The Nicest Thing he Ever Said.

love you

 

“I love you mum”

“I love you too”

“I love you mum”

“I love you too”

“I love you mum”

Ah that’s lovely, thank you”

Sometimes I like to mix it up a bit. The monotony of replying to that statement can get to you slightly, ok a lot. Actually it’s not a statement, it’s a question. It says,

“Hi I’m here, can you see me?”

Or it’s a need, a requirement,

“Please fill me up with assurance because all my positive self belief keeps draining away”

Sometimes I have to change the reply because I wouldn’t believe my own voice, dripping with tedium and through clenched teeth,

“YEEEESSSSS FOR THE HUNDRETH TIME TODAY, I LOVE YOU TOO”

Sometimes I think,

“You know what? Right now I’m not sure how I feel, if I try and fake it, will you be able to tell? Will you notice that at this very moment I don’t actually want to answer? Will that then make you feel even worse about yourself? Will a smile and a hair ruffle suffice?

When he first said it, and the thousand times afterwards, I was really touched. Then it dawned on me, it wasn’t what he was saying to me, it was what he expected in reply that was important.  Giving to receive, is all part of his survival strategies.

It’s like that ever so considerate question I get EVERY morning,

“Did you sleep well mum?”

How sweet I thought at first. Then, how clever, he’s worked out that when I’m tired I’m not so lovely therapeutic mummy. Survival first.

Or the giant hug I receive on pick up from Cubs, school or sports club. I know what follows, a responsible adult tentatively asking “I’m so sorry but, can I have a word?” Soften her up before the deadly blow is delivered. Survival is always on his mind.

Some Saturdays ago, after a really successful family day, Stig and I lay chatting on his bottom bunk.  He loves this, sharing and snuggling at bedtime. We talked this, that and something else, to be honest I really don’t remember. I was feeling contented, he could have been talking me through the building of some major creation in Minecraft and I would have agreed in an accommodating manner and ooohhed and arrgghhed with delight, in all the right places. I’m good like that sometimes.

As we lay there he stopped talking, I noticed that, and then sighed deeply. The type of exhalation of air, deep from the belly, that indicates the height of relaxation. As he cosied his lithe body up against mine, he said without thinking.

“I rrrreeeaaalllyyy like you mummy”

I could feel the smile across his face in the words he spoke. He had delivered the words from his heart.

We hugged, long and hard and then said our goodnights.

Downstairs I sat on the sofa and cried.

“What’s wrong Mr H asked?”

“Stig has just said the nicest thing he’s ever said to me” I replied.

Freedom

freedomFreedom is something I dream of, something that seems beyond attainment at the moment, just out of reach. Freedom looks like a beautiful oil slicked bubble, sun kissed and floating wistfully on the breeze. Bejewelled in the glint of the summer sun, I wish to be that beautiful and care free bubble.

I struggle with the freedom thing, there is a clue within the word FREE… dom.  I think I’ve always been one that likes things a little their own way, from youthful years. I didn’t always conform in opinions and appearance as a teenager, I didn’t mind being different. Being an individual releases you from the shackles of peer pressure, you are free.

In my twenties, house music and Manchester club land was my freedom. Part of something new and exciting I relished the hedonistic lifestyle that came with this musical revolution. Dancing the night away would still seem like the ultimate expression of freedom for me.

Later our relationship had freedom, Mr H and I enjoyed drunken nights and lazy Sundays, joys that encompass a child free lifestyle.

Work, a job brings a responsibility but beyond the structure of your vocation time is yours, there is still freedom.

Being a parent offers little freedom. Being the parent of children living with early life trauma offers me no freedom. I’m faced daily, hourly with the responsibility of my children. All waking hours I feel the responsibility of my children and it anchors me to this spot.  There is no drifting in abandonment, no blissful carefree moments. Not at the moment.

I know it’s a problem. I can’t let go.

I can’t forget.

They do not have to be with me, they can be absent for 24 hours or more but I can’t forget.  I am tethered securely to each off them.  I want to be tethered to them. I don’t trust anyone else with them.

They don’t keep me here, I could have opportunities to be free, but right now I’m too afraid.

The free spirit within feels stifled and unable to breath but I’m too afraid to allow myself to be free.

What if I don’t want to come back?

 

Slipping

slipping

Things are slipping; I can feel the earth beneath my feet crumbling and as a vile taste of nausea has become lodged in the back of my throat, my balance is being rocked. A heady dizziness stifles my thoughts and I’m not entirely sure what to do or how to behave. I’ve lost my footing and my clouded judgement has left me wavering on the edge.  It has crept upon us again, this difficult patch, stealth like, different aspects of our life have been gently pushing us toward the edge of the slippery slope.

