What do I do?

That picture, that was our dream, wasn’t it, when we adopted?  Those adorable moments of having children, the joy, the perfect photographable moments, the heart moments?  But instead we ended up with something out of a Stephen King novel

What do we do?

That’s what parents keep asking.  What do I do when… my kid keeps hurting my heart?  when my kid refuses to heal?  when I don’t like my kid?  when I’m ready to run away from home?  when I’m ready to give up? when…..

Dear friends, I’m going to get Biblical on you for just a moment.  It doesn’t matter if you believe in God or not, or you are a Buddhist or a Hindu or an atheist… the general principal applies.  The quote just happens to be from the Bible.  “Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself.”  Here’s what I mean:  Believe in a higher power.  Believe in more than yourself.  Believe in the power of healing.  Believe in miracles, for you and your child.  That doesn’t mean throw everything else to the wind, and stop therapy – it means when everything else is failing – keep believing.  It means if you pray – pray.  Ask others to pray.  If you believe in Reiki – have it performed.  Whatever it is – that higher power – use it.  On you, on your children.  Whatever doesn’t harm might help.

The second part is actually a two-parter. Loving your neighbor as yourself.  Well, first that means you have to LOVE yourself.  Sometimes love is a feeling, a fuzzy warm oh look at the kitten or oh-my-god-i-love-red-velvet-cake feeling.  But love is also an action.  A I-can’t-stand-to-look-at-your-face-I’m-so-mad-but-I-am-still-doing-your-dirty-laundry action.  Now apply it yourself.  As parents of trauma kids who manipulate others and beat us up verbally and emotionally and sometimes physically, we get beaten up at home, and we get beaten up everywhere else as the kids make everyone else think we are horrible mean people when we’re not. We are beaten down from all sides.  On top of that we are constantly not just second-guessing but third, fourth and fifth-guessing ourselves that we are making mistakes, that we did something wrong, when we do make mistakes we flog ourselves relentlessly.  We don’t allow ourselves to be human.  Ever.  Well I say LOVE YOURSELF.  Actively LOVE yourself.  Give yourself grace.  Pamper yourself.  Take care of yourself.  Physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, psychologically.  You can’t give what you ain’t got.

Then love your neighbor – aka your child.  It doesn’t say “your nice neighbors, your good neighbors”, etc.  It says all of them.  So… apply that to your children.  Love them equally.  Again back to that sometimes love is a feeling and sometimes it’s pure action.  Loving your children equally does not mean everybody gets a popsicle at the end of the day.  It means providing for them equally according to their needs.  I don’t buy each of my kids a new pair of shoes just because one of them needs a new pair.  Does that mean I am not treating them equally?

Take care of yourself.  Realize you are doing the best you can.  The results are not up to you, only that you do your best and provide all the resources you can for your child to heal.  The rest is up to your child and “that higher power” (even if that higher power is fairy dust).

Hang in there!

-realmom

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Dads need respite, relief, fun too!

We hear about the moms needing time off from the kids, to relax, to regain some strength, to have fun with their friends… because it’s assumed moms spend the majority of the time with the kids, but even so, dads need a break too!  Even if the dads take over on the weekends, like mine does, it’s still hard!  It’s exhausting, emotionally, physically, mentally, and add that on top of the stresses of supporting a family, the job and all that other life stuff – it adds up!

Maybe men don’t talk about their feelings, their frustrations, their fears about their childrens’ futures.  That doesn’t mean those feelings, fears and frustrations aren’t there.  That doesn’t mean they aren’t taking a toll mentally, physically and emotionally, even spiritually.  Men need emotional recharging as much as women.  And men don’t usually get it from buying a new purse or getting a manicure.

In my house my spouse loves hunting.  So every year he goes hunting with his buddies out in the woods somewhere in the middle of the mountains where there’s no buildings, no work, no electronics, no plumbing, and most importantly, no women or children.  Whether he brings back and elk or a deer is secondary to the recharging he gets to be out in nature, hanging with his buds, being manly in hunting and providing food (insert a Tim Allen grunt) and just being away from it all.  I used to think it was dumb, a waste of time, until he put it into language that I could understand – it was how he recharged.  Now I’m all for it.  I make sure nothing interferes with his hunting trips.

That’s his thing, hunting.  Whatever your significant other’s “thing” is to recharge, support him in it.  Maybe there will be a compromise in time spent, money, and maybe you’ll switch off weekends.  Whatever.  But you both need a break.  You both need to recharge.

And don’t forget – you also need to build your relationship together as well.  All these elements are important for surviving this challenging, exhausting life.  But you can do it.  Prioritize – and don’t put yourselves, or your relationship, last.

Keep it real.

-realmom

When they leave the home – NOW WHAT?

