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

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Darkness Leads to Happiness

I didn't know what to do.  Oddly, climbing into the back of the closet in the master bedroom, arranging the hanging clothing over me so I could not be seen, made sense.  I sat with my knees drawn up to my chest, hugging them tightly.  A shoe or boot was wedged under my bottom, creating a dull pain and slight tingling sensation from localized numbness.  I didn't move it to get more comfortable.  The constant ache was comforting because it meant I was still alive, still feeling, still real.

I sat in the closet for what seemed like hours, in the darkness, listening to myself breathe.  I tried to think.  I couldn't.  All I wanted to do was sob until the end of time.  I had gotten myself into a real jam and I didn't know how to get out.  Well, I did know.  I just didn't think it was an acceptable life path.  I feared further human disdain.

Fear.  That is my Shadow.  Gandolf the Grey didn't want to go into the Mines of Moria because he feared Shadow.  He was so paralyzed that it nearly claimed his life on the tower in his confrontation with Sauron. Uncertain of his strength, he allowed Frodo to decide the path the Fellowship would take when they were being tracked by the eye of Sauron.  Frodo led them into the mines.   Shadow took Gandolf into Darkness on that journey.

I knew, sitting in that closet, breathing as quietly as I could so I would not be heard or found, that one day I would survive and, though scathed, become like Gandolf the White, having conquered my Shadow.  I knew it.  I didn't feel it, couldn't see it or taste it.  I only heard my heart pounding in my ears as the fear consumed me once more.  Because he found me.  And demanded to know why I was hiding, that I was being childish - wives don't hide in closets from their husbands, they deal with the issues at hand.  Husbands don't make their wives so afraid that they need to hide, bad wives run.  Bad wives ask for a divorce.  Bad wives call things abuse when they are afraid because they don't know any better.  And that is slander and ridicule and how dare I accuse him of such an offense and didn't I know how that looked for him and how it made HIM feel?

Not once did he ask what would make me so upset that I felt like hiding was the best option.  Not a hug, not a "we'll sort this through", not "i love you.  Let's get help".  Not a back rub or a warm meal or a pot of tea.  No comfort.  No love.  Just more hate and hurt.

That was six months into my marriage. Christmas Time.

Fifteen years later, I finally had the strength to go into the Darkness and take back my life.  Christmas Time.

Why didn't I fight for my freedom sooner?  Because of religion and abuse. Divorce is against God's way.  Divorce means marrying another is adultery.  Divorce means sin and unforgiveness.  Divorce means I made a mistake and didn't follow God's path for my life.  I didn't know that divorce because of abuse absolved me of all of that.  I didn't understand that my fear of confrontation and what he kept telling me was just my simple misunderstanding of his needs, was  actually because the relationship was abusive. I didn't understand that every time I was happy and he got angry or sullen, it was abuse.  I didn't know that abuse had eight levels.  I didn't know that I suffered on all levels.  I didn't know anything beyond I was being a bad christian because I was hurting and seeking an answer that wasn't God's Way.

What I ultimately internalized, inadvertently, is that religion is also abusive.


In the nine months that this blog was inactive, I was still finding my way out of Darkness.   I didn't know it would take me all the way down to seeking the end of my life.  The finalization of the divorce was very difficult.  The judge was cruelly unfair.  Not one person doesn't still shake their head in a preponderance of confusion over the judge's final decisions.  It left me stuck.  Stuck to continue facing my tormenter, in my home, three and four days a week and for weekend visitations with the children every other month.  It has me bound to this house with his name still on the mortgage.  It has me paying accrued marital debts. It cut me to the core of faith, of hope, of everything that gave me reason to live.

On the eve of my annual trip to Orlando with the ETAAM/BeTA group, I begged to die.  I was left alone in my house with the children, my self-help reminders, written, taped and painted on my bedroom walls serving as one more reminder that I was never to be happy.  Never.  I'm not allowed to be happy.  I'm not allowed freedom. I'm not allowed hope or health or healing.   I had written Phil 4:3, "Do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and petition submit your requests to God and the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."

I went to the garage, grabbed a can of white paint and a brush and proceeded to blot it out, starting with "submit your requests to God".

I proceeded to the bathroom where I had painted, "Change = Good" and "Live, Laugh, Love, Pray"  They were blotted out too.

I tore down all of the mandalas I had colored for therapy.

I ripped up my "Who Am I" poster.

I scratched out all the proverbs and verses I had written in pen on whatever spare patch of wall I could find.

I paused when I ripped the drawing I made with the Chinese proverb, "my barn having burned to the ground, now I can see the moon"

I had employed tools from every faith and walk of life, every religion, every positive ounce of energy I had collected like broken shells and river rocks with marbleized patterns and it gained me nothing.  I was trapped.  Stuck.  Never to be free.  Justice had not served me at. all.  Mankind, MAN, had failed me once more.  And religion? It didn't save me either.

