The Fight Begins…

It’s been a week and were all still reeling from last week’s election. Some of us are in mourning while it seems that many of my acquaintances are actively celebrating. We all had our own agenda for this year, and regardless of who wins or loses the same issues we’ve all been debating about a solution for, are still affecting us everyday.

It is important, now, more than ever to truly have those difficult conversations about policy and our opinions. I feel like politics has always been a “taboo” discussion because it places people in heated arguments over defending their opinion. But I am one of those who feels that politics should be a dinner conversation. It should be something that we can openly and actively discuss without repercussion. Because if we don’t, how are we ever going to change things or come up with solutions that benefit us all.

As a child I was adamant about becoming a supreme court judge. All I wanted to do was to change the world through policy and reasonable judgement. As an adult, this plan didn’t exactly work out for me, but it’s never too late. This recent election has reignited my passion to help solve the world’s problems. I have actively researched, listened, engaged in discussion and done all I can to create awareness for multiple issues and to debunk blatant propaganda.

One topic I noticed clearly lacking from this years’ election was the issue of Foster/Adoption. While we had every discussion, debate and meme that ever existed over Adoption, no one seemed to want to address the thousands of children in this country that are already living in unstable conditions.

There are over 5000 children in the state of Kansas alone in Foster Care. 900 of them are waiting to be adopted, the rest are waiting to know if their parents will be able to have them back. Most of these kids are over the age of 10 years old or are part of a sibling set that needs to be adopted together. With the back up of our court systems, this amount is lessening any time soon.

To be honest with you, we don’t have a baby adoption problem in America. Most infants are matched up with parents fairly quickly. Its the children older than 5, or older than 10 that see themselves bounced from foster home to foster home. Its general knowledge in the foster community that if you haven’t been adopted by the time you are 7, you most likely won’t be.

These kids have no hope. They have no support. Many feel as if no one wants them or loves them. They don’t have someone to push them into learning new things or having new experiences. A social worker may take them to the park for some play time, or treat them to ice cream for good grades. But they don’t have someone there full time, like so many of us have had our entire lives, pushing us to do better, encouraging us to succeed and celebrating with us when we do. They don’t have the support systems that many of us take for granted every day.

You don’t have to go out and sign up to be a foster parent. You can get involved in so many other ways. Many organizations in the metro provide resources so that you can donate, visit, or if you so choose, foster these children in some way. One of the biggest ways you can help is to become a member of CASA

CASA is an organization that is dedicated to giving a voice to children who are victims of trauma and abuse. You can donate or sign up to become an advocate in multiple ways. There is even an option to be the voice of a child in court appearances. It gives you the opportunity to legally provide for a child who otherwise wouldn’t have someone to fight or represent them in the system.

I truly believe that the way to solve our “abortion” crisis is to promote proper sexual education in schools, provide resources and support to children in Foster Care and to help break the cycles of abuse that occurs in broken homes all over the country.

You can save someones life just by providing emotional support. As someone who was once in a position that felt as if I had no one, I can verify with 100% accuracy that sometimes all these kids need to snap out of their cycles is someone to believe in them, someone to support them, and someone to  help guide the way.

If you are ever looking for information as to how you can get involved, please contact me. I can put in touch with all the right organizations. Hopefully, one day, it will be mine that I lead you to.

 

* I will be writing a series of posts and blogs on the challenges the Foster/Adoption Community is facing today. If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming a Foster Advocate, Parent, or Volunteer please let me know. Together we can break the cycle of abuse and give these kids the support they truly need.*

 

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Reeling

Hello again!

I’ve been trying to think of content for a new post or where I really wanted to take this blog now that my story was in the works of being turned into a book. At first I though, oh I’ll just casually blog; but then I decided to continue with the theme of mental health/illness. I think it’s important to not only document my experiences but to also share information that I am able to find.

Which brings us to today’s post.

As many of you know I lost my grandmother in January. It was the first time I had had a very close family member pass away and to be honest I haven’t been coping very well.

Prior to her passing I found myself better able to cope with  my depression and anxiety than I am now, and so I reached out to my therapist and we decided to pursue the avenue of medication.

Now I do not like being on medication. I’ve self medicated for years, and only until recently felt the need to stop doing so. I have bad reactions with prescriptions, I don’t remember to take them, I get every side effect they list, and I just generally don’t like it.

However, sometimes even the most put together of us need some help.

To be honest though I wasn’t look for an anti-depressant or something long term, I really just needed something to calm me down when I’m feeling particularly anxious or excited about things.

