice shirt she came down in an outfit that was  black, grey, and yellow skirt/legging combo and red heeled shoes) and we went to the dinky mall up the street. I did not go with high hopes that this will be a magical memory that they wil look back on for years to come. Nope.  This will just be another year we saw the Easter Bunny because thats what we do in THIS house. The kids were excited. They waited patiently in line.  The giggled and laughed and then took an excellent picture. I also watched as family after family tried to get their crying children to sit on the Easter Bunny's lap.  We bought the picture and then headed to meet hubby for lunch. No issues. No crying. No pointed looks or warnings of time outs to come.