Mom Migraine

Mom Migraine

0 comment Thursday, July 24, 2014 |
Things have not been so good. Son takes every opportunity he can to go into a mood or a rage and when he hasn't seen an opportunity, he'll make one up.
Take Thursday for instance. We were going for tea at my Brother's house, who lives ten minutes away. Son was in a good mood. Both kids were. The T-shirt Son wanted to wear was still in the wash. He asked if I could wash and dry it so he could wear it to his Uncle's house. I did try but I couldn't get it dry in time. Queue screeeeaaaaming in his room. I went in to speak to him twice. Once to ask him if this was about the T-shirt or if something else was upsetting him. A hug was offered too. No good. I got screamed at. I tried again several minutes later, this time informing him matter-of-factly that he had one minute to get dressed or I would take him as he was. We were going to my Brother's for tea, I said, it was his birthday.
He moaned on the drive over, but I thought he came out of his mood just as we got there. We were chatting about the helicopter in the sky overhead and waving at it. Over and done with, I thought. Wrong. He spent the next hour being rude to my parents and my brother, swore, burped, had attitude towards me and finally settled behind an armchair where he rejected anyone's attempts at kindness towards him. After he'd been quiet for a while I went to see him and quietly asked if he wanted to come out. No, he said. I told him that when he was ready to come out, he was welcome. He came out a few minutes later, pretending he had tummyache and That's why he had refused any food.
My own family have never seen him when gone he's off on one before. They have now.
Friday, pick-up from school. He was fine, he said, as we waited for his Sister to come out of class. He was friends with everyone and had had a nice day. He seemed in a good mood.
We got outside the school gates and he accused his Sister of calling him 'dumb. She denied it and I hadn't heard anything, so I said oh come on, it's a lovely day, let's all just get along.
His Sister raced him to the car and beat him, so he smashed his elbow into her neck. I caught up with them and tackled him on it. He was all attitude, I don't care, what you gonna do about it? I didn't do anything, so, do I care?
We start the journey home in the car, he starts talking about how a friend at school has taught him to stand up for himself, and that he didn't need his family anymore because he had his friend. I try to engage him about it, but before I know where we are he is threatening to kill himself again. He's going to get a plastic bag when we get home and suffocate himself, he says, and he's gonna get a knife or something, and HE'S JUST GOING TO DIE!!!
He's frightening. His voice is full of loathing and hate. I think, I can't take him home and deal with him alone again.
So I start to drive to Mum and Dad's, and then I get halfway there and I decide not to do that. There is just that tiny bit of doubt about the support I would get. How weak I would look in front of them. Unable to cope. And how I might frighten them and they are elderly and not very well. So I don't do it. Instead I drive up and down the motorway for an hour until we can go and pick my Husband up from work.
All the while my kids switch between demonstrating how they absolutely don't care that they are not going home and desperately trying to find out where the hell are we going???
By the time we get home I can't speak and just go to bed. That night my Husband cops it from Son and at one point Son attacks him, telling him he's going to kill him.
Son's OK again until Sunday night when he gets an attitude again, calls his Dad idiot several times and calmly destroys the nice little notes of love I had put up on his wall.
This is pretty much what it's like these days.

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0 comment |
A year and a half ago I became a mother to two adopted children of primary school age. As something new started everything else stopped. My work stopped. My blogging stopped. Some of my friends stopped. What I wanted on the TV stopped. A good night's sleep stopped. Relaxing stopped. Swearing stopped. Eating proper food stopped.
But the kids made everything worth it. They shuffled shyly into their new home and just loved everything about their new life with their new mummy and daddy. The house was filled with their sunny laughter and the days were stuffed full of cuddles and kisses. At night, me and my husband would put the children to bed and they'd say to us 'oh mummy and daddy, thank you so much for all the things you do for us, I am so happy.' And we'd kiss them on the head and say 'Love you to the moon and back' and they'd smile as they closed their eyes to slip effortlessly into happy sleep.
