God Save The Queen…and while he’s at it he can have a tinker with my sanity too!
Girl has finished school for the big Jubilee weekend and half-term holiday, to say she is excited would be a bit of an understatement and I guess by now you have realised that Girl getting over-excited is something we try to avoid as much as we can but with a street party to prepare for and Jubilee bunting festooning the street, a barking-mad neighbour with a megaphone organising all the neighbours and singing the national anthem at every opportunity we are having difficulty reigning her in but we are just going with the celebrations and keeping our fingers well and truly crossed for Girl to prove us wrong.
However, saying that, we have had a week of increasingly difficult behaviour and inevitably this has also come in a week where I have had some personal issues of my own to deal with so it has not exactly been a happy, harmonious household. I am hoping upon hope we can make it to Sunday without a meltdown but I think the odds are low. This is a weekend where more than ever I really need to remember to pick my battles and not to react when deliberately provoked.
So, as well as the list of jobs left to do as long as my arm I have to keep Girl amused (boredom is a particular enemy at these highly charged times) and I have some special Jubilee activities planned for tomorrow, baking (do you like our practice run cakes in the photo?) and making bunting and I hope it is enough to keep her amused because right now my stress levels can’t take it, never mind the fact that Girls’s siblings and grandfather will be at the party so potentially we are going to have a very difficult week ahead. I wonder if the grandparents are up for a bit of childminding on Saturday and maybe every day next week?
I had a really lovely text this evening, a close friend announced that she is pregnant and with twins no-less! I am genuinely happy for her, she didn’t know whether she would be able to have children due to some complications when she was younger and I know that even now there could be complications.
I immediately texted her back and told her congratulations, made a lttle joke and then promptly burst into tears. I can’t tell you how surprised I was at my reaction. I mean we have come to terms with not bearing our own children, have been there and got the t-shirt, social services can attest to this! I went into the relationship with the Hubster at the tender age of seventeen understanding that it would never be a reality for us, that if we wanted a family it would be complicated and here we are eighteen years later with two lovely children and I would not change a thing for the world, so why do I feel so sad?
When you start on the adoption route you need to be clear about how you feel about not having children of your own, you need to be not trying for a family and you need to have mourned your loss (I’m not sure I ever mourned the loss of not having children just accepted it as the hand that was dealt us and got on with life).
I have said to anyone that will listen that I don’t want any more children, I think what I really mean is that I don’t want to go through another adoption. I don’t know how to do this post without sounding bitter, that is not my intention because believe it or not I am not bitter, our adoptions have been amazing but I don’t think I am strong enough to go through another. I actually would like another child, we always wanted a big(ish) family but I know that to have more children means more stress, more traumatised children, more worrying and I just can’t do it to myself or to the kids we already have.
So I think that’s why I am sad and getting a touch of the green-eyed monster, I have come to the realisation that perhaps I am ’mourning’ the end of our family making, I’m not sure I am ready to accept that we won’t be having any more children yet.
Girl has been asking lots of questions tonight and I think it is a sign of her settling back down into peaceful times again, maybe my efforts over the weekend have actually paid off! The questions she asked have been asked before and I am pretty sure they are her way of fathoming her place in the world so she can feel secure again. I certainly hope so because her bottom lip is red-raw from anxiety chewing.
Questions took the form of where do we come from? Will you still be my mommy and daddy when you are a nanny and grandad to my children and what will nanny and grandad be? What if my children are naughty, I won’t know what to do? She once told me (mid-tantrum) that she did not want children just in case they were naughty like she was. It’s heart-wrenching to hear her talk like this but taking a silver lining it’s actually quite insightful stuff about her self-esteem, about her fears and anxieities and any little glimpses that she offers can be used to help her. Sadly at her age I think her only ‘worry’ should be whether to watch Mike The Knight or Jake and The Neverland Pirates (different channels, same time) but lets face it that is never going to happen.
