Therapy Camp

Well, we have had the most amazing time at camp. Exhausting but amazing.

We had gone because the children needed to have SAI (Sensory Attachment Intervention) assessments done. These are assessments which will go beyond a standard Occupational Therapist assessment and tap into specialist attachment knowledge to try and identify which areas flagged are likely to need sensory intervention and which may need physical support etc. We don’t have a report as of yet, but it is obvious from what they are saying that there are several areas which will require attention.

We met several other adoption families, the and due to the group nature of much of the day, I hope you will forgive my reluctance to share much in the way of information from the camp, but I am not sure how much is safe to share.

I will say, besides our individual family sessions we had group Music Therapy, Art Therapy, family and adult group yoga, adult sessions, children’s farm walks and bug hunting. The children had loads of time and opportunity to interact with other adopted children and all the adults had the chance to not care what other people would be saying – adoption and attachment related behavioural issues are just “the norm”: regression, aggression, lack of concentration, fleeing… no matter what, just children, being themselves, and parents doing their best job to parent the trauma they have.

 

Being “just a mum”: pitfalls of friendships

I find myself, quite often, in this situation where I am “just a mum”. As you have likely already read, I home educate and am a carer to my adopted children. They rely on me 24/7, and in the past 3 years I have perhaps had around 20 breaks. I don’t mean holidays (although considering how much we travel as a family…), I quite literally mean just being able to take time out from being mum. I am counting those times I have been able to have a lie in and my husband has done everything, or I have already done everything and I just go grab myself 5-10 minutes of freedom. I don’t mean breaks like “woo, night out” although there have been a few of those included in that total, not many though. Which even if I totaled up as entire days would still barely scrape 1.8 percent of my life in the last 3 years.

I mean, even when the children were at school I was rushing to and from meetings about their education, health and welfare. Often not even having enough time to shower, or even eat. I was denied basic self care through the needs my children had, and the time I was required to commit to them and the lack of support that was available (I quite genuinely mean required here… I was asking for, and fighting for help, but if I refused a meeting I was being difficult and therefore clearly didn’t need the help).

But I just keep getting told over and over, “being a mum IS hard, we all feel tired”, or “Yeah, I barely get 5 minutes to myself!”, “oh you should just do some exercise, it’ll help you feel more positive”. I don’t feel tired, my body is failing me because of how neglected it has been, and how exhausted I am. I don’t barely get 5 minutes to myself, I quite literally don’t have 5 minutes to myself most days. Exercise is unlikely to help considering that extra trip up the stairs that I didn’t need to do can sometimes wipe me out entirely; or that I am either pushing a wheelchair or carrying a 6 year old with a toddler carrier when I am out shopping or walking anywhere, not just plodding along leisurely.

It’s not that simple. I am not just a mum, doing just the mum thing and then moaning about it. I am a mum, a carer, a therapist, a teacher, a life coach, a student of experience-psychology (by that I mean, being taught by what I experience about the psychology of children who are traumatised). I provide 24 hour care, I barely get any sleep, even if I get a child free bed because I am listening out – the children CAN NOT ask for help at night time. Night time is dangerous. They must take cover and hide and await the safety of morning. If they get too scared, we could have a wet or soiled bed, or worse, we could be dealing with trying to reverse the damage of self harm. I am on high alert 24 hours a day, trying not to transfer that to the children, but also trying to be prepared for everything that’s going to happen, could happen, has happened and is causing consequences.

It’s more exhausting than just parenting. It’s like working 5 different jobs that cover the entirity of your week where you don’t get pay, personal space (not even for toileting mostly, because one child finds it that hard to separate and the other child will cause harm to self or others if out of eyeshot for literally the length of time it takes to race unrination, pull up pants as you flush and wash hands).

But also, it’s lonely. Because everyone just gets fed up of you trying to vent out your frustrations, or because you talk about the kids (when actually that’s the only goddam thing you have done and known for months). Because of isolating yourself from the people who talk you down and make you feel like crap. Of just deciding that, no matter how tired you are, you are just going to do everything you need doing yourself (on the most part) and avoid help from certain people if you can help it because help often comes at the cost of degradation. Being told you most certainly are not ill, that the person helping you is so much worse (because you are on your feet and trying). Being told you are lazy (when your husband has said “no, you have the kids to look after, take care of them, they are anxious, keep them away and let us do the physical tasks here”) so you aren’t helping people move things, dig things, build things.

My job as a mum to these two children is mentally draining, physcially overwhelming and very strenuous. I wouldn’t change it for the world. But I would happily change the people who are supposed to be there for us in a heartbeat. And that thought plays over and makes me feel physically sick, and fills me with guilt for having thought it. But it’s true. People just aren’t there for us, like we have been there for people. Because they don’t understand. They would if they just listened, but they don’t. They talk over me/the children, lessen our problems, minimise our stresses and strains and say it’s normal. I lose faith in humankind almost daily.

