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

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Missive to the Whistling Tea Kettle

Just because I can...

Dear Tea Kettle,

I hope you can assist me in understanding better how you think and operate.  At this time, I am greatly concerned about your emotional well being.

When I fill you with water, you do not protest.  Thank you for that.  When I put you on the stove, you are compliant and you stay on your spot until I remove you.  I am grateful for this as well.  In a world filled with ADD diagnoses, it is quite comforting to know you will be still without reprimand.

However, when I am anxious for my tea, you refuse to boil quickly.  When I walk away and sit down because I'm tired of waiting on you, the instant my bottom hits the sofa, you begin screaming like a wild banshee.

Is it absolutely necessary for you to holler so loudly?  And this, when the children are in bed sleeping?  Don't you know you will wake them up?  I'm just trying to make a cup of sleepytime chamomile so I can rest easy too and there you go, screaming and hollering and making such a huge fuss.  It startles me and hurts my ears!  And the dogs protest. 

Your behavior is most irrational.  Of course the stove is hot and the water that is boiling within your stainless steel belly is 100'C.  You knew that such would be your plight when you were forged into your kettle shape at the factory.  Why scream about it every time as if you had no idea that it would get so hot?  Seriously.  It's too much.  I need you to calm down.

Be glad I'm not using the microwave to warm my water.  You and I both know that the microwave doesn't heat water as evenly as you do.  In many homes, the microwave has made the whistling tea kettle obsolete so you should be thanking ME that you still have a job!

Please, kettle, boil when I watch you and don't whistle so loudly while the children sleep.  That is all I ask.

Matron of the Abode in which you Reside

P.S.  I can always boil water in a saucepan...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Little Things

Yesterday was such a lovely Mother's Day.  Sissy greeted me with her tiara on the pillow I made her for her birthday.  "Happy Mother's Day Mom.  You can wear my crown today."

Of course, it was promptly put upon my head and I did indeed wear it all day, even while in the grocery store. 

Sissy and WG asked to wish their birthmother a happy mother's day but at the last minute, WG chickened out.  Over speaker phone, Sissy said, "Happy mother's day Mom" to her birth mom.  So very, very cool.

A nice rainy day spent coloring mandalas with their Aunt who was celebrating her first mother's day as a new step-mom.  Noni played cards on her laptop, Sissy and AB watched TV (and napped a little) while WG and her new cousin ran themselves ragged.  Papa snoozed it out until supper.  I couldn't have asked for a better day.

Recently, my biggest personal struggle has been learning to know what I need and want, putting myself before others for the first time in my life.  It feel so backward and incongruent with the title of Mother to think and do for oneself.  Inherently I know that if I'm happy, then my home is happy but what makes me happy?  Every time I asked myself that question, I kept coming up with one thing - I wanted something little and snuggly to hold.

Our dog Hope will be gone two years this September.  I've missed her very much but have always had it in my head to get another animal.  Knowing I needed something little to hold and wanting to add a new family member, I'd been searching craigslist, the local shelters and foster homes for about eight months.  I knew that it would be obvious when I found the right match.

Tiny little Roscoe, a brindle teacup chihuahua now sits on the recliner armrest next to me, curled up in the tiniest ball of fur, gently snoring.  He's exactly what I needed and what I wanted.  Indeed he has filled up a gap for all us: the kids, Gracie who grieved Hope the most and myself. 

I can't remember the last time my heart felt so full and warm.  I could get used to this!  It's nice to know that little things really DO matter.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Have Fun

Tomorrow is the last day of instruction for my school.  Next week is exams followed by graduation. My three finish school next Friday, Sissy and AB "graduating" from grade school.  Then before me lies another long, hot summer with bored, arguing children that have gotten older, stronger, mouthier and less tolerant of, well, everything in the universe. Somehow, in the midst of that I'll have to figure out tutoring and possibly teaching summer school.

The days grow long and I feel myself being pulled to the memories of my own childhood summers, playing badminton and volleyball using the clothes line as the net.  Catching fireflies. Star gazing.  Watching summer thunderstorms roll in from the corner of the corn field to our back yard while we sat on the covered porch savoring the smell of the rain and the cool wind on our faces.  Fourth of July in the park, walking to the library for more Agatha Christie novels.  Sleep overs.  Hanging laundry on the clothesline and forgetting to take it off before dusk and the June bugs clung to the cotton fibers of your shorts as though their very lives depended upon it.  Mowing the tall green grass that was thicker than a carpet.  Watching bunnies hop out from under the shed in the early morning.  Listening to the corn grow.

I wish my childhood summer memories could be my children's memories.  Instead, it will be another summer of therapists marching in and out, approaching every conflict with a therapeutic flair, listening to Sissy whine or scream or tantrum and begging inside my head that she be a neurotypical 12 year old for just one day.  Dancing around AB as his moods fluctuate and threaten like the dark cloud that hangs over only Eeyore's head.  Trying desperately to bring normalcy to  at least WG's childhood knowing that it's futile.

Lightening bugs.  Anoles.  June bugs.  Stars.  Blue moons. Fields. Thunderstorms. Windchimes. Books.  Fireworks.  Swimming. Sunburns.  Hotdogs.  Watermelon.  Corn. Sandals.   Beach.  Shells. Friends. Fun.

That's what I want this summer to encapsulate.  I hope I can make it happen. It won't be long before their own summer plans usurp mine.

I will myself to ignore Sissy's "Mom!!! Since we're here can I get a magazine?!" shrieks from the backseat of the van when I pull up to the gas pump.

 I choose to not engage when she screams in my face, "My new earbuds hurt my ears!  You know my ears are sensitive!!!"  when she begged for new earbuds and has no problem with the pair except that she simply wants to use the headphones designated for the television and any excuse to prove that she should have that privilege is a better expressed excuse when screamed at 180db to my bewildered expression. 

I will steel my nerves when she runs through the library holding herself and exclaiming loudly that she has to pee.

I will think of lightening bugs, anoles, stars, blue moons, fields, thunderstorms, windchimes, books, fireworks, swimming, sunburns, hotdogs, watermelon, corn, sandals, beaches, shells friends and fun when she is chattering incessantly to no one in particular but getting exponentially irritated when no one in particular is listening to her.

I will chant, "god doesn't hate me" when I'm quite certain that he must unequivocally detest every fiber of my being when the children are in nuclear meltdown at the checkout of the grocery store.

With all that is in me, I will provide the children with the platform to have beautiful childhood summer memories that will stand the test of time, patience, tantrums, arguments, the blistering heat and their challenges.

I will survive, nay I will have fun.