Why Your Meltdowns Inspire Me

Image

Easter in the 60s. See our happy faces? This small meltdown didn’t ruin the whole day or my childhood memories. 🙂 I actually don’t even remember why we were so upset. I only remember the candy, the family dinner with Grandma and Grandpa, and how pretty I felt in my Easter clothes.

Sure, your juggling act with your five kids is impressive. And you even home school? I enjoy seeing you out with your family laughing and playing. It’s fun seeing you strolling with your hubby hand-in-hand down by the river. Ah, lovely.

But here I am arguing with my young daughter during our family outing to the city park. The kids are pouting because I can’t afford to get them ice-cream afterwards. The eight year old and the 21 year old are fighting like cats and dogs and I can’t convince the older one that she should be too mature to act like that. The eight year splashes through a puddle and gets the toddler’s dress covered in mud. It’s yet another exhausting attempt to create beautiful memories with my own family that ends with me being so mad my head might explode.

I want to be overjoyed every moment the baby wants me to hold him, but I wanted to take a shower by myself or write a blog or read a book or talk on the phone or…and he is just not happy today unless I’m holding him.  I blurt out something to the effect that I wish he’d just shut up and give me two minutes to myself! Then my heart sinks. What kind of person would say such a thing?

It’s movie night and the popcorn is popped. I’ve pictured us all snuggled up on the sofa together giggling at the silly scenes on the TV screen and munching on our snack. “No!” says the baby to the older child. “NOOOOO!” She says again, kicking at him as he tries to scoot closer to us and get under the blanket. His face drops and he plops himself on the floor. I try to deal with her fit and she answers with a high pitched scream that pierces my eardrums. This goes on for ten minutes.

Not to be deterred, I start the movie anyhow. Maybe she’ll get distracted and he’ll perk up. But he complains that his drink is gone and he doesn’t want water he wants pop and why does he have to have water again when he had to drink water earlier and…the screaming goes on. I am not a happy camper and begin to whine to God about why the kids are always so bad and why they have to ruin everything and why can’t our family just get along. Are we all mentally ill? Or what? Or am I just a bad mom for not knowing how to handle all of this?

Somewhere in my heavy heart I feel that I must be God’s biggest disappointment ever. What will my kids say about me to their psychiatrists later on in life when they try to describe these family times to him or her? Will they actually have any nice memories of our lives together?

And then, one day I see a status update on Facebook from someone whose parenting skills I admire, saying that she’s about ready to curl up in a little ball and cry she’s had such a stressful day with her kids.

Or I’m cleaning house for some folks who are super involved in our church, have adopted kids to add to their already large family, and are the most sweet, patient people you could ever hope to know.

I’m on my knees scrubbing gum off their daughters’ floor when all craziness breaks loose downstairs with their teenaged son. My ears perk up. What in the world? Their disagreement is becoming a loud argument and I begin to pray for them. And while I do, I thank God that I was there to hear all that going on.

It touches me at a very tender, raw spot deep in my heart that God loved me enough to place me there at that very time and space with those particular people.  Maybe I wasn’t some oddball loser parent who had no right to bring children into the world. Maybe we humans are just a mess somewhere along the way no matter how wonderful we might be.

Maybe I was in a (slow) process of becoming something better all the time. Maybe, just maybe, this weakness of mine would actually help me to lean on God more and show my kids that you don’t get to be perfect in this life, but you do get to be loved.

You practice love. You learn it as you go. You love people when they’re ugly and you search out their beauty. You forgive and you go on. You rub each other the wrong way and you sharpen each other. That’s God’s plan.

So, thanks for your honesty when you allowed me to see your meltdown. Thanks for trusting me when you cried in front of me and confided in me. Thanks for asking me to pray. And thanks for letting me be a little crazy, too, sometimes.

Advertisements

Prayers and Pesticide

Image

Three coupons for free Frosty Floats at Wendy’s. Two quarters and a variety of dimes and nickels, brings the total in change to $2.00. $1.88 left on the child support Mastercard. Three of us go to Wendy’s and have two value fries. The eight year old gets three chicken nuggets and some fries to go with his float. The two year old gets one chicken nugget and some fries to go with hers. Grandma gets some fries and the float and is happy with that.

The eight year old is hungry again at seven p.m. and has a tuna sandwich with pickles. The two year old has a little snack of pretzels and pickles. Grandma is having a bellyache from the ice-cream and can’t even think about eating the veggies she was dreaming about while she was still at Wendy’s earlier. 

Obviously we didn’t have enough cash to afford the luxury of eating out. This how we eat when we’re scared to go into the kitchen for very long because we have Camel Crickets.

