On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hierarchy of Needs

True to form, if I'm not posting or reading and commenting, then life in our home is ... bad. Horrible. Unlivable. Very, very bad.

22 days into summer vacation and I'm done. The kids are done, Sissy's ... ugh. AB is stressed and WG just wants to scream because having two older siblings with such demanding, challenging needs is too much for her to take (and boy howdy, do I know what she means!)

I should probably take the time to rehash it so I can sort out what went wrong, what can be fixed, blah, blah, blah. I don't want to. I've hit a wall. I don't know any other way to tell the IFI team that I'm not functioning, can't take it, am going insane, that AB and Sissy's needs are too much for me all by myself, every single day without help. It's just too much. Period. I don't want to make this a pretty, wonderful, flowery blog post. I don't even want to discuss it, I just want to grump and bury my head. I have NO idea how I'm going to make it through the rest of this summer. I'm already hanging on for dear life at 22 days in.

So I thought I'd discuss the need to take care of ourselves, something I've severely neglected because the kids are so overwhelmingly needy. When the kids went to weekly behavior modification therapy sessions, the parents met in a separate room and the psychologist had us all say one thing we are doing for ourselves. The philosophy is, if a parent isn't taking care of themselves first, meeting their hierarchy of needs [1], then the parent will not be capable of taking care of the child. Makes sense, sure, but gosh almighty, very challenging to implement when EVERY.SINGLE.SECOND of EVERY.DAY from the minute my eyes open to the very last second I go to sleep, someone or something needs me. There is no down time, there is no in between, there is nothing but full speed through each and every day.

But let's review anyway, shall we? It's good therapy. I'm raising my glass to the screen and toasting you all (really, I'm doing this - strawberry martini). Here's to moms taking care of themselves first! If you haven't already, I encourage you to make your own list. Print it out and tape it somewhere you'll see it often to remind yourselves:


Top ten things that I do for me:
1. Day lilies. Lilies are my favorite flower. I have a small lily bed in the front yard that I enjoy tending and every June they bloom for me. I took some cuttings and as I was fixing my drink, saw that one of the buds was about to burst open. That makes me feel good. I like gardening because it's still nurturing, like parenting, but there's an immediate return for my effort. Parenting? Not so much.

2. Tomatoes. OMG! I LOVE growing tomatoes. It just makes my heart all fluttery and happy and smiley and ooey-gooey to plant tomatoes, take care of them and get an amazing harvest of scrumptious fruit to eat all summer long. Again, it's still nurturing but an immediate return for the effort.

3. Quilting. Yep. I changed my blog design on purpose. I love to quilt, and crochet and sew. I'm creating things in a short amount of time and getting an immediate return for my effort. (seeing a pattern here? lol)

4. Gal time. I have to spend time with other women. It instantly fills my love meter to overflowing.

5. Green time. I have to be outdoors, breathing fresh air, listening to birds, seeing green things, hearing the sounds of being outside, feeling the grass between my toes. I painted it on my dresser mirror: "Get your green time!" It's that important to me.

6. Church. If you are religious at all, you know that just being in the building with like minded believers resets your tone.

7. Reading. At any given time, you can walk into my bedroom and see a stack of books on my night stand and another stack on my dresser. Oh, and the three shelves of books in the hallway ... I love books. I like to feel them, smell them, find them in used bookstores, buy them new on discount racks, alphabetize them, but most of all, fall asleep reading them. Literally, I fall asleep with my nose in them.

A lot.

Sometimes there's drool.

8. Alcohol. No one report me to AA, please. Here's the skinny. It's not because alcohol was taboo in my home when I was a kid, there just wasn't any. Throw in my religious upbringing and it's easy to deduce that alcohol inadvertently became something that good girls didn't do. But sometimes I just need a little something to take the edge off, plus it's very freeing just to be able to say to myself, you're allowed to drink. And there's lots of fun drinks to be had! I have three strict rules so I don't over indulge:

A) never before 5 pm
B) never more than one a night
C) never more than three times a week

9. Blogging. Yeah, you already knew that one. I have reams of handwritten journals but let's be honest, I'm too prolific to keep up with that. Besides, they take up precious shelf space where I'd much rather put a book! Plus, I don't like the idea of carpal tunnel syndrome. So blogging has been a fantastic replacement. Heck, it often doubles for #4 when I strike up conversations with the more cheeky gals that comment! xxoo

10. Poetry. I've actually won contests and even have a poem in a book, a compilation of works. It's very healing to put my thoughts to prose.

There's an eleventh but I don't do it anymore. Singing. Thus the name "integrity singer". I used to sing a lot. It might even be said that I sang well. But now only my children hear me sing. There are just too many harrowing, emotional tales wrapped up in my singing escapades for it to be enjoyable for me anymore. It makes me sad but ... whatever. I just can't go there today, this is supposed to be an upbeat post.

OK. So, truth time. Which of these ten am I currently doing, particularly this past week which was so challenging that I lost my cool? Um... *crickets chirping*

Right. Dead ringer for Hey Mom! Take care of YOU first or you can't take care of your kids!

How about you?

[1]Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Heck, I TAUGHT this stuff in the classroom and I still have trouble remembering it.


GB's Mom said...

UGH!!! Want to run away to N. Myrtle Beach end of June? You could even bring kids. The beach is the #1 thing I do for myself :) PS Our summer vacation doesn't start for another week :(

Bren said...

If I did not have my quilting I would be totally insane....locked up in a padded room and throw away the key kind of insane! (remember I homeschool so I have my kids here 24/7/365)
I take one day a week and go to lunch and shopping wiht my mom....I have something on the calendar to look forward to. This week we are actually going to another town 2 hours away and staying 2 days!! We do that once a year.
Also, blogging.....I have my "regualr blog". Not my RAD blog which I just moved all the Raddy stuff too and only post on occasionally. I need a "normal" blog to share my quilting, my homemaking, my spirit. I am not run by RAD but I know that the RAD can over take you because it has done that to me in the past....for years in fact. Your post is so important. It is VITAL to care for ourselves. I have always said, crazy is contagious!!! You have to have something that makes you immuned! We all need a list!

peacechaser said...

A hot long shower
A drive somewhere pretty by myself or with one kid
Books from the library
Lemon lotion
And yes-the glass of wine which has helped me keep my sanity

Jeri said...

Well, they say there's always a silver lining so I guess having my boy in the psych hospital allows me much more flexibility to take care of me. So I went tubing with friends and I hate to say it but we broke your alcohol rules #1 and #2.
My bff since second grade is what we now are calling a Tubanista...in that she's got all the right equipment, has it organized and can get our flotilla on the river in record time. Good thing we went Friday cause Saturday and the grand visit with the boy just tanked.

I command thee to get thyself out there and just glory over those tomatoes and yes, I know it's almost ten p.m. So what.

Mama Drama Times Two said...

Reading. Hot showers. Long drives. Vermont. Quilting. Quilting magazines. Any magazines. Blogging. Coffee with my fellow foster-adoptive moms: The Mountain Top Moms. Church. Reading Blogs. Lovin my spouse. These are a few of my favorite Sanity Savers. I used to garden, but now I grow kids instead.

PS Love the new blog design. Since you are a quilter, would you be interested in doing a small scale fabric swap? I am looking for 2 1/2 inch wide, width of fabric strips (so, 2 1/2" x 42") to exchange to make a scrappy, colorful, stacked coin style baby quilt. I'd be happy to send the same # of strips you decide to send. Email if interested: mamadramatimestwo@yahoo.com