Monday 29 April 2019

The Call to Courage

I watched Brene Brown's Call to Courage on Netflix this weekend and it so good. I can not say enough good things about the messages that she shares. I wrote down some of the best bits for myself so that I would actually remember them and these two phrases stood out in such a big way -

Today I will choose courage over comfort.
Vulnerability is having the courage to show up when you can't control the outcome - Brene Brown

I am seriously contemplating a new tattoo that says Courage over Comfort, seriously.

The things that are going on in my life require me to be courageous and vulnerable on a daily basis. until recently trying to be both things at the same time was killing me. I really did not feel like I had the ability to do all of the things required to juggle all of the balls in the air even though I was working hard on faking it till I made it and was doing so with a certain amount of success.

Then I decided to let myself be sad, to let myself grieve the loss of my boys, my family, my dreams and not to blame myself for what has happened. I am not saying that I am perfect but instead am saying that my children went to great lengths to conceal what was happening from me for years and then only revealed it by accident and there is no way that I can blame myself for that or for the things that happened.

I had cameras and door alarms and there was always a parent or sitter in our home. I can count on one hand the number of times my teenagers were left with their little sister on their own and I think it is three. Two of the three times were because I was done and had to step away before I lost my mind. Ironically those were not the times that things happened.

So now I will grieve this for as long as I need to and then I will figure out how to step into whatever is going to come next. It will not be easy but I will do it with courage and bravery because that is the only way I am going to survive it.

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Another layer of grief.

I decided a few weeks ago that I needed to change up our Easter celebration and not spend it at home being sad about not being able to spend the holiday together as a family and missing that is has always been one of our most joyful holidays with our church community. So we switched it up and planned a weekend away with family by birth and by choice. It was an excellent weekend that included a musical, a museum visit, Easter Mass with a great community and a day with Kate's godparents (who were foster parents) whom we love to pieces. 

We learned while we were away that Kate's godfather has stage 4 cancer, it sent us all reeling to say the very least and now on top of everything else we are adding another layer of grief to our lives. He will fight and be treated but it will not be a cure and instead just a way to be able to sustain his life and spend time with the people he loves. Sadly they live about 5 hours away from us and we will not be able to spend nearly as much time with them as we would like. 

Kate understands that he is sick but doesn't understand what stage 4 means and I just do not have the stamina to tell her that one of her favourite humans is going to die long before his time. It makes me so profoundly sad for her because she has already lost so much and she cares so deeply for him. 

Grief is messy and complex and in the last few weeks I have been quite firmly stuck in sadness and although it is hard I am okay to sit here and be sad. Sad for my kids, sad for our lives and losses, sad because I will not have the future that we dreamed of as a family. I am sad that my chronic illness makes my pain intense and my days hard and then effects how we live together. 

I am sad and I am okay with that for now. 

Thursday 18 April 2019

Advocating for their needs

Last week I discovered that things with Randall's charges where heading a direction that would mean tragic things for Randall. Luckily for me his therapist pulled out all the stops and got an amazing team of people together to try to support him and make a plan that we could present to the court to show that this kid was going to be supported within the community. 

We sat down on Tuesday with Randall on Tuesday and tried to come up with some solid support plans and although we got no where in many ways it was so nice to have all these people advocating for my boy.  Standing up and being willing to work hard for him and for us so that he gets the services he needs. 

It breaks my heart that I can't just have him come home but home is so much easier and less stressful with him living somewhere else.  I feel as though that is the mantra of special needs parents everywhere as their high needs kids approach adulthood - I love you so much but I am tired and I need a break form the level of care that I have to provide for you so that you are safe. 

Why should parents have to get to that place of burn out? Why are there not supports for us before our kid is doing things like attempting suicide? Why could I not get any help for my kid until he was charged with a crime and potentially facing serious repercussions from a crime he doesn't not understand. 

In many ways the situation is the same for Kevin but he does not want me to advocate for him and we haven't heard from him directly or indirectly since he was charged last September. I am scared for him and I often want to reach out to him but I am afraid it will end badly and as result I have not said anything at all. 

There is no parenting book for this chapter of my life. 

