Good Parenting ISN’T Easy

The other day at my 60 something appointment since February I got two comments, in regards to our big family, ones that I get too often.

“It must be hard.” and “You seem so calm.”

First of all, parenting brings the best out in a person but it can bring out the worst as well. My husband and I are no more “special” than the next parent. And trust me we have been pushed to our limits more than our fair share on this parenting journey. So if you think I am calm…thank you. But really you are looking at the work God has done in me or you just caught me at the right moment.

Second, of course, it is not easy. Good parenting is never easy. Raising a child into a functioning, civilized, caring human being, one who knows they are capable of reaching their potential takes work. That is raising them from day one, with your DNA. Throw in someone else’s’ DNA and all that goes into raising kids from foster care and no it is not easy.

Today I see things in a different light. I used to take so much for granted when I only parented our bio kids. Sometimes it takes a broken mirror to show you just how important the little things you did really are. So many of the little moments, just talking about the everyday things like “Oh, look at that bird,” all of the small touches, the little everyday connections, if missing can really affect a child. Not to mention when bad stuff happens.

My husband and I truly feel no different than the next good parent trying their hardest. We have no special super powers (though I wish we did, they’d sure come in handy). We haven’t taken any over the top intense training to prepare us for this. A lot of it has been off the cuff parenting, a LOT of praying and yes, a lot of failing.

Moms and dads, don’t let the media or those around you pressure you into feeling like you are not a good parent. None of us are great…well okay there are those among us. None of our lives are Pinterest perfect. (At least no one I know.) We all make mistakes, we all yell at times, we all lose it and you know what…that’s okay. We are showing our kids that it’s okay to be human, to be less than perfect. It’s okay it mess up. They get to see how we handle failure, how we handle a stressful situation, a major plot twist in life. To me, that is what real parents do. If you don’t have laminated ABC’s on your walls…it’s okay. Your kids don’t care. They want your time and attention. They want to be bored and discover things on their own. They need to fall and figure out how to get up on their own.

Parenting isn’t for sissies for sure, but I really haven’t met too many of those, so you are more than likely going to be just fine as a parent. So pull up your big girl/boy panties and stand your ground, spend time with your kids, make the hard decisions (I have said this more than once, “I want you to be safe more than I want you to be happy.) Make your kids do chores, teach them to forgive, show them how to notice and accept others around them. Give them new experiences in and out of their comfort zones. Let them cry, let them feel pain, let them know the depths of messing up and being forgiven. Show them grace, give them order, hold them accountable.

Parenting is hard. Parenting sometimes sucks. But parenting is also very worth it.

 

 

 

Vacation

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We took a vacation, a road trip to see family in California and Arizona. It was LONG, it was fun, and the memories made were well worth it.

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Our Miss D’s (Nana) suitcase fell out of the cargo shell onto a very busy highway about here. Cabazon…115 degrees, SUPER windy, hence the windmills. Long story but her poor suitcase got shredded and it’s contents scattered all over the busy four lane highway. It wasn’t until some sensible drivers moved over that we were able to retrieve her belongings. Up until then I was at the mercy of the wind made by the speeding vehicles to blow her clothes my way.

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Family tradition, the Cabazon Dinosaurs. Since I was a little girl we have taken pictures here. Now all six of our kids have been here.

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Huntington Beach…never seen this young gent so happy!! Seriously. The beach was a hit for sure. If I could bottle it up for him I would.

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Tried new coffee. It gave Hubby and I a few minutes alone. Grateful for even mini-dates.

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Went to La Brea Tar Pits. I hadn’t been there since like fifth grade. Lots of fun. Very informative, which I eat up. The kids had fun spending some Christmas money at the gift shop too.

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IMG_2063Los Angeles, CA traffic!! No thank you.

 

IMG_2072Can’t tell you how much we all needed this little guy to nap and nap long.

IMG_2073Cousins and one uncle.

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Family in Arizona. Good times. So blessed to have a family who not only accepts our kids but sees passed their skin color and their past. Everyone of our family members has been so good to our kids. God is SO good.

ADHD + PTSD

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This sums up what living with and living with a child or two with ADHD looks like.

Peaceful? Not exactly. More like so exhausting you end up crashing on the floor. God knows I have left my heavily exhausted body imprinted on the floor many times. (Thank God for vacuums. They take away the evidence in seconds.)

Before our ninos came into our lives, and even awhile afterward, Hubby and I held onto the notion that ADHD was more of a lack of good parenting than organic, something “real”. Yes, they were hyper. Yes, they were impulsive, very impulsive. Yes, they were forgetful. Yes, they were…but we chalked it up to the neglect and trauma they had suffered through. It wasn’t until our 9-year-old (7 at the time) REALLY struggled in every area in school and our 13-year-old (11 at the time) had way too many signs that we had them tested. We had them tested for a number of things. Both came back with ADHD. Now our 13-year-old is NOT hyper at all. He is the quiet, mellow one in the bunch, but boy was he fidgety. He also had these “ticks” (before meds).

