…and then I remembered who I am

Most of you know that Charlie and I won a trip to Colorado, and we went this last week.  We won flights, lodging in a 4 bedroom with a private hot tub, and spending money.  It. Was. Amazing.  Essentially, the universe smacked us over the head and yelled, “take care of yourselves!”  My coworker/friend says it’s God, not the universe.  Tomato, tomato. (I guess that doesn’t work quite as well when you type it vs. say it)

I was really nervous about going.  We left Jax for a few days several years ago, but have never left J and A for more than a night.  When you have kids with trauma/attachment issues, you can pretty much sign up for hell upon returning.  We really wondered if it was even going to be worth it.  It had been a rough month, and we knew we needed a break, but it seemed a little overwhelming.  We figured either a) the kids were going to be terrible while we were gone or b) the kids were going to be terrible when we returned.  Probably not both.  We talked to them most days, texted with my Mom and aunt multiple times a day, sent/received pictures, and left a present for each day we were gone.  A couple days in, it was clearly going about as well as could be expected.  Which was awesome.  And also left this feeling of impending doom.

Our first day was kind of weird.  We mostly talked about the kids, and we had bad headaches because of the high altitude. Our second day was amazing.  We went white water rafting, and ended up at the mountain musical festival that night.  Something about the energy or something made my eyes well up with tears.  (I swear, I am not usually an overly emotional person).  Charlie asked me what was wrong.  “I think I just remembered who I am.”

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I/we got stuck in two modes. 1) Parenting and 2) Recovering from parenting.  We are parents. We are special needs parents parents.  We are adoptive parents.  That is a piece of our identify, but it isn’t our identify.  I got that confused for awhile.  My clinical supervisor recently told me that Moms are wells.  Our kids dip from our wells.  I let the families I work with dip from my well, also.  He asked me how I am filling up my well so that everyone can dip from it.  Well…I wasn’t.  Until Colorado. 

I couldn’t believe how different I felt when I returned.  I was ready for a shit storm (PS, I’m sorry I swear like a sailor), but what we got were huge smiles and huge hugs.  My Dad brought the kids to the airport, and they just were genuinely happy to see us.  “A” said, “How about a family hug when we get out of the van?”  A family hug we did.  It’s ironic to me how much more patient, playful, accepting, and empathetic I feel when I don’t *only* identify as a parent.  I remembered who I am in Colorado, and it turned out I’m a better Mom than the person who thought their identity was “Mom.”

 

i think i can taste the judge’s signature

Just a quick logistical update…we are filing our petition to adopt tomorrow! Assuming we filled the paperwork out correctly, which is about a 36% chance in my estimation.  Allegedly most people have lawyers.  Wingin’ it is kind of more our style, so stay tuned.  We are hoping to receive a court date in 1-2 weeks and are hoping for 1-2 weeks notice so that our families can join us in the court room.  We are ginormous dorks, and ordered matching shirts with “Kent” on the back to wear that day.  The front is my favorite…but I will wait to share pictures of our WHOLE FAMILY wearing them on adoption day!  We are also excited to share with the world their new middle names…what a neat experience to be able to name kids based on their personalities (vs. a baby)! 

I am really emotional…much like I felt those days/weeks just before they moved in.  I think back to how insanely naive we were even just a year ago.  Many of us set out to “save” kids…but the reality is that they didn’t ask to be saved.  While Charlie and I are beyond excited to finalize this adoption, it is also true that this signifies the permanent loss of their birth family.  It’s a hard balance to make sure they know we are excited and SURE without being disrespectful to their mixed emotions.  My understanding is that court is really quick…a few “I promises” and a signature.  With our kids’ histories and ages, we are hoping to make it more meaningful/climatic with vows, similar to wedding vows.  I would like to share those in the future, but want our kids to hear them first.

 I always wondered/worried when we started this process that we would be scared at this point.  I mostly feel like I did several days before I married my best friend.  Nervous, maybe, but SURE.  I get teary just thinking about hugging J and A KENT for the very first time. 