Sunday 14 April 2019

Love as a Radical Act.

I have been listening to Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, it has become a comfort to hear Vanessa and Casper talk about how some of very favourite books can be dissected and discussed just as I would of discussed a text when I studied theology in University. I just finished the end of the fourth book and the last few themes had my brain processing all sorts of things as I listened.

Today I listened to a number of episodes as I painted Kevin and Randall's bedroom. Painting their room was hard because my body hurts and my physical pain is bad right now but it was also emotionally hard because it in the spring of 2007 I painted that room in anticipation of what would come. I painted and sewed bedding for the boys I would come to love so very much, boys who are not here now and who I miss with every fibre of my being.

"Love is radical act" said Vanessa in the episode where they wrapped their fourth season and she is so right. She is not the first person to say it but today it really resonated for me as I work through all of the emotions that go with the events have been the last 8 months of my life.

When I first wanted to adopt, when I wanted to adopt again, when I talk about the how and whys of this journey it was always because I believed with my whole being that loving a child in need could fundamentally change the world for the child. I still believe that. I believe that somewhere inside a person will always know that they were loved and that knowledge goes with them into the world and sustains them even if that person is not there.

This theory falls apart when you add in trauma and neglect. I had no idea that those two words could change love and turn it into something to be scared of, something to run from because it might cause you to be hurt. But in the eyes of a child who has been hurt love is not necessarily a good thing. All of my kids fought not to be loved, fought to survive in a world they did not trust because it they had no reason to believe I was any different than the other adults who had hurt them, left them and then moved on with their lives as if the children no longer mattered.

My love was indeed a radical act but one that they could not receive. I worked hard to change that for them, I kept loving, kept trying, kept fighting but it was not enough. They were hurt humans who hurt other humans with devastating consequences for themselves and for Jack, Kate and I. As those consequences play out I am often asked if I still think adoption is an good option and I always say yes,  I would do it again. If I could go back and have a do over I would totally take it and I wouldn't change much except for never ever letting anyone out of my sight especially while they were playing outside.

But hindsight is 20/20 and I can not change what has happened and can only move forward as I figure out what life will look like now. What I do know is that I will continue to  to act justly,  to walk humbly and to love with my whole being.

Thursday 11 April 2019

I'm so tired

I wonder if I have another post titled tired.. It is a common theme in my life but this week that has been the overwhelming feeling.

I am tired of working so hard with my kids.
I am tired of missing my boys
I am tired of asking for help and none being available.
I am tired of chronic pain and no solutions that actually help.
I am tired of feeling like nothing good is ever going to happen again.
I am tired of people not understanding how hard it is to tell our story again and again.
I am tired of having to let go of everything I dreamt about for my family.
I am tired of advocating.
I am tired of arguing with Jack and of worrying about him.
I am tired of taking care of everyone else.
I am tired of laundry, cooking and cleaning.
Im tired of grief and how it overwhelms me and reduces me to tears so very often.
I am tired of not being able to work because my body hurts to much and my kids needs make it almost impossible.

I am just so tired of everything and would really like it if things could get easier but given our situation I don't think that is going to happen.

Tuesday 9 April 2019

Starting over

I feel like I am starting again.

My life has shifted so dramatically in the last 7 months in ways that I only imagined in my worst nightmares and yet here I am getting up day after day to a world that is so different from anything I hoped for.

I alternate between being overwhelmingly devastated  ( because I miss my boys so much) and then completely relieved for Randall because he desperately needs help and as hard as we tried no one would hear us. Now that he is back in care other adults are seeing what we are talking about and trying to get him the services he needs to be supported. I am not sure that it is going to work but it is so nice not to be the only one in his corner advocating in a world that doesn't seem to be listening.

Kate is acting like a complete fool and everything time I try to trust her, to change the ways things work in our home she is thrilled and then totally destroys my trust by doing the exact opposite of what she needs to maintain the changed rules. I just do not have the emotional resources to manage her behaviour right now and desperately just need to her to allow things to be easier for awhile so I can gather some emotional resources so that I can support her better.