I was back in that bedroom closet, hiding, sheltering myself from a storm I couldn't protect myself from.  A storm that had no end.  My honesty, my kindness, compassion and hope meant nothing.  It gained me NOTHING.  Why be good? Why pray?  Why believe?  Why?  There is no out.  If you are meant to suffer in this life, then suffer you will.  

I ripped up the drawing in a blind rage.  Shreds. There was nothing left but tiny scraps to gather later.  I collapsed in a heap and sobbed for hours.  I was convinced I would never be happy.  That it was my lot in life to suffer and endure and pay for my past sins from a former life or for someone else in my ancestry or just because the cosmos willed that I should be in the fire until I disintegrated, literally burning until I ceased to exist.

The next day I drove to the airport to pick up one of my friends from the ETAAM/BeTA group so we could drive to Orlando together.  She slept in my bed with me that evening, the torment and pain still very fresh on bedroom walls.  She let me cry.  She didn't stop me.  She didn't tell me it would be O.K.  She was just there.

When we arrived in Orlando, I went to my room in the Villa, crawled into a corner of the room, half under the bed, and sobbed, begging to die.

Another amazing woman got me and held me until I could breathe.

A third woman slept in my bed for the weekend so I wouldn't be alone because I was afraid I would hurt myself.

A fourth woman gave me her beautiful scarf.

A fifth woman said I had such a peaceful nature about me, and she meant it.

I made it through the weekend.  I drove home.  I drove my friend back to the airport.  I resumed my life.  For better or for worse.

I took one day at a time, sometimes one minute.  Sometimes I could go a full hour without needing to call someone for comfort and love.

The days turned into weeks.  The weeks turned into a month, then two.

I was still living.  Still surviving.  Still breathing.  I had made it through Darkness.  I had conquered Shadow.  I had become Jennie the White.  I didn't even know it had happened.  It just did.

In May I redid my bathroom and my bedroom, the hallway and replaced all the doors.  All of the holes my ex had punched in, patched.  The broken door jamb from his angry slamming in one fight, repaired.  The house became mine.  I breathed it in - my beautiful energy created beautiful things in my home.  And that was only possible because I am beautiful, to my core.  Despite what I have suffered, I am beautiful to my very last cell.

Summer came and with each day, as I closed and opened my new doors, as I slept in my new bedroom and showered in my new bathroom, as I swam in the pool with my children, as I breathed and lived and laughed, I found happy. A tentative, cautious, careful happy.  A real happy.  A happy I had never had before.

Hope followed it.
And health.

It is Christmas Time.  I am not inside a church because I haven't figured out how to reincorporate that element yet, but I have life.  I am happy.

If there is one gift I can give, it is that you find this HAPPY somewhere.  Anywhere.  Please.  Just find it.  And don't let it go.  Do all you can to keep it.  Forever.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

One of THOSE days

Typically on a Saturday morning we are at the barn, riding and hanging out with our friends.  This week I have been out there nearly every day so today is a day off.  It's unusual for us to have a quiet Saturday morning.  It is quiet and we are lollygagging.  There is always so much to do but it can wait.  There are two days left of relaxing before we begin the mad dash to the end of the year, Christmas, finishing the second quarter and swinging head long into a new year.

Thus, I had one of my I'm-overwhelmed-feeling-alone-can't-breathe-holy-cow-am-I-really-doing-all-of-this-by-myself-all-the-time?!? moments.

October 13th was the last time I felt like this.  A brisk walk with some tears followed by a quiet moment of being still, soaking up the sunlight while listening to the sounds of nature were enough to settle my nerves.  Today I'm opting for letting the chores pile up while I quilt and watch movies.  Which is a double edged sword because it is a beautiful day so part of me will be looking out the window at the leaves and pinestraw in the backyard thinking *i SHOULD be outside working in the yard*.

Some days I have to stop.  Take care of me.  And that has to be OK because who is taking care of me if I'm not?  No one.  Which is why days like this pop up.  When I contemplate all that I am responsible for by myself, every day, all day, without ceasing, it's too much.  I get lonely and scared.  It feels hopeless and helpless.  I'm wonder woman - brave, capable, strong, hard-working, loving, kind, vivacious, fun, happy, patient - I'm this all.the.time.

Some days I don't want to be.

Some days I want to be a helpless, hapless soul that is needy and clingy and desperate for attention and companionship and returned love, patience, kindness, happiness and strength.  Some days I want someone else to do the thinking, planning, parenting, cooking, cleaning, juggling and fixing.  Some days I don't want to be the only one that is available to trouble shoot the daily issues that pop up with two challenged teens and an energetic preteen and a geriatric lab and a yippy-yappy chihuahua and a 36 year old house and an 8 year old van and a yard full of loblolly pine trees.

I'll get over it.  Today is just one of THOSE days.