Fast forward to the present. After trying various different natural remedies, diet changes, and behavioral management techniques without seeing the change we needed we made the decision to put both boys on medicine for ADHD/PTSD. He started out being treated for symptoms of PTSD, without results. So we tried the ADHD route. This seemed to work great. Now he will tell you he can’t feel or tell if the medicine makes any difference. At all! More on this in a minute. Mr. Bubblewrap started out with ADHD meds with great results. He still forgets, is still impulsive, still pretty active, but it is now much more manageable. We ended up having to put him on PTSD meds as well. We call these his emo pills.

We are still doing behavior management and try natural remedies. These we would more than likely be doing with or without ADHD present in our lives. Our hope and goal is to eventually do away with the meds all together, especially for the PTSD. For now, this is where we are.

For now, we still remind, we still say focus a lot. We have also added a 20 min quiet time for Mr. Bubblewrap after school. This is not a punishment but a measure of prevention. He can have this alone time, quiet time to regroup, gather his thoughts, etc. before joining the family. It has really helped him make that transition from school to home life. He has even started setting the timer and putting himself in quiet time without being told. If you are familiar with kids with ADHD then you know this is huge. We also have him nap on weekends. He doesn’t have to sleep just have quiet time.

For this color coordinated closet organized mama, kids with such forgetful, disorganized behaviors have been hard. This level of unorganized lives doesn’t make sense to me. However, I too am learning, am adjusting, and doing what I can to help our kids. While ADHD type of behavior can be caused by the lack of good parenting, I am much less judgmental and have come to grips that for now the kids, heck, we need that extra help the medicine provides us.

Meet Robert

In my email, I often receive articles from adoption agencies, periodical emails from such agencies many of which I signed up for back when we were still looking for kids who’d be a good fit and every now and then emails featuring individual kids in need of a forever home. Two days ago this special delivery arrived.

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Here’s a naturally curious and thoughtful kid, with an interest in nearly everything. Despite his rough start in life and the challenges he faces, as a result, Robert remains a hopeful 12-year-old. In fact, he’s so determined to find a forever family, he requested copies of his Heart Gallery photo so he could pass them out to nice people he meets. He’s open to any kind of parent and would benefit from a nurturing family patient with his shy and quiet demeanor. Please help Robert in his quest to find a family and share his Heart Gallery profile with your friends- and anyone nice you meet!

“I love building things.” says Robert.

Robert has a real talent for working with his hands. He takes pride in making things for the people he loves the most and thinks it would be cool to be a craftsman when he grows up. He’s a naturally curious and thoughtful kid, with an interest in nearly everything. Just like every boy his age, he loves playing outside too. Despite Robert’s rough start in life and the challenges he faces, as a result, Robert remains a hopeful 12-year-old.

Robert is open to any kind of parent and would benefit from a nurturing family who will be patient with his shy and quiet demeanor. Robert wants to succeed in all he does and hopes to find a forever family who will encourage him to do just that.

https://heartgallerytampa.org/our-kids/robert/

Did you catch that? In fact, he’s so determined to find a forever family, he requested copies of his Heart Gallery photo so he could pass them out to nice people he meets. I have a 13 and 12-year-old and I can’t imagine them passing out photos to nice people. If things were a bit different in our home life, we would totally inquire about this young man. It was God who put the desire to adopt in my heart. God who changed Hubby’s heart. God who brought our four into our lives. And while we think we are done, I always say it will have to be God to tell us to adopt again. I have felt the urge to add another child every now and then, but for the most part, we fell done, (overwhelmed to be more accurate). But I remain open to God’s will. Who knows?

For now, we are on hold. BUT how about you? Do you have room in your home and heart for this young man? Can you at least spread the word about Robert?

An Epiphany

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I have been working on a post about how we do chores. It is written and finished, BUT it is so very long. So while I am figuring out how to shorten it I want to share this something with you all.

We have pulled a Donald Trump and fired our 9-year-old. For the sake of the emotional well-being of our home, we fired him from the dishes. You see while he is very capable of doing them he gets so deregulated that he really isn’t capable of doing them. While he did just great last year, this year is a completely different story.

99% of the time when it is his turn to do the dishes he gets so emotional that it isn’t worth it. He gets upset, mom gets upset, dad gets upset, etc. The older kids had no problem taking over his slot.

No regulating tricks have work, no strategies have worked, no “just suck it up and do the dishes” have worked. So for now, maybe for awhile, he isn’t doing the dishes.

The epiphany…physical or even cognitive capability isn’t what we need to measure. The ability to be emotionally capable is.

Mama Broke

So, a couple of weeks ago, I snapped. I blew up. Let me set the stage.

I woke from a fitful afternoon nap to find Hubby, Nana, and Mr. Bubblewrap at the kitchen counter. Hubby casually said something to Mr. Bubblewrap about putting away the camera. That is when I half woke up. Woke up in a fit of such frustration that I lost it. I didn’t throw things or hit anyone. But my words…ouch! I really wish I could take them back. But like toothpaste, once it is out you can’t put it back in.

