Friday, April 30, 2010

5 Minute Turn around...

Having fun...

5 minute heads up till we leave...

Wound inflicted upon Momma when attempting to leave.

This has to stop. I took a ladies advice and started singing to him, crazily- expressing love- crazily... but.  He bit so hard I fell down... it was that or throw him down.  Not proud of that. But it hurt. He hurt me.  I sang ridiculously through tears... i don't know how effective that was.

Some how I have to teach him the difference between being angry and hurting eachother and dealing with each. 

Tonight as I was in full on tears, as it started to inflame and get more painful, he was laughing... kept trying to show me something and then laughing. I was literally doubled over in pain and he was laughing. But I think, maybe he was attempting to make me laugh- or distract me somehow. He'd also kiss it.. and then dig his nails into it.... then kiss again. It makes me think that I'm not understanding him enough. That somehow- when he is in pain (which he truely rarely expresses) that he thinks I'm trying to distract him- get him to laugh. I have to tune in more to his expression.

There was a time- many times actually- distract and laughter has been used as a tactic...  not with him... I don't think. You see, it is one of those ... those things that .. permeates my family.. and how I grew up.  But one of those things that encroaches on many moments of my day in trying to establish new communication- new compassion- new love traditions. I can not disrespect his pain. Doing so- causes him to disrespect pain inflicted.

When he hurts me... oh- how tempting it is.. to respond how others would have responded to me. To respond they way he wants. To escape this hard- difficult trek of Love.. of Family. To hurt him physically in response.

But then- I'm just another playmate that pinch and bite eachother. I'm not acting like a mother.

This is hurting me. Physically- and my heart. It hurts.

How do I hold him safely and yet keep myself safe? I'm not sure I can do both. It's fighting off every reflex to protect myself. Because protecting my physical body will ultimately not be protective of my Sun. You see the problem?... it hurts!!

I have to remind myself.. it's only 3 months. It's only 3 months. This is still new- fun- uncertain- temporary for him. He doesn't know any different.  I keep telling him. But I'm not sure he completely understands these words- these words he only hears from me.
EDITED TO ADD @2 YEARS LATER: Those silly songs I made up on the spot, we are still reverting to them in times of dysregulation. It's crazy. It's painful. I didn't always respond most therapeutically. But my suggestion is to track/log what you do in these early days home. You may / likely need to use them all over again with your 5 or 6 year old. The tantrums, sound different. The shit they throw at you smells different. The pain the can inflict feels never ending. The soothing sound of ridiculous songs you made up to bring you together early- may give you an edge later.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spontaneous Memory...

We were in the big red box store in the kitchen cleaning aisle. Yes- I was actually there and I think half my problems in this life stem from the fact that there exists a store in which an entire aisle is devoted solely to kitchen cleaning items. It's also the reason I have 4 large things of Laundry Soap and Zero fabric softener... the fact that my washing machine only holds 2 towels at a time negates the amount of soap, and is a whole other topic... somehow I feel I'm not on the same path I started... let me back up...

Ok- Kitchen cleaning aisle. My Sun picks up a sponge and excitedly exclaims "Mommee! Mommee!" He wipes the palm of his other hand with the sponge and shows me. I look at him blankly. "Mommee Mommee" he repeats the action and adds placing his 'painted' hand flat on me.  He's grinning wildly...  I realize what is happening.

He is repeating the portion of the 'goodbye ceremony' when they take a sponge and paint each child's hand and place the hand on a page in a book. The school children are all chanting the child's name. It is a weird and odd ceremony and must stick out like a thumb in memory.

A friend mentioned that it must be difficult for them to rationalize their memory. It must feel like dreams- what is real and what isn't??  Their 3+ worlds are vastly different from each other.  It's painful to consider. 

This did give me hope that more memories will surface.. or will be able to be communicated soon. His language is growing by leaps and bounds the last couple weeks.

Monday, April 26, 2010

They Say It's Your Birthday

I wish I could let it go- and just say - it's a day - anyday- who cares. But...

Birthdays have never been a big deal to me. They are often a great excuse to go off and do something fun (we did that). Or to get yourself a special treat (we'll do that too).  But everyone is nagging me to do something for your birthday.

