Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Recently I sat with a Social worker who is fairly new to our family but who, thankfully, is not new to the world of adoption and attachment issues (its HIS specialty!) and who also "gets" kids like our C. The whirling dervish little guy, the toll it takes on our family and yet the depth of our love and devotion to him. This man, lets call him Dave, had commented before on my resiliency and we were talking about the level of parenting it takes for a kid like C. I told him that over the years I have very much felt I was in "in the trenches" in a parenting war. I even envision myself decked out in full army fatigues and gear. Some of this might have to do with C's obsession with the military (he wants to be a US Navy Seal when he grows up, despite the fact that we are Canadian) because I actually do not like anything to do with warfare. But that is how it has felt over the years - waging small and large battles. Winning some, losing some. Winning some but with HUGE costs that make you wonder afterward if it was worth it.

Usually I feel like I am waging the war on my own, defending the precious soul that is my son. Knowing that I have A in the background to swoop in with heavy guns only when absolutely necessary - afterall, someone in this family has to stay sane, go to work and take care of the mundane but necessary life things like banking and car repairs. Occasionally I get reinforcements in my war. Usually however they are new recruits without any fire power and it is still up to me to coordinate and lead and in the end to throw myself on the hand grenade should it come close to my boy. And man has it come close way too many times to count.

Eight years later I am tired and battered and worn out. Months ago C's mental health issues really ramped up and I began waving the white flag. Still the war waged around us. Seemed no one knew what the white flag was or perhaps I was waving it wrong but it went unacknowledged. I thought people not seeing the white flag was the worst, it wasn't. Even worse was when people finally began to see it for what it was but still failed to do anything about it. After all, I'm sure they thought, this was the infamous Military Mom who excels in Extreme Parenting - she'll get back up on her horse in a couple of days. I called for reinforcements, they didn't come. Finally I beat down doors and finally some people listened. They have closed ranks around C and they are keeping him safe and helping us all sort things through.

Through all this, this cease fire of sorts - I am trying to find myself again. I am trying to leave the military gear by the back door. I am trying to figure out how to go forward in a kinder, gentler way for all of us. I cannot keep up this level of intensity - it is just not possible. As I have begun to over function less it is wonderful to see family and friends start to step up with offers and real actions to help. We are trying to redefine what our family is and how it will work. It is all very hard work but I am so proud of all of us.

I am thankful for the ceasefire.

I think sometimes the enemy I waged war against the most during the eight year campaign was myself.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Markers, Poptarts and Meatloaf - a Modern Love Story

In the Fall of 1992 I headed off to University all wide eyed and innocent and too young to drink. A few months later I turned 19 and through my much older room mates brother I met a man who I thought was a jerk with a weird last name. I won't get into too much of the details as to why I thought he was a jerk but I will say that it was being fuelled by tales told by my room mate, who had her own version of reality that in the end we all realized was DRASTICALLY different than everyone elses.

Despite the fact that my room mate kept telling me what a creep, weirdo and jerk this "guy with the weird last name" was, she seemed to be actively encouraging him to hang around our totally illegal dungeon basement apartment. She had a boyfriend (living in the U.S.) and I was naive enough to wonder why he would hang around someone who wasn't "available". After a while she seemed to lose interest in "guy with the weird last name" but he still hung around on occassion and he began to joke around with me as I sat, cross legged in my chair, hair high in a pony tail a top my head, eagerly highlighting practically every line in my textbook as I crammed for exams. He laughed and mocked my study habits and note taking. He encouraged me to "relax" and do the "bare minimum". Somewhere along the line I was mortified when he walked in to find me writing a moronically childish letter to a friend as I was using a different coloured marker for every letter of every word (what - I was bored!). I tried to act all nonchalant and flirty and deflect my embarrassment and somehow that turned into me offering to write on him with the markers. Because somehow that's a turn on right???? Don't ask, I don't know - I was trying to be something other than the uncomfortable 19 year old inexperienced book worm that I was. Thankfully he declined on that occasion and my markers remained capped.

A few weeks went by and we hadn't seen "guy with the weird last name" around. I asked my room mate and she acted indifferent. A few days later she walked by my room and threw a paper at me, "Here's his name and address if you want to get in touch with him". I carried that paper around a few days. What if he didn't even know who I was? I thought about calling him but I didn't have the nerve. So I did what I did best I wrote him a letter and signed it "marker fetish woman". Yes, I was that bad and that corny. And he answered. He wrote me first and I wrote back and then he called me and we talked for hours. Soon we arranged to meet. Our first "date" was in the middle of the day. I have no recollection how that came to be. We met up in a shopping mall. I had a car, he didn't. We hopped in my car and as we drove to our first destination he nonchalantly opened my glove box. There was nothing in there but a box of chocolate Pop Tarts. I think he knew he loved me then. What person drives around with pop tarts in their glove box? That first date lasted 26 hours (NO it's not what you think - I was a good girl and he was a perfect gentlemen and he was having trouble getting over the fact that I was only 19 and he was GASP 25).

