Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Poor Pitiful Me

You know, it is amazing how humans can co-exist with the multiple emotions milling about inside their heads.  We are able to feel sorrow mixed with joy, or fear tinged with anticipation.  We are complex beings, capable of  straddling what at first seem to be completely opposite emotions, seeing validity in both.

At this very moment, that is where I am, feeling hopeful yet more overwhelmed and incompetent than I think I have in at least a couple of years.  That may not sound like much, but two years ago was about the most challenging point of my life, so saying I feel like I did back then means there is an awful lot brewing internally for me.

This afternoon I had a four hour meeting with our special education expert for Kenny.  Every single thing made total sense.  There was so much information she had to share, and even she admitted that in her 30+ years Kenny has been her most intriguing student whose results had her really having to go off in many different directions with research trying to nail things down.  It was an enormous amount of information to digest, and that is probably part of my problem tonight.

The good things?  She sees a very bright kid inside him, with specific gifts that are huge and somewhat surprising.  He is "modifiable", meaning he responds well to remediation and also has a great attitude.

The challenging things?  Well...everything.  There are so many areas that need to be worked with, so much still to try and build that is very low level, so much information that is thankfully concrete and yet leaves me wondering how in the world I can ever...ever offer him what he really needs.  What he needs is a 100% super creative special needs one on one educator.  If he had that, I think he'd have stunning success.

Instead, he has only me, and I have to be split five ways.  I am not adept enough to incorporate all the necessary approaches, suggestions, and modalities.  I can't even imagine how any real teacher could.  There are so many things to think about, so many areas to work on that really need to be incorporated throughout all his learning, and I don't think I can do it.  I honestly can't wrap my mind around it tonight, I am on total overload and my feeble brain is unable to absorb all that is there, or is not there.

It would be one thing to work with the deficits of one child during after school hours, it is quite another to work with them 24/7, and then throw in 4 other kids who themselves are not exactly in the normal range in a million different areas.  There is just so much to think about  in terms of gaps, gifts and needs and tonight I am wallowing in the River of Impossibility.  It's not really making me feel any better, but I just need a place to put it so maybe tomorrow it'll be shaken off and my Sunshiny Self will awaken unburdened.

I love these kids with every ounce of my soul, and our life is WONDERFUL.  It IS.  And yet, there are days I have to admit that as wonderful as it is, it is all so dang hard, and relentless.  I am worn out, my brain is so very, very tired all the time.  I know there are others for whom this would be far easier, who would have more skill, who would find it more natural.  There is just no way for me to describe how almost every single interaction requires something of me, and it is exhausting even as it is exhilarating.  There go those dual emotions.

Every conversation has me correcting language, interpreting the world or the emotions of others, or explaining new meanings.  My mind can NEVER EVER SHUT OFF!!!!  I am always, always aware of modeling speech for Kenny, listening for grammar to correct for Olesya as she drops "the" or "a" in every sentence.  Angela is honing her people reading skills, and needs me to be anticipating questions she doesn't have the words to ask.  Joshua needs a place to put his passion for numbers and needs me to hear him as he shares facts.  Matt needs me to be nudging him to engage socially, to contribute with spoken language when it doesn't come comfortably for him.  Kenny just flat out doesn't get things more times a day than I can count, and I am forced to try and point out the big picture for him or re-explain things in different ways.  Then there is the reading between the lines for the emotional peaks and valleys that absolutely must be attended to, drawn out, encouraged, normalized.  Daily I am guiding  and nurturing and attempting to help to heal things that are flat out painful to talk through and keep coming and coming.  Even watching a movie like we did a couple nights ago turned into an awareness for me of how Angela might be interpreting it, as it touched very close to home for her. A calendar date can trigger incredible sadness that can't be articulated, or looking at a scar on a leg exposed by a beautiful Easter dress can bring about conversation about broken beer bottles and abandonment.

And none of the above is really about school, it is just about regular old life.  Then there is school, which is an entirely different layer and more complicated than I could even describe.  I was just beginning to feel we were getting a handle on it, and here I sit this evening doubting every single thing we are doing, wishing I were different and far more capable than I am, and yet also knowing that our kids do not fit anywhere else and things would be much worse.  Tonight it feels like I just can't do it, and never will do it well.

I try to focus on our successes, and we certainly have them.  I know that intellectually, I guess what I am really wishing for is that it would be easy, just for once...and I know it just isn't ever going to be that way.  Heck, at this stage I'd take even a LITTLE easier.  We all were sitting on the couch tonight talking when Josh quietly pointed out to me "Mommy, your eyes have these dark rings, you can really see them." and the kids sort of giggled and said "That's because of us!".  And here I am at almost 1:00 AM, heavily into a Pity Party as I am trying for the life of me to figure out how I am ever going to remember to approach things for Kenny in all the helpful ways I need to, and how can I stop this all from feeling so incredibly impossible.  The thing is, I don't have the luxury of saying "I can't do this." and walking away.  The fact remains, no one else can or will, so I've got to somehow.  Period.

How much I want to do right by them!!!  How they deserve the very best!  God knows I am trying my hardest, but on nights like this, the best I have to offer doesn't seem to be enough.  Yet as hard as it is, how grateful....OH HOW GRATEFUL I am to only be battling the things we battle.  There are parents whose lives are a nightmare every single day, who would give anything to "only" deal with what's on our plate rather than a child adopted at an older age who has never really been able to love them, or worse is violent and causes them to fear for their safety.  There are parents whose children never seem to heal from the wounds of the past and who are stuck in anger, rage and blame.  It is then that the guilt lays over me, for we have real deep and intimate relationships with each of our children, that alone is miraculous considering all they have been through.  We have children who love us, appreciate us, and are extremely committed to their family.  They work hard, they love freely, they are so very kind and good.  There isn't a one of the five of our kids who complains, argues with us, or even fights with each other really.  We giggle and laugh all the time, and I think that we can see true character emerging in each of them.  What else could we ever ask for??

