Sunday, 28 June 2015

Smile and Wave Boys!

I've not blogged that much about life just recently, mostly because I just don't know where to start or what to say.  The pace of life with the house build and all things children has reached a critical velocity over the past few months to the point where I literally get up each day and fire fight on all fronts and then collapse in a heap on the sofa.  Often the collapse can come during the middle of the day as I also battle with what I suspect is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  That's not to say that there aren't moments that are fun and happy but the balance is definitely being tipped in the favour of stressed and grumpy for all members of the house.

We are limping towards moving back home.  We've now been out of the house for nearly a year and it's tearing us apart living where we're living.  It's not really the fault of the house. It's a lot smaller than we are used to but that's not the issue so much as the space is quickly filled with all our furniture and toys.  Our furniture is used to filling bigger spaces so it's larger in its dimensions that the house can handle.  Our sofas alone take up most of the lounge. Add my precious Clavinova; our CD collection; a side board; our TV; a few guitars; a dining table and chairs and a ton of toys and we are tripping up over mess all the time.  The hallway is now full of IKEA boxes with Katie's new wardrobes waiting for one or both of us to generate sufficient brain cells to decipher the ridiculously obscure flat pack instructions.  Ordinarily I am a wizz at putting flat packs together but even I looked at the indestructions and realised my mind was boggling.  If I could fall at the feet of my wonderful builder and beg him to achieve the impossible and let me move back immediately into my house that is currently minus a kitchen and has a just about water-tight extension I would.  Sadly being an adopter doesn't qualify me for DIY SOS but I do go to bed dreaming of 90 tradespeople descending on my house to get it all finished.  I'm too tired to even get excited about the thought of those tradespeople in a Diet Pepsi kinda way!

I don't think we realised what we were taking on when we embarked on this house build.  I think that's possibly a good thing because we might have scaled back our dreams and not ended up with the amazing house we will have.  We are currently a cliche of most of the people on Grand Designs at this stage of the build; running out of money and desperately doing everything we can to sweet talk the bank into giving us some more money whilst keeping the build going with smiles on our faces so no-one on the site knows how stressed we are.  I'm taking hope from GD (which I now watch nearly every single night!) that it all comes right in the end for all the people on the programme (although they never tell you on the Revisited programmes if the people have ever paid the bank back or whether they are still living on baked beans!).

Add two crazy kids into the mix and it's easy to see why I have a very glazed and stressed expression on my face and how I actually managed to fall asleep whilst talking to the wonderful Mrs VanderCave on the phone the other afternoon.  That was a first for me!

The children are in bonkers mode at the moment. It's hardly surprising considering TCM and I are all at sea with everything going on with the house and trying to sort out my Mother-in-Law's affairs after the death of Pops in September.  This is nowhere near resolved so the situation will continue until our case is heard by the Court of Protection at some point this millennia year.

Katie particularly is on a mission to extract as much attention from us as she possibly can, by all means necessary - fair or fowl - mostly fowl. She's back to taking about 2 hours to get to sleep every night and is as controlling as the Head Controller of the company called Controllers  R Us.  She is exhausting.  She lies about everything - even the silliest of things.  She attempts to blame Pip for her deeds except she keeps forgetting Pip can now talk and tell me what's happened.  She's into being mean to me.  I'm often called "You bloody woman" which is very pleasant.  We are playing the Points Game with some success and she is now getting 10 points in the morning if she either goes straight to sleep or stays in her bed until she falls asleep.  It comes as a surprise to Katie that you have to actually lay down in your bed to fall asleep and that getting out of bed repeatedly prevents her from falling asleep!  Her temper tantrums are reduced from what they were but she was stopped from going to a birthday party half an hour before it started on Sunday due to her particularly unpleasant behaviour on Fathers Day. Her reaction to that decision was explosive.  Last night an overnight stay at my sister's house was cut short by 7pm when Katie wanted to come home because of an upset tummy. That would have been absolutely fine except she changed her mind on the way home and had a tantrum the size of China when she realised she really was coming home which resulted in me restraining her in the garden for about half an hour when she lost the plot.  It was a horrible half an hour with her screaming and biting and telling me that I wasn't her mother and she didn't feel safe with me.  I had to just ignore everything being thrown at me (and the fact that our neighbours appeared to be planning a BBQ) and focus on being calm and loving (not easy when someone is attempting to head butt you). It was productive though because Katie eventually realised she would have to calm down and comply to resolve the situation. I will just note that as soon as Katie calmed down and had a cuddle with my sister she was straight back to me to snuggle in my arms like a baby - not the behaviour of someone who doesn't feel safe with me at all. She apologised to me afterwards and said that she didn't mean anything she had said to me.  She acknowledged she was angry and wanted to upset me.