You see, our eldest daughter just gave me the camera (this is not a point and shoot camera either) the night before. I had set it on the far end of the counter to check it out myself and then put away when I got a minute. BUT my trigger got tripped. Ever since our ninos came they have been learning personal space. They knew no boundaries. Everything was fair game. I have even had feminine needs pulled out of my purse by one of the children. Mr. Bubblewrap is also nine and is not the most gentle of persons when handling items.

My tolerance levels had been building and building, or should I say filling and filling. I do NOT like to micromanage at all. It stresses me out more than most things. For me, trying to find a way to raise kids with as little micromanaging as possible has been a task ever since I became a mom. Getting kids from foster care amplifies that need to micromanage, to teach, to get them caught up. It seems at times it is teaching, redirecting, disciplining, more redirecting, etc. non-stop. This was one of those seasons. And something had to give. Unfortunately, it was me that broke. Broke in a wrong way.

One of the main sources of micromanaging had become the chores. For our ninos, chores were something they were not raised with. (That could be a whole other post.) I was constantly reminding them to do their chores, asking them if they did this or that. Each time met with an eye roll at best. Then there’s checking to make sure the job was done right. Times that by at least three kids and it gets taxing.

After cooling off and asking for forgiveness, especially with Hubby, Hubby and I had a private meeting in our bathroom. I tell you our bathroom has been a sanctuary for me, a place for meetings, etc. It is really a great place. LOL! Anyway, we came up with a new chore system. It goes along with our “tic mark” system. More on these systems in a later post.

So far the new system has helped. We also had a family meeting to lay out some more guidelines and remind the kids of some we already had in place. I also, besides praying, opened up to a sister in church about my outbursts. We briefly talked and it helped just to be open with someone, another mom, who knew me and could understand.

As always, when I replay the situations in my head I react better. In this case, I could’ve/probably should’ve done this: Upon hearing and seeing son with the camera kindly taken it from him and told him in a calm voice, “You know I feel really disrespected, violated (whatever adjective fit) right now. But for the sack of our relationship, I am going to choose to let this one go.” Then walk away with my camera in hand. Then in private talk to Hubby about how the whole thing affected me.

Whether or not that would’ve worked I don’t know, but I would’ve felt better about myself.

 

The Road Ahead pt.2

Just last night, the sermon at church was about God’s purpose versus our preference. While the topic can refer to a number of examples in my life, this story came flashing in quicker than a preteen girl can change moods. (Part one of this journey can be read here.)

The decision on whether or not to go forward with adopting the four kiddos we met in the northern part of our state was really already decided for us. It was up to us to answer. We knew once we met them that they were “the ones”. We knew in a way that can’t really be explained. Hubby, our eldest son and I just knew. Hubby a bit less, but he still knew.

I NEVER imagined God wanting us to adopt four.at.one.time. NEVER. I even spoke to God in my heart, “but God, four?!” We were not set up for four, we had not planned on four. Our plans were a bit (very) different, but yet there was this underlying peace, that God was with us. God’s purpose versus our preference.

September 2015 we met our kids, we didn’t bring them home until February 2016. We missed all of the ‘big” holidays with them. When we met them in September, we decided to take the next step rather quickly. We met with our caseworker, his manager in the CYFD office and video conferenced with those involved in the kids’ case. There we were presented a Reader’s Digest version of the kids’ life, personalities,  behaviors, etc. We asked questions, lots of questions. Then it was go home, talk about it, think it over, pray. Then onto the next step. The is where the hold up was. This step required LOTS of paperwork. With four kids, there is a tree’s worth of paper involved just for this one meeting. The copy machine in our kids’ CYFD office was broken. Let me remind you that when you are dealing with foster care you are dealing with the government. We were hoping to bring the kids home by Thanksgiving. No fixed copier. I called everyone I could think of. Thought of EVERY possibility to get those papers copied. No fixed copier. Let me tell you that was one sad Christmas. We missed Thanksgiving, we missed one of the boy’s birthdays, and now we missed Christmas.

At this point in the game, the kids were still not told that we wanted them. To me, this was the hardest. We knew how we felt. We knew how hard we were trying to bring them home. They had no idea what had happened to the family they met way back in September. Did that family even want them?

I don’t remember when, but I ended up getting ahold of our governor’s liaison. He helped us before, and he came through big time for us again. Not only did the kids’ CYFD office get one brand new copier, they got two! From then on it was pretty smooth going.

So, with the biggest black binder, I have ever seen, Ms. L (the kids’ caseworker) came here to have the next meeting.  Again, more reading, more questions, more notes were taken. Go home read, think, talk, and pray. Onto the next step: calling the foster parents, teachers, etc. of our kids. I had my list of questions, my spot on our bedroom floor where each call was made. For one call, despite using a translator we really didn’t learn much about our little one. One foster mom was headed to the ER at the time I finally reached her!! Yes, the ER. She wasn’t sure if she was having a heart attack or what!?! Okay, so here’s the part where I am like let’s go get our son NOW! Can we break some rules? (If you know me, breaking rules is NOT my thing at all.) I had to leave it, leave him in God’s hands.

Needless to say, there was a LOT of waiting and a LOT of praying and too much fretting on my part. Once we did all we were supposed to do here on our end, it was time to give the final answer. Nothing we had read, nothing we were told changed our minds. We said yes.