Tuesday, April 12, 2016

I can see you.

I just came home from a weekend at an amazing parenting conference. A small community of people who are parenting kids with trauma and need a village to walk alongside. To not feel alone. To say, "Hey, I am here in this too. And it is HARD. But we can do this. Because we are all in this together."

Of course I came home overwhelmed, but also kind of feeling like a super hero with awesome powers because I CAN do this. But yes, it is also the most challenging thing that I have ever done. And I have to do it all day, every day. Which makes some days kind of hard to show up for. Really hard to show up for.

I am learning. Growing. Slowly. But there is forward motion. 

Yesterday for the first time in a long time, I can honestly say that I enjoyed being with one of my healing children. If you are parenting neurotypical children, you might not understand this feeling of really really not liking your kid. Bear with me and give those adoptive and foster parents in your community some grace. Because my foster daughter's normal daily behaviors make me believe that it is her goal in life to tear me down enough so she can stomp me into dust beneath her angry feet. 

But I know the truth. 

The truth is that she acts out of fear. Fear that I might not love her. That I might abandon her. That I might not feed her. That I might hurt her. That someday someone might show up and take her away from me. 

And why shouldn't she have these fears? 
All of this actually happened to her before she was even two years old. Before she could even form words to speak.
And suddenly I can see. 

My arms carry bruises from her anger. And often, I find myself crying simply because the burden of the hurt we are living with sometimes feels too much to bear. And then I wonder, if it feels this way to me, what must it feel like to be her? To be so young, so small, and carry around so much pain...

My heart changes then. 
Instead of feeling thoughts of hate towards her or wishful thinking about the trauma free days before her arrival, I find myself truly seeing her for who she is. Accepting her for who she is. Seeing that no, she is not a mean child. Although her actions might be interpreted as that to others. And she is not a bully or a problem child or a case to study. No. I can see now. I can see that she is a just a little girl who is hurting. And there is still so much healing that needs to be done. 

Instead of loathing her presence, I begin to find ways to connect. To ask questions. To play. To understand. To look into her eyes and find who this real girl truly is, this smart, funny, genuine girl who is so oftentimes hidden under the heavy itchy sweater of trauma and neglect. I see that her behavior doesn't define her. That her behavior is telling me what she really needs. Connection. Regulation. Understanding. Unconditional love. Stability. Certainty. 

So every day, I am showing up for her. Most of the time not perfectly. But, even so, here I am. Mistakes and all.

I'm here for you, kiddo. I can see you. And I'm not going anywhere. I'm here.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Grump Thoughts

Warning: I am in a bad mood.

Parenting I think, is easier for some people than others. In fact, after reflecting on my personality type, I realized that had I done some sort of test on it I would make a good parent based soley on my personality, I would have failed.

I love my kids, but good Lord, I have so little joy when I am around them that I fear I have missed the point of having kids completely. All my internet acquaintances are posting pictures every day of all their cute babies and gushing about how much they love being stay at home moms....and here I am, going.... yeah...that's not how I feel. In fact, I would work part time starting tomorrow if my entire income wouldn't be going straight to pay for the childcare for all five kids while I work. I need an outside purpose. Just being a mom isn't enough for me.

I have a few hours each week here while the older four are in school and Oliver is taking a nap. I could paint, I could get creative, but honestly? I feel like I have nothing in me. Like that stuff needs time just to sit and be and reflect before I can even begin to draw or create. And since that "being" time doesn't exist, I don't create.

I DO do laundry though. I know, right? Laundry.  Why oh why, did I have kids....

Despite my feelings at the moment, I do love my children. All of them. Even the ones that I didn't birth that are IMPOSSIBLE at times for me to even want to be around. I still love them. I am fighting for them. I am committed to them. But I still want a life outside of them.

Make sense?

And that life isn't blogging. Because I think our personal life and stories are just that. Personal. Also, no one wants to hear about all the back talk and tantrums and sibling squabbling that happen all day long over here. Really. No one needs to hear about that.

My glass is pretty much almost empty too. No half full for me. It's like, gone. And every day I wake up exhausted, get through the day exhausted, crawl into bed exhausted. Repeat. Again and again and again. So I need some joy. Some spice to get me through. Also it's February, so there's that. Like, we are I-can't-remember-what-green-leaves-look-like deep into winter, and I keep looking at pictures of Florida wishing I would magically wake up there tomorrow. Eric says I'm not going there this year for my birthday, so I bought some Nikki McClure prints instead. Incidentally, the ones that spoke to me the most are mostly winter prints. Oh, the irony. Excited to get them into frames though. I figure if I can't buy a plane ticket I may as well buy some frames.

So here's the dirty.
I'm totally not connecting to my kids, there's too many of them, can someone please make them stop screaming and whining and touching me, and also can winter please be over soon. Oh, and I need a side purpose in life. My main job is obviously child-rearing right now, but come on. I need some part time inspiration here, because all this dirty laundry and child reffing isn't doing it for me.

And if I could somehow magically have all the practical skills inside me to parent kids with trauma, well then by all means, do that too.
I think I might be burned out