Friday, 1 July 2016

Chaos wins out this week! Or does it? At least not completely!!!

The chaos seems to have escalated this week!  I feel as if I have been riding some sort of emotional rollercoaster for the last few days and that I have finally found myself upside down in one of those gravity defying loops!  The week started with an emergency trip to a well know airport to pick up a stranded friend, included a visit to the Doctors (which is probably best described as a challenge) and, then, ended with me having to go back and forth to the garage to sort out my ailing car!  The impact of this "all over the place" week on my boys probably requires a post all of its own!  Let's just say, its been a little tricky!!!  Ummm, that is probably the understatement of the year!!!  Its been very tricky leaving me somewhat frazzled!!!  And, the icing on the cake is I now feel "pants" with raging sore throat, aching limbs and cotton wool brain!!!  And on that note, I really must head to bed before time runs away with me which it has a habit of doing once I starting typing away.

However, before I sign off, I need to say that in the midst of the chaos and all the challenges that go with it, there have been moments of complete joy!  My littlest boy who's speech is delayed finally said "Mummy" and I don't think he has stopped saying it since!!!  My eldest couldn't stop giggling when we played a silly game and when I joined in his game of "making dens", his face shone and you would have thought that all his Christmases had come at once. 

I remember once writing, rather a long time ago now, that adoption was possibly the biggest emotional roller coaster I had ever ridden and I think this week underlines that!!!  Its been chaotic, joyful, challenging, stressful, sad, happy and a million other things all mixed in together!!!  But would I change it - even in the most challenging, most stressful, most difficult moments?  The answer is an easy ... no!  I realise this might not be the same for everyone or that it might change at different points but right now, in this moment, I do not regret stepping onto the rollercoaster!!!

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

So how do all you single (adoptive) parents do it?  I am overwhelmed, exhausted and living in chaos!  I frequently feel like I am "firefighting" rather than living.  Those wonderful moments of fun that make every challenge and chore worthwhile seem ever more elusive!  I find that my mind is full of thoughts that I am failing.  I feel as if my parenting has somehow taken a wrong turn, that I am not managing all things domestic, that the paperwork is winning outright and that I am not giving enough to family, friends, work and play.  The reality is ... its hard!!!  Very hard!!! 

Is it only me that shouts like a fishwife when we are trying to get out the door and get to school on time in the morning?  Is it only me that repeatedly says "don't" when a reframe to "do" would so quickly change my eldest's response?  Is it only me that speaks irritability when worn down?  Is it only me who veers away from parenting therapeutically when in the midst of chaos even though it would ironically reduce said chaos?  Is it only me that lives with constant guilt that my parenting is sometimes not all it should be ? 

Although these thoughts have come and gone since I became a Mum, I think they have been more present recently, perhaps a reflection of how worn down I have become after months of struggling.  To address these struggles and to gain some support, I have started knocking on the doors of social services and health!  Although I didn't expect an instant response, I didn't expect it to be quite so difficult to prise the doors ajar let alone open them!!!  As my eldest's teacher suggested ... I might have to throw my toys out of the pram to get the doors to open wide enough for me to walk through ... !!!  So much for all my professional training in collaborative working!!!

Monday, 27 June 2016

Reflections on those school run "looks" ...

Recently, I have been musing on the "looks" that appear to be directed my way when my boys are behaving in ways which sit well and truly at the upper end of the chaos continuum.  

Last week, I arrived at my eldest's school for pick up in a state I can only describe as "frazzled" with my eyes glistening with moisture!   I was acutely conscious of the furtive glances of some of the other parents as the littlest repeatedly screeched and I struggled to get him out of the car, into the pushchair and through the school gates!  Those glances felt laden with judgement.  Was this real or imagined?  I cannot be sure but the lack of eye contact and fact that people looked away as I approached strongly suggested that I was not just being oversensitive.  However, rather than holding my head up high and walking confidently, I found myself looking at the floor and allowing myself to be lured into the "walk of shame".

I realise the other parents cannot know what is going on, after all my children don't look any different from other children and I cannot explain.  My boys' stories, their quirks, their idiosyncrasies, their challenges are theirs and not for public discussion.  However, I want to shout out loud that my children are not misbehaving at will but that they are doing the best they can. 