Have you ever seen those darn things? They’re like roaches/crickets/spiders with attitude. Unlike spiders, however, they don’t bite or sting or do anything to hurt you. They also won’t run away from you. If they detect you close by, they will bring their hulking gelatinous bodies ’round to greet you, then spring towards you on their strong back legs. 

Yep. That’s their defense mechanism: to scare you witless. I came upon one in our play room the other day and screamed so loud and hard I gave myself a headache. It was true terror. My body turned to mush. I’m getting sweaty typing this right now. One night in the dark, cave-like bathroom in my new house…I hate this house. It all needs renovated. Every single room. The last occupants liked brown. A lot. Brown and dark blue and maroon. And guess who else likes those colors, evidently? Camel Crickets. So…anyhow, I was sitting on the potty, blissfully unaware, when I caught a glimpse of something on the wall. It saw me, too, and began to turn. I stopped in mid-pee and without even taking time to pull up my pants I sprinted from the bathroom and jumped onto the sofa. Why. Why did I do that? The thing can jump, too. But it had remained back in the bathroom. Lying in wait. Probably laughing. Texting his ugly cricket friends pictures of my butt as I fled. 

Shaking, sick to my stomach, I called my daughter and sobbed into the phone, “I am never going into that bathroom again!”My teenaged grandson came over to face the predator all alone with a can of wasp spray and a broom. My hero. But there were more of those little monsters. Many, many more.

My friends took pity on me and hired an exterminator. For months I still avoided the downstairs bathroom. Finally I found my courage to go in there to clean. Used the potty a couple times. Was taking a shower one day (in the UPstairs bathroom) when my daughter, who had been straightening her hair downstairs, came a-knocking. “Mom?” she said, her voice trembling, “They’re back!” And she didn’t even have to explain WHO was back. I knew.

So, yeah, Mr. Exterminator man, you are my favorite person on Earth right now. Please get here quickly. And even then….you wonder when you’ll see those antennas peeking out from beneath the kitchen cabinet. You casually stroll into the kitchen for a drink, and there’s Wyatt Cricket, his six shooter loaded, taking his stance, daring you to draw. “There’s not room enough in this house for the two of us.” he says, a glint in this eye.

You know what? If I had more than some coupons for free Frosty Floats and few nickels to my name, I’d leave this house and he could just have it.

P.S. just now something brushed up against my leg and I almost fainted. It was just a thread hanging off my sock.  Also, I asked my “prayer partners” to pray about the infestation. One of them promised to pray that I have courage to face this. I don’t want courage. I want pesticide.

Vanishing Eyebrows. HUH?

Image

Do you see eyebrows there? They’re almost invisible.
HA HA HA

  eyebrowWonderful!

  I’ve discovered a great use for the age spots and lines that have formed in my face: I use them as landmarks when applying eyebrow pencil. Why, you ask, do I not just use my natural eyebrows to guide me? Because…wait, get some coffee, take a seat, this is a long story. WELL, I don’t give a pluck. It’s just too painful for me. Such a wimp, huh? So I buy these little eyebrow shavers to shape, arch, and remove unwanted hair. Only when I moved into my new house and things were lost in boxes somewhere, I decided to try a regular sized razor. I can’t see without my bifocals, even in my magnifying mirror, so…ugh, I lopped off one whole eyebrow and shaved the other one so they’d grow in together and match. The stupid thing is, I did the SAME thing when I was 17.

Image

Me at 17. NO EYEBROWS AT ALL! Drawn on.

Do I ever learn? And it’s been a real trial and error thing trying to get both my eyebrows drawn in right with a pencil. The color is wrong. Back to the store. It’s not waterproof. When it rains or I go to the pool, my eyebrows vanish. Back to the store. One eyebrow is up higher than the other, which I discover in the car’s mirror after I’ve already left the house. Find a parking lot and duck down in my seat. Grab compact mirror and wipe off renegade eyebrow. Reapply. Image

Not my best eyebrow day. Didn’t even know it till I saw this picture. ugh

They’re arched too high and I look surprised all day! They’re too straight and I look mad. Funny as it is, it’s also pretty embarrassing and I know people notice! And this is another reason why I hope my son doesn’t get famous too soon or why I could never have a bestseller and do the whole talk show thing to promote it. My eyebrows. I see the way people’s eyes roam from the center of my face when I’m talking and take the amusing trip to my forehead, then get stuck there. It’s sort of like seeing someone with a big fat zit in the middle of their heads. Try as you might not to make the person uncomfortable by staring, your eyes betray you. You’re a deer caught in the headlights. Man, that is one humungous zit! Why doesn’t she do something about that thing? Yeah. So are the ole eyebrows. At least since I’ve discovered the landmarks, I’m actually starting to grow real hair in the path I’ve designed. Thank you, crevices, freckles and age spots.