Many, many parents have kids that have had to go into residential treatment, foster care, or even hospitalization long-term.  The rest of the family sits around shell-shocked staring at each other for awhile… as if, “Now what do we do?”

Remember that you all have been in survival mode for so long, there’s going to be a period of adjustment.  Then will come the healing of the rest of the family, the time for rebuilding those bonds that got damaged.  You will probably hear from other kids how they felt left out, neglected, whatever words they use – listen.  And it’s true.  In survival mode, you can only put out the house fire.  You don’t worry about the dirty spot on the rug, the ugly curtains that should be changed.  Your only concern is saving the house.

Now is the time to focus on their – and your own – hurts from just surviving.  Work on those relationships.  Be sure to give your other children what you simply couldn’t before – your complete attention.  An understanding, listening ear.  What you shouldn’t give yourself is raging guilt over how your other children suffered during that time.  That’s not to make light of your other children’s needs and issues, but in the middle of a raging house fire, do you stop and dust the knicknacks?

Take the time as a family to listen to each other, to spend quality time together being relaxed and get to know each other in a non-crisis situation.  Just chillaxin’.  It will take some time for the stress to leave your bodies and minds, it will take some time for your over-reactive nervous system not to jump at every little thing.  But it can happen, it will happen.

Give yourself, your spouse, and your children lots of grace, as you learn how to live this “new” way.  It is a learning process.  Don’t carry the guilt, while your children are telling you their feelings, listen and understand, and apologize and explain if necessary, but don’t carry the guilt forward.  That does nothing but drag you down, and truthfully, what else could you have done?  If you could have done it differently in the moment, most likely you would have.  You did your best, just like you ask your children to do.  Tell them that, if they’re teens and old enough to understand.  But don’t dwell on it yourself.  Let your kids lead you on talking about it, and focus on building your family up and strengthening that bond.

You can do this.

-realmom

You can’t put yourself last. Period.

Growing up, we are taught that to be good parents we must put ourselves last all the time.  As parents, we feel the need to put ourselves last, and daily we can see the crushing results of parents who put themselves first and their children last – neglect, abuse, etc.  But in the case of raising special needs/attachment issues/mental health issue children…. we need to put ourselves much higher on the list.  First, in many instances.

Much is required of us as parents in these special circumstances.  Emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically, we are sucked dry by our children, our friends, our extended family, with very little to fill us up again.  I compare it to trying to drive your car to the gas station or the emergency room or the beach when it’s on empty.  You can’t get it to go when there’s no fuel, no matter where you need it to go or how important the trip is.  There’s just nothing left to fuel the engine.  The same is true with us.  We can’t let ourselves run out of fuel.  Then we have nothing left to give our children, our spouse, even ourselves.

Although it may go against the grain, it may feel selfish, put yourself high on the list.  Take care of your needs.  Eat well, don’t skip meals or eat a lot of junk food in place of a meal – your body needs fuel.  Get sleep – even if it means checking into a hotel by yourself or with your spouse sometimes and leaving the kids with a caregiver so you can get a full night’s sleep.  The floor doesn’t need to be swept or the dishes don’t need to be done if you need a nap.  Get out with some friends – have a cup of coffee, or dessert.  Take some time for yourself.  The problems will still be there when you get home.  The stress will still be there when you get home.  Nothing will have changed – except you.  You will be lighter.  You will be refreshed.  You will have a higher tolerance level for “the crap”.  You will have more patience.

Second in line behind you is your spouse.  Many, many marriages are destroyed with special needs kids.  Work together, spend time together, just the two of you.  Get away from the stress and worry at home, and focus on having some fun.  Make some rules for this time:  Do not talk about the kids, money, or anything that stresses you out.  Have fun.  Play games, go hiking, go for a walk, go to a spa, get a couples’ massage, get intimate, whatever, but spend time together.

You can do this.  This is not a sprint, but a marathon, actually more like a triathalon.  Fuel yourself, your mind, body, soul, and partner, so that you can give to your children and help them heal.  You got this!

-realmom

Perfect Parents

You know who they are… because they are either people you know, that are constantly telling you how “they” raise their kids, and how you “should” raise yours.  They’re the ones posting or writing on blogs on how so many people – usually parents of challenging children – are just bad parents and the kids are fine.  Or they might be at your school, a teacher, an aide, even a counselor, telling you how your little angel is so well behaved and his/her behavior at home must mean that YOU are doing something wrong.

Yeah, you know who I’m talking about.  I bet your blood pressure just hit the roof thinking of those people.