It won't be for you... unfortunately. You don't really like everyone looking at you. It makes you nervous still. Suspicious.

It will be for them- so they can shower you with love.

I never understand why we think we have to wait for a special day for that. If you want to shower someone with love-- make a day special just for them-- DO IT. Why wait till only one day a year. It kind of bugs me that I'm going to stoop to this and do something. It will make my parents happy. Aunts and uncles. But---  some of them have been showering you and making special days for you since before you came home. You'll learn more about that as time goes on.. but- at some point this week- we'll have cousins over- 2nd cousins- Aunts and Uncles (yours and mine) and grand parents and maybe a few friends and call it a party.

3 months ago at guest house

It bugs me still. I have no reason to doubt the date, other than a bunch of obvious translation things. Today- you do not act like a 3 year old-- maybe 2 or 2 and a half. But then again... 3 months ago you didn't act like a 2 year old.  Who knows.. is this just time and transition? Is it that you are younger than reported? Does it matter?  I don't really think so. 

But the idea of a forced celebration still bugs the crap out of me. I'll let it slide this year. Next year-- it's all you and me baby! 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

3mo & A First!!

This is not the post that was deleted by blogger. That was one I'd worked on all morning as my Sun was out playing with his cousins and Papa.  But this is news... Hot off the presses.. HOT HOT I say!!!!

Today is what?.. The 24th?  We arrived here from Ethiopia 3 months ago today. 3 months.

Tonight.. Just maybe 30 minutes ago.. My Sun... By beautiful Toddler.. Mr. I can do everything myself... just fell asleep.. for the very FIRST TIME... NOT ON TOP OF ME. Not at all. Not on my arm. Not laying across my belly. No hands in my shirt. Not nuzzeled in the crook of my neck. Nothing... (well- he's got a foot on my leg, now.. but that's it.)

Now - I must admit that the last 2 nights we've had some super duper exhaustion from super Duper (capital D) fun and adventure filled days (more on that later).  And he did fall asleep in the car and ended up sleeping the entire night through.. so other than those 2 times (which don't really count) .....

Tonight is the FIRST TIME he has laid in bed and fallen asleep without me holding him. First. First time.

Not only am I excited (and a bit mournful, i'll admit) but I wanted to put this out there for all those who think they are going crazy cause their kid still won't sleep in his own bed, or has sleep anxiety.  THREE MONTHS!!!

I don't actually expect this to last..  much like all his sleeping patterns they morph and adjust--- hopefully we'll have this be a recurring regular performance soon.?


PS:  Now, I told you this was hot news.. so It may not be legible, spelled properly or even coherent.. cause I typically write as I think.. and that's not good for anyone.. which is why it takes me some time to put anything out here actually worth reading... sorry.  Love me anyway.

PPS: I was going to title this entry similar to the Foreigner song about the 1st t.ime.. (now you have it stuck in your head don't you...) but I was fearful of the hits that'd come via scary searches from scarier people... 

EDITED TO ADD Feb 2012: There were many times over the past 2 years I thought "Look! First time. This is how it will be from now on."  Let me say, that only in the past 2 months has he regularly gone to sleep without clinging to my hair and/or bare skin. And, the past 3 nights, he's started fights / tantrums / crying meltdowns / manipulation / mommy fell for it every time- scenarios where there is nothing left but to hold him, console him until he fell asleep. So ... for every "first time!" there are 400 more "try agains" and "I give ups".

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Updates- Three Months Together

Three months today.

Three months ago today, as a woman named Bethlehem, placed him into my arms, he left her arms for the last time.  I sometimes feel like God reached down from heaven and put him there personally--- but it was Bethlehem....

After more than 30 hours of travel we arrived Jan 24 about 10pm.

Normally, it takes me at least a few days to write these updates. But today's will be a bit rushed.  Even though I can get on the computer while he sleeps these days, the past few weeks I've been sick and tired (literally) that I've slept as much as he has. So today's date (18th) kind of snuck up on me (as did tax extension day... oops!) and this may seem a bit rushed, so I apologize ahead of time.