Accused of Being Battered. Say What?!

Image

This isn’t one of those things that I’m going to laugh about later. Raising children, I’ve had plenty of those moments, but this is not one of them.

If you have been following my blogs you know that I filled out an application to be considered for kinship placement of my grandson Jesse, who has been in foster care for more than two years. Had a background check, credit report, and fire inspection done.  Then it was up to Children’s services to do their part.

The social worker who was scheduled to come and do a home study to finish out my application called at the last minute yesterday to cancel. No explanation. Said to call her supervisor. Did. Was told that there was someone in her office, would I like her voice mail? Sure. Left a voice mail but felt that, with our time constraints, I needed to get the babies ready and head over to their office. When the supervisor came out to the waiting area to greet me, she acted as if she had no clue what was going on. The OTHER worker had the file, after all, so until she had my file, she couldn’t say what was happening. She would see her later and look at the file. Fine.

Called two times in the afternoon, keeping in mind that all of this had to be filed by my grandson’s Guardian Ad Litem by Friday. Tomorrow.  But my calls did not get through and had to leave more messages.

Called Guardian to tell her what was going on, no answer. No call back. Called lawyer. Said he would find out what the social worker had to say and call back today. Guess he forgot. Finally I called the director of CS and got an explanation for why the canceled the home study (and later I learned that they hadn’t even bothered to call my references). Evidently they have found I have a history with CS from 1989. I am flabbergasted.  It took me hours to comb through the memory archives in my brain and come up with something that might be IT. (’cause, guess what? They won’t tell ME what I supposedly did. They will only release that info to another CS agency).

Back in 1989 I was 6 years in to a very bad relationship with a live-in boyfriend. He was abusive and mean to me, although he never did anything to my kids.  The hard thing for them was being in the middle of a that war between him and me all the time. YEP, I tried to get away from him. Tried, even, to get a restraining order, but they wouldn’t let me have one. You heard me right. It would be his word against mine. I heard that a lot from law enforcement back then.

He broke my door down but it was his word against mine. He beat me up and the cops asked me if he slapped me around a little. Once when the BF was in a drunken coked-up frenzy he threatened me with a long knife. My little boy ran to the neighbors and called the police. Their response? “Cindy, I’m tired of your petty arguments.” Told the BF to go take a walk and cool off. I said, “Make him leave! He isn’t even on the lease! I don’t want him here!” But, NOPE, they wouldn’t help. They were guys and I was property. Even the woman cop told me that I could write up a report on him for spitting phlegm in my face, but, she said, “For spitting on you? You’ll get laughed out of court.” Once they actually didn’t talk to me after I called, they addressed him (with sympathy, no less). “What’s a matter, is she on the rag?”

You know, I hope to God they get to the bottom of this, but I’m pretty sure the accusation “that was substantiated” against me was that I “allowed” myself to be beaten in front of my kids. Seriously. I’m not even making that up. They filed it as emotional abuse against my babies.  And it was. But I didn’t do it. That kind of thinking is barbaric. I thought we had come so far in our education about battered women. Let’s hope.

Nevertheless, without God’s intervention, tomorrow the report will be filed and I probably will NOT be getting my grandson. Social services will be granted permanent custody and the foster parents, who have been so eager to adopt him, WILL…and my family will be out of his life for good. This is sickening. Heartrending.

Also, yes, I know that God has the final say. This is me in the emotional process of it all. Give me a minute, now. Don’t get all preachy. I know God is good, mighty, loving, all-powerful. But I’m not. I’m only a little human who is scared. So scared! Because, even though I trust him to do the RIGHT thing, what if I’m not it? It’s still gonna hurt no matter how right it is.

Lord, have your way.

Blog Stew

Image

Little Jesse as an Infant

‘thought I would never get here to write a few paragraphs. Life is always nuts, but the last few days I have been doing above and beyond type housework to get ready for the social worker to come and do a home study. I think we are getting close to the decision about whether or not my three year old grandson, Jesse, will be placed in my care. After two and half years in foster care, I think it’s about time!

I have always wanted him, so I hate it when people thank me for “stepping up.” It sounds like I was in the background, rather indifferent or uncaring, then, finally, I had a change of heart. NO WAY! I have called, written letters, pushed, pulled, prayed…for two and half years.