Bollocks, was that how it was.
The thing about adopting children is that they are traumatised. They are traumatised from their life with their birth parents, traumatised from being taken away from them, and traumatised from being sent to live with people they don't know, but who they have no choice but to entrust their life to.
And children who are traumatised are angry, sad, grieving and scared. And none of these emotions are expressed in particularly sympathy inducing manner. Traumatised children don't look up at you with big teary eyes and go 'mummy, I'm scared, I'd like a cuddle'. Children who are traumatised scream at you, they act defiantly, they deliberately break things, they freak out because you've given them a different brand of cereal to the one they want and sit screaming in your hallway.
For a long time, nothing was as it should be. For example, a family walk in the park was comparable to a horror film. Imagine being in a cemetery at midnight and a pair of small hands shoot out of the earth and grab desperately at your hands; a lost soul is grasping at you to pull them out of the darkness and into the light. You are in the fight of your life. If you don't have the strength to pull them out they are going to pull you down into the earth's blackness with them. That's what a walk in the park felt like! I kid thee not! There was nothing sweet about the way those children held mine and daddy's hand; they fought for those hands as if they thought their lives depended on it.
Because these children know what danger is. They know what it is to have their life and soul in the hands of adults and be let down. They see mortal threats everywhere and cannot yet believe or trust that you will not forget or forgo them. That's what you're dealing with every hour of every day.
It's serious shit, adopting.
As a prospective adopter, you're trained to be realistic about what taking on a traumatised child can be like. You attend courses, read the books, talk to other adopters. Nothing can quite prepare you for the frontline battle when it comes, but at least you know that you will be needing courage and strength to see you through the first year. But everyone else? Family and friends whose nearest brush with adoption was knowing a bloke down the pub who was adopted in the 1960s? Well, they think you must be on cloud nine. They think you should be on cloud nine because you've got what you wanted and they do. not. want. to. know. any. different. That can be, erm, shall we say annoying. Thank goodness for the ones who weren't like that. Thank goodness for my good friends.
Anyway, I am happy to be able to report that a year and a half in, the levels of trauma have gone down and we manage a happy state in this home on a regular basis. We now have kids who eat and sleep well, who have made friends, and who have come some way along the line to trusting us as their parents. I have therefore decided that my husband, my children and I must all be AWESOME! There is no other explanation for it.
And so, with this in mind, I have taken up blogging again! Let's see if I can keep it up!

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0 comment Wednesday, July 23, 2014 |
I have been an exceptionally good mother today. Very present and loving, and forgiving of all the little irritations that children give rise to. I would like to feel this affectionate towards them every day, but That's not usually how it is. Usually I am very conscious of what loving gestures I give to my children and when, keeping an audit as I go through the day to ensure that they are getting enough loving. But today, loving gestures just gushed forth without me having to make any effort at all.
The reason for this opening of the heart is I think because last night Husband and I had a lovely night out amongst non-trauma inducing adults at The Kitchen Garden Cafe in Kings Heath, celebrating my good friend's **th birthday. The sun shone (unfortunately into good friend's eyes for the first hour!) and we sat looking out onto the garden, soaking up the ambiance and consuming good wholesome belly-filling food for a fair few hours. The relief of being amongst interesting people, who didn't once offer to show me the scratch on their leg or use a whiny voice to tell me that someone had just called them a poo poo head, has obviously done me an immense amount of good.
While we were out experiencing normal, my mum and dad came and spent the evening with the kids. I had briefed my parents well on possible son behavior at bedtime and they dealt with him triumphantly. I am a proud daughter today.
It was the same story: son was absolutely fine all evening and then bedtime came and he just flipped. First sign of trouble was when son told mum that he wouldn't clean his teeth unless she told him off! Mum was like, 'erm, I don't really want to tell you off,' and so son replied that he wouldn't clean his teeth then!