He turns 3 soon. I'm not sure how to feel about that. Not sure what to think about it. It's difficult to explain to those who aren't adoptive families. I'm not sure it's his actual birthday.  I'm not sure what to celebrate. It is definitely 'his' day (IF it is his day)-- I wasn't there.  I don't know.

I realize I haven't written about the trip much, if at all. It is hard to find words that would do it all justice. Lately I'm craving returning to Ethiopia.

He's learning so much- and at the same time-- losing as much.  This age, they learn and lose memory daily. There is so much he's losing that I'll never know. He can't verbalize any of his Ethiopia memory- he even calls his friends the name I use for them- not what he used to call them. That hurts that I'll never be able to remind him of all that he's losing.

I've committed myself, for us, to return every 3- 5 years- but right now that seems so insignificant. In the mean time- we head to Ethiopian Culture Camp this summer. That is a long name for a bunch of Ethiopian families getting together with their kids, and doing lots of fun and learning for the weekend! :-)

Last month i gave you a list of things upon which we were working. Here's where we are at:
  • Sleep separation anxiety- going through a good long phase of being pretty good
  • Using loving hands all the time - He's a toddler... ongoing battle lessons
  • Liking dogs - Check. Generally now loves them all, a bit too much...
  • Getting his skin cleared up - I'll hesitantly say it's better, but I'm not ready to call this a win yet.
  • Motor skills - Big fat progress! He's jumping, on the tramp and off.  Closer to flight phase when running (although he mostly loves to swing his hips...). Next up is peddling and hopping. Things are easier for him when his belly isn't so big, so we lay off the milk in the mornings (usually). A big hard belly means lower range of motion which effects his frustration and confidence level.
  • Getting into preschool- Pressures off for a little while- Since I last wrote, I lost my job. Many of you have been shocked how "good" I took this (I'm not sure that is the best word... but you get my point).  This was not, by any means, easy. One year ago, like most businesses- the leadership staff, including myself, tried a number of different ways to cut expenses and find ways to limit the number of layoffs that would be necessary with in the tight financial situation we were experiencing. We did the best we could- but lay offs would happen. Ultimately the decision of who and what would go, was my boss's.  I knew that my position was at risk. I knew change needed to happen. The hardest part was watching one person put all that on his shoulders. Looming life changing events tend to bring your prayer life to the forefront, as adopting my son did mine- but add in people losing their jobs and I hit my knees more than normal. I made peace with the possibility of losing my job a year ago- and prayed to God to comfort those who must make these decisions, for hearing such things once in a life time is bad enough- but delivering such life altering news over and over again must be agony. The fact that, in this case, the person making these decisions and delivering the news also happens to be a dear friend, just literally hurt my heart. It was agony to watch. That was a year ago. A few weeks ago, we sat and had the conversation that could have happened a year ago. Had it-  the US Gov't would have, possibly, halted me from adopting my son.  I'm grateful. I'm grateful for His timing. I'm grateful of the opportunities that were offered to me in the past 10 years. I was very invested in my job and met people that have made large impacts in my life. I'm still an Alum of that school.  My interests and investment didn't start when I was hired there, and it doesn't end with my employment.  I've asked this before, but I'll say it again- those of you that know my boss- please offer him the same grace and respect you always have- this is a good move that needed to be made, and I don't believe was easy for him to carry out. As difficult as it is for me personally, it's a good strategy for the organization.  But- I'm out of work- so now pressure with rushing preschool right now! 
  • Jaw strength and chewing/swallowing ability- Check. He can (and sometimes will)chew and swallow soft meats. And the chunk he took out of my arm is still healing- I can personally attest to the fact that he is able to bite quite hard. 
  • Not taking everything he can reach - Big improvement. He still attempts 5 finger discounts at stores if given half a chance but can be avoided by keeping all ten fingers occupied with something else. He knows that he doesn't leave every home or venue with another toy. Being consistent on this has dramatically improved the number of tantrums... as you can imagine.