I want to stand on my metaphorical soap box and explain that the littlest can sometimes struggle with the smallest of transitions, or that he can be frightened of an everyday sound such as a car starting up and that the way he reacts is un-predictable.  I want to advocate for my eldest and let the other parents who are looking on as he becomes more and more hyper know that having made it through the school day, his ability to regulate his emotions is more or less exhausted.  I want to explain that he doesn't have the reserves that other children may have to make it to the car calmly. 

There is also a part of me that wants to defend myself and explain that I am not a bad parent, that it is not as black and white as me letting my children run riot and that I may have to use different approaches to parenting as adopted children don't always respond to traditional styles. 

Most of all I want to look into those judgemental eyes and ask for compassion, to challenge the person behind those eyes to step into our shoes just for just a moment and to think about what might lie behind what they see in front of them, that there might be a story that cannot be told.  There is a letter entitled, "Dear Parent, About THAT kid" which sums this up better than I ever could and which can be found at the link below.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

A mixed up day!

Writing a post might be a challenge too far today!!!  My brain cells are well and truly fried!!!  It's been what I can only describe as a "mixed up" day!!!  We have reached the upper end of the chaos continuum, found our way back down again towards the middle and even had some unexpected moments of calm. 

My parenting has ranged from the fishwife to the slightly more reasonable to a little closer to therapeutic.  I have oscillated between feeling extremely irritable to something I think is akin to calm.  There have been moments when tears have streamed down my face but also the odd break in the dark clouds when I have found myself laughing out loud.  I have felt so overwhelmed I have wanted to get in my car and drive ... anywhere ... just to escape and then as I have reached - metaphorically - for my car keys, there have been whispers of hope!!!  These whispers were hardly audible but they were there.

My children have struggled to regulate their emotions with their behaviour becoming more and more impossible.  I have been hit, kicked but then kissed and cuddled.  My children have giggled uncontrollably with enjoyment and have surprised me with their ability to manage usually difficult situations.  There have been times when they have wanted to cling on to me and hide away, but others when they have run free and literally jumped for joy.

We are all exhausted!!!  The boys are sleeping - for once, the littlest hasn't woken - and I am about to join them!!! 

I cannot truly explain what I want to say to sum up - the words seem to elude me - but in some strange way, my mixed up day feels that it has stirred hope!!!

Thursday, 23 June 2016

A tangential challenge! Ensuring I got to mark my X in the EU referendum ...

I am continuing with the theme of challenges, well, loosely!!!

Today, I actually managed to achieve my challenge for the day ... getting to the polling station before closing!!!  Here in the UK we are voting on whether or not to remain part of the European Union and I wanted to make sure I used my voice.

I know that getting to a polling station and marking an X on the ballot paper sounds straightforward, or at least relatively so.  However, chaos has a habit of winning out when I am out with my two boys and especially if we are negotiating something that is new to them.  I did consider going to the polling station with them in tow but in my mind's eye, I could see the eldest running wild, the youngest screeching and me wanting to hide out in the voting booth without coming out!!!

My lovely boys struggle with emotional regulation in novel situations, a common difficulty in adoption.  And I struggle with the "looks" I get!!!  For the those who have not been spared such looks, I am sure I need not say anymore!!!  For those who have been spared, these looks are laden with meaning and it almost seems as if I can actually hear them whispering ... "that woman really should learn some parenting skills" or "oh, I am glad my children aren't in the same class as hers" or "oh my, parents these days, they really don't know how to say no". 

I think growing a much thicker skin should be one of the requirements listed for all potential adopters!!!  I sure wish mine was a few extra mm than it is!!!

So how did I achieve my challenge?  With a plea to my Mum to come and watch the boys so I could go to the polling station alone!!!  However, going without the boys felt so very strange as, apart from when they are at school/nursery, such moments are rare!!! 

Going back to the voting, my vote is in and could be being counted at this very moment!  This time tomorrow, I will either be cheering or weeping and wailing!!!  The result will be in and we will have the answer to the question, to remain or not to remain, to leave or not to leave?

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Just for starters! An intro to the challenges of being a single adoptive Mum ...