Thereafter followed the 'I'm not going to bed' defiant behaviour. They seemed to have been goodnaturedly strict, with my dad finally saying to him, 'Look, if you don't want to sleep, you have your books, you have your toys, but you're staying in your room!' When son came out of his room yet again, my mum apparently said 'OK, but I'm going to go and watch TV' and after he'd been ignored for a while, no more was heard. Which is pretty much how husband and I deal with things.
Make no mistake, we do not shove our son into a pitch black room, shut his door tight and expect to hear no more. Both children have bedside lamps and are trusted to read or play until they are tired, at which time they can turn out their own lights (though we do check they are not on late on a school night). My son has a CD player in his room and can play some of the relaxation CDs made especially for children, and sometimes if something unsettling has happened, I'll lie in his room with him until he's asleep. We have a good, structured night time routine, that really winds them down and includes a fifteen minute 'practice separation', whilst husband and I 'get them drinks' before bringing them up for a final goodnight. And this is a small house! We're never very far away!
It took a lot of trial and error but our nighttime routine has worked well for about a year now, and usually there is no trouble, not even when we have sitters.
But, clearly, son thought after his little blow-out at my parents-in-law he'd test out my mum and dad. The bedtime defiance is something he's brought with him from his birth home; when we met his elder half-sister the first question she asked was 'Does x still hate to got to bed at night?' No doubt nighttime at his birth home did bring some terrors, poor little boy, but not anymore. I do feel it is an adoptive parents duty to move children on from old dysfunctional behaviours, even if those behaviours are sadly understandable considering their experiences in their old life.
Daughter, for the record, behaved impeccably again last night and both my mum and dad were full of praise for her. She can be good company and pleasant to be around sometimes and I should allow myself to start trusting that.
Anyway, I've put them both to bed with hugs and kisses tonight, and so let's hope they both stay there!
addendum15 minutes after my final goodnight, during which I very clearly say that there is no school tomorrow and so read or play until you are ready to go to sleep, my son pops his head out of the door and says he 'can't sleep'. I repeat the advice from where I sit, put the TV on mute and listen to hear what happens. Can't hear a damn thing because of this stoopid tinnitus and so I go check on him. He's sitting up in bed reading and I ask him if he's OK and he tells me when he's had a nightmare. The thing is, he does have nightmares, but he hasn't been asleep yet and so quite obviously hasn't yet had a nightmare. I tell him no one is making him go to sleep, just to read until he's sleepy and then give sleep a go. We'll see.
addendum twoTwenty minutes later, out again. Says he can't sleep. I ask him what he can do about that (apart from trying to make it my problem), but he doesn't know. I ask him what he could listen to. He says his CD. Got there in the end.
addendum three7.30am he woke me up knocking on his sister's door and calling her name. I go and see. Daughter is still fast asleep. I suggest he waits until 8am, and he starts crying saying he hates his bedroom and doesn't want to stay in there alone. There's a bee in there, he says. There's no bee, I say, because if there was you would hear it buzzing. Then I suggest he goes downstairs and has breakfast and watches TV if he doesn't want to stay in his room, but that everyone else in the family was going to carry on sleeping for a bit. He didn't seem very happy about it, but he did just that.

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0 comment Tuesday, July 22, 2014 |
I lead Son by the nose all last week. You might have blown the main prize, I said, but if you keep getting your Smiley Faces I will take you out to spend your pocket money on that thing you really want at the weekend. It was very hard work, but he made it.
I thought he would blow it on Friday night. In the afternoon I'd finally got a call from the school. You, know. One of those calls. Never had one before, but it would seem that my intuition that Son was unraveling at school in the same way he is at home was right. He'd been in some three way pushing contest with his two 'friends' which had got really nasty, then he'd them made all sorts of accusations against these two 'friends' (including, interestingly enough, that they swore at him, which is the same accusation he made against me and my husband to CAMHS), and his 'friends' had duly accused him of all sorts of things back.