I feel guilty even asking for it to be easier, for in all the important ways, it is far easier than most parents have it...at least for the moment.  I am always aware of how quickly things could change and never take it for granted that it will always be like this in terms of attitude with them.  I guess I just wish for the ability to work with them and not have it always be so multi-layered and complex.  Mental laziness showing through on my part, I fear, as it really means I don't want to work so hard.

Tomorrow it'll all feel differently, experience tells me that.  Somehow I'll begin to gradually take in all that was presented and see how the parts fit into the whole.  I'll strategize, come up with a game plan, figure out the angles, and it will start to make sense.  Tonight however, I want to stomp my feet in frustration and get it over with.

OK.  Now maybe I can go to bed and let it go.  I can do this.  I can do this.  I can do this.


Kim said...

"Intentional" parenting IS hard and you are definitely "allowed" to succumb to the fatigue and throw a pity party but have no doubt YOU are the Mom that God has called to these children which means YOU are the perfect mom for all of it...and you can do it!

Karon and John said...

Again, you are a "REAL" teacher:) Also, you are giving your kids way much more than they would most likely get in 90% of schools out there. You do have years of back parneting and back teaching to do, and when kids don't fall into the majority, they saddly do not get the attention and care they so desperately need to feel safe and secure let alone learn. Your kids are comming along at warp speed, because you are making learning safe and authentic. All we can do as teachers is start where are students are, then take them to a new level. Remember the More you know the less you know, so what you are feeling is the awkward growing pains of your own mind, and of your children's minds, bodies and souls.

Anonymous said...

Cindy, I wonder too if some of this comes from subconsciously feeling that you are on a "schedule" with your kids? I think we can all do this, and especially those of us with older adopted kids who have much to catch up on. I can find myself worrying that our two daughters (home at 10 1/2yrs and 11yrs) will be on track to graduate from high school with their peers. That's when I start to compare them with other kids. Not helpful, I know. But if I remind myself that we can take whatever time we need to make sure they're prepared for "the outside world", I relax a bit more.

I'm not diminishing all your challenges, for I know we only share some of yours..and I get overwhelmed with those! I couldn't handle all you do, with my personality. As you say, there are always those with so many more challenges than we (or even you) have.

Your family shares so much fun/love/laughter...I pray that you will soon be able to just focus on one day at a time, full and busy and challenging as each one is. And that you will not let your mind move too far ahead. I know that's one thing I've struggled with in parenting these past 29 1/2 yrs...not looking too far ahead. Some days I was better at staying focused on the here and now, and some days not.

But my faith, and I believe yours, reminds us that God will not call us to any task without providing us with His strength to do it.

One day, one lesson, one hug at a time, Cindy. Praying you can relax, be encouraged, and enjoy the process each day.

Nancy in the Midwest

Anonymous said...

You are faced with an overwhelming challenge that you approach with courage and love. You are also supported by many who love you, Dominic, and each of the children. You are allowed to succumb to the tremendous responsibilities occasionally. You need to seek those activities and people who will sustain you and Dominic as well as the children. That said, you may have to pick and choose your priorities. You have several roles here, mother, teacher, counselor, coordinator, wife. What can you allow others to do partially or entirely? What further resources can you pull in? For instance, do you need a chauffer so that you can be attentive to some activities while others are supervising and transporting occasionally? Finally, none of us--even you--parents or teaches or coordinates perfectly. Your plate is not only full but overflowing. Recognize that we do the best we can. You are pushing yourself to do more than the best you can. You have grown, learned, taught, loved more than so many. Yet, there will be things not done, not completed, not accomplished. God does not call us to be perfect but to use the God-given talents we have. You, Dominic, and the children are each and every one doing that. You may not be a perfect parent, but you are THE perfect parent for these children.

Call on us when you need something, and we will check in to see what we can do to help.

Lael and Chris

Anonymous said...

And maybe just one more thought for you...
I have to remind myself that it's perfectly normal for me to sometimes feel overwhelmed with four teenagers. Ours are actually only two ages, with two 17yr olds and two 15yr olds, though in four different grades. Next year, we'll have one in each grade in high school. (Most of our own high school and college classmates are long past the teenager stage and "retired" from parenting kids at home.) Little wonder, as they are going through very similar teen struggles, that this isn't the easiest job in the world. Add in your kids' school challenges (though we have some, there seem to be no learning disabilities or challenges other than language still), and the fact that they've not all even been home that long...little wonder you feel this way, Cindy.

Praying you can see how "normal" you are, as you continue to do your best for each of them. I also try to remind myself that this is a "season". You won't always be teaching English or semantics or social skills. Your kids will mature, learn, become very competent adults in their own time and under their own schedule.

Nancy again

Lori said...

May I just share this?

You ARE doing this. You ARE doing this. You ARE doing this.

And incredibly.

Parenting is hard. Period. And there is no amount of gratitude for an amazing and wonderful life that can take that truth away. Parenting is HARD.

Praying for you...for strength...endurance...easier...just the ability to sigh for a second.

Kathryn said...

Yes, Cindy, you can do this.

Kathy W

B.A. said...

Being a teacher is hard work. As you have learned, you have to be *on* the whole time that you are teaching. Ready with a lesson plan, ready to answer questions that you would never have thought of. But a teacher at school gets to go rest in the teacher's lounge, and gets weekends and summers off. She gets to go home in the evening. Even though most teachers put in long hours after school, on weekends, during the summer, they still have down time. Teaching your own kids means that you have *no* downtime. How exhausting is that? You have got to give yourself some time alone kiddo.