I did not think that after parenting for 11 years this is the place that we would be in and that I would be trying to reinvent what our family looks like so that we can find a way to be in relationship with one another. I thought we would be getting ready to launch older kids into the world as happy young men with bright futures and instead we are worrying about trial dates, restraining orders and visit schedules that do not include Kate since they are not allowed to see one another.

This is not what I planned and I don't really want to start again.

Wednesday 3 April 2019

I was a good Mom too.

So I just finished watching the season finale of This is Us and it made me think about how I was the engine in my family too.

If you haven't seen it or don't watch it a quick non spoiler version  - Rebecca (the Mom) is in a small car accident and ends up in the hospital for a single night. In the wee hours of the morning Jack and the kids show up because they miss her and can't function without her. Jack tries to explain to a nurse why she should let them go see her even though it is not visiting hours and compares their family a car, Rebecca is the engine and without her nothing else works. The nurse lets them go see her even though it isn't visiting hours yet.

They talk through out the episode about how she is the Mom who knows and gets it, about how she used to do the little bit more so that everyone knew they were loved. I think in many ways that was me too. I so wanted our little family to be something my children would remember and I worked so hard to make sure that they got love notes in their lunches, did crafts, tried new things, travelled and got all the things I never did like a Mom who listened and volunteered at their school

I thought I had done a pretty good job for all of them. I tried really hard to make their world a happy place because I knew how crappy it had been for all of them.

Then a year and a half after Kate moved in I got sick, I have a long list of autoimmune issues that have forever changed my life. In 2015 the day after Kate's 9th birthday my car was rear ended and the result was a mild traumatic brain injury that effects my daily life and as a result my kids lives.  I am not physically the same Mom I was in 2008 when we started being a family.  That means I have a lot of guilt about not being able to do the things with Kate that I used to do with her brothers and wish I could do more.

There are a lot of layers to that guilt but it is also about me letting go of what I thought I would be at this point in my parenting journey. I am not that person and I can't go back to doing many of the things I used to do but my family is also not what I dreamed it would be.

I wish we could just wrap things up neat and tidy like they do in 50 minute episode on TV. Instead I wander through my days wondering when something is going to make burst into tears because I miss my boys or when my body will hurt so much that all I want to do it stay in bed and hide from the world.

Monday 1 April 2019

Really Kiddo

Kate has been working on the "shock value" comment of late and seems to think the more appalled we are the better it is. Last night as we discussed a story about a young boy who killed his parents ( you can read it here) in a rural home in New Hampshire she looked at me and said, " well I have thought about stabbing you but I never did it".  She just added it to the conversation as if this was a totally normal thought to add while we discussed why kids who have a hard time regulating their behaviour should have not access to guns. I just ignored it in the moment while my mind raced, seriously kiddo, you have thought that... What do you say to that sort of thing.

Today as we went to get birth control shot she asked me if my Mom took me to get them or if I took pills. When I replied that my Mom never even thought about me being sexually active at her age and that it was not ever a conversation we had when I was a teenager she was surprised. I went on to expelling to her that I was making sure she was getting them because I was not confident that she was not going to try to use sex as a way to get people to like her and although that made me very sad for her, I was not about to deal with the repercussions of having a pregnant teen daughter because that would not be far to anyone at all. So she is going to be on birth control and until she is 16 I can continue to make sure that this happens every 12 weeks. She was sort of speechless.

I then went to yoga and thought to myself about how insane this all is. I have a daughter who thinks sex is a way to get attention, a son who got roped in by her manipulation and is now in trouble for it and another son who just reinforced for her that being controlled by his needs for sexual pleasure was totally acceptable and when she tried to speak out and get help no one believed her.

I feel so much shame about that. About how I did not believe her when she told us because I was sure that Kevin was gay and would not be interested in having sex with a 6 year old. Except he did, sexual preferences aside he is also a predator who worked really hard to manipulate our lives so that he could sexually satisfied.

But, all that being said there is also a part of me that is afraid she, much like Kevin is so mentally ill that no matter what we do no it is never going to be enough to save her from self destructing as he has. It terrifies me and makes me dread our future together.