Worse, he'd got into an argument with a black girl in his class and told her that she had 'rubbish coloured skin'. This racist remark has had to be logged by the school. That was the main reason for the call from school.
The Learning Mentor who dealt with all of this (not the usual drippy one) said that Son knew what racism was, that he'd admitted what he said, and that he had apologised to the girl. She also said that Son started to have an attitude when she told him that she'd be phoning me, and that he'd been back-chatting her and been very rude.
Welcome to my world, I thought, and also pretty much said.
When Son came out of school he turned on the waterworks. He'd been bullied by his two 'friends' he said, they'd knocked him over and hurt him. I got down on my knees, held him and said that I had had the call from school, that I knew everything that had happened, that he was safe with me and could trust me. Then I reminded him of the Safe Ways to deal with Bad Feelings and that if he could manage this tonight, then although he'd had a bad day, he could still have a good weekend.
I managed him like this all night. He kept flipping between fake tears, real tears and seeming happy. The only time I saw danger is when I talked to him in his room about the racist incident. I could see his face harden as he started to think that having an attitude was the best way of handling this. I didn't shame him, I didn't punish him. I simply talked about what racism is and why it is so important that we don't say the things that he said. I don't know if my words got past his bravado, but I hope so.
He was difficult all weekend until we went up to my in-laws on the Sunday. He was fine most of the time. We even sat at the table together as a family, and chatted and laughed, and had no silly or controlling behaviour, not from either of them. And they both loved playing with their grandad.
Then it came time to go. And yes, he had had his count down, yes, we had told him the plan for going home, and what was going to happen for the rest of the night. He still locked himself in the utility room. This was after he ran off and wouldn't be caught.
We tried not making a big deal of it and just got on with getting ready to go, then we tried bribery (if you come out now you can still play on the DS when you get home). We tried threats (if you don't come out now you will not be playing on the DS when you get back).
In the end, it turned out he wasn't locked in, he was just holding the door! So I went in and gave him one last chance, nope, so I got both his arms and pulled him out, speaking softly all the while, and then husband picked up his legs and we swung him out to the car singing 'see saw Marjorie Daw'. An unconventional way to get your child in the car, but it worked.
Husband had to sit in the back with him on the journey home, to keep his seatbelt on, although he wouldn't sit on his booster. He worked wonders with him, calmed him right down and got him almost normal by the time we arrived home.
He remained normal through tea time. Then he said he wanted to go on the DS. We looked at the rules, and the ones he'd broken that day, and I reminded him that he had been given a chance to win back the use of the DS by coming out of the utility room when he was asked and he hadn't taken it. I wasn't pissy with him, I was matter-of-fact, kind even.
Didn't make any difference. He exploded anyway. The usual stuff. Screaming obscenities at me (i'm so over being called a fucking bitch these days) as he banged his way up the stairs to his room. So, just because, I started singing to him that I loved him, still love you anyway, don't care, I love, oh but I love you. Met every one of his vile words with love. That really got to him! So he chucked a few things at me as well.
I had to go up the stairs after him because I heard Husband come out of the bathroom and I didn't want him to interrupt what I was doing with Son. I sent Husband into the bedroom and That's when Son started hitting me, in fact, he even took a flying leap and kicked me in the thigh. It hurt. But I remembered something the SENCo woman had said at school, got down on my knees and said no, hugs, not hits, hugs not hits.
It worked, He let me hug him and then hugged me back. Then we started blowing raspberries on each other and played 'smacky bottoms' (our game, we made that up). Then we had a game of cars in his bedroom together. Then he wouldn't let me go anywhere, and clung to me so tight it hurt my arm, so I let him go and watch his Sister on the wii whilst I sorted out the laundry.
Later, he went to bed with no trouble, other than not wanting to let go of my arm at one point.