Split pea soup going in the crock pot, quilting happening while laundry and dishes pile up, movie watching while the last of the leaves and dead straw fall from the trees.  None of those things will kill me today.  And neither will time.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

All Warmed Up

It rained for two days.  Long, hard rain that chilled me to the bone.  I hate when I catch a chill like that, it's so hard to shake it.  But I have lots to warm me up lately so it's all good.

This week I'm helping out my friends who have nine horses between them.  I'm sharing the responsibility for eight.  Watering, feeding, blanketing, etc.  Horses have been one of the saving graces in my life the last two years of recovery.  That and the horsey friends I've made in the process.  I am so blessed.  Giant four legged creatures with long manes and tails and whinny and hoof stomping when they are hungry, nose nudges and neck snuggles and warm, musky smelling coats of horsey goodness make me happy and warms me up when I'm feeling lonely or scared.  I feel full when I get to take care of them because I like hard work, being useful and accomplishing things even if it is simply to muck stalls.

Other blessings that have warmed me up:
1.  My fully mustached son
2.  Sissy home for the holidays AGAIN (second holiday season without hospitalization)
3.  WG's energy (i'd be a wealthy woman if I could bottle and sell it)
4.  My two dogs, Grace the lab and Roscoe the chihuahau
5.  My family - so grateful for open adoption and extended family and reconnecting with the kids' first mom and her family
6.  music - I'm singing again!
7.  my home - and it IS mine now.  it softly speaks "this is a woman's space"
8.  my van - still a reliable vehicle
9.  my jobs - teaching is such a joy and now I'm also certified to provide respite for adults with special needs - no end to the laughter
10. my health - no panic attacks in a very.long.time. and I'm finally losing weight.  Happiness.  It does a lot for a body!
11.  my smile.  I'm happy.  so very happy. FINALLY. happy

There is so much more.  OH SO MUCH MORE!!! but that's all I feel able to talk about today, on this Thanksgiving day that I am spending with just me and my kids. And honestly?  I like that.  A lot.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


On December 3, I will mark the two year anniversary of living abuse free.  I think I might have a private little party for myself to mark the occasion.

On December 16, Sissy would have made a two year anniversary herself - discharged from long term care.  Sadly, she just finished a week-long acute care stabilization.  Regardless, that is the longest stretch between hospitalization since I began this blog in November 2009.

Being in the EBD classroom has helped her immensely.  She is now focusing more on her behaviors: cause and effect, following directives and obedience.  It goes without saying, she is a very bright young lady but her challenges will always nip any academic successes in the butt.  My new goal for her is that she spend the rest of her middle school years sorting out these behaviors with the hope that by high school she can pick up the slack on her academics.  I accept that academic pursuits will likely never be a priority for her but as mom, I have to set some goals for her.

She has a long, hard road of puberty and changes ahead of her and I know that will mean lots of stabilization time too.  I hope to finally get us out of this area and to a region of the U.S. that will have more resources and appropriate support for her.  I have many short and long term therapy and medication goals for her.  In the meantime, I have changed up my parenting strategy.  I am providing all nurturing and care giving for her as though she were a toddler.  It seems counter intuitive but I was never going to win those battles with her and actually, after so many years of her fighting me about every little thing and refusing to let me nurture her, it is a nice change of pace.  Tough?  Yes.  No one WANTS to be dressing and bathing their nearly 14 yo daughter but it's what she NEEDS right now.  So I do it.

WG is sowing her oats, back in public school this year.  She is learning that she can have a bad day too and still be loved.  She is learning how to navigate her own bad days and how to recover from her mistakes.  She is understanding more and more each day what her older siblings struggle with and how to steer clear.  Of course, that means she has also gotten good at provoking so I am putting out fires a lot.  As a whole, a typical fourth grader!  I keep reminding her that I was a handful at that age too - smart as smart could be but testing the limits all.the.time.

AB is on a new medication.  The Resperida.l was causing mild tachycardia, tardive dyskinesia and weight gain.  The Abilif.y has  given me my happy, smiley son back.  And he's creating again!  He has always been such a good artist but in the effort to suppress his other issues, the medication inadvertently suppressed his creativity too.  He smiles, hugs, laughs, talks, swings, and is actually very social comparatively.  He will be 13 in January.  I can't believe it!  And to be honest, knowing I will have TWO teenagers after this holiday season, I am tickled pink.  I really do love teenagers with all of their P.I.T.A. ishness.

For me?  Well... I'm happy.  Happier than I've ever been.  Just so happy.

Thanksgiving - so many things to be thankful for.  Heart to overflowing with joy and happiness and hope. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

32 months later...

