Another Mother;’s Response

I have read the ” I am Adam’s _________Mother” article and I am shaken to the core.  It hits me in a place that I cannot fully describe to many people, it makes me hurt, because on some levels she is describing my oldest son.  Some will read this and comment that my son is not capable of such behavior, he would never talk to anyone in those voices or threaten another human being.  If you believe that, I invite you to journey with us for a day or two, or talk to our closest neighbors, who he plays with on almost a daily basis.

while I have read the account, I relate, but I also caution us to take what is happening with a grain of salt.  To pin this type of madness on a presumed mental illness is dangerous and uneducated–the truth is, it is hearsay.  We don’t know the motive, the life he was living, nor the depth of his personal pain.  We are too quick to jump at what may seem  as easy conclusions because the reality of the situation is too heavy for us to bear.  We should not have to bear such horrendous acts, we should not grieve at the senseless killing of children, but more importantly, we should be crying out for the senseless killing of anyone–not just children.

Where is our outrage when gangs are killing in the streets, or hours from where I live the suicide and addiction rates are some of the highest in the nation, with a poverty rate the lowest in the US?  Where is our outrage when first and second grade students “quit school” and sit more time in the principal’s office instead of the classroom because most of the male figures in their lives are already in prison and they are just waiting their turn?  Where is our outrage when we use words as swords to lash out at each other, demeaning how we live, and love? Where, oh where, is our compassion?

Where is our compassion when we allow people to slander one another in the name of anything because it elevates their own position or opinion?  Where is the understanding that we are each as different and unique as each snow flake that falls each winter.  I am from the midwest people, and them’s a lot of snow flakes from many many winters.  I am as different from you as you are from me and we are as unique as every one of those snowflakes ever made.  That baffles my mind to even imagine!  I celebrate that difference…hell, I rejoice in it!

My oldest son has a double diagnosis, a double mental illness…and I hope and pray through every day with him.  He is not a madman waiting in the wings, he is a little boy with an abundant zest for life, too much intelligence, and a spiritual understanding that astounds me.  He can also lose it, big time.  He has a diagnosis, but more than that, he has a name and a life that I want to be full of hope and promise and light and love.  He has a name and an identity and a sparkling personality which he uses to drive me up the wall quicker than any human being…and I love him for it.  He worries me, causes me to fret and stew, to tear my hair out, to walk around with my heart outside my body—and so does his brother–and I love them for who they are.  His intelligence will not dictate his actions, his moral character and spiritual grounding ( or lack thereof) will spell out his future.  As a parent, I have to pour everything I can into both of them and believe that I, and others that I have trusted to care for them, have instilled the right and proper and strengthening ideals into them.  I have to watch them walk out into the big world everyday and relinquish them into someone else’s control….whether that someone is a school, a job, a loved one, or someone aiming to harm them.  I have to trust that I have done my job as a parent and that means trusting myself to let them go….and to admit that in the end, they are not really mine.  OUCH!!!! That hurts, doesn’t it.  My boys are not really mine.  They are on loan to me and I am the blessed one charged to their care for this time and this place and in this moment.  There will come a time when I am asked to allow them to continue in their journeys, and like every parent, I pray it is never within my lifetime that I am asked to give them up to something bigger than me.  They are gifts for this time and this moment, I struggle to remember that, because I want to believe that they are solely mine.

The reality?  Yes, I have seen my son wig out…I have seen him beg me to get a gun and kill him, I have been the butt of his threats and his violent anger…and I have held him, cradled him, and sang him to rest time and again.  I would do that for anyone.  I would do that for anyone because I know that anyone of us could lose it at any moment.  That is right…Any one of us could lose it at any time!  Think back to stories we hear of babies being shaken and we are shocked when it happens….horrible, yes!  Put yourself in the position of that person who has had that child screaming for hours on end, already tired, worn out, and nothing they do helps alleviate the screaming…..Understandable how a person can be pushed to their limits?????

