May 5, 2009

A New Normal

We finally, after weeks of waiting, got the results from my dad’s biopsy. The tumor was graded a 2, low-grade, benign tumor. While that is wonderful, WONDERFUL news – it doesn’t erase the fact that there is a tumor the size of a golf ball in his brain…which will have to be dealt with. It’s also a recurring type of tumor, so that will mean life-long monitoring to make sure they catch any new ones. But, it is NOT cancer. So…we’re mostly back to normal. It’s just a new kind of normal, where my dad has a recurring type of brain tumor. It’s still weird to say, hard to imagine, and makes me sad to think of. But, it is NOT cancer.

On the foster care front, things are going. Not smoothly, mind you, but they are going nonetheless. We had our first training class on Saturday. We can only do the 3-in-a-row Saturday classes which are 7 1/2 hours long…so it’s tiring and makes the weekend go really fast – but it is interesting and informative and so far we’ve met some great people.

On the way home from our first class, however, our van decided to suddenly stop shifting. It still drives, but only in one gear…so we were able to get it home and tonight will be able to drive it to the dealership – the manual says that this is a safety feature which automatically kicks in when something is wrong with the tranny so that it will still be drivable to get it to a service station. So, that’s good I guess…maybe that little safety feature will help us not have to buy a totally new transmission. But, on the downside, no matter how much it costs to fix it has to come out of the money we were going to be putting in our foster fund…$200 that my mom and dad just gave us for our foster fund for an anniversary/birthday present, and another couple hundred from the extra paychecks at the end of May. I have a feeling most of that money is now going to have to pay for the van to be fixed. But, we have to have a vehicle – it’s a non-decision. We will just have to really get with it and start listing on eBay (so far I haven’t listed much of what I have), and hope that some of that stuff sells. We also have a yard sale coming up in June, which is town-wide, so that should boost the foster fund at least a little. If we could just sell those darned concert tickets, we would be able to build the bedroom…which is the biggest hurdle right now. That part we need to be done to be licensed. After that it is just finding beds & bedding, etc, which we can do with our extra paychecks in July (thank goodness for 5-pay months!).

Thanks for stopping by – and thank you for the prayers for my dad – they definitely worked!

Mariah

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February 24, 2009

Tired

Man…I did not realize how hard it would be to get motivated to write again. I really want to write, I love to write…but when I had my last blog it was so much easier. Probably because I did not work, and now I have a stressful job (where I sit at a computer all day). I am tired when I get home…and the last thing I want to do is sit at a computer again. Maybe I need to not be so hard on myself and not expect to feel like writing more than once a week. I mean, it’s not like I have a Blogger Boss expecting a 3 paragraph post each day by 5 or I’m fired…right?

I do have a lot to talk about…a lot has been on my mind. We have finally started the foster-to-adopt process. Well, at least – I think we have. We received our background check paperwork in the mail, filled it all out, and returned it to the DCFS receptionist who assured me she would get it to our caseworker. That was Friday the 13th…hmmm…now that I say it maybe that was a bad omen. I haven’t heard a word since. Also I might mention that in the envelope with the background paperwork we had to fill out there were no instructions concerning what to do with it. So I just assumed we were to give it back to them. Maybe I was wrong. I might know the answer to that if our caseworker wold return any of the 3 messages I left, or answer the phone any of the hundred or so times I have tried to call and not left a message.

We are new at this, and have no idea how the process works really. I feel like there MUST be something we should be doing at this point…but nobody who knows what we should be doing knows what THEY should be doing (which is being a little more helpful with newbies to the foster world). Granted, I know they are busy. But, so am I. I am an accountant in the RV industry, which if you haven’t heard isn’t doing so hot…and we are on skeleton crew. I am now doing the job that at least 2 people used to do in a minimum of 80 hours a week…and I have to get it done in 40. So I do know a little about being busy. But I also know if I didn’t return calls of new dealers who wanted to do business with us, we would lose those new dealers as they become frustrated with not getting return calls. The same could probably also be said of Foster Care. I have only been officially in the process for about a week and a half, but already I can truly imagine that the frustration of never being able to talk to anyone or get any answers might drive people to just say “forget it”. I am not one of those people…I will soldier on. I will be patient. I just wish there could be an easier way. Maybe I should quit the RV industry and go to work for the Foster system…they seem to need the help.