Actually, I have prayed since I knew he was conceived. Prayed in horror; prayed with a worried and heavy heart, knowing he was being carried by a pill-addicted mom who likes to drink. But let’s not just focus on mom. My son, Jesse’s dad, (also named Jesse), has been in and out of trouble since he was 13 years old. He’s currently serving almost three years in prison. Sometime I’ll tell you all about that.

Meanwhile I have two babies here and an eight year old who need attention and a mentally ill daughter who likes to pick fights with me. She left a little while ago to do errands and go to work. Sometimes it’s easier to love the people you love from a distance, isn’t it?

I did make a resolution to stop fighting BACK and to just love her through her illness while God works on her. Then I wondered what loving someone through something looks like. Because love doesn’t mean an absence of anger and it doesn’t mean being a doormat. I have a lot to learn.

I’ve said some of this in former blogs, but it’s good to talk it out. This is partly where I find sanity. It’s my quiet little island in a way. I thank God he made me a writer. I never really feel isolated. I can open up a whole other world with words, then step inside. Plus I always know He’s with me.

Liar! I do not always know that. I know it today. I know it this very minute; but you should see how I struggle with that. “God, ok, maybe I do have evidence that you’re THERE, but are you HERE? That’s what I need to know.”

sigh.

Anyhow…really, I have so much to do to get ready for the home study. You know what I did? Rather than putting the 8 baskets full of clothes away, I slipped the baskets into my walk-in closet. I am just too overwhelmed. The renovations on my house, that have been going on for more than a year, will wait. Cleaning out the fridge will wait. Putting laundry away will wait. But these babies need me. And I need myself. I need to take care of me so I can take care of them.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what this blog is all about. For now, anyhow.

 

Being the Face of God

 

Image

Image

 

Waiting for parade candy. 🙂

In my lifetime there have been remarkable changes in this world that have thrilled, frightened, saddened, and confused me.

Technological advances are always welcome. Whatever new gadgets those smartypants’ come up with, I want in.  Changes in laws regarding race, women’s rights, child protection…I have appreciated every minute of what is progress.

But, (you knew there was a but, didn’t you?), I’ve seen the water go brown, the skies thick with pollution, an upswing in human trafficking and child abuse, (at least more of it is KNOWN and reported), kidnappings, cynicism, narcissism, disrespectful children, a decline in faith in God…(all of this predicted in the bible a couple thousand years ago)…and I am kind of tired. Even the “little” things are really starting to bother me.

Just yesterday I took the kids to the Labor Day parade, even in the downpour of rain, ’cause that’s small town living. When I was a child, people marched by in festive clothing, big name singers due to perform at the fair rode by on floats. There WERE floats, and someone took the time to actually decorate them like they were going to be in a parade.  Now it’s a long, long line of fire trucks, a few high school bands, loads of regular cars with advertisements on the sides…boring. BORING! If parade people didn’t throw candy to the kids, I wouldn’t even bother to go.

I have beautiful memories of going with my family to the lakes here in Ohio. Clear water, clean beaches, fun times. Now you swim at your own risk and sometimes with a few dozen dead fish lying on top of the water. The beaches aren’t combed and are covered in duck poop. Give your kids some sand toys and go for it. Just know that your sand castle will be 80% feces. Yuk.

When I was a child, the other kids on my street and I played outside till way after dark. Mom gave us some change and we’d walk down to our neighborhood store even when we were in grade school. I feel nervous allowing my little ones to play out in our fenced-in back yard. Do a search sometime about how many sex predators live in your city. It might shock you.

I don’t know about you, but I avoid watching the news. I can’t sleep at night thinking of all the craziness and pain in this world. The mental illness, the depravity, the suffering. I pray for all of that, but somehow it still spins around in my heart and head till I feel sick inside. Where is God, I wonder. Why doesn’t he FIX it all? I know he cares. I know he has all the power there is. He IS love. Why doesn’t he just say the word and the whole world is healed? I don’t have that answer. His timing truly blows my mind. I get so angry with him.

Look at how things have changed in my lifetime. What is going to happen as my grandchildren age?

And after all of that tossing, turning, crying into my pillow and praying, I finally have to press out all the scary thoughts and replace them with positive ones. Otherwise I’ll go into complete panic mode. I must remember that there is good in this world. There are decent, compassionate people. Love will prevail in the end. There is more to life than life on Earth. Somehow, someday, this will all make sense. God is wiser than I am. He has a plan. I have to buckle up and hang on. But more than that, I have to be part of the solution.

I have to be the face of God. I have to be his hands and arms and feet and voice.  I have to make a difference.  I have to be part of the change I want to see in the world for good.