I know for a fact that she still does not understand the complexities of birth mums, foster mums and adoptive mums. She is still convinced that Boy grew in his foster mum’s tummy, despite us explaining carefully a number of times. I have a theory that at the moment it is easier for her to believe what she wants to and switches off when you try to explain differently, after all Boy’s foster mum was a very nice lady, it would be quite acceptable to Girl for her to be the birth mother, though she does struggle to understand why she did not want to keep Boy.
Understanding will come in time and for now we just have to keep our answers consistent and manageable (well actually there is no other way really unless I start telling her fairy stories!).
Well we spent the morning watching a Wile E Coyote DVD that I bought the other week for a rainy day, two wickedly violent hours later (well it never did me any harm) and we have run out of episodes to watch. As soon as the dvd ended my daughter was bored, did not know what to do despite the millions of toys she has, she was not open to any suggestions, she didn’t want to do colouring (her favourite pastime) so I had a brainwave. Let’s set up some water play in the utility room. I went to Argos to fetch a water play table that I had been intending to buy Boy for his birthday last month but hadn’t yet because of the weather.
An hour later, most of which Girl spent faffing and changing clothes, whinging and moaning and Girl has finished. I would say she enjoyed about 10 minutes of the water play until the point where she really got wet. How did I forget that water play makes her really cross and aggresive? She hates being splashed, takes it very personally and I have turned a little girl who was in quite a good mood into a sulky, petulant girl. Boy on the other hand had a blast, he loves mothing more than getting wet!
We are now sat in front of the TV again watching Finding Nemo because despite my best efforts Girl just does not want to participate in anything today. I hate sitting watching TV all day so I think a little baking is in order!
The Hubster was telling me about a chat he had with a mum at the school who’s daughter was displaying the same sort of behaviours as Girl, tantrums, arguing, hitting, biting and kicking. This is a little girl who has had no issues in her life, appears as my girl does most of the time as quite a pleasant, amenable child and hearing that just makes me question everything I have learned.
Following on from that, a mum of a friend was asking how things are at the moment, the last time I saw her we were in one of our turbulent times and I had a few tears. I was chatting about what was happening now, the books I had read and methods I was using but then she asked if I thought I read too much and followed on by trying to give me lots of advice about how to deal with kids. I had to sit patiently (gritted teeth) and let her lecture me on how to be a better mum and that I need to relax, all kids are gits (she actually used a much stronger word here) and that in her day things like Attachment Disorder or ADHD or Autism did not exist, you just had to get on with it, people didn’t read books about parenting. Maybe she did not mean it to be quite so patronising but I went home feeling pretty rubbish.
Honestly, I have asked myself the same thing about reading books. I would much rather be reading a light-hearted chick-lit than books about adoption trauma and attachment disorder but at the same time I have learned some really useful stuff from reading, some things have clicked into place and life generally is more peaceful because I am armed with knowledge. What I still have to learn to do is not read every little behaviour as a potential minefield because yes all kids can be little gits sometimes!
I have struggled to write this post, I am worried about writing a blog post stemming from somebody else’s unfortunate circumstances but it does have quite an impact on our lives and is part of Girl’s ongoing story so cannot be ignored. When we adopted Girl we did so with the understanding that she would have direct contact with her adopted sisters and one of her grandparents. The contact with her sisters was not an issue as they had no relationship with the birth family but we would all share the direct contact with the grandparent.
I was understandably more apprehensive about the latter contact, I was mistrustful of the situation, I felt as though my daughter’s security would be in the grandparent’s hands every time we met. However, our social worker assured us that the grandad had the best of intentions and would do nothing to sacrifice the little time he had to spend with his grandchildren, he knew that any failure on his part would result in contact being halted permanently and over the few years that Girl has been living with us contact has gone very well, in fact so well we are comfortable enough for him to know where we live.