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sharks only bite for awhile

We had some regression over the last few weeks, and I was honestly having a bit of a panic attack that this whole year was one giant honeymoon.  It’s been ROUGH!  Happy to say we are leveling out quite nicely.  I already have “let it be” tattooed on one arm, but I just might need to get “this too shall pass” on the other.  Or maybe, “calm the F down, it’s going to be okay.”  Too many words?  Anyway, I think it’s going to be our reality that certain times of years, transitions, etc. cause regression.  Next time, rather than contemplating running away, we are going to be intentional about self-care, limit stimulating activities/try to stay home as much as possible, and generally just hunker down and wait out the storm.  I am also going to give both the kids AND myself some grace.  A person can’t maintain A-game all the time.  Humans, we are…

We are super duper hoping to be able to finalize the adoption late August or early Sept.  As soon as the state approves the subsidy agreement thinger we will file our petitions to adopt (which are filled out and ready to go!)  We expect to have between one week and one month notice prior to the court date.  Since our kids are old enough to understand this process (and this isn’t their first rodeo), we are writing adoption vows, similar to wedding vows.  I have said it to them many times, and much more frequently over the last few weeks as they test whether or not we are strong enough to sign these papers, that nothing they can do will make us change our minds.  I have cried many tears, experienced anger I didn’t know I had in me, cursed the system, and chucked a banana across the room…but I have never doubted for a second that they were always meant to be my kids. 

A, J, and Jax have great imaginations (and all operate at roughly the same developmental age).  Today, they were playing a game called “shark family.”  Jax was the “baby shark,” who had to leave his family because they were mean and he was scared.  J and A were “stranger sharks” that were explaining to Jax that they could take care of him now.  I watched, mesmerized, as they played out their experiences.  It was incredibly detailed, and I would give anything to have had it on video!  Later, they excitedly explained this game (that clearly was only shark-related and had nothing to do with their life…).  “At first when we tried to take Jax, he bit us all the time with his big shark teeth!  But after awhile he started to get used to us and once he knew we were just trying to keep him safe he stopped biting us.” 

Looking forward to fewer and fewer “shark bites” myself. 🙂

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Feel the Rain

Two weeks ago, we lost a baby. I said it. Out loud. I was never too fond of rules, and I especially hate the “rule” that Moms are supposed to pretend that loss doesn’t happen. Wait to announce your pregnancy until 12 weeks, “just in case.” Well…screw that.

When we were deciding if it was the right time to add to our chaos, Charlie said – “Let’s put it out to the universe. If it’s supposed to be, it will be.” Well…I have been struggling with this. If it wasn’t the right time, why couldn’t I just NOT get pregnant. Why did a babe have to live for such a painfully short amount of time? The grief is tangled up in all sorts of other things, including a pretty major regression of J and A that includes some massive targeting of their emotional mess of a Mom who really just needs to go through the motions for a few days. Weeks. I don’t know. The truth is, there isn’t any going through of the motions when you are parenting traumatized kids. If you stop being intentional and therapeutic, shit hits the fan. And that is only mostly metaphorical.

In attempt to heal, we decided to name the baby. Painfully, we looked through lists of names to find one we liked. And then Charlie said, “Raine?” And I said, “Raine.” Raine.

I’ve been pretty crabby lately, and short with the kids. All three. It’s a pretty terrible cycle. I am emotionally unavailable, and so the kids say terrible things and lie and steal and eat until they throw up and generally try to hurt me. The more they do this, the more difficulty I have making that physical contact and eye contact they need. How are we going to get out of this? For the last two weeks I have been asking myself this question, and for the last two weeks I have tried to find the energy to follow through on the answers.

Today, as rain drops hit my windshield, I thought of Raine and felt peace. The rain made me feel alive, as cliché as that sounds. It reminded me of fresh beginnings, and also the fragility of human life. Tonight, I looked at my kids and I jumped on the trampoline and I wrestled with them and I LAUGHED. We are going to be okay, all of us.

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