When we put it in perspective it is not hard to imagine a person pushed to the edge…we are one thread away from it.  THANKFuLLY, there is compassion, common sense, and love that covers us most of the time.  Let’s walk carefully the lines of blame we draw, lest we wrongly paint a whole faction of people who struggle with learning disabilities, mental illness, or any other politically correct label we want to use as violent and deviant.  The fact is, we are all violent and deviant in our own ways…..ever flipped someone off who cut in front of you?  I have.  Ever swore under your breath when you see the cop lights flashing behind you?  I have–out loud.  Ever said something so awful to someone you love in the heat of hurt, anger, betrayal, and injustice?  I have and I have had people do that to me.  Ever wanted to hit someone so hard that they did not know what was coming at them?  I have and hated myself for it later.

Have you ever had someone apologize for a wrong they had done to you?  Has grace come knocking and shown you mercy and forgiveness even when you knew you did nothing to deserve it?  How about love?  Has someone poured their life into yours, knocking down your barriers and your walls to see the ragged soul you carry and loved you in spite of your messy self? I hope so.  I hope you have been loved with a fierceness that takes your breath away and that you can extend that to others.  i hope you know what it means to be pursued in a way that makes you feel wanted and needed and important because you are you and no one else.  I hope you know what it feels like to pursue someone else in that fashion…I hope that you know yourself as a beautiful and necessary human being deserving to be seen, heard, and loved every day of your life and for eternity.

What happened Friday is beyond tragic and has dominated much of my thinking the last couple of days, but it has also served as motivation.  I am beginning to uncover my own areas of outrage at things happening all around me and I see an obligation to stand in the midst of it and be light.  I feel a call to cast light into the darkness, reveal the truth, and walk doggedly into it with wisdom and compassion.  I hope I am smart enough not to go alone….I pray I am not walking alone.

My son has a couple of mental illnesses….but more than anything, he is my son, the first-born to 2 parents who love him, sacrifice for him daily, and would walk through fire to protect him.  He is part of my body, my soul, and my heart walking around out there for the world to see.  He is one of 2 of the best things I have ever done….when you see him, love him for me–protect him and keep him safe when I cannot.  I am counting on you to be the light just as you can count on me.  Can we count on each other?

Advertisements

boundaries that bind

 

There are times that the phrase “It is what it is”, angers me to no end.  True, there is an element of release and freedom in that, but there also remain a certain resignation to it.  Does something have to be what it is?    I realize this may be a way existential question for the early morning, but since I am still “Waiting for Godot”, I assume some will let me play with that pun.

I was in a situation recently where i watched an argument ensue over something petty and silly.  I watched and I listened and I recalled all the moments I might have engaged in a similar fashion.  Watching this from a removed position provided me a bit of clarity.  “This argument would be happening whether I was present or not.  These people would be tossing around angry words and frustration no matter the circumstance or who happened to be standing there.”  How liberating for me!  How sad for them.

I wanted to jump in and rescue the conversation, to somehow fix the situation and smooth over the tension.  It was not my place.  That is a difficult moment of understanding, it makes me think of why I would be motivated to fix it.  Are my motives pure?  Do I really want to ease the tension or do I simply want to feel better in this moment?  Would  my assistance make the situation better or worse, and for whom?  Again, these are hard questions with which I wrestle, and I am not sure to what end.

I will say that watching that interaction provided my first AHA moment in a long time.  I remembered thinking that if this would be happening with or without me, then maybe much of what I based my perceptions on were false.  Yowch.  Could it be that what I took on as blame had absolutely nothing to do with me?  If that is true, what do I do with my recent discovery?