Well…more later (I didn’t say *when* later…haha)…I have a phone call to make 🙂

Love,
Mariah

May 13, 2005

Crestfallen

I don’t know why, after all this time of…nothing, I would torture myself like this again. I promised Jeff that I would give it another year…we haven’t even started and already I feel like we’re wasting the next year of our lives.

**This entry was posted after we had decided, for one last time, to try for a baby. We had gotten fantastic insurance coverage with a new job that included limited infertility coverage at 100% with a very low deductible, and this post came a few appointments into our treatment with a fertility specialist, after I would have to have exploratory surgery because my tubes were blocked and they needed to find out why. I just felt like it was yet another blow after years of the rollercoaster ride of infertility. A few months later, our insurance coverage would be changed just as we were on the cusp of starting IUI treatments, which we could not afford without the insurance coverage – once again ending our hopes of having another baby. This is by no means some fantastic post that I just had to include to show what a skilled blogger I am or any of that, I just wanted to include it to share a little bit of the emotion I felt during our infertility years.

Blessings,
Mariah

August 16, 2004

What Could Have Been

I know…my second post in a day. Amazing. But this is more of a continuation of the first…so bear with me.

Sometimes I feel like such a failure for not being able to give Jeff another child. I feel like he got the raw end of the deal, because “our” infertility lies within me. If he would have chosen someone else, he could have had any number of children. I feel like I am cheating him out of something he very much deserves. I don’t want to be the cause of any sorrow in his heart. It might be an irrational thought, but it’s one that has played over an over in my head: I am the cause of this heartbreak. But, if I want to be happy, if I want to be free, I need to let go. I need to give up the guilt and the negative feelings towards myself, and quit dwelling on heartache. And this “letter” is my way.

You would have been beautiful. You would have had the same eyes as your big sister, the same smile as your father, the same curly dark hair as me. We all wanted you so badly, and it has been a hard road to where we are now. But here we are. At the point of letting go. Although it makes me very sad, I have to say goodbye to what you would have been; to let go of who you could have been. This may seem funny to some…how I can be so heartbroken, why am I writing about someone that never existed? But you did…in our hearts. You were real to us…a dream that seems so very realistic. We just knew you would appear someday, but you never did. I still don’t know why, but that’s a question I need to let go of also, because they whys and the what-ifs would eat me alive. Why can’t I? What if we tried this?

So anyway, it’s time to say goodbye. It’s been too hard on all of us, and for us to be able to heal we need to let go. Though we will always want you, and there will always be an ache in our hearts without you, this chapter of trying so exhaustingly to bring you to us is over. I won’t forget you, I’m quite sure I’ll think of you whenever I see a newborn in their mother’s arms; whenever I hear the sweet sound of a baby’s cry; whenever I see “I’m the Big Sister” emblazoned on a little pink t-shirt. It won’t be easy, but I have to move on.

All my love.

**This past post is just a small, microscopic glimpse of the heartbreak that was our battle with secondary infertility. Obviously we have now moved on from this space we were in at that point, but the heartache is always there…even if it’s smaller. Even reading this is still hard for me. I have my family now – the one I always wanted and I am overjoyed by that…but there will always be a part of me that feels sorrow over never being able to carry another child in my body, not being able to raise another child from the first second of their life. I took so much for granted the first time around. I guess there is a lesson in that.

Blessings,
Mariah

Confessions of a Bad Parent

Some days, as a parent, I find myself wondering if anything I do is right. Today is one of those days. Because yesterday was one of those days. Unfortunately, it happened at the end of one of those weeks where it seems like all you get is eye rolling, attitudes needing adjustment and disrespectful back-talk. It had been a long week…but I had been looking so forward to yesterday.                                                 

My husband and I had gone to the city for a show with my parents (Jersey Boys – which was excellent!), and left our teenage daughter in charge. We got home around dinner time to find that the younger three had neglected the entire day to do the things they typically must do on any Sunday (shower, brush teeth and – we found out later – feed the pets). We told them they’d go to bed early for not showering and brushing teeth, and gave them tacos that we’d brought home for dinner. I went into my bedroom to change…and saw red. 

Literally. Red lipstick. All. Over. My. Bed. 