Since I posted about being so crazy happy, I decided to go back and read about how UNhappy I'd been.  And I stumbled on this one: http://peaceinpuzzles.blogspot.com/2011/02/fix-this.html

That's a whole lot of unhappy.  And I'm nearly there - nearly to the daydream of happiness described in the post.  Of course, The Dad is no longer in the picture but I'm happy at the breakfast table by myself.  And who knows, maybe life will add someone to sit at the breakfast table and play footsies with me while he reads the paper and I flip through a quilt magazine. A girl can dream...32 months later.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Crazy Happy

Oh dear.  I'm singing! pbft

You know?  Sissy being in the EBD class finally has made an incredible difference in our home life and peace of mind.  Oh how happy we are!  Darn, that girl just screams and wails and tells me all about her woes and ... gosh, that child is never happy with anything or anyone at anytime.  Me?

I just smile and laugh and giggle and sing and say "PICKLES!" and I talk in my pseudo English accent as my alter ego, Petty Dodds.  No matter what I do, that girl is going to be mad so why should I be mad?

I'm not.

In fact, quite the opposite, I'm feeling sing-songish!

Good gravy, singing used to be the one thing that got me through a hard day.  Once upon a time I was quite the songbird.  It's hard to sing when you're unhappy, scared, in pain and burdened beyond belief.  *big cheshire cat grin*  I'm singing.

Ergo, I'm HAPPY!  Can that actually be true?  I keep shaking my head.  Happy?  Me?!  My family NOT in crisis?  Sissy finally in the correct educational environment?  What?  How did we get to this beautiful, glorious spot in our life?

I think I'm going to lose my head.  I keep trying to be sensible and serious and stern and stoic and... I CAN'T!

Maybe it's the weather.  Yeah. That's it. I love fall.  And I'll be having a birthday soon and going on my annual quilt retreat with the kids' grandma and all the fantastic other gals I love to hug and hang with (ladies, let me tell you, if you're filled with angst, spend your free time with a room of old broads.  It will fix that gloom in a skinny minute.)

I think it's because I'm listening to Adele. 

I want to go apple picking!  How fun is THAT?!  And camping.  And running through the leaves (wait, we have pine needles here - alas).  I want to watch Monty Python until i pee myself laughing.  I want other people to laugh as though I'm throwing them a cup full of my happiness and it's splashing all over them, soaking them with suds of love and joy.

Joy.  What a great word.  I always hoped to have five children and I had long ago decided that I wanted a daughter named Joy.  Who can be unhappy when they're saying "JOY!" all the time?  *snickers*

I keep trying to figure it out - what cause do I have to be so gosh darned happy and carefree and there's no figuring it.  I'm just happy.  Happy because it was so damn hard and hellatious and OMG-wouldn't-wish-this-on-my-enemy and I survived.  We survived.  And we're better for it.

Relief.  Sweet, precious, amazing relief.  I'm alive.  And my life is MINE.

So in this moment, I have a head clouded with glee and bliss and relief and hope and yes, songs and even a few dreams.  I still wake up from nightmares about the roads I've passed through.  I still have to put on the burden of being single-mom to three kids, two with disabilities.  I still listen to Sissy scream and tantrum and disobey and disrespect.  I just do it all with a smile.  I'm crazy happy.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Die Frau

This past weekend I bumped into a former student.  I taught her and her two younger siblings.  She has a PhD in Biology and her siblings each have Master's degrees in their various fields.  She inquired about me and I just shrugged and chuckled.  "Eh. You know. Still teaching.  It's what I do."  I walked away feeling proud of my students for achieving so much and to have been one small stepping stone on their journey to success. But I also felt sullen that I haven't accomplished more in my lifetime.

39 is a month away which means I'm 13 months from 40.  I understand that midlife crises can be tough and I don't think I'm dodging that bullet but great scott, I really thought I'd be on a different life path at this stage in my life.  All of those "What do you want to be when you grow up" essays in grade school and beyond have been nothing more than fairy tales.

I am certain that most adults get to this point in life and feel roughly the same as I do now.  Things happen. Kids arrive, economies falter, countries go to war, disease filters in, loved ones die, relationships end, jobs are lost, new jobs are found, investments fail, houses burn, lakes flood, cars crash.  I listen to the clock and it just keeps ticking.  I look in the mirror and my wrinkles get deeper.  I have pictures on the walls of tiny babies but the bedrooms are filled with adolescents.  I keep teaching science to high school students in the same grades but somehow the children behind the desks get younger every year.

Some days, I feel so old.  Other days I feel so young.  What a weird place to be in life.

Duol!ngo is an app that will teach you many languages.  I've decided I want to learn German.  Actually, learning my father's native tongue - a Ukranian dialect - was on my bucket list but since he was born in Germany when Poland was occupied, I have dual citizenship there.   So I downloaded that app and I'm slowly working my way through the German lessons.  Today, during some downtime in the lesson plan, one of my students was on his device...practicing his German with the same app, just one lesson behind me.  I felt excited to have someone to share my journey with.

