Friday, February 22, 2013

Upside the Head

I created a card on today.  It was a joke for another trauma mama who does the best she can as a therapeutic parent -- just like any one of us.  Today she was tired of being therapeutic.  Today she didn't like her child.  Today she was done.

I totally get that.  I've been "done" a lot lately.

There are days I get tired of thinking.  There are days I get tired of going through the same dang thing over and over again.  There are days I get tired of reminding my 14 and 17-year-old children that they are safe, they are loved, they are home, and we are family -- forever, blah, blah, blah.  There are days I  just can NOT "stop, think and relax" myself, let alone try to help one of them do it, too.  Sometimes, there are days that string together.  Lately, there are weeks that string together.

I don't know what that means really (other than I am fried), but I am pretty sure it's okay.  It's okay to be this tired.  It's not okay to keep placing myself on the altar of self-sacrifice for the whims of these children, however, because it does not help them.  It sure as heck doesn't help me.  I cannot be therapeutic if I am being abused and allowing that abuse to continue.

Matthew 11:28-30 reads, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out ...? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  (The Message)

Self care is so very, very important when you're parenting kids with trauma backgrounds.  You cannot parent a child with a traumatic past unless you are okay.  Whether you believe in the bible or not, this is truth.  You need to retreat.  You need respite.  You need a safe place where it's okay to be worn out and get refreshed.

Do that for you.

Take an afternoon.  Take a day.  Take a weekend and use respite care services.  Go to a parenting conference and learn and be with other people who "get" this life.  Don't wimp out.  Don't be a martyr.

And on those days when the therapeutic parenting book on the nightstand seems like a tempting tool to be used for whomping a kid upside the head, remember what Lindsay says --  you are awesome.  Your kid is here.  You are here.  You have not killed him.  You haven't even used the book to whomp him, though you'd like to really, really, really very much do that.  You've done what most other people wouldn't even TRY because you are strong and this is enough -- you are enough -- even on "those" days.  Even on those days, you are awesome.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Natural Consequences

The social worker who checks on me from time to time just left.  She was here for about an hour.  Seems Youngest Son has had some issues with me -- things he's blaming me for, but things he's been told he needs to do and hasn't.  For example, track practices begin on Monday.  He was told last week by me that he needed to go to the athletic office at the high school and get the forms needed for a physical.  He went by the office once and the secretary wasn't there.  So, he didn't get them.  And he didn't go back.  He didn't tell me.  But I was supposed to know.  I was supposed to get the form for him.  I was supposed to set up the appointment for the physical, whether I had the form or not.

I have not set up the appointment.  I do not have the form.  He has not gotten it.  I am not getting it.

The Plains are having a major winter storm today and tomorrow.  The doctor's office is closing early today.  School and the doctor are likely to be closed tomorrow.  Youngest Son works right after school on Friday and besides, the physical form needs to be in at the athletic office at least 24 hours before a student is allowed to participate in practices or any sports activity.  Guess who won't be able to have track practice on Monday?  Natural consequence.  My fault?  I don't think so.

Last night, I went into Youngest Son's room and reminded him we'd be having this winter storm.  Weather where we live is crazy in the winter.  It can be in the 60's one day and two days later, we could be getting 6-10 inches of snow -- like this week.  In order to be dressed appropriately for the weather, you need to pay attention.  He doesn't do that, so I remind him.  I let him know that there would be no snow and no wind when he left this morning, but by the time he came home, there would be a few inches on the ground and it would be very windy and cold.  I told him he should wear a coat because while he gets a ride to school, he needs to walk the six blocks home after school.

As I write this, the snow is coming down fast and furious and it's not even noon yet.  The wind is supposed to be a steady 15 m.p.h. by 3 p.m. with frequent gusts to 35 and blizzard-like conditions developing through the afternoon.

Youngest Son's coat is on the hook in the hallway.  I am not driving over there to pick him up.  I don't do that high school parking lot with hundreds of teenagers driving on a clear day.  I'm not doing it in snow and ice.  Youngest Son has his track hoodie on.  He'll be cold and wet when he gets home.  Natural consequence.  My fault?  I don't think so.

The social worker agreed.

I believe therapeutic parenting for much older kids, like my Youngest Son, sometimes means letting them deal with things on their own.  Sometimes, the dominoes just tumble.  We cannot coddle them forever.  We cannot save them forever.  We cannot talk them down from their ledges forever.  Letting go can be just as therapeutic for them as it is for us.

So, there will be a cold, wet boy who's not going to track on Monday.  He'll be angry -- with me.  He'll blame me.  My fault?  I don't think so.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Treading Water

Happily, Youngest Son is still working.  Still plugging along.  Still serving fish and busy as ever now that Lent is here.  He worked 5:30-8:00 last night for Ash Wednesday.  Of course, while so many things do not merit his attention, the ethnicity of people other than those of Caucasian European descent does not escape my boy.  His first comment to me when he got home and I asked how his night went was, "I've never seen so many Mexicans come in that place in one night!"  I just replied, "Hang on dear, Friday's coming!"  (He works twice that day -- over lunch and over dinner.  There is no school here on Friday this week.)

I have to admit I am surprised, and pleased, that he is sticking with this.  He hasn't tried to get out of work once and he apparently does his job as he is supposed to do it.  His manager is happy with him and the girls he works with all adore him (of course).  He is quite the charmer and funny guy.

He has even been more respectful at home these last few weeks.  I pray it lasts, but I'll admit I have gotten to a place where I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Always waiting to pay for whatever it is that triggers my kids when we all least expect it.  I've been struggling with the fact that I recognize this in myself.  I've wondered whether or not I've lost faith.  I've wondered if I just don't have what it takes, BUT -- BUT --- I have also realized that what I have and what I can do is okay -- that it is what I can do and I don't need to compare that to anyone else, including the "good mom" in my head.  I am a good mom -- even when I drop an f-bomb in frustration and exasperation.  Even when I wish I'd never adopted.  Even when I want to run away.  I am a good mom and I love my kids and they are awesome and I cannot imagine living through the things they've lived through and being as great as they are -- right now -- today -- whether a shoe drops or not.

With that in mind, I am seriously considering putting The Princess back in public middle school.  We have gotten into a cycle of her being lazy (not stressed - not reactionary - not triggered - L.A.Z.Y.) and me being fed up.  I do not like my behavior when I am fed up.  I do not like this cycle.  I have decided I NEED to take care of me, and that I've probably LOST some of me -- no, that I have indeed lost some of me along the last five plus years of this journey.  I want me back and I want her better than ever.  That may mean The Princess gets out of my house 7.5 hours a day.  Soon.  Not sure yet.  But I'm close . . .

I'll keep you posted.

On another note, HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!  Give yourself a gift and take a listen to this BEAUTIFUL love song by Billy Kaplan (that is, Billy Kaplan from Parenting in S.P.A.C.E.).  Have some tissue ready.

Click here or above for the SONG.  Click to learn about Parenting in S.P.A.C.E.