A little over a year ago I sat with my full adoption report from the state where I was adopted.  I saw all the narratives about my early months, know all the information about my biological parents, saw the reports surrounding my birth, life, and placement in a foster family, and finally–my adoption.  To say that this was the hardest read in my life would be an understatement.  I looked at it in the first week that I had it and have not referred to it since then.  There is a section in it that describes what an adoptive family would want in a baby, more specifically, the baby they would want to adopt. I smile as I read the wishes and hopes…and then my smile faded as I realize the baby that was described was the opposite of me.  The traits and personalities desired did not match up with what I was told was true of me.  The wishes would never realized in and through me.  I was and am not a calm and quietly complacent person with a lily-white past from biological parents who were simply not able to care for a baby at the time.  In fact, the opposite is true.  I remember reading that description and feeling ashamed–feeling like I had let down the family who did decide to adopt me, guilty that I could never be a pocketful of wishes that any parent would want.  I am what I am, I was what I was, and I can’t change that.

Reading those words hurt like so many knives in my chest, knowing what parents wanted and what I was and the fact they would never match is quite burdensome.  the questions bombarded my head.  Did I waste 37 years trying  to be something or someone I could never be?  Probably.  Did I push and push and push myself to fit a mold that was never cut for me?  Definitely.  Would my adoptive family looked and treated one another differently had I been more of some and less of other?  More than likely.  Can I change it now?  Not for all the money in the world.  Would I change it if I could?  Quite possibly.  Does the answer to the last question hurt worse after admitting it?  Most assuredly.

The moment of that fight mentioned earlier and the descriptions I read a year ago play into each other.  They both could serve to further bind and weigh me down, or I could look at them from the inverse.  ( think all your training on inverse fractions here)  Could I turn the concept on its opposite end and embrace a different answer?  I admit, I loathe math with every fiber of my being….but once I learned inverse fractions and grasped the ease of flipping at least one element, it sure made solving the problem 100% easier.  I could actually solve the problem instead of banging my head against my math book.  Once I learned them, I got along  happily with them and enjoyed working the problems.  NOT that I would embrace pages of them today, however.

That long diatribe on inverse fractions is to say that I am beginning to toy with the inverse of reactions.  Do I need to continue to punish myself for what I could not be–do I ignore the fighting that had nothing to do with me?  Am I ready to consider new boundaries that allow me room to move without guilt and shame?  Am I ready to embrace a blanket of health that covers function rather than dysfunction?  Although the latter feels safer and more what I recall, the inverse provides more room.  Am i ready to clip the ties of bound guilt and fear?    Only my reactions will tell.

Shalom dear ones,

cahl.

 

H E L P!

Not only a fabulous Beatles song, HELP ! speaks to me tonight. 

When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody’s help in anyway.
But now these days are gone, I’m not so self assured,
Now I find I’ve changed my mind, I’ve opened up the doors.

I think getting older puts new perspective on this.  I reflected on this tonight as I drove home and I encountered a love/hate relationship with this concept.  I recall growing up and being quite good at “going it alone.”  I remember my mother telling me numerous times that as a child, I did not embrace someone helping me in any way.  I took fierce pride in that, I still do.  However, I find that a more lonely place to be now that I am older.

When I hear my mother mention that now, there is less pride and more sadness that takes over in those moments.  I think to myself what it would look like to rest in that dependence on another person…to lean into what others have for each of us.  I have spent years and years “producing” and it is quite difficult to let go of that.  I never wanted anyone to help me.  I take that back, I did and I did not.  I found that it was safer to work it alone, solo mission, that way there was no one left to blame if things did not go as planned.  I had no one to blame but me.  I also had no one else to lean on in times of trouble.  There is a danger when we cut people off from our lives, we stay safe, but we lose. 

