Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

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I was never a big Ren and Stimpy fan but this song has sadly taken residence somewhere in the deep confines of my brain and it comes out every so often to tell me “Still here!” This morning I shut the front door as my children’s busses pulled away from the house and reveled in the quietness of a home that has been….that has been…”Happy, happy, joy, joy” for the last few months. Darn it! There’s that stupid song! Where did that come from? Crap, now how long is it going to take me to get that back into it’s small little corner of my brain to hibernate for another decade or so? (My apologies now to any of you who also have this song hidden somewhere deep in your memory. You now are experiencing the pain of this redundant song right along with me). If you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing this song, I invite you to google it. But, be warned, it will hide somewhere until it can find a way out for the Rest. Of. Your. Life!

My first blog entry was written only a week into this “wonderful” summer vacation. I didn’t know what to really expect of July and August. Now, I know. It was more of the same and it just escalated the more time they were out of the routine of school. On August 23rd it all came to a head (an ugly, mean and sad monster of a head). Because I don’t want this entry to take up a terrabyte of space, allow me to list a few of the struggles that my kids have as a result of their birth history. This is not a laundry list of complaints. They are, however, the facts of their young lives.

Allison (10 years old, 4th grade)

  • born drug addicted to cocaine, methadone, heroin and marijuana
  • born to a mother who drank gin when she couldn’t get any drugs and prostituted herself for drug money
  • her biological father is HIV+ and has AIDS (praise God this was not passed onto Allison or her mother)
  • has been in Early Intervention/special education since she was born
  • diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and as a result struggles with: developmental difficulties, stealing, understanding consequences, understanding empathy, food hoarding, making friends, keeping friends, academics, impulse control, recognizing danger and a load of other issues that we are still finding out about daily.

Nathan (8 years old, 3rd grade)

  • born drug addicted to cocaine, heroin and marijuana
  • born to a mother who was incarcerated for accessory to murder when we first met her (anger issues?)
  • born at 28 weeks weighing 2 pounds 8 ounces
  • has been in Early Intervention/special education since he was born

I will get to making a list of their many awesome and sweet traits at another time (there are MANY) but this entry is about what happened on August 23rd and the blessings of my children were nowhere in my peripheral vision that sad day.

Prior to this day, there had been a build up of a whole summer of finding food stashed behind furniture, incessant fighting, lying, story telling, tattling and constant disobeying. This day was the culmination of all these things.

Nathan was in the midst of writing 25 times “I will stop telling lies because it hurts those I love.” He had been working on this for FOUR days. I finally told him he had to sit at the dining room table until it was finished. No getting up. No breaks. No nothing until it was complete. This writing assignment was a result of weeks of lying and lying and me taking a compassionate approach using the Bible to do devotions about lying and praying for God’s strength to stop lying. Crap, I’m not telling the whole truth (AKA lying). I did do those things but I also yelled, badgered, embarrassed and belittled him every time he told yet another lie. I needed to pray and ask God to forgive me for not relying on Him to help me get through to my young son. My patience and wherewithal was wearing very thin. I had a flashback to my days of having toddlers and trying to keep them in their timeout seat. All the advice I sought told me to just calmly walk them back to their seat without saying a word. Well, I was calm as I did this…the first 20 times! Then I got a little more forceful. Then I yelled. Then I cried. Then I sobbed because my young son got out of the chair for the umpteenth time and came to the kitchen and said, “Heather, I’m not doing this assignment. You can’t make me!” Needless to say, my first response was shock that he called me Heather. But then a rage rose to the surface like a volcano about to explode vicious and unrelenting molten lava towards anyone in close proximity. Thankfully, I was able to hold the rage back. I said to him, “Heather? Where do you get off calling me by my first name?” Little did I know that there was an equally dangerous volcano raging inside my sweet boy. A volcano that could not be held back from spewing out hurtful words. Over the course of the next minute or so I sat there dumbfounded by the words coming out of my son’s mouth. He was calling me Heather because I was not his mom. I was not his mom because I don’t treat him like a son. I don’t love him. I never should have adopted him. He doesn’t belong in our family. And a slew of other things that by this time I couldn’t hear because my rage was filling my ears and I was about to explode. I did explode but in a way that I wasn’t expecting…extreme sorrow.

I bolted down the hallway to my room and locked myself in and sobbed. For those that know me, I don’t do that. I don’t cry. I seriously don’t cry. My tear ducts dried up over 20 years ago and have never shed another tear. I get the emotions but I stifle them because it physically hurts to cry. Close your eyes and remember a time when you needed to cry but couldn’t because it was neither the time nor the place. You feel that build up of pressure behind your eyes as you hold back the tears until you can let them loose somewhere else when you’re alone. A stray tear may eek its way out only to be brushed away before anyone sees it. Now imagine that build up happening the entire time you’re crying with no tears falling. No release. No rush of relief. Only pain to the point where you just need to close your eyes for a few hours to protect them from the barrage of light streaming in a window. That is what I felt for hours on that Thursday. I stayed in there all day (only coming out periodically to check and see that my daughter wasn’t burning down the house). I didn’t care how much TV they watched that day as long as it kept them in one place and out of trouble.