My bucket list also includes:
Learn Polish German
Get a PhD in education
Buy a truck, a horse trailer, a farm and my own horses
Run an organic food co-op that is employed by special needs adults
Write a book that is published
Take a cross country tour
Own a boat and an RV
Take a cruise
Visit all the continents
Get a hunting license and kill my own meat
Leave an indelible mark on humanity
Be scrapped for spare parts, the remains burned and tossed to the wind

Maybe I'll find love along the way.  Maybe not.  I don't particularly like being alone but being single sure beats being in an abusive marriage.  One way or another, I'm certain to make great friends along the way that have one or two of the same items on their bucket list.  I can revel in the fact that I have assisted some students toward achieving their goals and I know that in everything I set my mind to, I'll be teaching others along the way.  It's what I do, It's who I am.

Die Frau hat eine Pferd.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

One week Later

At the meeting, I was told that my daughter's referral for the EBD program was unusual and atypical because she didn't have all of the necessary elements.

What elements? I asked.

Well, she didn't have a behavior plan or a functional assessment.


Is it MY fault the school never did a behavior plan? And hello?!  How many functional assessments does she need?  I could have provided about five from private sources. It was right there in her IEP - she thinks like a five year old.  *rolls eyes*

Then they told me how she would have to enter at the highest level of restriction and the class only had boys and the teacher is male and she would only be there to stabilize with the goal to reintegrate her to the general education setting again and all of her behaviors are RAD (uh... duh) and and and

When they mentioned that they wanted her to work towards transitioning back to the general classroom the assistant principal interjected with "That better be a SLOW process"  *enter my cheeky grin here*

Here's how this monkey game works:
The school knew my daughter needed to be moved out
The bus driver knew it (the asst. principal was late for the meeting because bus driver was writing a D.R. on Sissy)
The resource team knew it.
The EBD teacher that had Sissy in grade school knew it.
The EBD teacher that evaluated her for the middle school program knew it.
The EBD referral specialist knew it.
The catch?  No one could out and out say, "uh. yeah.  This kid is a mess.  A liability.  We can't handle this.  But we have to cover our butts and not actually say that because then mom could sue us."

So they paint the picture as though MOM is the bad guy, demanding a referral and placement into a program that on paper, my daughter isn't qualified for.  And then they ask, "So is this what you want for your child?"


Are you prepared to sign and accept the restrictions this entails?


Is your daughter aware of this change?


Then they called Sissy into the meeting.  (She had been outside the school office door at 7 am pacing and demanding to be allowed to attend).  And my daughter sat next to me and began to talk.  In five minutes every adult was hiding their giggles and biting their lips so Sissy wouldn't think she was being picked on.  At one point Sissy got angry and started shouting that we needed to stop laughing at her and several adults chimed in and said it was how she said it that was funny, not what she was saying and in all of those giggles, papers were passed around and signed without further ado and badda boom badda bing, she was enrolled as an EBD student.

She started the new class last Monday.  She was stealing and pushing limits with the EBD teacher by Wednesday.

When I spoke with the bus driver about her DR later, I told him that she could be back later this year because the school said it was a stabilization placement with the plan to reintegrate her.  Bus driver laughed.  "She won't be back!"

OK.  So if the BUS DRIVER knows my daughter can't handle general education, what's the big to do all about then?

It's a liability thing.  Bottom line.  School doesn't want to get sued.  Because I COULD be the mom that says that her poor little child darling needs the same privileges as every other student and that she shouldn't be discriminated against because of her disability.  Because I COULD be a chameleon that says one thing and then turns around and slaps them with a lawsuit that would render the county penniless.

I'm not that kind of mom.
I know what my daughter needs.
My daughter knows what she needs.

Her home behaviors were still rough this past week, due in large part to transition issues but right now she's happy as a lark, being compliant and sweet and tomorrow is another school week.  Hang in there mommas.  Don't let the system win.  Don't let them make you back down. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Happy Hump Day

The battle continues.

While Sissy comes unglued at home because she is back in school and being asked to do things she doesn't want to do (in other words, education = no coloring and listening to Michael Jackson ad nauseum), I suit up and prepare to do battle on her behalf, again.

OK, so it is a bit of a joke that it only took her 17 days to get ISS.  But the reality is that it's the school's fault.  Yes, my daughter should be held responsible for her choice to cut PE by going to the bathroom for 45 minutes and not telling any adult where she was going or what she was doing.  But I've told the school and the county time and time again, she can't have that much freedom.

Look, if I have to make my daughter sit in a lawn chair in the driveway while I mow my front yard, a job that takes only 20 minutes, because she gets into too much trouble if she is unattended in the house while I use the toilet for 5 minutes, then clearly my child can not be expected to walk from one wing of a middle school building to another with the other 900 students all moving at the same time AND be expected to GO TO THE CLASS SHE HATES.

In short, she's a liability.  A walking lawsuit waiting to happen.  A flight risk.  Vulnerable prey to a predatory hormonal male student that sees her wandering the halls alone, unsupervised.

