Monday, 23 March 2015

Highs and lows

We live our lives in extremes. Every aspect of parenting a child who has suffered trauma is in the extreme.

We deal with extreme behaviour as extreme emotions and extreme reactions affect our children. We
have to manage our own extreme emotions - guilt, love, wonder, shock, fear, grief, awe, amazement and so on, extremely quickly as we have to be prepared and available, emotionally and physically when our children need us to be - sometimes on extremely short notice.

This week I've struggled to flip between emotionally available mum and shocked fearful mum as quickly as Mini has managed to flip between frightened, angry 8 year old waving a knife at my face and cuddly, affectionate little boy who loves his mummy. And I've wanted to run away and deal with my feelings before being mummy again. But I couldn't.

It takes time to recognise our own emotions and come to terms with not only what we've experienced but how well we've managed to regulate our children and make them feel safe again. And that's OK.

I talked with another adoptive mum today and she feels the same, and that made me feel normal and better and relieved. If you recognise yourself here, then I hope you too feel reassured - you're not on your own x

Friday, 6 March 2015

Employing circus skills

We had some bad news this week. My 91 year old Nan had a fall and broke her hip. This resulted in (obviously) a hospital trip, and there she remains having undergone surgery to have her hip pinned (phew, not a replacement...she's been battling against knee replacements for years!), and is now recovering from the surgery, but also struggling with kidney problems. I'm worried, really worried about her :-(

We're off to visit her tonight, without children, who are off to the NC's parents after school today, and will be staying overnight. As much as they both want to see their Great-Nan, we don't think it's appropriate, and it's an hour's drive away, and visiting hours are quite late, and we don't even know if children are allowed on the ward.

Mini is struggling with this, and we're grateful he's been able to tell us. He wants to visit, but he's worried about seeing all the other poorly people so he's glad he's not coming. He wants to have a sleepover at his Nanna and Grandad's, but he's going to miss us. He wants to take lots of things, but if he takes too much then it will mean (to him) he'll be staying there a long time. He wants to stay a while and have fun, but he wants to be sure he's coming home again and that we're not leaving him there.
Phew - that's quite a lot of worries and thoughts isn't it...especially for an 8 year old little head to think about.

So whilst the children are at school, I'm packing enough things to keep them occupied, but not too much...enough spares in case of anxiety induced accidents, but not too many to cause excess anxiety about staying too long.

A balancing act if ever there was one...

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

New boots

Dollop is a girly girl. She loves princesses, pink stuff, fairies, hearts and flowers. She has long hair (I recently had to plead with her to get it trimmed) which she loves having plaited and prettified with sparkly plastic bits and pieces. She adores Frozen, and loves Elsa and Anna.

So, when we went to pick out new wellies recently, she was very pleased to find Frozen wellies. I, however, was less enthralled by the white fake fur around the top, and the prospect of keeping them vaguely snow like. In the absence of any others in her size, we sighed with disappointment but agreed to look in another shop on another day.
As we carried on around the supermarket clothing section, we stumbled upon some more wellies that she liked, I liked and were much more practical than the silly pale 'girly' ones. These were 'Minion Boots!' from the movie Despicable Me. They were even in her size and when she tried them on they were a perfect fit.

There were a few strange looks from passers-by, and Mini pipes up "But they're BOYS wellies!".

Dollop was horrified, the thought of boys wellies was almost too much for her. (I can't blame her to be honest - I have to touch Mini's wellies and they're pretty stinky!)

I'm pretty disappointed that the store didn't have these Minion boots in both boys and girls clothing sections. After all, most of the girls I know enjoy Despicable Me as much as the boys. And I know a fair few boys that enjoy watching (and singing along to) Frozen, although I get that fluffy sparkly wellies might not float their boat so much. It's pretty much the first time I've encountered this kind of gender stereotyping as an issue because so far I've had a typical boy's boy and a very typical girly girl, but it's something that I'm going to look out more for now. And hopefully my children won't feel the need to conform anymore.

We immediately put Mini straight - these boots are as much for girls as boys. We put Dollop straight too - and reassured her that anyone can wear whatever boots they like (as long as they fit OK). And ended up buying the boots. She wears them well.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Confidence...taken it's time!

He's been here 7 years now, and it's only now that we finally feel like we're getting to know the real Mini.

The last 7 years have been full of ups and downs, and even though we've celebrated the ups, the downs have always kind of overtaken...even when we've tried really really hard to just enjoy the good bits. Perhaps it's because of my depression? Or perhaps it's because the trauma takes over? Or maybe it's because we're now experienced in the ways of Mini and know that the good times never last that long? I suspect it's because even the best of the best times don't make up for all the really challenging, frustrating, violent and scary times, even when we really want them to; when we tell everyone else they do; when we tell ourselves they do.

But now, what's happened? We are going through the longest good period we've EVER had.
Is it really because one day he was 7, then he was 8? Is 8 some kind of magic number? Or is it because all the counselling we've been having really has helped? I'm not sure it's changed our views or opinions, or our parenting, but I think it's somehow made us more assured in what we're doing. Our counsellor reminds us that we're doing great; she picks out all the good bits and all the positivity and gives us the credit for it instead of continually blaming us for all the bad bits, which is what we've done to ourselves, and what some professionals have implied.

And, along with my magic happy pills (OK, so they're not magic, and I still have a way to go but...), I'm feeling better about life generally, and more confident in my parenting skills.

So these days, we're enjoying the happy go lucky Mini, the one who is confident enough to go to football camp in half term by himself, the one who is helping his sister learn her phonics, the Mini that loves sitting down with us and watching music videos on TV, the boy that has learnt many of the moves to All About The Bass, and is desperate to learn how to do the splits (just like in the video mum!). He giggles at our jokes, and takes the mickey out of us. He grins and covers his eyes when the NC and I kiss (err...that's DISGUSTING, you're my PARENTS!). He loves to help cook, and even helps with the washing up. Yeah, so he still likes to run around naked and wiggle his bum at us, and toilet humour is still very funny to Mini, but to be fair, the NC and I both giggle at rude words and squelchy noises too!

We have days where things don't go Mini's way, and he stomps his feet, but we can manage that now. And I'm now in the place where I know my children well enough to know if their behaviour is normal, or a sign of unease, anxiety or other uncomfortable feeling, despite what other people say, and despite their attempts to brush it all off.

It's taken a long time, but I think we've finally become confident parents, and we're being the best parents we can be to Mini and Dollop.