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0 comment Monday, July 21, 2014 |
Son had his first therapy session last Friday. I'm a little confused about a few things. Mostly about why he's having therapy from a Social Worker not the Psychiatrist. I'm trying not to think of that as a fob off.
As the Social Worker had never met my Son, I dropped her off his Life Story book and a two page documentation of his emotional and behavioural problems, with covering letter. I thought she ought to know something about him before she saw him.
We had a quick chat on the phone too. I told her I just wanted a better understanding of why he has this rage in him. The Social Worker told me he is angry because of his early life experiences (stupid me!). But when I asked what her aim was over the six therpay sessions she said it was to find out what makes him so angry.
Erm, yeah.
I also queried why I wasn't allowed in the room with him and was told because the idea was to give Son a safe space to talk about his feelings.
It's most definitely not attachment therapy. I know this because the first thing Son said when we left the building after his first session was that his and the Social Worker had a secret, and he's not allowed to tell me.
The other thing he told me was that the Social Worker had told him that when he was angry he was to breathe in through his nose and breathe out through his mouth. But I've done all that stuff with him. He's even got a card telling him what to do when he gets angry and sometimes he does do it. It's more the frequency with which he gets angry That's the problem. The fact that he gets angry over minor stuff. Every day. And that if nothing presents itself to make him angry he'll create something to make him angry. Unless we make him live the life of a Category A Prisoner which he seems to quite like.
My main worry however is that Son is absolutely besides himself that he gets taken out of school to go play glove puppets with a really nice lady. You should have seen the joy radiating off him when he came out of the room with her. He kept asking me do I really get to do this every Friday? Instead of school? I haven't seen him this happy in months and months. I really hope that one session he'll blow up so bad she'll have to press the panic button. Then we might get somewhere. But I doubt it. He'll probably carry on being joyous and the professionals will start to wonder if me and Husband are the problem. Just like I suspect the school do.

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0 comment Sunday, July 20, 2014 |
Children
Can I have Thing? I really really want Thing?Yes. Do X,Y and Z for me and you can have Thing.OK.Can I have Thing? I really really want Thing?Remember what I said you had to do to get Thing?Oh yeah!Have you done any of it?No *shout, scream, bang doors*Can I have Thing. I really really want Thing.Remember what I said you had to do to get Thing?Oh yeah!Have you done any of it?No *shout, scream, bang doors*Mummy! I've done X,Y and Z! It took me all of 3 minutes! Can I have Thing now?Yes, course you can. I am so proud that you did X,Y and Z. Well done. Here's the Thing you asked for.Can I have that other Thing as well?No, be grateful for what you've been given.OK.Where's the Thing?I gave it to my friend at school. Why?I don't know *scream, shout, bang doors*
Friends and Family
He hits, kicks, spits, breaks things, swears at me, tells me he wants to kill me and that he wants to die.All kids do that.He's testing boundaries.It's just a phase.My 3 year old tanrums too.Little bugger him!Have you tried giving him milk?Are you too strict?Are you being strict enough?I got angry the other day too. We all do.Couldn't you just have let him have whatever he wants?Just ignore him.
Professionals
He hits, kicks, spits, breaks things, swears at me, tells me he wants to kill me and that he wants to die.This is very common behaviour in children who have suffered trauma.He's testing you, to see if you will reject him like his birth parents did.It's just a phase.He's presenting like a 3 year old.He's really testing you, isn't he?Food can play an important part in development.Are you allowing him to express himself and have choices?Are you not putting up strong enough boundaries and giving him too much choice?Being angry is naturalTreat him often, to let him know he's loved.Stay calm and acknowledge his anger.
Adoption Support
I'm an adopter and I would like some support please.You're a what?An adopter.And you want some what?Some support.Oh.This is Adoption Support, isn't it?Yes. What sort of support did you want?What do you have?We have support for adopters. Like what?Support.What sort of support?For adopters.Like what?Support.Such as?Who are you and what did you want again?