At home, it's clear to me.  With that much freedom, she panics.  For Sissy, that means be bad, be very bad so you get restrictions that limit your freedom!  Of course, if you ask my daughter if she's doing it on purpose she'll deny it flat out.  But if you ask her, "So... why do you think you keep making poor decisions?"  She'll answer quickly.

"I can't take it!  I just can't take it!!! It's too much for me!!!"

Because it is.  And if my mentally ill and developmentally impaired child knows that it's too much and can SAY SO, then why is it such a hassle to get the county to agree that a more restrictive learning environment is what she needs?  Why does it come to a battle every single time?  Why does it require that I call the state so THEY can call the county and tell the county to call me back because the county WON'T call me back unless I play hard ball?  All it does is make me look like a brute of a helicopter parent that enjoys fighting and tantruming like my daughter does.    When in reality, I'm a mother fighting for what is right, fair and appropriate for my child.

When asked about ISS, my precious daughter said with excitement, "It was cool ! We got our own special toilet time and lunch time, separate from the rest of the students!"

This is NOT the voice of  a child that is remorseful for her actions.  It is the voice of an emotionally disabled child that is functioning at age 5 on a good day but who also has the uncanny ability to speak the truth about herself without saying it outright - she needs a learning environment in which she is separate from the rest of the general population and then she will be happier than a camel on hump day.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Wait Is Over

19 days.  Well, 17.  The teachers didn't turn in the discipline referrals for her infractions on Wednesday until today which means she serves ISS on day 19 of the school year.

Her grandmother wins the prize.  She gave Sissy 21 days.  Here's to grandmothers holding out hope! I really didn't think Sissy would make it this far.

The school finally submitted the CCETS referral on Tuesday but... wait for it... they will probably deny it because, well, because it's a referral from a parent and not from the school. Now, the school agrees - they are not equipped to support Sissy at their facility and she needs alternative placement.  But the county?  Ah, there's another story.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

We got this

In July, when I called the school to ask where Sissy's CCETS [1] referral was, the assistant principal has asked how her summer had been.  I answered cryptically because I am keen to read between the lines of questions that educators ask.  "If you're asking if Sissy's matured any and changed her behaviors so she will be more successful than last year, the answer is, no."

Nine school days ticked off the 181 day calendar and they still haven't finished her referral.  Nine school days and ten emails later, it is clear to everyone that she is truly not capable of this level of education.  Nine days of school later and she hasn't had a suspension... yet.  So if your bet was she would be in trouble before this, you're a loser and Sissy is the winner.


Actually, a long time friend of mine who is also parenting adopted children with challenges, works in the CCETS program for K-3.  She has suggested that should the school need to discipline Sissy for her shenanigans, that I deny they meter out said discipline on the grounds that I was honest and fair with the county, requesting the referral.  At this point, it is the SCHOOL that is dropping the ball, not me.

Which is what I tell Sissy.

She is quite frustrated and vocal about her frustration.  Her anxiety is sky high and she has already made herself physically ill because of it.  She knows she is smart but she simply can not handle the stress of the mainstream classroom.  Every time the phone rings she wants to know if it's the school and I tell her, "my dear, I've done MY job as your mom.  The rest is up to the school.  No single person makes this decision - it is a team effort."

Then I repeat and repeat and repeat.  It would help if I had a parrot to repeat these statements for me because my tongue gets tired saying it over and over.

And as such, with her anxiety, Sissy's at-home behaviors are of the charts.  *sigh*

This morning, AB, WG and I chilled while she slept late.  It was really nice.  Then she got up and within twenty minutes was awarded the privilege or being sent back to her room for her behavior.  lol

In the meantime, we got AB's EEG results back - they were normal.  HOORAY!  I'm hoping his cardiology appointment next Monday goes equally spectacular.  If not, then his pdoc and I go back to the drawing board with his meds.  One day at a time.  The med adjustments we made this summer have really brought him back to a positive baseline for his mood but potentially at the cost of stressing his heart.  Healthy heart vs. healthy mood?  Seems like there are never easy answers.

Still, all of this is petty compared to the Kilimanjaro's we've scaled that last four years.  We can handle it.  No biggie - we got this.

Be good. Don't hurt anyone.

[1] CCETS is the name of our county's emotional behavioral disability program

Sunday, August 11, 2013

What is church anyway?

It's a Sunday morning, the cicadas are wildly chirping, the sun is blazing, the dishwasher is swishing, the air conditioner is humming, the chihuahua is madly running in circles and I'm sitting at the computer typing a blog post instead of being in church.

It bothers me that I was raised to be a church goer and to celebrate God and all he provides on Sunday, to fellowship with like-minded believers and then to be 38 and completely incapable of putting a foot inside the doors of a house of worship.  It bothers me because I feel like it's what I'm supposed to do.  It bothers me because I'm not setting the same example that was laid out for me for my own children.  It bothers me that my once unmitigated passion for Christ has dried up like a man made pond in the rural south.  It bothers me, but not nearly as much as religion does.