As I laid in bed heaving and crying out to an empty room I could hear notes being slipped under my door. “Mommy, are you ok? Please come talk to me when you are done praying. Love -Alli” Thank the Lord, she thought I was praying! I was praying but I was questioning why God trusted me with these two children if He knew I was going to screw it all up. I was yelling at God for trusting me because I felt like such a failure! I was racking my brain trying to figure out how I messed Nathan up to the point where he felt he didn’t belong to our family. What had I done, said or implied to make him feel like that? My despair from this day lasted for a couple of weeks. I’m still going through some of it and trying to work out how I feel and how I’m going to handle all these emotions. One thing that kept coming to mind that day was a post I saw on Facebook (located at the end of this entry) a few days prior to my “meltdown.” In the midst of my sorrow and doubt was the image of these words coming to my mind. I knew, deep down in the recesses of my broken heart that day, that God was still there. God was loving me through my failures and my brokenness. He would lift me up out of this miry pit I was in and set my feet on solid ground again. I just couldn’t feel anything at that moment. I knew it but I didn’t feel it. Thankfully we have a God who is unrelenting in His love for us. For now, His love is all I know I can rely on. His love will get me through until I can do more than just sob. His love will fulfill my children as I figure out how to love them the way He wants me to. His love will endure forever and forever.

6 responses »

  1. Hi Heather,
    It is very interesting to read your blog. We absolutely share some of the same struggles in raising our children to be thoughtful, caring, happy and productive adults. I remember when we met at Wildwood several years ago and you said that Alli had an issue with FASD, whether that might be something that we should look at for our son. A year later we started the process of finding out what was causing his issues, and 2 years after that- we got the final FASD diagnosis. Not that I haven,t suspected it from the day I met him 9 years ago. But there it was-irreversible brain damage.

    I also had my Aug. 23-just a couple of days earlier than you. In general- I LOVE summer vacation. Some of my children become stressed at school-just trying to keep up and deal with the social stuff. In summer we leave school as far away as we possibly can. We have a cabin up north and we go there. It is fairly isolated but they are able to do swimming lessons, swim in the lake, play tennis, play board games, find recipes on line-then go buy ingredients and cook it, move wood for my brother who has a place next door, etc. They also hang with their cousin Allie who is around their age. We also generally work around the place keeping it up. No video games-little tv-which is only movies at the cabin on rainy days and some days at dinner preparation time .

    One day our dear child chose to move dirt with shovel as slooowly as possible in a job we were all doing to protect the foundation. Of course there is only one shovel-and child had it. When questioned, child was certain that he/she was moving as fast as he/she possibly could-which of course was hog/wash. Child had just discovered that he/she had found a way to control entire family activity and was milking it. All part of the territory here. This type of thing has happened before. Yeah. My next while was somewhat similar to yours, which is also very uncharacteristic of me.

    There is a group of mom’s who meet (about 80 of them I think) in Orlando FL. the first weekend in March each year. The thing they have in common is they are all parenting children with attachment issues. Most if not all are adopted. This was started by an adoptive mom from Mikaelles orphanage who ran into some very serious stuff with a couple of her children. I gather this group of moms gets together and has a lot of laughs-and some tears too. I have not gone yet but maybe one day I will. It is open to all moms-but I think there is a waiting list for 2013. I think each year as the dates approach people drop out and I often hear of the organizer saying they have room for one or two people on short notice. Would be happy to provide you with a name if you are interested.

    Marg

    • Hi Marg-

      First, thanks for reading my post. It was definitely a tough day and I know there will be more tough days. I just hope I handle it better next time! :)

      I’m glad that you were able to get a diagnosis for you son. Getting that diagnosis has made all the difference in how I approach parenting with Allison. It’s funny, all the research I do on FASD always leads me to someone in Canda. It seems that they are much more advanced in the treatment of people diagnosed than were are here in the USA. Right now, I have Allison in a social skills program for kids with Aspergers because it’s all I could find. It’s a great program and she’s doing well in it but I wish the therapists were more familiar with FASD. I’m giving them as much info as I can but their expertise is in Asperger.

      Have you been able to find services for him in your area? I have found some amazing places online for info and support for parents raising kids with FASD and attachment issues. Here’s a few websites.

      http://www.nofas.org

      http://www.fasdforever.com

      hopefasd.blogspot.com (this one is a blog by a woman who has FASD. It is so great to read and learn that there is hope for our children even in the face of FASD. She puts a postive spin on what all the research out there has to tell us about the negative stuff)

      I would be interested in learning more about the group of women who meet in Florida. I could see that as a respite from the stressors of parenting and an opportunity to realize that I’m not alone.

      Please feel free to email me anytime or message me on Facebook. I’d be glad to help where I can or just be there to encourage you! You’re doing a great job! Keep it up!

      Blessings-

      Heather

  2. Thank you for opening your heart and life so that others may benefit from your experience. Even in the midst of this dark time, you were able to do just what you should have, you safely removed yourself from the situation and sought help. You are a great mom-the mom that God chose for these two children, and he chose YOU Heather, because he knew you could do it! LOve you! Can’t wait to read more.

  3. Hooray for blogging!! So glad you’re starting this venture. I love the beautiful design! I too was ready for summer break to be over within the first week! Very tough summer, not sure exactly why, I just wanted to be alone on my own private island for the duration!! I’m so sorry you had that awful heartbreaking soul-crushing experience with Nathan. Thanks for sharing your heart, and hang in there. You made it to September!!

  4. Thanks for sharing this sis! Im glad you could open up and talk about this. You know I’m here for you and I’ll keep all this in my prayers. Love you

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