In my family systems class I learned that sometimes a “Cut-off” is necessary for individuation and self preservation.  I understand that.  Bowenian theory tells us independence is not simply about “cut-off” 

Yes, people can always pretend to be independent and sometimes these people can exist for years cut off from family relationships. Many people do indeed manage to build alternative families.  Over time these relationships may work but if a when they fall apart; people are often left high and dry for someone, sometimes anyone to relate to

Ya know, I am slinging BS.  I don’t know what I am talking about right now.  I could wax poetic till I am blue in the face, I could sling all the Psycho babble in my MDIV training, I could hide.  The fact is, I call others on their BS, so I’d best be able to do it on my own.  Facing those comments from my mother make me scared, I like being independent then, but there is a part of me that yearns to hear what my mommy would do when I threw my temper tantrums of fierce independence.  I look at my own sons and I pursue them doggedly.  I do not let them push away, I do not let them wander off alone…I mean I do, but I don’t.  I remain steadfast…annoyingly so.

As I come to the end of my seminary journey, I look back on some that have been there through some mighty thick and thin.  No matter what was thrown at them, they remained steadfast beside me.  They know who they are, and I must admit that I did my fair share of pushing and “mothering” to the best of my ability.  Some got in my face, went toe-to-toe with me and others forced their way into the midst of my life no matter how often I tried to shut the door.  I did and I do, often.

It’s easier to function that way, but it is not more pleasant.  It is lonely and it can be highly manipulative.  Yes, I called that out.  Those dogged independent types like myself can be horribly manipulative, not meaning to hurt, but to protect.  In that protection there can be more isolation than what was originally intended, and the only person to blame is self.  I used that position to garner a lowly spot and I have no idea what it gained me.  None.  To what end do I continue to take perverse pleasure in neglecting the kind hands that others would extend? My gut tells me I am not the only one to behave in such a manner….I won’t be the last.

Emotion, being human is not a weakness.  I am learning to embrace the strength in that, it is not easy.  It requires that I know me, inside and out.  It requires that I fight to let others help me, sometimes I have no idea what that looks like—maybe it is a gifting and an understanding that I have to grow into as time continues.  What does that look like?  I know not…maybe today is the first step to admitting that I too, need HELP!

 

Captain, May I?

I am watching my boys this morning, as they gather about their dad, playing Star Wars Battlefront.  They love it.  I don’t understand it.  I have watched them many times before and found myself lost in thought.  There are times that I truly have no clue how they came to do some of the actions they do.

Most of the time I am shocked by my youngest.  I can be sitting somewhere in the house and he will find me, and invariably the beverage or snack option I have next to me.  Without a word of permission, he helps himself and then asks if it is ok.  Sometimes I am irked by the lack of respect he shows to simply grab and dash.  Other times, I know it is coming and silently smile to myself.  Most of the time, I am shocked.  I never would have pulled such a stunt when I was growing up-never!  Never were any of us allowed or motivated to drink out our parents’ beverages, much less share in the food on their plate.  That was unheard of!  I cannot think of a single time as I grew up that I would have felt comfortable walking into the kitchen to help myself to something in the fridge….I did a bit as I grew older, but never at the young ages my children represent.  I was also allergic to most items….sugar, milk, citrus, most spices…I took care of that when I went sneaking cookies or candy and hid them in my bedroom.  I paid for it later in a sick stomach, but in that moment, PURE bliss.  I watched my oldest walk into the kitchen the other night, get himself a glass, and fill it with juice from the fridge.  I stood amazed; partially due to the fact that I was not asked to help him, but that he had the identity to do so on his own.  I would never have done that.  I still ask at my parents’ house, or my mother-in-law’s if I can help myself to something.  hhhhmmm

I think about it when I am sitting anywhere in my house, and instantly one or two children and the dog pile into my lap and proceed to use me as their personal jungle  gym or pillow.  It shocks me.  What are they doing?  Why are they doing this?  Is this disrespect or the manifestation of a way to love their mama?  I don’t honestly know.  I would never have behaved in such a manner with my parents.  My children have their tv shows on in the livingroom most of the time.  There were times we watched specific programs..but never did we have the kind of say-so that my children have.  I wonder….I wonder a lot.