 As Mr H and I put more distance between our recent NHS sessions of CBT therapy, the void of no one to speak to, to guide us, has seen us tripping back into old habits. Try as we may, the weight of negativity is pushing down on those fledgling strategies that can manipulate our minds. I’d say we both needed more time, someone there made a big difference to us, but the NHS say we’ve had our lot. For now anyway.

The resentment is on both sides. I for his work, the ability to turn off and re-focus, even walk away to a business event, a night away in other people’s company. For him, his need for support in the work place and emotional arena is met with an unwavering priority for the children. The reality is a man down on his knees with the financial responsibility of this family and a mother unsure how much more she can take.  We need each other but constantly repel each other.

The children have reached new phases of difficulty, not separately but at the same time. Tink has finally decided that school is not for him and ramped up the challenging behaviour whilst there. Stig is moody and defiant again; a child who seems to have the weight of the world on his shoulders but is unprepared/ able to share. Both are spoiling for a fight with everyone and anyone, making it hard for me to look people in the eye during the school run. Real or not I imagine parents staring and thinking/saying there’s the mother who can’t control, doesn’t discipline her unruly children, and worse.

I feel the need to remove myself from society and real life, as I immerse myself into the world where I know I’m understood, twitter friends, fellow adopters. It’s my own take on things, I know it’s not the reality, but my children’s trauma has created a trauma in me. Like them I have a skewed perception of reality and have created my own coping strategies. I’m removing the vulnerable factors in my life.

Sleep comes in short bursts which satisfies extreme fatigue, but what then follows is restless tossing and turning of a body tense to the core. Awake I’m going over and over the conversations, what I should have done what I shouldn’t have done, on a relentless loop. Eventually there is sobbing in the dark.  The tiredness obviously acts as a catalyst to the ill considered parenting approach and does not aid therapeutic mum.

But wait a moment, there is a light. As I teeter on that edge, strength at my core pulls me upright again. It’s unfortunately not endless yoga and palates creating this strength, but a chemical numbing of the depressive state. Breathless anxiety has been replaced by a desensitisation that only anti-depressants can deliver. Thank god. I can take a breath, think logically.

Logically, it’s only a couple of weeks ago when things were going well, we can reclaim that.

I feel the gently tap of friendship on my shoulder, the reminder that there are those who can help.

My mum, my shining beacon of none wavering, being there.

Friends that offer escape and kindness, not knowing the full extent of what goes on is often a bonus when escapism is needed.

Each other, we’ve come through rocky times before, we will move through this patch too.

The warm embraces that my children bring to me, arms stretched wide, they seek my love. For that I am eternally grateful and it still deepens my love for them, daily.

I know that we just have to get through this week. Mr H and I have allocated some time to regroup next week. He has to deliver this final event for some time and I just need to keep my head down on the front line of parenting. Survival is the game for now but not the long term plan. Tomorrow, next week things will improve again.

Story of a Small Boy – Chapter 4

smallboyWhen I first started writing my blog, some of my first adoption related blog posts were about my youngest son, Tink (chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3,). We were going through him being assessed for ASD, and the posts were very much about my concerns for how accurate the diagnosis was, considering the many similar behaviour traits Autism and Developmental Trauma share (see this matrix). A year and a half on I am constantly being reminded of the progress he is making and how far from static his behavioural development is.  Showing again, as I polish my “best mummy badge”, how well we often know our children, above and beyond some of the supposed experts.

I don’t mean for this to sound smug or cocky, it’s just that in the last year I’ve really doubted my judgment at times, especially in the face of some of the professional advice we’ve received. Looking back at how Tink is progressing and how I was right to be sceptical about his diagnosis is just helping me to regain my parenting confidence. Anyway less about me, let me tell you more about Tink.

Tink jumped his bottom on to the edge of the kitchen table, in an attempt to remove his feet from the kitchen floor. A tiny brown mouse was scuttling anxiously from one corner to another with an amused fluffy, white cat and a determined little boy in tow. Stig was trying really hard to catch the mouse, in his cupped palms, to heroically save it from the jaws of Holly the cat. I looked on, calling out instructions “head it off at the cooker”, whilst performing jittery skips and yelping occasionally. I glanced at Tink wiggling his legs to and fro from the table top; his face a little unreadable, he had a twinkle of glee about him but a modicum of worry was also evident. Moments later, the mouse disappeared behind something, never to be seen again, we retreated from the kitchen and Tink said “That was funny but I didn’t like that mouse”.