And before anyone says I am depressed. No, I don’t really think I am. I may be suffering with compassion fatigue somewhat. I may be overwhelmed with how much is expected of me at times. But I am not depressed. I am reacting to the experiences I am having. If you are treated like rubbish daily, you either fight back, avoid the situations in question or accept feeling like rubbish (I don’t have the energy for the first all of the time, and the latter has never been an option for someone quite as justice fighting as I). So I avoid, not in a depressed manner, but in a self preservation manner; I save my energy for what matters: me, my children, my husband, my household.

Some hope is redeemed though when I see articles, blogs, posts pop up on my news feed of people helping other’s out and changing lives. Not those “oooooo look I tricked a homeless person into giving me their money just to prove they have better morals than the rest of society, I just so happened to record it too look…” If you can’t read it in my tone, I hate those “social experiments”. No I mean, in cases where people have gone out of their way to help someone, but not posted anything for credit – instead the person who has been helped shares their side of the story. One of those I read this morning gave me hope (Scary Mommy’s post about Sheila O’Mally).

That’s what goes on in my head. That’s how I feel.

A little update

So I know it’s been obvious I have been trying to get on top of things both at home and on the blog, and I kind of feel like I have been achieving that. But I thought a little overview of what is going on would be great.

Well, after months of having way too much on my plate, life has started to slow up a little. Unfortunately as I slow down, the months of doing too much has started to catch up with me, and if I thought I was exhausted before, BOY was I wrong?!?!

But it means I am getting onto more “normal” stuff. Like the fact that I am noticing we haven’t been drinking enough water. Stickers are always a good incentive for my children, and so we have made some weekly sticker charts – each day we have to put up a sticker per bottle of water we drink. It’s just to make us more aware that we need to drink… but so far it’s working. We have been advised about 2 litres a day/adult, 1.5litres for Logan and 1 litre for Caitlin, so we are working off these guidelines.

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We are also prepping “normal” stuff like factoring in international competitions – like the World Cup, realising this starts today we have setup our wall display, done a draw to see which team in each group is “ours” and are ready with our wall chart to keep a track of the scores. It’s not so much about the football, it becomes a talking point for cultural differences, a flag identification game and a responsibility to keep track of something. But it also becomes a way of learning healthy competition, these two don’t deal with losing very well and some of their reactions make me wonder what the encountered in their birth family. But this takes the competition out of our control, so we can’t be held accountable for the win or loss, and yet we have fighting talk and fun.

On the normality front, we have also been able to get to the opticians. Caitlin has never had vision problems but Logan and I wear glasses. On the way in she’d made a comment about hoping she needs some, which I didn’t think about… but when it was confirmed that Logan needed new glasses and we’d sorted his, she had a bit of a wobble about wanting some herself. In short, she refused to leave the shop until she had found some. I explained that she didn’t have bad eyesight so didn’t need some, just like Logan doesn’t need a wheelchair and she does – that wasn’t good enough. She was very adamant. So I had a little chat explaining money and how £65 just because she wants something isn’t really within our capabilities, let alone something I would teach her. However, if she’s feeling that left out I would see if I could find some without prescription online. That settled her, and here they are. They arrived yesterday, she has only taken them off to shower and sleep.

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On Monday we are going to be heading to a therapy retreat to do some intensive work as a family. We have no expectations of what we’ll get out of it, but hoping for some positives.

30 Days Wild – Day 12

Late posting for yesterday: it was a tough day which involved hours and hours of form filling (that’s what happens with children who need lots of intervention, every assessment requires form after form after form).

But we took sanctuary in hearing the birds all having fun, even if we couldn’t!!!

30 Days Wild – Day 11

Due to Caitlin’s aches and pains today, we have just been at home. We did manage to finish the painting of the playhouse porch (we laid a new floor on it). And managed to sort the toys to go in the playhouse. So the kids now have a play area outside, that is fully operational! WOO… we just have so make it safe for them to take the walk up and down.

However, we did look out at the garden for a while and watch the birds coming and going in the shrubbery lining the fence (the neighbours have suet balls there). It’s a rubbish photo as it’s taken through our extremely dirty window (cleaning them is on the list, but I only have 1 pair of hands).

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We also spent some time quite amused by a fly who refused help, guidance and encouraging comments in getting out of the house, and instead proceeded to seemingly get fed up with flying into the same door frame on repeat.

So today, our widlife has been birds and flies.

30 Days Wild – Day 6

Today we built a bee home, we didn’t put it up yet, but we definitely built it.