Ever the optimist, I'm always hopeful that things will improve.  There are a tough few months coming up which isn't helping the situation.  We will be moving back home and Katie will be starting a new school within a few weeks of each other.  Moving might prove a nice distraction from school or it might tip her over the edge.  Watch this space.  Her current school are helping with extra visits to the new school and a laminated book with pictures of the new school and it's classrooms etc and a story to go along with the pictures. To help everything we are also currently having Theraplay input from our Post Adoption Team.  The exercises we do are all focused on Katie's need to control( and I will write separately about these in case they are useful to anyone else).  TCM takes Pip out so Katie and I can do the session on our own.  Doing the sessions has really brought home just how controlling Katie is.  It is a bit of a lightbulb moment and I'm seeing it in so many different scenarios and really clamping down on all the areas where Katie is attempting to sit in the drivers seat.  What's also challenging is the fact that Katie has realised that we are having the input because of her behaviour and she is feeling embarrassed about this and this then leads to more challenging behaviour which then continues ad infinitum.  I'm hoping though that if we can get through this uncomfortable feeling she might be able to start owning her behaviour and taking a little bit of responsibility for how she reacts.

Along with the Theraplay I am really beginning to see that we need very tight boundaries at home and very few choices given for the time being.  It feels challenging to be so restrictive and it's not something that comes naturally to a generous person who want to encourage independence and tends to use reason and placation at a way of maintaining order.  That approach just isn't working so I'm sadly having to face the experiences of my own very aggressive childhood that left me fearful of arguments and violence and accept the way I currently need to parent Katie is in a much more hands on and assertive way as I did last night.  I will admit I find this difficult because the shame we talk about for adoptees is very much a part of my own identity where violence is concerned and having to manage violent behaviour really isn't something I am well equipped for emotionally although I am trained to restrain physically.  I am reminded of my incredibly aggressive mother and feel great anxiety that I will become like her.  I do have the capacity to tip over into being angry as a defence or emotionally shut down to dissociate from the experience so I'm having to cope with my own emotions as well as Katie's.  I can do this.  I am doing this but it raises a lot of pain and guilt and anxiety about my own "good enough" parenting abilities and I could do with a little more emotional space to process how I'm feeling.  That's not really possible currently though so to keep perspective and parent as therapeutically, in the midst of a war-zone, as is humanly possible I am reminding myself of my Reiki principles of "Just for Today". I'm also reminding myself that I'm not embracing a Game of Thrones parenting model which is means I am not permanently turning into my mother!  I'm hoping that with commitment and consistency we will win through and things will calm down.

On top of the situation with Katie, Pip is incredibly good at being 2!  He's excelling at being 2 in fact. There isn't an opportunity for a tantrum that he ever lets pass him by (he's learning from the master of course!).  He's decided he's not sleeping through the night anymore and generally either screams for me or (more recently) sneaks into our bed at around 3am.  Rewards for staying in his bed don't seem to be working so I'm parking this issue for resolution until we're back home.  I am currently attempting to be incredibly firm with him but am using treats as a bribe for good behaviour.  He's discovered he can open the lock on his 5 point harness car seat so I'm bribing him with a little gummy bear sweet for each journey he leaves it alone. We're having better success with this one although I had to drive home from his Childminder the other day with him screaming all the way home because he didn't get his sweet.  He will run away at every opportunity resulting in going on the reins or lots of hand holding whilst screaming and falling to the floor.  He managed to turn the freezer off resulting in the loss of all our frozen food and the freezer is currently so frosted up you can barely get anything out of it because he keeps getting in there.  Yes I do have locks on the freezer but if I say his nickname is Hercules then  you'll understand why they don't always work and why stair gates don't contain him because he drags the chairs to the gate to aid the climbing over of it. I will say though that smile of his gets him out of so much mischief.  He is a little pickle.  Sadly his tantrums have an added Brucie Bonus because he's learned from the Tantrum Mistress herself and he'll add a well placed kick or punch whilst I'm dealing with his tantrum (usually when having his nappy changed!).