Later I thought about this, as us mothers do, and realised how different Tink had behaved compared to other mouse incidents we’d had in our home. No, we are not infested, just live in the countryside and the cats bring them in to toy with them in the warmth. And I’m not really scared of the little creatures, but when they scurry about, it does evoke a bit of pathetic woman in me, not unlike the mistress from Tom and Jerry, and I become a bit screechy and a lot jumpy.  Stig is always the brave boy who steps in to save me and the mouse, and Tink usually stand on and watches, unsure of his role. But on that day he had taken a role, displayed a reaction and allowed what he was feeling to just be. I think it was a little mixture of vulnerability, excitement and coping mummy, but the point is he didn’t stand there like a startled rabbit in the head light, he acted on his emotions and then passed commented on how it had all been for him.

These changes are so subtle to the untrained eye, but for a very vigilant mum, I spot them all and our days can sometimes be full of them. There are little expressions of emotion, small glimpses of his worries, a tiny peek at his vulnerability and handful of hopeful responses.

The smallest of statements can mean so much,

“My tummy hurts”

“I don’t like this pasta”

“I won’t go to the dentist, I don’t like it”

“I don’t like it when you say that”

“I don’t like it when you go out”

“Yes mummy, I took Stig’s sweets”

Lets be clear they are statements and not tantrums, they are words, an opinion that often lead to discussion, not a closed door of dug in heals and unregulated emotion. All these declarations mean he is bravely expressing himself, giving himself a voice in the world and trusting that this is a good thing for him to do.

I can’t articulate what a huge step this tiny collection of phrases is, and how they delight me every time I hear them. I must be the only mum I know who felt happiness in her heart to the announcement of “I won’t go to the dentist, I don’t like it”. I mean, how many times must we have been to the dentist? Twice a year, or there about, for seven years. Not once has he complained. With this little phrase he wedged ajar a door to his world, let me in a little, so I could delicately sympathise, probe, and placate his worries.

The grandest, and most often heard, of statements is how much he dislikes school. I know it’s because he finds it really hard to deal with all the social interaction, having to conform to so many rules and instructions and confront his fragile self belief with every piece of work.  However, I believe that it is his ever growing attachment to home and me that is making it all increasingly hard. Home is where he now feels safe, relaxed, welcome and understood and school, in his eyes, holds none of these attributes for him. It doesn’t solve the problem of school, but the fact that he says it, it is still progress.

Of course by expressing his likes and, mostly, dislikes for things, life does become a little bit harder. I have to listen and show that I have heard and value the statement he’s made. So, on the recent trip to the dentist I said that he didn’t need to open his mouth for the dentist, or get on the chair, if he didn’t want to, but he had to come with us. He did actually open it slightly, as he stood in the doorway, ready to walk at any second if he should so choose.

And the school statements are the hardest because, as helpful, understanding and supportive as school is, he would just much rather be at home and with me. I think it’s worth persevering though, because his struggles are not preventing him from learning. In fact despite his feelings, he’s already reached his reading target for the whole school year and has moved to the top group for maths. I know his social skills are still, at times, clunky and inappropriate but as long as those around him can understand why this occurs, then he’s in the best place to develop and improve.

So as I said at the beginning, so much progress is being made and it really doesn’t feel like he’s about to plateau and stop just yet. I’m not dismissing the whole ASD diagnosis, as I’ve also said before, that would be foolish. However, whilst we’re on the up, we shall keep looking forward; right now, there is no stand still in this family.

Stig on the Blog

Lego

Stig has taken over in the name of this weeks #WASO theme “the work of your child”.

I like Lego because it’s so simple to use, you clip it and you have built a shape, which can put on another brick and you can build what’s in your imagination .Lego in my opinion is the best  to use and  to play with. The people are fun as you can make your own when you are board of the last one.

Lego helps me when I’m angry, sad, and giddy and have attitude, it helps me calm down. the games I play are war games, race games and labyrinth games.

 

One Family up a Hill

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One Family Up a Hill

There is a place we can go
When our feelings are low,
Where the wild winds blow,
The cobwebs of trauma away.
A place that Stig and daddy enjoy,
Cathartic for him and the boy,
A walking and talking foray.
Sometimes we too,
Mummy and Tink, accompany you,
And as a family we make the ascent.
To the top of a hill,
Where the view there will fill,
Your heart with the greatest content.
The grandest of landscapes,
Can be seen all around,
And the largest of worries are no longer found.
For the briefest of times
Anxiety declines
And bodies held together by pain,
Relax and revive,
We feel glad to be alive,
And together as a family up a hill.

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If you recognise the places we visit please do not mention them in your comments, as we would like to keep our location private.