We were given it by one of the grandparents who’d been given it free with something ages ago, and just hadn’t got a clue where we could put it (being in rentals, and not being able to make holes in things…). But now we are home owners.

It didn’t take long to build, but it’s been a busy day; it started with opticians for me and both children… but staff had call in sick, the place erupted into chaos and complications with out appointments meant we were only leaving 2.5 hours later. We did take in the sunshine on our way back and enjoy a nice walk along the river too.

Adoption Support Fund and Therapy

Well. 2 years of fighting. Lots of energy wasted on professionals sending us around in loops. Lots of damage added by not having the correct support in place and we finally got funding approved. Intervention offered: Intensive family therapy.

It was approved at the end of February, we had the whole course of therapy approved (8 sessions,  year’s worth of sessions). Fantastic! But there was a catch. The funding is only applicable for that financial year so… as close to a year’s worth of therapy as we can fit into one month as possible please…

It was an intense month. A very intense month. Very exhausting, even just the sessions themselves. Take away from it that it had emotional repercussions, that I was trying to sort out a mortgage, a complaint through the Property Ombudsman and home educate to highly needy children.

But it’s over, we’re moved and we’ve been informed that this year’s funding is approved and we have funding approved for further assessment with regards to their sensory needs too. It’s looking like life is finally moving in the correct direction for us (not always in a straightline, sometimes zig zagging) but going forwards and not mostly staying still or moving backwards.

A Mother’s Day out…

I know it’s over with, but as I say, I am trying to catch up with what we’ve been up to.

So this year, I felt that I should mention Mother’s Day. In previous year mentioning it would have been only to moan about how much I do and how it’s just one day out of the year where some kind of expectation of appreciation is placed upon them. Not necessarily worried about a gift, but just not being expected to do everything I usually do in a day.

Well this year was different. The children were very vocal to Bruce about what they wanted to buy etc. So I did actually get gifts this year. Logan wanted to get me a cute sheep doorstop. And Caitlin wanted to wander around Poundland getting me an array of presents in the most glittery bag she could find. Bruce told me she wandered around the store like she own the place, casually picking bits up and sticking them in the basket. She kindly bought me some wonderful things like scouring pads (she loves cleaning, so she thought it was amazing).

And on the big day, there was no housework… we had a day out. We went into Worcester where we had a spot of breakfast at Cafe Rouge – no review for that, it’s a high street brand.

Afterwards we visited Greyfriars House, the Tudor House Museum and The Commandery.

Greyfriars was very good. Tours are given in the morning and you can wander freely in the afternoon. I’d recommend a tour to get the most out of it, as the tour provides the bulk of the information regarding the history that make things more interesting (things you may not even notice unless on the tour). It’s not very big, but it packs quite a bit of history in. There is a small entry free, but as National Trust members it’s a free entry site. It’s just a house in the city centre, with a small courtyard garden. You get information on its uses, extension works and changes over the history of a few key families, and see some original furnishings, wall coverings etc.

The Tudor House Museum was free, I can see why in all honesty, it was not very extensive and was done and dusted fairly quickly. It’s worth a wander around as you’re not paying for it, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit. It’s only a few houses down from Greyfriars, and just up the road from The Commandery, so would be worth doing if doing the other two. A few artifacts and some information about the building’s previous usage history.

The Commandery, very interactive, and of the 3 I would say had the most information, and interested the children the most. It explains the history of the civil war, and exhibits a lot of information through different media, some of which is very interactive – pushing buttons, trying on costumes and the like. The children thought it was amazing. There was a small entry fee (costing around £5.95/adult, children free) and it was most definitely worth that.

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Royal Caitlin

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Rolling their eyes at Politicians Bruce and Ariella pretending to debate in parliament

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Soldier Logan

Making Babies: not what you think

There have been many discussions about how babies are made, but this was not one of those situations.

This was a situation where the children were feeling a bit upset by the fact they don’t really know anything about them as babies – which is completely understandable. We have got some information about the date and time they were born, and the length and weight at birth, but that’s almost as far as it goes in all honesty. Their “red books” have barely any info in them.

Well, talks about babies due and babies already born, life changes and development and thinking about their life led to lots of frustration directed at me because I didn’t know. I felt something had to be done. Something they could relate to. Something they could experience. You experience photos with your eyes – but I couldn’t give them something visual in that way.

So I thought… I know the length they were. I know the weight they were. I cut some string to show how long they are now, and then some string to show how little they were. This was quite exciting for them. But the most exciting part came next. Weighing out flour to see how heavy they were when they were born, sticking in it an bag, wrapping it up, and wearing it like a baby in a sling. This felt real. This was experienced. This gave satisfaction. They may not have been able to see what they were like, but they experienced a bit of how they felt. And that was magic.IMG_20180301_164019.jpg