Now that my family has reached a quiet, resting place in the chaos of life and mental illness, now that we smile and laugh and hug more than cry, shout and punch pillows, I've found myself in an unexpected place regarding my faith.  I'm not denouncing Christ or casting aside worship, I'm not switching faiths or bashing all persons as religious zealots.  I'm simply being.  I'm being in the moment on a Sunday morning when the cicadas are wildly chirping, the sun is blazing and a cool breeze is blowing, my shoulders are relaxing because my body is rested, my mind is quiet and peaceful and my children are happy.

Good God Almighty, my children are happy.

Gone are the days I would dash off to church hoping to hear some message that would give me the key to fix my family, to make us whole, to adjust myself view, to praise and worship myself hoarse in the hopes that my sacrifices to God for 90 minutes would make it all right again.  Gone are the days I made the mad dash to feed children and fight the rush hour traffic to get to a homegroup meeting or a Wednesday night service because the measure I eeked out on Sunday morning wasn't enough to get me to hump day, let alone the rest of the week.  Gone are the moments I reluctantly walked out of church, feeling lower and lonelier than I did before I walked through the open doors.  Gone are the days the offering plate passed by me and the guilt of not being able to sacrifice one quarter no longer haunts me.  Gone are the days I gave the full 10% tithe when the groceries hadn't been bought or the power bill hadn't been paid because I was hoping that this time, there would be a 100 fold return as the preacher promised (only to learn later that the cupboard was still bare, the power bill was late and I was out the cash I could have used for those amenities but my pastor pulled into the parking lot with one more new vehicle.)

This life changes you.  If I could convince my like-minded believers that worship, praise and thanksgiving doesn't occur in a fancy chapel but around the dining room table when your mentally ill daughter tells you that she thinks your hair looks nice today, I would feel less guilty for not being in a pew at 10 am in my Sunday best.

If I could convince Christians that doing God's work is getting up in the morning before your teenagers so you can greet them with a smile and a hug while you prepare their breakfast I wouldn't mind that I don't have a quarter to put in the offering plate.

If I could challenge people to consider drinking coffee on the back porch while being warmed in the sun and sung to by the insects as praise and worship, i might actually sing again myself.

If people would learn from me the lessons that I've learned on this journey called parenting special-needs children instead of trying to get me back in the doors of THEIR church that just might, maybe could, perhaps they would try to meet my family's unique needs on a Sunday for two hours, I would thank God the Creator and maker of all things that I suffered so that others might learn.

I've found a new church.  It is a church of peace, hope, love, kindness, patience, forgiveness, selflessness and self-control.  It is the church of God as it was intended to be.  It is serving and being thankful and worshiping all day, every day with all people every where regardless of their situation.  It is open-mindedness and giving your $10 visa rewards gas card to the neighbor that had a stroke.  It is unconditional love for your broken child.  It is patience unending for your impaired son.  It is kindness for the ex spouse when seeing his face makes you want to wretch.  It is genuine happiness despite all ills.  It is hope that the next ten minutes of life will be joyful and perseverance when it isn't.

If this church exists and happens to have regular meetings on Sunday mornings so I can hug people, laugh and cry with them, I'll be there, wearing whatever I put on to get there and maybe with a few dollars in my pocket to share with another needy soul.  Until then, I'll be right here.  Come join me.

Monday, August 5, 2013


Tomorrow is the first day of school for the kids and teacher orientation for me.  AB has been pacing for days.  Sissy is acting like a one year old.  WG is so excited she can't stand it.

All I can think about is that on Wednesday I'll be prepping for class in a quiet house.

As far as summer's go, this has actually been a good one.  Sissy didn't have her typical summer depression and AB's med changes have made a huge improvement in his mood and willingness to communicate.  We've had fun, it's been crazy, we've shouted at each other and laughed with each other and splashed each other in the pool.  We've had a trip to the ER for a bandaid (seriously, it looked like AB's leg had been splayed open and they gave him a BANDAID), we've met a new psychiatrist, we've made new friends, we've cried and slept.  We've slept alot.  Get-our-lazy-butts-out-of-bed-at-noon kind of sleeping.

Just now, AB and WG came in here and started a spontaneous light saber fight.  AB hasn't played with his light saber in over year so that is totally cool!!!!  Now, if only he would break out the legos or go swing without his music, I think the world might stop spinning for a pico second.

On Saturday I got some much needed help when a home group from a local baptist church that is affiliated with my school came over in droves and knocked out some major yard work and household fix-it chores. For the first time in 19 months, I didn't have to mow my yard!  

Every rose has it's thorn though.  Sissy is back to the general public school.  The middle school misplaced her referral for the Emotional/Behavioral disability classroom and unless I want her marked truant while they sort it out, I have to send her to the middle school.  PLACE YOUR BETS!  I'm giving her two weeks before she's getting a suspension.  Winner gets a cool mini quilt to hang. 