So we made an appointment. And I stressed about it. In fact, (it was this morning) all morning long I was shaking and light headed and on the verge of tears. I actually did cry in the parking lot before going inside, I was so stressed about the meeting.

I was right to be.

I’ve seen psychiatrists here and there and I know they are all cut of different molds. I also know they are meant to be a bit more logical and scientific than perhaps my therapist, after all they are the phsyical/mental science side of this.

The first thing that threw me off is that you cannot call this office. It’s text only. You text to make an appt. and discuss meds etc. So when I walked in and the receptionist had me check in on the ipad attached to the desk while she made a personal call about her allergies to her doctor, I was little taken aback.

And the office was so stereotypical. Grey walls with yellow lamp lighting, floor to ceiling book cases, blurred glass in the windows. I could already tell the effort to make the place seem “comforting” had been overdone.

I sit in the waiting room for a good 20 minutes and I can hear bits and pieces of somoene’s conversation through a closed door. Which makes me think, great so will people hear mine too?

The doctor calls me back and he and I’m assuming a student proceed to make jokes about the pronunciation of my name all the back to his office. Which thank god has windows, but if he could have found any other certificates or degrees to cover the space on his walls he would have needed to get his attendance rewards from kindergarten, I mean seriously.

The student was never introduced to me or asked if he could be there. He sat in a chair by the doctors desk the entire time taking notes.

But we just jumped right in. Right at the beginning. I told my life story, like I’m so used to doing, and then I mentioned I had a kid…and he pounced.

I spent the next 30 minutes listening to someone talk at me about things that I already knew and was in his office seeking help for. He asked me how I disciplined Jacob. I was honest. I try my best to use Love and Logic but my anxiety and my emotions are heightened at times and I do lo0se my cool and sometimes yell and scream. Jacob gets swats when he is particularly misbehaving but nothing that ever crosses a line.

I informed him that recently I had had suicidal thoughts, or thoughts that Jacob and my husband were better off without me.

His response to all of this was to inform me that I was loving my son with fear and anger and by doing so I was being selfish. He made me feel like my go to response was to scream at him and that this happens in my house hold 80% of the time. He refused to listen to my rebuttals or understand my situation with my son. By the end of the 30 minutes I felt like I should have brought my son into the meeting instead of myself, and I was bawling.

And he continued. I explained that we like to acknowledge Jacob’s emotions and help him to identify and understand where they are coming from, and he looked at me and said “He is three, he is incapable of thought. If anything, when he is upset its because he sees you were upset and thinks its his fault. In his eyes he is god of his world and anything that happens is a direct result of his actions.”

So my son gets angry as a three year old because mommy is upset and he feels like its his fault. Because mommy is anxious and he feels like its his fault. Because mommy has mental illness and he feels like its his fault.

He also told me that if I continued to parent this way and bring my anxious energy into the house, then yes, my husband and son were better of without me.

I spent an hour and a half in that man’s office and he made me second guess every bit of progress I’ve made. He made me second guess all of my values and my capabilities at being a parent and an adult. He made me feel like I was abusive.

And then…instead of listening to me about the medication, he prescribed me Abilify, which is a hardcore antipsychotic.

I have no idea what I’m going to do yet. I don’t even know how to respond quite yet. My brain is still reeling from the events of this afternoon.

It’s like he took all the things I’ve been stressing and anxious about that most people tell me I shouldnt stress over, and basically told me I was right and that I was the shitty parent I believed myself to be.

I have an appointment with my therapist tomorrow, so wish me luck!

My Delusions of Being a Pinterest Mom

I have officially kept a human being alive for 2 1/2 years. I know, big feat right? But seriously, in my eyes, that’s pretty amazing.

Motherhood is by far one of the most interesting experiences you will ever have in your life. I’ll never forget the day Justin and I found out that we were expecting. You get filled with all of these emotions and this whole world flashes before your eyes. For nine months you constantly think of this little being inside of your body that will eventually make it’s way into the world and become a human being of worth (we hope!).

I remember making all of these plans, all of these visions for the future. I was determined to be that perfect “Pinterest” mom. You know, the one who diligently photographs her child with cute little props every month, the one who creates all sorts of fun and interesting activities to take up the free time. The mom who cooks and cleans and is creative and fun, but at the same time steadfast and sturdy as a parent should be. I had so many plans.