When we first started contact we knew that a time would come when things would be a little more difficult, that granddad had a debilitating disease although it was in remission at the time. Last weekend was contact day and sadly the news was broken to us that grandad has been diagnosed with cancer and from the little information available so far the prognosis does not sound good. I can’t tell begin to tell you how sad I am, I have a massive amount of respect for this man and have grown quite fond of him over the few years we have known him.
I have not told Girl yet that her grandad is poorly. The announcement has opened up a whole can of worms before we even start to think about the sad situation of life and death and not for the first time this year.
We know that the contact guidelines are going to have to go out of the window but frustratingly it is at a time when Girl is not coping with contact very well. I am certain in the future she will appreciate any increased contact that we might have now but what about the immediate future? Can she actually cope with it? What about her getting used to seeing granddad a little more and then suddenly not at all?
Then of course we would like to support granddad any way we can but just don’t know how because of Girl’s security. We probably won’t be able to visit granddad in hospital or attend the funeral, which just seems wrong somehow. What happens if and when granddad passes? Will the birth parent become aware of the contact between us?
A million more questions seem to have risen to the surface and I am mixed between sadness for granddad, guilt that we can’t be of more help and also guilt that I am having all these thoughts about how its going to impact Girl, it’s quite a strange and awful situation to be in for all parties involved.
I have to repeat the words ‘don’t take it personally’ to myself all weekend like a mantra but it’s so hard not to take things to heart or believe my own advice and after a particularly tough and emotional weekend (which I will tell you about later this week) the words are still ringing in my head this morning.
My son and I have a particularly good relationship, or that is we have a good relationship until the rest of the family come home and then it just seems to fall to pieces and what started as a few minor incidences is turning into a standard, consistent behaviour and I feel like it’s breaking my heart into little pieces.
All week while Girl is at school and the Hubster is at work Boy and I have a lot of fun. He has such a lovely, cheerful, fun personality; he loves to be close, playing, laughing and giggling, cuddling and tickling and he loves nothing more than helping mummy with the housework but when the family starts to come together at the end of the day the personality rapidly disappears.
The Hubster rarely sees the special Boy that I know that he is, he sees a grumpy, demanding, wilful little boy who will fight against everything. In the evenings and at weekends my little boy will not let me do anything for him without kicking or screaming or shouting for daddy, he will not make eye contact with me and he does not want me to play with him, tickle him or help him. He does not eat, he throws things in temper, he deliberately causes mischief for attention, he craves daddies attention but on his own terms.
I remember at two Girl being a little like this (though sort of different), the minute the Hubster came through the door that would be it, it was all daddy, daddy, daddy but our adoption was difficult right from the start because of her experiences in foster care and it was easier to accept that she needed her daddy at the end of the day. Now, although we have some difficult times Girl and I have a really good relationship, she is actually a bit of a mummy’s girl and after the really tough start we had I never thought I would say that!
The difference that worries me is that Girl could be a little monkey all day and just continue with the testing behaviour into the evening. However, with Boy the change in behaviour is so pronounced that it is causing me real anxiety and I have come to dread weekends because I just cannot be a mummy to my little boy, not for want of trying, he just won’t let me.
I’m finding this post particularly hard to write as I just feel so low. I know enough, have read enough books to know that it’s not personal, I know that in time Boy will get past his current difficulties, after all two is a difficult age for any child and it’s less than a year since he left foster care so he must still have some pretty traumatic memories of life-changing events but I feel like I am wishing time away, I live for the end of the weekend so we can get back into mid-week routine, I watch the clock ticking round to bedtime because I find the constant rejection hard to bear, the negative behaviour, the not eating, the screaming and wilfulness, the hitting and kicking, the battle for attention between the kids.
I don’t know how to end this post, I feel like I have a million thoughts still to write down but have run out of words. It really does help to write things down, even from this outpouring I can see one massive positive, jumping out of the page at me and that positive is Girl. Despite everything she and we have been through we are getting there, we have lived and learned and that gives me massive hope for Boy. Now, how long till bedtime?