  • Self regulation- Check. VAST improvements. In fact if provided the opportunity he will self regulate very well. Thank you, for your assistance in this ongoing battle- by not offering him food / treats. Your continued restraint is making a quick and positive impact. We have moved on to the next step of providing a positive structure for a healthy relationship with food. This one is new for me and requires a lot of discipline on my part.  This involves a pretty simple concept (at least the first part) of me deciding the Where, When and What we eat and leaving the If and How Much up to him. This is slightly harder than it sounds as he needs to be provided clear boundaries on what is actually on the table to eat and limit the visibility of other foods that up until now he has had full access to at all times.  This also requires me to make sure that I am making sure that the When is a good decision, as hunger is a HUGE trigger for desperate behavior, on his part, and if I continue to fail on that part, it could throw us back to him being fearful of food not being available. 
  • Being physically attached to me 24/7- Vast improvement. Only once, in recent memory, have my pants fallen down as he attempted to climb up me.  This is easier on both me and my wardrobe. Sadly- he's taken to pulling my shirt down, in full view of everyone, and hiding things in my...well... cleavage. This- is not good for ANYONE.
Add one to the list for this month:
  • No biting/ hitting Mommy- That should be obvious from the comment in the 'jaw strength' section above. Another Mom emailed me the other day to say that she was at a loss with what to do, as her son (home just 2 weeks longer than The Boy) pinches, bites and hits her and ONLY her. She probably took it personally a little, as did I in the beginning. I chuckled a little and told her that I have (had) a missing bit of arm and accompanying bruise so big, His pediatrician noticed it across a room. It seems so long ago now cause everyday things get better- and then they change completely. It's odd the things that help... but he is getting better- communication and frustration outlets help.

Things change so fast. It seems like it was soooo long ago that  I was really really struggling, yet when I look back - it was only that 6-8 week home point. It seems so long ago that he bit me so hard, and yet the scar is still visible. It seems like so long ago we were fighting bacterial infections, ringworm and nap battles and yet..well.. some of those we are still fighting.

Those of you that remember knew him in Ethiopia, probably remember this mild tempered, soft voiced, giggling babyish, runny nosed kid, who attached to an orange plastic bowl for comfort.

Some things have changed. He is still, for the most part a very happy kid. That's just his temperment. He still longs for someone to tickle him and snuggle with him. His nose has never stopped running, but the bowl rarely makes an appearance and when it does it is far less heralded. Yes- he was very mild mannered- and can still be. But--- I can see that his orphanage personality was ... hopeless and a little depressed... with no expectation of any one to love. Not just to love him, for him to give love. As his strength, confidence and opportunities expand, so does his initiative and drive.  He is still the same kid.. but larger, louder, bolder!

He is growing into a strong, opinionated, expressive, loud, "persistent", typical toddler. He insists he can do EVERYTHING HIMSELF... EVERYTHING. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. Even stuff that he shouldn't even want to perform (like operate a camera worth more than my car) He naturally assumes everything I can do, HE can do better. I'm not discouraging this too much because if I can fine tune some of his techniques, I'm a happy camper (with a lot less work around the house)!

He is also a child who still needs extra nurturing.  He came home as a 2 and a half year old that was very very much on the baby-er side. Now, we vacillate between an Independent Teenager and a newborn infant.  I don't always do a great job of keeping up with which one he's playing.... 

But I will say (knocking on wood) we're in a good place.. today.. this week.  Even though there are still nights he cries in his sleep (most nights). Nights he painfully says words I don't understand. Even though we went back to a bottle (warm milk & cinnamon) for a little while. Even though he bit me hard enough to draw blood (LOTS).  Even though I'm still adjusting to being a mother trying to balance caring for a child, myself, the dog and the household ("adjusting" is the 'best' word for it...struggling is more accurate) Even though physical ailments (both serious and mild) keep rising to the surface for both of us.  Even though I don't always respond to his needs or understand his needs. Even though he withdraws to his own place, seemingly looking back, remembering...

What's Working: We've laughed alot lately. LOTS! We hug a lot lately. LOTS! Being outside helps us. Setting boundaries and staying respectful of them helps. Learning the best way to eat, helps. Laughing helps. Not teaching too many lessons in a day helps. Learning new words each day helps. Regular sleeping patterns help. Saying things I want him to know helps. Praying helps. Holding hands helps. Not freaking out when he poops in the tub (or insert any number of messy catastrophe's) helps. Getting breaks, helps. Getting help, helps. Doing things together helps. Learning to play on his own helps. Having hope, helps.

