Going Gray

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I am in my mid 40’s, have 6 kids and am going gray gracefully. Gracefully is a relative term. Somedays it does not feel graceful at all.

When the grays (my strands of wisdom, I lovingly call them) started showing up it was just a wild hair here and there, standing up making itself known, reminding me that one cannot stop the clock from ticking away. I then started to get low lights in my hair to mask some of the grays. I have never been into covering who I am growing into or pretending to be younger than I am. But I wasn’t ready for the grays. That was my happy compromise.

After awhile I stopped the low lights, just letting nature take its course. Then we brought our youngest kids home. Our youngest daughter was good at letting me know she had a real problem with some of the ways I looked, my graying hair being the biggest of them. Saying some pretty hurtful things along the way. While I know those words she aimed my way were coming from the hurt she carried inside, they still stung. I let her words get to me to the point that I started dyeing my hair. I did it twice to be exact. I really liked how it made me feel and look, but something just didn’t feel right about it all. It just didn’t match with who I am inside and who I want to portray to my kids.

Now I don’t look down on ladies who color their hair, to each her own. But for me I want my kids to see a mom who is comfortable with who she is no matter what age and how she looks. It’s the beauty on the inside that I would rather shine through than rich brown hair, etc. Today our daughter’s words are much kinder and accepting.

Today our daughter’s words are much kinder and accepting. And though I don’t fully like the amount of gray I see staring back at me in the mirror I too am learning to accept and see the beauty in the aging process. I mean, golly, I have earned every silvery strand. Funny that gray has been my favorite color for many years and yet it is hard to see it in my own hair.

Thankfully more ladies are joining the silver fox club and deciding to go gray gracefully. Just take a peek on Pinterest on the subject and see the beautiful ladies there. Inspiration at it’s best.

 

Before Pinterest​

I think we need a new way of dating history.

We have BC=Before Christ and AD=After Death. However, I think it’s time to add BP & AP. You know, Before Pinterest and After Pinterest.

All joking aside, so much of our lives are really based on what we see and pin on Pinterest.

*Our meals and how we photograph them and of course post them to social media. More and more our meals are from Pinterest, the iPad up and open while making dinner.

*Our photo shoots. I tell you, I have a pinboard just for photo shoots for large families.

*Hairstyles, Home organization, Quotes, traveling with kids, furniture, crafts, hunting, plumbing, gardening…

*I even have pin boards on Camping…I really don’t even like to camp! Then there’s a board all about pallets. Will I ever use it? Probably not.

While these and most of my pin boards have been more than helpful, let’s talk about where Pinterest can raise the bar too high.

How did us mommas throw a birthday party for our kids before Pinterest? How did we manage to cook a decent meal for our family? How did we know how to decorate our homes?

I raised our older two kids pretty much BP. Their birthday parties were based on our budget and imagination. Our younger four are AP. I have to be honest with you I feel the pressure to provide a Pinterest-worthy party each time. Maybe it’s just me.

Our home and it’s decor, again for many, many years was based on our budget and creative imagination. While there are a lot of DIY on Pinterest, there is also a bar that has been raised on how our homes need to look. If you can’t afford it or just aren’t a good DIYer then your home well not be Pinterest-worthy.

Again, maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think so, we need to use Pinterest as a tool and not a standard.

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

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.

 

Dear Birth Mom

Dear birth mom to my son,

Yesterday our, your, my son became a teenager.

Yesterday I wondered if you were thinking about him at all, wondering how he’s turning out.

Our, my son is turning out to be one great young man. He opens doors for others now, helps out, is polite and a hard worker. He is one of the funniest, most real kids I know. He and I have some of the most straight-forward conversations, deep and lighthearted at the same time.

He has overcome many obstacles in these past couple of years. His grades and academic confidence have gone up. He works hard to achieve the grades he gets. He makes friends easy. Has begun to make wise decisions concerning his choices. He is not afraid to stand up for what he believes and is who is his.

He is starting to really see that he is much smarter than anyone has ever told him he was. Starting believe he can achieve many more things. He is stepping out of comfort zone and trying new things.

Our, my son has been giving wise advice to his younger brother. Seeing the same behaviors in him that he has overcome. He is compassionate and caring with the youngest in the house.

Though he may be quiet, he sure knows how to tell a good joke. When he gives a compliment take it because he sincerely means it.

Dear mom to my son, do you miss him or wonder how he is? Did you feel a twinge of loss yesterday in your heart? Dear mom, he his loved. He is cared for. He is growing into a fine and decent young man.

Thank you for relinquishing your rights so that I could be his mom.

Signed,

Our son’s mom