And then there we sat, March 3, 2013 with this tiny little baby in our arms. We were both so high on emotions everything was a blur. This beautiful little being that we had created was so perfect and so terrifying all at once. I just remember being so elated with our lives and our little family.

Jacob was a calm baby. So calm in fact that Justin and I could hardly believe he was ours (were both very hyper/active people). Jacob was an observer, he would just sit for hours watching everything we did. But once he was able, he was also quick to get involved. Sitting up on time, crawling and climbing like crazy, and finally walking. When he turned one we realized we were in for it. Jacob was turning out to be just as active as we were, and then some.

I tried to be Pinterest mom. I really did. I’ve never had much of an eye for DIY creativity, but I figured I could make up for my lack of DIY skills with my love, stability, cooking skills and by researching everything I possibly could about how babies/children learn. I enrolled him in an organization called Parents as Teachers so that once a month we would have an instructor come into our home and help us navigate the waters of parenting/teaching Jacob. (PAT has been such a blessing.) We began teaching him sign language, which he picked up on very quickly and that helped break down so many communication barriers for Jacob and Justin.

It became very apparent, very quickly that we had a little smarty pants on our hands. I do credit some of it to the sheer fact that I ensure he is learning. At 2 1/2 he can identify most of his numbers between 1-13, he usually knows his colors (he likes to play games…lol). He can for the most part sing his ABCs and even identifies letters on a regular basis. He is one of the most observant 2 year-olds I’ve ever met.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t have normal 2 year old struggles. He is also incredibly defiant and stubborn just like both of his parents. See, while I am so busy trying desperately to be the prefect Pinterest mom I have to remind myself that its a feat in itself for me to even still have custody of him.

Abuse is a cycle, and its one I’ve been determined to break. I was in foster care before I was ever even a year old, so when Jacob turned one, as sad as this may sound to people who grew up in normal homes, I was ecstatic. I had a mini celebration with myself because as of that moment I had officially broken this cycle of abuse. And now at 2 1/2 the broken cycle is definitely no more.

That’s not to say that I don’t struggle. Because I do. I’m beginning to understand that most parents have a love/”omg wtf was i thinking” relationship with their children. There are times when (and yes, I’m going to admit this, any honest person would) I would just as soon chuck the child out the window and move on with life. But we all know that isn’t an option, and even if it were I could never in a million years do as such. But see, my impulses go one step further.

I was raised with spankings, slaps, pushes, pinches, bites, etc. I was raised to believe that discipline was either violent, or monotonous chores, and if I didn’t do those chores there was sometimes violence involved to get me jump-started. So my first reaction when Jacob acts out is to hit. There was a month or two there where my stress levels were so high that I found myself swatting Jacob more than necessary and having no patience with him at all.

I’m honestly so ashamed to admit that. To admit that I’ve lost my temper enough with him that I did pre-emptively spank him. And then one evening, as I was putting Jacob back in bed for probably the 20th time that night, he looks me dead in my eye and says:

“Mommy, don’t be mad. Please don’t scream and spank me. I’m sorry.”

God, just writing this now makes me want to cry. My heart broke right there and I realized that I had indeed been losing my temper too much. I was relying on a quick swat to get my point across when in reality what he needed was stability, understanding and consistency. I was reverting back to how I was raised instead of thinking through the situation and using the tools I’ve learned as an adult to handle them.

Being a parent is never easy. Being a parent when you come from an abusive background is practically mind boggling. I can’t begin to express how much PAT has helped me to navigate these waters with ease. Don’t get me wrong, I still lose my temper. We all do, we all will. But it’s definitely how we deal with those moments when we realize that were wrong that defines who we are as parents.

I am no Pinterest mom. I’ve come to terms with this. My house isn’t perfect, I don’t have DIY crafts all over the place or expertly created gifts from scratch. I don’t have all of the answers either, hell some days I can hardly believe I’m 26, married and the parent of a 2 year old.

But I am loving, caring, and understanding. I do try to teach my child as much as I possibly can about this world and to be a good role model. I’m going to make mistakes, aren’t we all?

To this day I am so terrified that I am going to damage him for life. I’m so scared of losing control. I am determined to continue my cycle-breaking and to be the absolute best parent to that child that I can be.

Someone once told me that the sheer fact that I am even worried about how my behavior impacts my child is a sign that I am an incredible parent. It’s something that I remind myself of occasionally, especially when I feel that I am failing. And to be honest, just that little bit of advice makes a world of difference.

P.S. You don’t have to be a “Pinterest Mom” to be an amazing parent.