EDITED TO ADD:  That last part. About- what works. It's still true. And I need reminders today and every day that is one of the harder ones.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A lot of LOTS..

Everyday another post is being written. Everyday- another is being played out. And yet- when I get to the computer- it's after 11pm and I need sleep. And clean laundry. And clean dishes. And to organize. And put away winter stuff. And get his paperwork and photos organized and get them safely put away. ... but here's the thing.. I've let the pressure of getting these things done.. go away.

I lost my job not too long ago. In preparation to go back to work, we were pressing ahead to get organized- get things done- get him ready for school- get... well we weren't getting anywhere, really. Truth be told.   So now, we have time.

Some of you know- that shortly before that time frame-- I was struggling. Struggling to get him to do what I thought I needed him to do.

I've stopped struggling.

He likes that.

We are happy.

Blissfully so.

So much I want to share. So much to reflect on. So much that I want soon to be mom's to know- I learned so much from those that walked before me- Pay it forward. Isnt' that part of the deal??

Here's the (other part of) deal:
You'll have to take what I can offer today. I realize it's not the most thought out writing lately... Not the best edited... please, forgive.. and love me anyway.

We're in a good place.. today.. this week.  Even tho there are still nights he cries in his sleep. Nights he painfully says words I don't understand. Even though we went back to a bottle (warm milk & cinnamon) for a little while. Even though he bit me hard enough to draw blood (LOTS).  Even though physical ailments keep rising to the surface for both of us.  Even though he withdraws to his own place, seemingly looking back, remembering...

We've laughed a lot lately. LOTS! We hug a lot lately. LOTS! Being outside helps us. Setting boundaries and staying respectful of them helps (especially with others). Learning the best way to eat, helps. Laughing helps. Not teaching too many lessons in a day helps. Learning new words each day helps. Regular sleeping patterns help. Saying things I want him to know helps. Praying helps. Holding hands helps. Not freaking out when he poops in the tub helps. Getting breaks helps. Getting help, helps. Doing things together helps. Learning to play on his own helps.

(Yes... I just knocked on wood)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Oddly Uncomfortable...

I noticed this before he came home.

It seems to be growing.

What is this infatuation with monkeys on clothing?  Tar.get seems to be going overboard. One recent weekend we went in search of puddle boots... all we found in his size were these...

Around the corner was this....

Not only do I not "get" the obsession... I am simply not comfortable dressing my child in clothes with a cartoon 50's looking monkey prominently displayed. I can't nor would I chastise others for dressing their kids in them...  I mean... what's the difference between "You silly goose." and "You chunky monkey". ..but .. honestly.. I don't trust myself.

There is history.. one in which I've been privileged enough to ignore until know... deep enough I don't fully understand and likely never will.

I do not trust my reaction to any commentary offered while The Boy wears such items. I don't trust that such comments would always been cutesy and well meaning.

Plus, I don't trust the frightening looking monkey, if truth be told. That thing scares the crap out of me!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Love. Today.

It's a funny thing.

I would have told you, I loved him the first day we met.

I would have told you, I loved him the first day he spontaneously kissed me.

Those things both happened almost 3 months ago now.

Yesterday, he asked me for a hug.

Today, when saying our prayers before lunch, instead of folding his hands he reached out and held mine. I continued with the prayer and he kept looking at me and got wet eyes and a smile on his face as he said "Amen".

Today - I love this child. And it's different than 3 months ago. Not less. Not more.... different. I Love this child.

I know, without a doubt there is more growth to come. Probably more hard work ahead too. But I no longer wonder if I can really do this... well, today, I don't wonder.

Thank you Lord for entrusting me to him.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Two Steps Back...

I realize that there is much to catch you all up on.  Many (more) humorous potty training stories.  Many self depricating remarks regarding my parenting skills. The death defying escapades of single parenting.... and I promise.. I'll get to all of them... soon.

Today- please indulge me... I'm bitching.  And ranting... You may not be interested- but this is my blog damn it.

I want to pre admit that I may be over sensitive as I've had to accept help alot this week. But still... arrg.