My new, white, high thread-count, beautiful duvet cover – the one I had splurged on because I felt my husband and I deserved it after years of sleeping with a ratty comforter. Did I mention it was white? Our bedroom was covered in the carnage of several tubes of lipstick and lip gloss (and also, chewed up orange rinds). Our dog, probably starving and obviously lacking supervision, had gotten into our room and decided my makeup looked like a suitable snack. We started lecturing the kids on animal responsibility, which is when we found out they hadn’t fed the animals all day. Now, this is not a one-time thing…they are always forgetting to feed the animals. It is a constant struggle with them…so when I heard that, and realized that clearly they had completely ignored the dog (that they had begged us for) all day…well there was no countdown-to-launch. I was one mad mama. 

I took their plates and what was left of their tacos (about ½ of what we had given them originally), threw them in the trash can and told them they could go to bed and see what it felt like to have the person they relied on for their food not care whether they ate or not (I’m kind of dramatic when I’m mad). I ranted a bit about responsibility and respect. And then immediately I felt bad. Not because I said anything mean or untrue, or because I think it’s horrible to send your kid to bed without dinner – but because I knew that before we adopted them, my youngest 3 had gone without many meals, and I just couldn’t do that to them. So I did something I’m not even sure made me feel any better…I grabbed the paper plates off of the top of the trash can and took the wrapped tacos that were left and told them if they wanted more to eat, they would have to eat those. And they did. I know. They were still wrapped, and had not touched any other trash besides the paper plates they were on. But still. Not my proudest mommy moment. It’s taking everything I have to not erase this entire thing, because the last thing anyone wants someone else to see is their faults. But because I want this to be a place I can be real, and because I hope some other parent out there who might think they’re alone in making mistakes in raising their kids might see this and know that they are not alone. We all do things we are not proud of, things we regret, things that make us feel like a bad parent. 

That story brings me to the point I’m trying to get at I guess. Every parent struggles. Even the ones who pretend on the outside they’ve got it all together…I call bull crap. I don’t know one person in my real life that hasn’t had a mom melt-down. I’m pretty honest with myself. I know I’m not the best parent…I know that I struggle to do the right thing when it comes to setting rules, restrictions and discipline, and I especially struggle with losing my temper. I am a loud person when I’m mad…I’m a yeller, I come from a long line of yellers…and I make snap-decisions regarding discipline, and they are usually really over-the-top. It is something I am continually trying to work on. I also know I’m not the worst parent – I know this intimately, because my younger kids did have it worse. But last night after we went to bed, I could not stop crying. I’m so tired of fighting the same battle. I’m tired of feeling like a bad parent, tired of feeling guilty for wanting to take a little time for myself because I know something won’t get done if I do. Sometimes it feels like I’m treading water…small issues that really shouldn’t be a big deal, but turn into a big deal. Something has to change…I have been working on myself, and even though sometimes I doubt myself, I know I have been learning and growing. Learning how to parent damaged kids is difficult. But I have changed for the better, and they have too. And I know I can continue to do so…I definitely know I still have work to do. But in the meantime, we also need to find ways to help our kids work on the things they still struggle with, like normal people stuff. Sometimes I forget that they didn’t learn that stuff like they should have. They are still learning.    

So, to help save our sanity (hopefully) and their lives (ok that part was a joke), my husband decided we needed to come up with a plan which will stop the need for us to remind them constantly about their chores (and as a result stop the fighting/yelling when they don’t get done or have to be reminded 20 times. And hopefully will prevent any repeats of last night.) I truly feel that if we could get over that bump in the road, the disrespect and attitude issues would be easier to tackle. So we are devising a plan…some kind of family center where we can have a chore board, calendar with everyone’s activities (and what disciplinary actions are currently in place…because that is an area we struggle with also – remembering what we’ve grounded who from and for how long…so then they in turn don’t feel we’re serious about discipline and continue their bad behaviors), and possibly a daily checklist of things they should know to do like brush their teeth. That way there will be no excuse for them ‘forgetting’, because all they had to do was check the board. I hope this works…because I’m just about one breath away from the funny farm.

I have also decided my husband and I both need to have some “me” time every day…30 minutes of solitude in which we can go on the porch or into our bedroom, close the door, and just meditate, pray, read…whatever. We really don’t ever take that kind of time for ourselves, and I know it’s not healthy. When the weather gets warmer, I also want to start walking since exercise is a stress reducer. 

Anyway…that is the plan. I will post updates, and pictures once we get our family center worked out. In the meantime – anything (helpful) you’d like to share would be appreciated! 

Blessings,
Mariah