On my way to work today - during a rare moment when the ever present chaos had subsided just a little - I got to thinking about the challenges of being a single adoptive Mum.  My initial thought was that I could list these challenges and then write about tackling them one by one.   Oh my, how naïve was I?!  The list seemed to grow exponentially and that was within a seconds, let alone minutes!!!

Challenge 1:  The laundry!!!

I am convinced that the laundry breeds!  Having posted only yesterday that I had managed to tame it, how is it already managing to creep its way back out of the laundry basket?!  And will the living room ever be free of drying clothes?!!!  I have a feeling the answer is a resounding no given the wonderful British weather - that is to say, wet most of the time - and that a tumble drier is a dream away!!!

Challenge 2:  The grocery shopping

Why oh why are the cupboards always empty?  Possibly pure lack of organisation!!!  I have made many resolutions to address this from making a shopping list to doing a weekly grocery shop to shopping online (to name just a few!!!).  But have I managed to keep any of these?  The very simple answer is a a resounding no!!!  So, rather than reducing the chaos levels they escalate further and I find myself either running to the shops between leaving work and doing the school run or scrabbling in the cupboards ... !!! 

Challenge 3:  Paperwork

Pre children, I was wonderfully organised with every piece of paper filed away in its place!!!  Now my filing system is a big storage container which is becoming ever more full of papers randomly stuffed in!!!  If another person suggests I sort 5 pieces of paper per night, I think it will be me rather than my littlest having a tantrum.  At the end of most days, having fought hard to remain sane amidst all the chaos, I generally find myself sat almost comatose in front of the TV!!!  The thought of even looking at 1 piece of paper seems akin to an Artic expedition!!!

3 challenges so far with possibly infinity to go ... !!! 

To be continued ...

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Stomach bugs, sleep deprivation & ever increasing chaos ...

I think life has just managed to push us that little bit further up the chaos continuum!!!  My good - although maybe somewhat naïve - intentions to combat my sleep procrastination and head for bed at a reasonable hour on Sunday night were well and truly squashed by a stomach bug worming its way into our family!!!  Just as I started to head for bed, I heard some strange and yet familiar sounds coming from my eldest's bedroom and ran to attempt to prevent what was, in reality, inevitable!  Any parents out there might have already guessed what happened next ... I walked in to find my son bent over, vomiting!  Joy of joys!  I can cope with many things but the v word is something that really does challenge me!!!  Needless to say that by the time I had sorted out both my son ... and the floor ..., I didn't make it to bed the right side of midnight!!!  Oh, and I also found myself having to become a little too acquainted with the toilet bowl - yes the bug got me too!!! 

If anyone out there knows any remedies for the odour that has been left behind (my apologies if I am now entering the TMI - Too Much Information - zone), then please pass them my way!!!  I have scrubbed with washing up liquid, Dettol, carpet cleaner and sprayed with Febreeze to no avail!.  Although, that said, my mother has assured me - several times - that there is no lingering odour!!!  Either she has a poor sense of smell, is tyring to be kind or I am having olfactory hallucinations ....!!!  Given the stress of living in permanent chaos, I am not ruling out the third option!

Thanks to the "pesky" (other more potent words have been considered but not felt to be appropriate!) bug and the 48 hour rule, my eldest and I have been in "quarantine" for the last couple of days!!!  For the uninitiated, the rule means that you can not return to school/work until a full 48 hours after the last time you were the victim of the v word!!!  However, to be honest its been a mini blessing in disguise!!!  Both my son and I felt pretty rotten on Day 1.  However, Day 2 has allowed us to have time together without the little one running riot!!!  Not only have I managed to tame the laundry (it might not be up to date but at least its no longer creeping out of the basket!), but I have also had time to make a model with my son and finger paint!  Who knew that egg boxes, paint, foil and sellotape were the building blocks of a spacecraft or that finger painting could enable both small people and artistically challenged ones to create "masterpieces"!!!

I have a corner of my eye fixed on the clock as I am writing this as I desperately need to crack my sleep procrastination.  Stomach bugs, lack of sleep and lively children do not mix well!!!  Plus ... I need to be on form for work ... although that said, I do find work an oasis of calm in my crazily chaotic life!!!  So its time to sign off ... and its off to sleep I go, hey ho, hey ho, hey ho!!!  I am not exactly sure why but ending with those hey hos just seemed so right!!!