I have literally, many many times been knocked to my knees in gratitude for the selfless acts and offerings in this most recent season of my life.  From a sister (and BIL)- who- up until we were well into our 20's- would to speak to eachother maybe...maybe once/ twice a year-- offering not only taking care of Teg's airline ticket but coming to visit at exactly the right time and doing ALL the right things allieviating big big burdens for me- To a brother (and BIL) who I would have never thought would want to travel with me- end up being the perfect travel companion for my whole travel group and taking care of my ticket too. From these huge gestures to friends who show up to clean and organize my house in the midst of a mental packing breakdown. A co worker who charged me nothing for her notary services and never balked but always offered her stamp at no charge (and Lord knows someone could make a decent living off one dossier alone!) I am literally overwhelmed with the goodness of people- notes from people I haven't seen since high school shouting encouraging and supportive words- people who took a step out- didn't have to say a thing- but showed their heart in support.  I am truely touched.

And then... then ... there are days like today.. when I am reminded... that some people.... some.. don't know the meaning of giving.  Don't know the meaning of help.

It saddens me. Because this person- is probably the closest to me in the world.

Perhaps I'm wrong- and Lord forgive me if I am- and show me her heart-- It seems as if with her.. Give, is Give and Take. Fair is Fair.  And an offer for help- is a debt to be paid.

And you know what makes it worse... the offer for help, feels... and is delivered as... an obligation to accept the offer. I don't think she knows she is being manipulative in that way... but she is. And it hurts.

I was very sick this week. Started last week with the Shingles...and this week with pneumonia.. hard.. in both lungs.  Almost went to the hospital.. as O2 stats were low.. but I can play the single mom with 2 year old card, now. So- try as I might... I needed help with the Boy. He loves to visit her. It's like Disney World to him-- one or two adults who do nothing but play with me-- room to run-- and no rules! 

Having only about 2 hours of energy after each bout of sleep- He was there quite a bit and I appreciated the help. But not wanting to leave him - I would go to the past 2 days.

Two days was enough.

I appreciated the help- cause only God knows how we'd have gotten through without the help. But--- she manipulated and sabotaged so many parenting strategies with him. Trying so hard to make her be his favorite. How many times.... How clear do I have to be... I'M STILL TRYING TO GET HIM TO ACCEPT ME AS HIS PARENT. PLEASE DO NOT COMPETE WITH ME. YES I REALIZE YOU WILL WIN. THAT IS NOT THE GOAL.

Resurrection. Tomorrow is Easter. Tomorrow we will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and all that it means for this world and our lives. It also means--- one more day-  time with family.

But the boundaries go back. Boundaries she is not respecting. Boundary. As if she doesn't know the definition. (She 'happens' to show up where ever the Boy and I are having mother / son time... just a bit too often). She can still have him once a week if she wants to continue that schedule. But- this Momma is making other plans for her needed breaks.

It is a dangerous thing accepting help from this woman. I've said it before and I'll say it again... it is a very slippery slope. She'll be offended when other plans are made without consulting her... but seriously?... WHY? 

I'm frustrated. Angry. Mostly at myself. Cause I knew it. I knew this would happen. And yet- I asked her not to. I laid out the ground rules. And like my freaking 2 year old- she violated every last one. I feel violated. I feel victimized. By the one person who is supposed to have your back. UGH. 

It's my own fault. It really is. I knew I should have sucked it up and just stayed at home with the Boy. But .. it seemed too easy to let him go with her and be happy. Let him have some fun. Some fresh air- while I sleep, hack, cough and gag.  Maybe that was the problem. Too easy. Too tempting. Is it possible this woman is part of the devil that tempts me. Yes- it's possible. And it isn't the first time I've wondered. I feel guilty even typing it... but ... she does NOT walk with an open heart. She does NOT walk in Love. If I'm wrong Lord show me. But I must stand my guard and stand firm with the boundaries. What they guard, my son, is too important.


Please also forgive me for ranting on this- when So many others have been so kind and generous in offering to help the sickly new mom--- live and learn... live and learn. The easy way out-- usually not the best way out.  How many times must I live this lesson?  Until I see it when it presents itself.