The kids joke with me, giggle with me, talk to me.  I love that.  Most of the time, I unsettles me.  Am I doing the right thing as a parent?  It seems so contrary to what I experienced and I find myself in this odd tension of wanting to live in this harmony and feeling like I should be parenting differently.   AAAHHHH the struggle.  I recall the other day I was at a restaurant with my mother and the boys….giggling in the booth, turning around to check out the people behind them, more giggling….changing their order a hundred times…WHAT!!!!??? Never would we have behaved in such a manner!  My mother told me their behavior was normal, let it go…the mom-child in me still wrestles with that.  If what my boys were doing was so normal, what did that make my siblings and I as we grew up? 

I am sitting here, typing and one of my boys is playing Lego battle ships…and the other is climbing on the loveseat next to me.  He just asked for a Cuddle Uppet for his bday.  When I told him he was not going to have a bday this year, he looked at me and laughed.  “Oh, mom, you are joking.  I can see by your smile!”  Then he reached over and tweaked my nose!  What????  As he watched me type he announced that he had to go to the bathroom…He has reached the age where he is scared of dark corners and places…”Mom, I can’t go by myself, you know that I am scared.  You have to come with me.”  So hand-in-hand I walked him to the bathroom and waited until he was done.  It puzzles me.  Too accommodating?  Not harsh and hard enough?  I am not sure.  They certainly have a connection, I pray it remains.  I pray also, the constant second-guessing gives way to relief at some point.  Either that, or Iam completely insane.

Blessings to you all as we navigate toward tomorrow….

Shalom,

cahl

Life NEVER the Same!

Watching my kids today, I made several observations.  Not one to create Top Ten lists, I just have a few thoughts as a result of this thang called parenting.

There is never a moment of privacy again.–Does not matter if it is using the restroom, taking a shower, a bath…they find their way to you every time!

Never do I watch the news or read the newspaper without thinking that that is someone’s child.

New furniture has to wait until they graduate

They smell great after a bath, no matter the age.

Sleep is an unknown commodity.

Once a parent, always a parent…evidently the older they get, the more we worry.

Quality and Quantity does matter–as it relates to time spent with them

No better words  on the planet, “I love you, too.”

Best words followed by a hug, even better.

They always want in your bed.

Any words related to bowel movements, the bathroom, or other bodily functions create endless conversation.

They hear EVERYTHING

Asking their forgiveness is the most humbling moment ever, I do it–often

Kisses cover a multitude of boo boos, and hurt feelings.

Waiting for the day I can afford to have kids will never arrive.

Living vicariously through them is NEVER an option

Living the journey with them is ALWAYS an option

Both my sons challenge me to be a better human being, they are my heroes in the flesh.  I tell them every stinking day.

The day you graduate from diaper bags and car seats is victory.

Time stands still and whips too fast at the same time.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell who needs holding more, you or them.

Fascinating to see your likeness in them, whether they are biological or not.

With one smile, they can melt you heart, make you laugh, or reduce you to tears

The sound of them singing is pure bliss

The struggle to get them out of the house ASAP and to keep them forever is never-ending.

No girl will ever be good enough for my boys

Likewise, my boys will never really be good enough for someone’s daughter

No one dreams more for them than we do

Much as I love them, there is ONE who loves them more…my job is to take care until they are called home.

No one can drive me up the wall quicker, or speak to my soul deeper

Nature takes on a whole new meaning when seeing it through their eyes.

 

I think I am done for now…I thought this would be more jovial, but I have been caught by the “Jersey Girl” movie bug.  Forgive me my more serious vein tonight.

Shalom,

cahl

 

As Promised

I promised that I would write more about this experience, so while my boys giggle over Star Wars Padawan Menace, I shall attempt some thoughts.  The Menace is pretty funny actually, I am not the least perturbed by the hi-jacking of my tv.  Who am I kidding, I have not had viewing rights for the last 5 years, why should 2012 be different?