School
He gets upset at school and takes it out on his family at home. Can you keep him away from that boy, supervise him at lunchtimes, make sure the Dinner Ladies know to report any incidents involving him to you, tell his teacher not to use shame based punishments, and put all homework instructions in writing?Just talk to us, we can help.Thanks. Can we do those things then?We're always here if you need us.Great, Can we arrange all that then?Come talk to us any time.Brilliant. Can we do what I've just asked then?You only need to ask.I just did.He's not like that in school you know.
CAMHS
My Son wants to kill himself and his family.OK. Don't you have some sort of adoption agency who can help you with that?No. They've told me to come to you.OK. Just have a phone assessment, then a one-point-of-access assessment face-to-face, then an assessment with the psychologist we have assigned you to, who will not read anything of the previous assessments. That should take up most of the year.Then what?Then you keep meeting with the psychologist.For how long?For as long as it takes?For as long as what takes?For as long as it takes for you start to parent him properly.But we are parenting him properly!So you say!Yes, we do, because we are!Well, why is he behaving like this then?That's why we want professional help, to find that out.That's not our job. You're his parents. You figure it out.Why can't you help us?We can. We are! You're under CAMHS, seeing a psychologist.But we're not the one who needs a psychologistSo you say!Are you never going to see him?No, we're going to keep seeing you, doing absolutely nothing, trying to find out what you are doing to make this boy act this way, because That's the cheapest option for us and we've got no funding. We just pretend to help so that we can continue to exist and all get a pay packet.

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0 comment Saturday, July 19, 2014 |
And lo! The day came when Mother's were worshipped and their holy perfectness and self-sacrifice celebrated, and many did rejoice in the street.
Hate it.
Firstly, because not all Mothers are good. Secondly, because my kids have another Mum. Thirdly because my relationship with my own Mum has sometimes been difficult. Fourthly because I know some women will be hurting because they can't have children and want them. Fifthly, because my FB timeline gets filled up with sad Daughters who have lost their Mum. One of my friend's lost her Mum on Friday, two days before Mother's Day.
With the passing years it has become such a highly charged emotional day.
Our first Mother's Day with the kids was awful. We were only five months in and the kids were still traumatised, tantrum prone and oppositional. We took them to the park for an ice cream and Husband tried to get a nice photo of me and the kids, but they would only scowl or look away.
Our second Mother's Day, the kids were fine, I wasn't. Husband had done his back in and it made him immobile. Therefore me and the kids went alone to my brother's for a buffet lunch, along with Mum and Dad and my other brother. My Mum made it quite clear that there was only ONE Mother to be celebrated that day, and it wasn't me. Despite the lunch being at my Brother's house, my Mum did all the food. She said she did it because 'there were so many people going', which instinctively took to mean that me and the kids were an added burden. So, my fault she had to do the food, not the fault of my lazy brother and her unhealthy need to still baby him, then. My brother was in a foul mood too and made me feel very uncomfortable by trying to goad the kids into doing things he knew I wouldn't approve of.
So, this year, I decided we were stopping in and seeing no one. I phoned Mum and told her in the week and she seemed a little put out that I wouldn't be worshipping at her alter this year. But then I had a lovely emotional phone call from her when she received the hamper I sent her and she was genuinely lovely to me.
As for the kids, they woke me up at 9am on Sunday morning with cards they had made for me and had actually kept secret! There were snuggles and laughs and breakfast in bed. I lay in bed, listened to The Archers, then had a nice hot shower before coming down to Husband making the lunch. In the afternoon we just hung out, on the laptop, the wii, doing art stuff. Son cried at bedtime, but he just sometimes needs to let stuff out. Husband and I didn't mention Mother's Day. The enthusiasm for celebrating it came from the kids, and it felt very lovely. They must think of their birth Mum on Mother's Day, but I could see that this year, they were also thinking of me.

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