February 4, 2011

This post was made over 2 years ago on my old blog…but it still brings up as many emotions today as the day I wrote it. In those 2 years, we’ve made lots of memories, had lots of trying times…and felt the fast-paced ticking of time like never before. I wrote only one more blog post on my old blog after this, and I will share that in a few days. Then I’ll stop with the whole living in the past thing, I promise. I just wanted readers of this blog to be able to know me a bit better so that you might understand a little more when I talk about things I’m dealing with concerning my dad, our kids, etc. 

Like a Phoenix from the Ashes

You thought I was gone right? Never to return. I’m sure you’ve seen it many times…a blogger who just can’t find the time to write, eventually drifting off into the great unknown, all but forgotten by everyone.

Well, I have returned. I make no grand promises as to this blog of mine…I’ve made that mistake before. But I am still here. I do still have a lot to say. I just need to learn to take time for myself, so that I can say it.

Life has been crazy. Insane. A brief update…and then hopefully I’ll be able to keep up from there. There were 2 major events since the last time I wrote. Not by a long shot all that has happened but the things that have most affected me, for sure.

In December of 2009, I wrote about how we had gone from a family of 3 to a family of 6 and that in the year 2010 our 3 “new” kids would be officially adopted and part of our forever family.

Well, our not-so-“new” kids are doing really well…we are all still adjusting to life with each other. That will be on-going I’m sure. But we are a family now, with all the bumps and bruises and hugs and kisses to prove it. Just not the paperwork. You see, although they were supposed to be adopted in 2010…they weren’t. It just didn’t happen…the boys (10 & 9) have a lot of issues, one has autism and one with a LOT of emotional problems. However, “for real” this time, they will be adopted in 2011. We are filing the paperwork this month, and although we were told it could take up to 5 months to finalize, they WILL be adopted this year. It will be nice to have things finalized, although to us, at this point it is just a piece of paper which will say what we already know.

The other thing that happened…is the hardest thing for me. I have still not dealt with all of my emotions surrounding this, and I think that is in part why I felt the strong urge to come back to my blog. I need to have somewhere to go, somewhere I can say how I truly feel without worrying about how someone else is going to take it. Almost 2 years ago, in April 2009, I wrote about how they had found a tumor in my dad’s brain. How it wasn’t cancerous. How we were all happy about that and were adjusting to life as it would be – with my dad having radiation treatments and then lifelong monitoring of his brain to be sure the tumor wasn’t growing. The tumor shrunk and we all moved on, although it was “a new normal” for us. It made me realize the frailty of life, and the fact that my parents truly weren’t going to be around forever.

This year that fact was hit home even harder, with a much more forceful awakening. My dad was diagnosed with Mantle Cell Lymphoma, a rare form of Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma which makes up only something like 5% of all cases. The VA has said that it is related to his exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. The life expectancy of MCL is only on average about 4 years, but it could be a few more or a few less. Nothing they can do will extend that, barring some new treatment becoming available in the next few years. This has been so hard to come to terms with. It’s still hard to even think about, and I don’t think the full realization of it has hit me yet. My dad is dying…and I can’t even say those words out loud. It’s hard enough just to type them without backspacing and erasing them from the page. As though it would erase them from being true…I wish it would. I wish there was a backspace key so I could edit that stupid disease from my dad’s body. But for now, until some brilliant scientist comes up with a medical backspace key that will save my dad…I am going to have to learn to enjoy every day I have left with him and make the most of it. I don’t necessarily think I’ve taken my family for granted a lot…but this has shown me that every day with them is precious. You may think you have all the time in the world with someone, but you just don’t. You just never know when some tragedy will take away someone – it could be a cancer diagnosis that might give them a few years, or a car wreck that will take them away tomorrow. Hold the people you love tightly, let them know they love you every day. That is the lesson I’m learning, I just wish it wasn’t such a tough one.

Until next time…Love,
Mariah

April 16, 2009

The One About Life Coming To A Screeching Halt

For the last year, my dad has been having recurring headaches. They come on fast, are super painful, and then go away just as fast as they came. My mom had done some research and she decided she thought they were cluster headaches – they fit the description pretty well. So my dad went to the doctor, who did some routine testing and put him on some medication that was helping with the pain of the pain of the headaches, but not lessening them at all.

He kept going back to the doctor, who kept running tests…in the meantime he was also applying with the VA, as he’s been laid off from his job, and in checking into insurance possibilities was told he should be going through the VA for any health issues.He had always thought the VA was only for “retired” veterans, and because he was drafted into service during Vietnam and honorably discharged after his service he isn’t considered a”retired” veteran. Come to find out, he qualifies – he started the application process.

Meanwhile the doctor he was seeing sent him for an MRI. The MRI showed a small(ish) spot on his brain, which the doctor wasn’t all that concerned about. He said it could be from a recent fall, or even something that had been there since he was a child. Of course, my dad having been in Vietnam and all of the physical “altercations” he had been in throughout his teenage years (it was the 60’s…what else did you do for fun, right?), it was basically just a mild concern. The doctor scheduled him for another MRI in 6 months, just “to be sure”it wasn’t growing.