I'm serious about that. 


I mean, if I have to send my mentally ill daughter to the regular school where the staff is going to complain about her mental illness until the county agrees that she doesn't need to be in that setting, we might as well make a game of it, right?  Because when she has three days of OSS and I'm the one dealing with her in the house or in my classroom for those three days, knowing that I have friends behind me will make it easier.

AB just walked past me to head outside with his subwoofer speakers and a mini digital recorder. 

*face palm*

Sunday, July 28, 2013


Can I still do this?  Can I still write my thoughts and ...

I stopped blogging in October because the pain was too great.  Just so painful.  And because when my ex used it as a weapon against me, the one outlet I had to reach out and feel the love and know I wasn't alone, it cut me off at the knees.  It felt like being burned and drowned at the same time.

Oh, there are stories to tell form the last nine months.  Gosh.  I could have birthed a child in that time!  Well, perhaps I've birthed a new me?

I feel better.  I feel like I can breathe again.  I feel like I'm alive.  I'm happy.  Really, truly happy.  Some days I climb back up the monkey tree and screech and wail from the top that I'm going to fall to my death.  But most days my feet are on the ground, I'm standing tall and I'm SMILING.  Me.  Smiling.  I like this.

In a week all four of us go back to school.  WG, who is 9 now, will be back in public school.  She was all aces throughout our homeschool year but she missed the socialization.  She has also overcome her fears and surmounted her own anger.  She gets easily frustrated but recovers quickly. No more shutting down or destroying property.  Mostly, her annoyances include, well... Sissy is her only annoyance. LOL  So off to public school, the school we're zoned for.  No teachers at that building will remember her older siblings.  In fact, Sissy only got to the third grade there.  WG will be in the gifted program.  She'll be riding the bus (she LOVES that!) and it'll be all new friends that never witnessed her tantrums and her selective mutism when pushed to the edge.  Or her intentional urination tricks.  Plus, have I mentioned how smart that girl is?  Dang.  So insanely smart.  She gets it from her momma. *wink wink*

AB has had a rough six months.  Lots of depression and anxiety.  Now we're beginning testing to determine if he's having absence seizures and to see a cardiologist because he has mild tachycardia from his resperidal.  He's such a trooper.  He's talking so much more now.  Which is its own annoyance.  He's hard to understand and he asks such big questions like, "Mom?  When I'm 18, can I go live on Mars?"  To which I reply, "Well... if that's what you really want to do.  But don't count on me coming to visit for Sunday dinners."  He gives me a half smile and a chuckle.  Translated: My mom is so funny.

I like to make AB laugh.  *me and WG in unison* AB has the BEST laugh!!!

I love my son.  Love, love, love my son.  I can't imagine raising a son that was neurotypical.  It would drive me INSANE!  No thank you, I'll take my developmentally delayed and mentally ill son.  NT boys are nuts.  AB is now 12 and entering the 7th grade in a co-teach/inclusion para-professional learning environment.  Hopefully this dynamic will continue to work for him.


Ah well... is she ever going to be anything other than Sissy?  Pbft.  NO.

We wait on pins and needles for the county to call this week and let me know if she will be moved to the Emotional/Behavioral Disability classroom, a learning setting that is independent of the general population and in our county, it's in a school 6 miles from home.  It means she'll ride the "short bus".  It means AB won't have to deal with her all day long.  It means no more OSS and ISS and bus suspensions.  It means when she starts "womanhood" I won't be driving to the school with clothing changes because there will be certified staff taking care of it for me.  It means she won't be stealing and wandering the halls and hiding under desks and having rages in the middle of math class.

Aw hell, she'll still be doing all of that nonsense.  It just means there will be staff that is trained to deal with it.

But for now, it is a waiting game.  School begins the 6th and we still don't know.  If she's back in the building with AB, it's going to be short lived, I can tell you that.  Sissy has plateaued.  What you see is what you're going to get from her, for the rest of her life.  She's functionally 5 years old on a good day, 2 on a bad day and on the hold-your-hats-because-she's-going-apeshit-again days, she's 18 months old.

On the calendar, she's 13.


I'm single and loving it.  The trees are a little greener, the air is a little fresher.  Sissy hasn't needed stabilization or RTC for 19 months and counting!!!!  I'm teaching, studying for the GACE and enrolling in the MAT program in January so I can move to the public school and get benefits for the first time in my life (I'll be 39 in October.)  My yard is well kept because I use yard work as my anger outlet.  In the BeTA fundraiser, my donated quilted items raised $275 to help another mom attend the 2014 BeTA retreat in Orlando.  I'm certified to provide respite for adults with special needs and have two young women I care for on Mondays and Wednesdays when I'm not in the classroom.  I laugh so much more than I cry. I have my last therapy appointment in August.

I'm happy.