Yesterday I talked about how I grew up mentally the night my son was admitted.  Each day I visited him and called at least 3 times a day to see how he was doing.  There were moments when I said prayers for him that he cried on the other end of the phone.  My heart broke in those moments.  A couple of times he called me in tears because the evening movie was Old Yeller and he did not want the dog hurt.  Mind you, I have never seen the movie and based on his reaction I don’t think I ever will.

The fact is, my son was and is a tender-hearted soul that sees and perceives things on a level that most people do not.  I thought it was a character flaw, but in watching him I consider it a gift.  He watches programs on the History channel about saving the whale and dolphins and sobs because he is too young to solve the problem.  He loves animals, but would never be a veterinarian because that would mean that he has to put an animal down sometimes.  He can’t stand the idea of anyone or anything in pain.  I champion that in him.

The question is how to best help him navigate in a world that is desensitized and instantly gratified.  What he feels and understands is not surface, it goes to the core of who he is.  Truth is, he is just like his mama in that respect, so to have him in this situation was doubly difficult.  I wish I could think of some way to toughen him up, allow less to seep in, but I cannot.  I know why he tears up at the end of the Prince of Egypt.  I do too, for other reasons.  He is adept at music, art, and has the vocabulary few second graders ever hear.  He is good-looking, athletically built and talented, creative, kind, and compassionate.

Additionally he wakes in the morning bouncing off the walls, screaming to anyone that will listen; half the time I have no idea what story he has invented it comes out so fast.  He stops long enough to choke down some breakfast and is off running around the house again.  If we are lucky, nothing has set him off and we can get out the door to school without incident.  Many times there is a hold-up and one of the 2 is throwing a tantrum.  You see, the youngest has learned behaviors copied from the oldest.  Makes the household interesting to say the least.  Right now I have Alvin and the Chipmunks on and my youngest offered his brother a cheese stick.  His response?  To cower in the corner screaming that they are poison and we are trying to kill him.  Really?  Really.  I thought I was over dramatic growing up, this kid has nothing on me.

When I hear people laughing that the mother’s curse is alive and well, I cringe.  I know what it is like to have a son so sensitive that it is tough to talk with him, one never knows what will set him off to temper tantrums.

Honestly, it makes me feel like a horrid mother.  I sit in fear almost daily wondering how his day in school is going, does he have friends, is he happy?  Does he feel good about himself and his place in the world?  My hope is yes, but I cannot guarantee that for him.  Just a moment ago I cleaned up orange pop from the arm rest of my chair, because both of them decided it was a good idea to wrestle each other from it.  Also mixed in is blue-green powder from a dip n stick thing that my oldest dumped on the chair and proceeded to lick it off like a dog.  Is this the hallmark of bad parenting, are these behaviors normal or the result of my incapability to parent them?  I watch as they grab a snack from the kitchen and then leave wrappers wherever they sit or they simply throw them on the floor…..lack of respect, yup.  Tired of it I am.  The second I confront the behavior the oldest smacks himself in the face and stares at me to see if I am watching….the youngest is learning the same trick.  How much is situation and how much is without control?  Who knows.

It makes for one tired mom and a pretty stressed household.  I spoke earlier about the effect on others when an illness is present.  This is one of those hallmark moments.  The consummate feeling of failure or that I am getting what I deserve from the way I acted as a child.  My family would chime up  that I was incorrigible and my school voted me most dramatic–as a joke not in fun.  There are times when I think, why should I not get payback in reams?  I was not a treat for my parents to raise and my brothers would tell you that I was a pain to have in the house….(true that is the case for any brother talking about their sister.)  There are times when I feel so much out of my control that I simply want to sit and bawl and I cannot.  Everyone will tell me, it is what it is….buck up and deal with it.  I shall and I will, some days it  sucks and there is no easy way to say it.  Alas, it is what it is.  I must go, my 2 are wrestling in the middle of the floor and if I do not stop someone will end up in the ER.

Shalom,

cahl.

%d bloggers like this: