"I'm not a parenting expert. In fact, I'm not sure that I even believe in the idea of 'parenting experts.' I'm an engaged, imperfect parent and a passionate researcher. I'm an experienced mapmaker and a stumbling traveler. Like many of you, parenting is by far my boldest and most daring adventure."
Wednesday's are normally easier days. It is the day that we look forward to after climbing out of the trenches on Monday. Not sure about all of you, but for us Mondays are like a runaway roller coaster ride. Daddy has gone back to work for the week. The weekend of fun is over. Structure of school, getting up, and back into the routine. Let's not kid ourselves here. The big gruff teddy bear went back to work and most of the kids totally don't treat mom like she is a bad *ss.
My liquid gold (Seriously! It is just coffee.) in my favorite coffee cup.
Coffee!!! By the time I noticed that the tracks were greased I only had a half cup of coffee in me. That sweet loving hubby of mine took the rest of the pot. No worries, Chloe has learned a new skill that she loves to do. She asks me every day if she can make a pot of coffee. Might be the fact she likes to pour it and smell the aroma drifting up from the cup. Good life skill to teach and she is going to get tips.
James is extra happy today, however has fly away arms. Oops! There went one of our jelly jars we like to use for glasses down the stairs. This time it was a causality. No worries, there are more of those lovely trinkets in a box and no one got hurt. He was a doll about being a big helper and sweeping it up.
Breakfast starts and we have one not so happy camper because they are not allowed to pass out breakfast this morning (it was someone else's turn). Then milk was served, and our little banshee asked for the owl mug. Unfortunately, the mug was claimed by one of the little guys. A fifteen minute screaming fit entailed over this simple little fact. Followed by "I don't want milk", "I want water." In the end she just drank the milk.
Little man is on a mission to make me stay on my toes today. He has the whole circuit board of buttons that he knows how to push. What he doesn't know is I took the batteries out of the receiver. He has no power over me.
I will have a good day... I will have a good day... I will have a good day.... Dang it! Where are my ruby red slippers?! Check with Kit Kat. I have a feeling she would know where to find them.
We all know children will find things to do that will drive us bonkers. I am not perfect, a saint, or mom of the year. However, I love these littles with my everything. Enjoy your littles. Even though we don't like hearing it, we will miss these moments when they are gone.
Ponytail hair up. Just go with it kind of day.
"The fundamental job of a toddler is to rule the universe."
Tonight I loaded up our three younger daughters and left the boys at home to help out dad. We had a great friend ride up with us to the training. The training was called FLIP It and the presenter was Kim Polstein She was phenomenal. The audience was a mix of adoptive parents, kin gap, foster parents, and just parents working on trying something new with their child's challenging behaviors.
There are four points to Flip it: Feelings, Limits, Inquiries, and Prompts.
Here is where I got smart. Putting it in the front of my mind what I learned tonight I said.
And just like that is how you get outsmarted and beat by a four year old. There is hope though. It wasn't a melt down. She answered questions. I didn't say but. At the end she did make me laugh. Kind of hard. She is too darn cute. Hugs and kisses and off to bed she goes. Chalk this up to another night of kissing the wall. Thank goodness I love our kids. Tomorrow is another day.
With our children who have experienced trauma and have special needs, the use of traditional parenting skills just doesn't work. No matter time out, lecturing, sending them to their rooms or grounding them. In the end the only thing that it ends up doing is further adding to what has left scars on them internally and frustrating us as adults. We have attended many classes on this topic. It is something that together as a team in parenting we are trying to apply with our children. Still a very big learning curve for us as it is for them. In the long run we will get it. For now we might stumble and trip on the way down the path. Love lights the way, though and as cheesy as it sounds, I have to believe that it can do some real good in the world along with compassion and understanding.
"I have so much chaos in my life, it's become normal. You become used to it. You have to just relax, calm down, take a deep breath and try to see how you can make things work rather than complain about how they're wrong."
Our five littlest monkeys.
This post topic has been floating around for quite awhile to be written. It was a really big debate. On one hand no one likes to admit that there are struggles. On the other hand maybe it works as a little bit of therapy writing it out yourself and knowing you are not alone. The reason why someday we look ragged and tired. The fact behind the turning down invitations to events. The reason we try to stay to a strict schedule. Either way, here it goes.