Skip to this year…and he was just recently approved for the VA benefits. He’d had a couple appointments with the local VA hospital, and they decided that although it hasn’t been a full 6 months – since he was still having the headaches – to go ahead and do the follow-up MRI.

It grew. My dad has a brain tumor. The doctor at this point thought low-grade astrocytoma…which was on the ‘not so bad’ side of things.

The past week has been spent (for me) realizing that my tough, military, non-emotional dad really isn’t invincible. It was so heart wrenching for me to see my dad cry. I have seen him choked up while visiting the moving Vietnam Wall, or watching a particularly “real” movie about the aftermath of Vietnam on a soldier. But never, never have I seen a tear. There was a roller coaster of emotions for him, and we were afraid the anti-seizure medication they put him on was causing him serious depression, so much so that the doctor prescribed an anti-depressant, and all firearms were removed from the house temporarily. The whole thing has been entirely too ridiculous for me to wrap my head around, although I know people go through this every day. I just don’t know how they come to terms with it.

Yesterday, the entire day was spent at the hospital with my mother, my husband, my brother and my sister-in-law. Waiting on my dad to get out of surgery. SURGERY. That is what they consider a biopsy of the brain. Because, well, it’s a brain.

He came out well, in fact in pretty good spirits (I think he was very worried about them drilling into his brain, which, who wouldn’t be?). The tumor however? Not so well. The doctor now believes he was correct that it was an astorcytoma but thinks that it is more of a mid-grade instead of low-grade. They grade on a 1-4 scale…originally it was guessed that the tumor was a 1-2…now it is estimated at a possibly 2, likely 3. 4 is the worst, so you can imagine how I feel about a 3. Words like radiation and oncologist were being thrown around, although to me it just sounded like “cancer! cancer! cancer!”. I don’t even know how to cope with this, I hope learning more about it will help with that part. We won’t know for sure the grading for a couple of days while they examine the tissue.

We are praying it’s a 2. If you happen by this blog in the next week…I’d really love it if you would pray for a 2 as well.

God Bless,
Mariah

August 22, 2005

The End

I think I am done. I have had enough of life smacking me down and then coming here to complain about it. It doesn’t make me feel better, really. I thought it would, I even thought it did, but it doesn’t. Life is still smacking me down, and it still hurts no matter how much I talk about it. At one point, I thought I was keeping it so that I could go back into years past and it would help me remember things…but I really don’t need to peruse back into my entries and read about the heartbreak I went through a year ago, and two years ago, and three years ago, to know it is still breaking my heart.

**Obviously, this post came at a time where I was in a very bad place and had decided that I was done sharing my life with the word. And I was…for the next 2 1/2 years I didn’t blog at all…when I did start again it was very sporadic through the few years after that, when I started up a new blog…and now I’ve started this one. I am in a much better place right now than I was then – but that is life, right? That is peeking into someone’s past…into my past. During the lows, you can’t see over the mountain to know there will be brighter days. 

Blessings,
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

Blast From The Past

What is it with me using rocket terms recently? Blast, Liftoff…anyway. Wow. It’s been a busy couple of weeks. Isn’t it always though? Our first 2 weeks as an official business, and we had orders for a total of 9 dozen cupcakes all said & done. I know that is just because we announced we were up and running and some nice friends and family wanted to throw us some business – but it was still a nice way to kick-start things. We already have a potential few future orders for birthdays and a wedding too, so we’re feeling pretty good about that end of things.

I was planning on this last weekend being slow and updating here then…but life always has a curveball waiting doesn’t it? This particular curveball was thrown Friday morning when I found out my dad was taken to the hospital after passing out. His blood pressure was extremely low and as it turns out, he has a laceration on his spleen. That’s bad enough as it is, but throw in my dad’s history and it makes it even more tricky. I have been trying to figure out a way to explain all of this and realizing how difficult that is because in the newness of this particular blog, I haven’t really gotten to talk about me and the history of things that have happened to make me who I am today. Part of that has to do with my dad. He was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer a few years ago…but just explaining that doesn’t tell you what you’d need to know to understand. 

Back when my adult self was being formed, when all those things that happen to a person to shape them into who they are today were happening to me – I wrote in a different place. I stopped writing there because I felt like I was done I guess…but now I don’t feel done anymore. But I did feel like I needed a fresh start, and I really like the format of WordPress. It feels good to write here in this space. But when you start fresh, the new people you talk to don’t really know you…so in order to help you “know me”, and understand some of the things I write about like my dad or our adoption story I think, instead of re-writing some of those old painful (and some not painful) memories, I will re-post here some of my past writings that I feel are particularly good or might explain my past a little bit better than I can now…because it was written then, when I was in it. When I felt those things a lot more acutely than I do now.

So when I share these past writings with you, I will just title them with the date I originally wrote them…I won’t change anything else (even if I feel an overwhelming need to edit something – I will not). So you’ll be reading them just as they were written then. I’ll try to post the stories I want to share in order from oldest to most recent…so it will make more sense and maybe you’ll get a picture of who I am today. The good, the bad and the not-so-beautiful (The word “ugly” is such an…ugly word).

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