Let’s examine the perfect parents in the world.  No, really.  Jesus – no, wait, he wasn’t a parent.  At least that’s the general consensus.  Ok then, Mother Theresa, oh WAIT, she wasn’t either…. Ok Ghandi, he’s a good man, right?  Ummm…. but he’s been vocal about the parenting mistakes he’s made over the years…. so let’s see…   ummmm…..   (crickets)

Yeah.  The three greatest, most giving people I can think of, anyway, the most perfect people I can imagine, and 2 of them weren’t parents, and the other admitted many mistakes and was definitely not perfect.  And the rest of us, or the majority of us, who are we compared to the likes of them?  We’re just regular people, not only are we not in the same league… we’re not on the same planet.  We can’t compete, so to speak.  That INCLUDES all those Perfect Parents who just know EVERYTHING and have to share it with you and the world.

Keep that in mind as they wear you down, making you feel one inch tall because you aren’t up to “their” standards.  They are so arrogant that they are putting themselves above some of the greatest people in history.  Dang.  That’s some huge cajones, there, by golly.

You are allowed to smirk at them.  You are allowed to laugh in their face.  You are allowed to be snarky.  Why not?  After all, they are inserting themselves into your private business, without asking, without getting your permission to pry into the lives of your children… so go ahead, snark away.  “I’m so glad to be in the presence of someone greater than Jesus!”  “Wow, Ghandi could learn SO MUCH from you!”  “Why are you not famous?  You should write a book.  I mean, you have all the answers!”

The thing about special needs parents, whether the special need is physical, emotional, mental, whatever, is we are so quiet and sweet when idiots get all up into our business.  Smile and wave, move along.  I’m tired of it.  Where in the book does it say we have to put up with other people’s crap all the time, when we have enough crap we deal with on a day to day basis?  So… go ahead, bring on your snark.  Call on your inner smartass.  Let out your bitch.  Whatever.  Enjoy yourself.  And maybe they’ll think twice next time.  Or not.

-realmom

God didn’t intend for me to be a parent

One of my trauma mommas wrote this in an online forum.  I am reprinting her part here with permission. I believe a lot of us feel this way, even if we don’t admit it.  And my response follows.

” I now feel that if God had wanted me to have a child He would have made it so. I feel that maybe I thwarted His plan by adopting so I adopted a child who couldn’t care less if I lived or died. At times, I do feel like He put W in my path. I don’t know. If the reason was to show me that I would not have the family experience that my husband and I dreamt of, then the adoption was a raging success. Pun intended. I just know that I am not an advocate for adoption any longer. When people ask should they adopt, my response is do you really want to hear what I have to say or I am not the person to ask that question. Of course, I am told how blessed I am for having such a sweet and respectful child. I forget that they don’t know the real child I live with and love. At the end of the day, I do love her, but I am broken and scarred by that love.”

Do not say God did not intend you to have a child because you did not birth one… that means the teenage girl who threw hers in the dumpster was “intended” to have one… the crack whore, etc. That is a load of kablooey!  As far as our parenting experience, the whys… I don’t know. My hubs and I do feel strongly that God intended us to have this child. That’s the only thing that keeps us going with him. There’s a reason here. Somehow we are important in his life, even if we don’t see it. Somewhere there’s a myriad of lessons for us to learn here as well. I’ve changed dramatically. I never knew the darker side of adoption. Now I am working to be an advocate for parents to teach them about the dark side before they adopt and to support them after. That’s the thread we cling to. No we’ll never have the family life we dreamed off. Double whammy, both of us were adopted into abusive homes so we didn’t have it growing up, we adopted because we were determined to do it for our children! Irony… And as far as the scars you wear, the broken parts, wear them with PRIDE, because you are a warrior, you earned those scars, fighting in a battle for the life of a child who will never say thank you, will never know the battles you fought, and you fought and LOVED an unlovable human being. Love is a verb, love is an action, not a feeling, and you LOVED. That is admirable! That is put it up on a billboard for all to see awesome! That is true heroism! Stand tall and proud, even though you feel broken, because although you have not been “rewarded”…. you have truly sacrificed. And isn’t that what Jesus’ message was all along? You have walked the true path. Humbly, and without return.

-realmom

Just read the most amazing article

I had opened a link someone else had shared, I always have tons of windows open on my browser, eventually I get around to looking at them.  It could be anything from a recipe to a cute picture.  I never know what I’m going to get when I click on the multiple millions of tabs I have open.  Today I click on this one: http://outofshemind.com/2015/01/marriage-in-the-trenches/?fb_action_ids=10152643257052219&fb_action_types=og.likes

I hope that link works.  I’m new to this blogging thing.  All I can say is, WORD.

-realmom

Just read the most amazing article

I had opened a link someone else had shared, I always have tons of windows open on my browser, eventually I get around to looking at them.  It could be anything from a recipe to a cute picture.  I never know what I’m going to get when I click on the multiple millions of tabs I have open.  Today I click on this one:

http://outofshemind.com/2015/01/marriage-in-the-trenches/?fb_action_ids=10152643257052219&fb_action_types=og.likes

I hope that link works.  I’m new to this blogging thing.  All I can say is, WORD.

-realmom