Within 4 months though he had proposed and I said yes and we moved in together and then moved 4 hours away so he could go to grad school. We planned our wedding and we both went to school and I worked full time as well. And then in 1995 I graduated with my Bachelors degree in Psychology and then on June 10, 1995 I married my best friend. I was only 21 years old. I had no concept of what forever meant. But that's okay because it was and still is the best decision I ever made. The days leading up to our big day were stressful and not without problems (mix ups at the hotel, my mother accidentally overdosing on her medication and needing to go to the hospital during our rehearsal - THANKS PAM for staying with my mom!!!!)None of it mattered in the end. The day was beautiful. It didn't rain like they predicted. We got wonderful pictures, the ceremony was great (okay a little long but I did give it some comical moments including putting the ring on A's wrong hand). Later that night at the reception, surrounded by our friends and family in the dining hall A and I spontaneously decided to go up to our room and change into shorts and we came back down and the DJ played Meatloafs Paradise By the Dashboard Light and suddenly we were surrounded by a group of friends and family, A and I singing the words to each other as though we had rehearsed it. We were having such a great time that guests from the wedding next door crashed our wedding. That moment plays in my head now 15 years later and it makes me smile so hard my face hurts.

We were 21 and 27, our whole lives ahead of us. Lots of wonder, lots of heartache ahead. We would face it together and that was all that mattered then and that is all that matters now. Well that and that I no longer think he has a weird last name.

15 wonderful years. I love you sweetie. Thanks for taking a chance on the young girl with the markers and the Pop Tarts.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

State of Emergency

On Saturday I drove J out to National Park an hour or so from our home for his first ever Beaver Camp Out for the end of year Troop Celebration. It had taken some convincing to get him to the point where he was comfortable with staying overnight and even when I drove away that morning I knew there was a chance I might get a late night call to come get him, and that would have been ok.

But that call never came.

During the night I vaguely recall hearing some loud thunder. In the early morning A and I quietly conversed in bed, me hoping out loud that J slept through the storm. I was thankful that the Beavers and Cubs of the Scouting troop were in the Bunk Houses rather than tents. I got up and turned on the radio enjoying the easygoing morning where C slept in while I made pancakes for everyone before I had to get ready for the long drive to go pick up J.

I had a few minutes before I had to jump in the shower so I sat down to the computer to check blogs and my local mom forum. And I saw it - State of Emergency Declared in the town neighbouring the Provincial Park. I swear all the air was sucked out of the room I was in. I quickly clicked on the online local paper and there were pictures of mass destruction from the early morning storm that had hit the town. Roads were closed. Power was down. I walked upstairs to where A was. I could barely breath as I tried to tell him the news. I tried to call the Provincial Park. No answer. I tried to call the Leaders cell numbers, no answer.

We have very good friends, lets call them Honey and Jake, who live out in that area and though it was still early I called them. Luckily they had power and their phones were working. She answered and told me Jake was up and already down by the water, the hardest hit area. I told her where J was and listened as the air also left her lungs and Honey worked to not panic as well. J is the son Honey and Jake never had and I whole heartedly share him with them (I will tell you more of their story another time). I asked Honey to call Jake and ask him to see if he could get to J and bring him to their house. All I could think of was to make sure my boy was safe and I wasn't even sure I would be able to get to the park with all the road closures. Honey agreed they would try and I proceeded to get ready to get in my van to at least try to get to their house to be that much closer to J.

As I threw on my clothes all I could do was pray that my boy was first and foremost unhurt and that second he was not terrified. It was horrible knowing I was so far away and not able to get to him. I bolted out the front door, leaving A and a sleeping C behind and was just leaping into the van when A came running out the front door - phone in hand saying it was Honey on the phone. She wanted me to know that Jake had been able to reach the park and had spoken with the Park Supervisor. Everyone was perfectly fine.

He could not get J though. There were trees and powerlines down. They were working hard to clear it and would hopefully have the path cleared by the time the parents would get there for 11 a.m. There was nothing to do but sit and wait a little while longer. I thanked Honey, hung up, and fell onto the couch. We agreed we would wait a while longer then head out as a family as it might take longer to make it around all the detours and blockades and I didn't think I had the strength after that turmoil to do it myself.

When we got to the park shortly before 11 we had to wait and we chatted with the Park Staff. The Scout Troop had been the only overnight guests in the park but thankfully the leaders had figured out around 2:15 a.m. that the weather had decidedly taken a turn for the worst and got all the kids that were in tents out and into the mess hall. It was later determined that a Tornado hit the neighbouring town around 2:45 a.m. The Beavers of the group slept through the ENTIRE event. When they woke up in the morning all they cared about was that they couldn't turn on the lights. The leaders themselves didn't even know the extent of the damage in the town or that a natural disaster or state of emergency had been declared. The crews at the park had to work from the early morning hours right up to our arrival at 11 a.m. just to clear a path so we could go in and retrieve our children. While the crews worked our kids ate breakfast and played soccer. While the parents were scared out of their wits with worry the kids were laughing and playing. And I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. I am so thankful to those volunteer leaders for keeping their calm and for being prepared.

Needless to say - J received a lot of hugs that day and the days since then. Yesterday I picked him up early from school and we just went and did fun stuff. Hanging out just the two of us as I try not to think too much about "what if . . ." but trying instead to to just be thankful for what is.

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Tuesday, June 01, 2010


I was in a meeting yesterday with C's wonderful team at CPRI (well, some of them. His team is too big to probably fit in a room at this point) and we were discussing what the wording of the social work goal would be on the treatment plan for our family. I was really struggling to pinpoint the goal because it all is just so overwhelming. Finally, to be helpful, Dave the social worker said "Well, it's like C is in the drivers seat. It would be nice to get you out of the passenger seat and back into the drivers seat".

I leaned forward, exhaustion and desperation coursing through my body and proclaimed "Dave, C might be driving but I am outside the car, draped across the hood, hanging on to the windshield for dear life. I'd settle at this point for getting off the windshield."