I’ve linked this post to #CountryKids
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

A Year On

A Year OnTo reflect on the last year, with all its grit and grime, is an extremely hard ask for me. I’ve taken a look back at the blog, one year ago, and discovered it’s a year since my boiler broke and we endured three days without heat or hot water. A painful experience that I don’t really want to contemplate again and that’s just it, most of last year I don’t want to have to contemplate again. I honestly feel that 2013 was the hardest year I’ve lived in all my 41 years on this planet. I’ve never been overly superstitious but I am eternally grateful that I won’t live to endure another year with the number 13 in it. And yet, strangely, I personally, did achieve some amazing things in that year.

I ran the London Marathon and raised a large sum of money for the charity TACT.

I started The Weekly Adoption Shout Out with Vicki from The Boys Behaviour.

I started the website The Adoption Social with Vicki, providing support for adopters, adoptees and others working in or touched by adoption.

I produced a youth play for my local amateur dramatics group.

I became a trustee for The Open Nest Charity.

I made some incredible new friends from the land of Adoption and even got to meet some of them when The Adoption Social and The Open Nest exhibited at The Adoption UK Annual Conference.

Yet I measure my year by none of these achievements, I instead reflect on the emotional rollercoaster that the year was for my family. Allowing my mind to even wander near the edge of those deepest and darkest of downward facing times frightens me. My muscles tighten, my throat constricts, and a sickness is rising from within, from the depths of my core a wave of tears is swelling. So, now I’m taking a deep breath……….I’ve found composure and I have stepped away from the precipice. I’m going to stick with my resolution, to live in the here and now and allow only hope for the future.

What I can say, is that to have survived the year can only have made each of us stronger. We are now taking tiny steps towards firmer and more certain ground and I’m sure amongst these pastures of increasing confidence and blossoming optimism, our growth will become more evident. The children are already showing signs of progress, relinquishing 2013 seem to have made a huge difference for them.

Stig has been managing and regulating his anger in a far more positive way. A contentedness, which he lacked for much of that fated year, has returned and glows softly within him. He is growing up, and I think he is coming to terms with it. Maturity can be a difficult attribute to steer at first but he is taking control and beginning to benefit from, even enjoy, the fruits that it brings.

Tink remains a boy of two extremes. Beyond his cool, astute and steely stare is a soft and squidgy little bundle, which requires the tender nurturing of an infant. The softness at his centre is well protected and few are privileged enough to benefit from its tenderness. I however am being allowed increased access to his vulnerability, as he allows me to assist him, asks for my help and even voices his concerns and fears. As always it is all very much on his terms, or so he believes, I’ve also become increasingly clever at letting him think he’s in charge.

My relationship with Mr H has near enough weathered what has been some exceptionally treacherous storms. We cling to our life together by our fingernails alone, but sheer determination that we will not be beaten by a bad stretch, keeps us holding on. There is light at the end of the tunnel and I know we can get through, but damage has been done and healing may take time. We know however that it is worth the endeavour, as at our core the embers of the love we have for each other still radiate warmth.

For me the last year seemed an endless battle with my old adversary, depression. I struggle to recall any long periods when lightness was in my step and cheer was in my heart. I feel much of my time I was weighted by worries and anxieties for those around me and strained by the intensity of living with those filled with worries and anxieties. I have started taking steps to lift myself from beneath the heaviness and I am learning new ways of keeping my old friend at a distance.

So today I prefer to look at the year ahead and hold hope in my heart for the future. In this vein I will say that a year on we are now on an upper ward turn and I am optimistic we are leaving the darkness behind.

How does your Garden Grow 06/02/14

GardenI’ve not been here for a while, and I’m not just referring to this lovely link up, I’ve hardly set foot in my garden over the winter months. We stripped it back bare at the beginning of winter and nothing seems to have been going on since. With that and my not enjoying the cold or squelching across the soggy lawn, there has seemed no use in being here. This week however, with my returning verve for blogging and some tiniest of shoots in my garden catching my eye, I have decide to venture back into the garden.

I had to look hard for evidence of growth, up in these cold northern hills spring is always a little later than it is for those in southern lands. But look hard I did and found the following little gems.DSC_0007 DSC_0010 DSC_0011

 Whilst squelching about looking for shoots I noticed that the succulents I had planted in some tins I love and just had to recycle into something, were still alive and well. I also realised that the patio furniture cushions seemed to never have made it into storage for the winter and therefore added a nice splash of colour to my shots.

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It’s was actually rather good to be back in the garden, and if we cross our fingers for no snow I may venture out again soon.

Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?