If anyone were to ask us how we handle the chaos of raising five little ones who have been through a lot, between trauma and new beginnings, we would tell them this. We roll with it! It isn't easy some days though at all. Those five sweet faces up there are survivors. It is no wonder that our days are crazy and filled with behaviors that make you go "Oye".
Then add a Daddy with the little monkeys.
There is a welcoming mat that we need for the front door of our home that says "Warning: There are a lot of children in there." That statement speaks volumes. There is running, jumping on furniture, lost cups (no clue where they put those), mine field of legos, just to name a few.
An endless amount of laundry to be done. It is never ending with the children changing their clothes about four times a day. As soon as one room is cleaned and you move to the next one, a tornado comes through and messes it up again. But, really that is the typical if you have children and these things happen in every families lives.
Ahhhhh.... Look at those faces.
The one thing you don't see when you are looking at our littles is what they are feeling inside. You don't see the hurt, the emotional scars, the child that went hungry, who struggles academically, has emotional breakdowns over something someone would think is small. The child who is loving their new family but not understanding why the "first mommy" isn't there any more.
The tantrums, destruction (because they are hurting), impulsive behaviors that can go on for weeks and then balance out to nothing at all. Moments of the valley are nice and calm. We cherish and look forward to those. Prepping our-self for the next expedition of hiking up to the peak again. If we are lucky only one goes on that trip alone. Sometimes though that isn't the case. Currently we have two and a half on that great adventure.
You might ask what is so hard? Have you listened to a child wail and not be able to calm down? Or have to watch everything like a hawk with your eight year old child, when neurotypical eight year olds understand the dangers of things? A child able to open a child safety lid on liquid cleaner that was safely put away. Child proof is only child proof for the adults. Luckily no one was harmed but our kitchen floor was super clean.
The children are supervised. They are redirected when things happen. We discuss why they shouldn't do what they did. We discuss why they did it. This is mostly met with answers of "I don't know.", "Because I can't do that.", "Because you said not to." The last one might be closer to the truth. One of little guy's favorites is "Because I was fooling around." He fools around a lot.
Examples of Our Chaos:
Some of these can be looked at as great skills. At least that is what we need to tell our-selves. If it was maybe a couple days a week, even once a day it wouldn't be as chaotic. More often 8 times out of 10 the little guy pushes, hits, or screams at one of his siblings. The wailing happens every time the word "no" is said or this little lady has to help clean the mess she made. The walls have ears and no conversation is safe. Another little man would make a great defense lawyer with his skill of arguing a point. The youngest is just plain spoiled. That is completely our fault. *sigh* Live and learn they say.
Let them stay little.
The next question we are asked. Wouldn't it be easier to send them back to school? You would be so much more sane and get so much more done. It might be joked about being a little crazy, however, that is farthest from the truth. In a normal (if there is a thing) family, parents get to raise and bond with their children from birth. We haven't had that chance with these little ones. We were not there to witness their first breathe. To hold them so tiny in our arms. It wasn't possible for us to protect them from harm.
Now, while home schooling we are working on their education and life skills. The whole time while doing that bonds are being formed stronger than it was before. We cover coping skills. There are "I love yous" and hugs throughout the day. Those will never be turned away and are cherished. This is why we made our decision to home school. It is helping with them knowing we are here for them.
A lot has been covered here and it might seem to jump here and there. LOL Welcome to our life. It kind of runs a little like this. In all that chaos there are little ones that were chosen. They are loved . They are our blessings. We made the choice over seven years ago to open our homes and our hearts. Never did we dream that these little darlings would come into it and steal big pieces of our love.
So the next time when you ask how we are doing, it will be "we are living" for an answer. Family isn't always blood, sometimes it is chosen. On this journey we have chosen our family. We have also chosen a tribe. Those who are walking the same path, fighting the same battles, and loving their children from another mother and father. We love you guys. Thank you for being there and for understanding the challenges and for the support.
If you have it in your heart check out your local Department of Social Services to become a foster home. Many of the children have been abused either sexually, physically, emotionally, and mentally to name a few. The facts are staggering and the lasting damage takes a long time to get over.
©Kimberly Doerr at T. H. Photography