One thing that is totally frustrating is the fact that few other people ever see the behaviour we experience at home,  I had to endure my sister smugly telling me this week that she didn't know what I was talking about.  "Katie was perfectly behaved and was very mature all day long" when she looked after her recently.  She said "I don't know what you're on about with her behaving younger than her age!"  and "You go on about it all too much" and "You talk too much about them being adopted" . All I will say is that Fathers Day was the next day so Katie's usual sabotage of the day came with added challenge due, I suspect, to the energy involved in being so perfectly behaved all day.  Apparently, according to my sister, all I need to do is "leave her to get on with it", oh and to "ignore her at bedtime" (which I mostly do anyway unless she's out of bed or hanging out the bedroom window to be honest).  Nice to solve all our problems so easily eh?   Since starting this blog post earlier this week my sister finally saw the behaviour that I've been telling her about yesterday.  I had a very apologetic sister last night who suddenly realised she hasn't really understood the situation or been there for me at all.

On a semi brighter note that same sister, after the revelations of last night (and who is a little older and wiser today), has taken the children out again to give us a break.  Interestingly now Katie knows my sister is in the know about her behaviour she has treated my sister to a mini temper tantrum at soft play already.  Is it wrong of me to chuckle at this anecdote? Hopefully though this will provide a little respite to calm down after another stressful start to the day and a light at the end of the tunnel right with hope that a little more support might be forthcoming (due to other family issues you'll forgive me if I don't hold my breath for too long on that last sentence though).

I guess I'd better go and put those wardrobes together now I'm childfree hadn't I?

I'm also having a wry chuckle because I booked a floatation tank for this coming Wednesday a few weeks back.  I had a letter home from school on Friday to tell me about Katie's violin recital.  Guess when it is?

I'd love to hear any stories or techniques that you can share about how you've resolved control issues. Do grab a cuppa and share them with me.  Do you have any top tips?


  1. Reading this blog post, it doesn't sound like you have CFS, it sounds like you are having a perfectly normal physical and mental reaction to sleep deprivation and constant stress. How to resolve that isn't so easy, but make sure your mental health isn't shoved to the bottom of the priorities list, because everything will become so much harder to manage if you are stressed, depressed and physically exhausted.

    1. Thank you for your response and good advice, which I'm trying hard to do. When I use the term chronic fatigue I do not use it lightly or without good cause. My blog is about adoption, not chronic fatigue so I rarely write about that part of my life because readers come here to read about adoption. I've been suffering from exhaustion for around 4 years now and it's been getting worse over the past year again. I've been diagnosed with anaemia yet iron tablets failed to solve the problem; I've had a severe vitamin D deficiency yet despite now having normal levels I'm still exhausted. All other blood tests are coming back normal. I have the majority of the symptoms for chronic fatigue. A very close friend has also got it and has been telling me for ages that my symptoms mirror her own but I've refused to accept it. I could write about the fact that drying my hair leaves my arms with very little energy and attempting to move above a strolling walk is almost impossible because my legs are like lead. I left myself barely able to do anything last week when I attempted to skip (the day after I fell asleep on the phone). Sleep makes no difference. I'm in constant pain with my muscles despite massages. I'm under no illusion that stress is participating to the symptoms but the aversion to loud sounds and light and feeling like I'm coming down with something along with constant brain fog really does point to CFS brought about by adrenal fatigue. I'm still attempting to get GP support which is a challenge when it can take 3-6 weeks to see my GP. I'm lucky that I can get through the day as long as I heed my energy points and try to be careful where I use my energy. I've had to give up all my exercise as I can't do anything currently as my muscles are too weak. I do try to support my mental health and I'm grateful I'm not bedridden as some are with CFS but every thing I do is a physical challenge. I just don't write about it here. Thank you again xxx

  2. Oh Gem,

    my heart goes out to you, it really does! I wish there was something more I could do to help out, but I am so far away. Please know, though, that I am thinking of you and sending so much love and whilst you are going through such a tough time. As you know, we came very close to breaking point last year and I couldn't ever imagine it getting easier, but it has and I am holding on to the hope that your break will come soon too.

    Could you email me your postal address (not sure but I think the one I have for you is your old address?!) as there's a little something I'd like to pop in the post to you.

    Take care of yourself, as much as you can xx

    1. Hi Amanda.Just reading replies really helps me. Thank you for sending all that love. It makes a huge difference. Actually reading how you've overcome your difficulties has been a great help to me just recently. It will get easier, of that I have no doubt. Being in the thick of it is draining me. We will get home soon and things will be different. Different how is yet to materialise but a change is as good as a rest. Will email you my lovely and thank you xxxx