Scared

This weekend my husband has been away for three bedtimes. On paper it sounds so simple, look after my two children for the weekend. The reality was that by 8pm on Friday, I was probably the most scared I have ever been.

Big was so dysregulated and hurting me and Little so much that I ended up putting Little into my bed and sitting by the door to stop Big coming in. Fortunately, (somehow) Little went to sleep quite quickly. I then sat in the hall for an hour listening to Big scream that she hates me, that I stink, to her listing all the things she was going to do to hurt me next time.

It was totally the wrong thing to do, I left Big isolated and alone but I didn’t know what to do.

This weekend I realised that I am scared of my nearly six year old. I am scared of how violent she is. I am scared that I cannot predict when this will happen. I am scared because I am not always hurt in the middle of a meltdown, I can be hurt sitting next to her on the sofa watching telly, I can be hurt as I pass her a book.

I am scared that one day I will not be able to manage this anymore. This Friday is the closest I’ve come to saying ‘I cannot do this.’ (I am very grateful to a Twitter friend who supported me through that moment.) As I said to someone today, I am giving her as much as I have, but she needs so much more. I am scared that I will never have or be enough for her.

I am scared that I cannot keep Little safe. I am with them constantly. But they have to share a room, Little has no safe space of her own and she wants one. She keeps asking me for one. We’ve separated bedtime. We try to give them as much one to one time as possible. But she is still being hurt.

I am scared that I am nowhere near to getting this right for Big. That she has lived with me for nearly 3 years and she is still terrified. She does not feel safe here. She does not feel loved. She doesn’t trust me, she cannot talk to me, she cannot come to me for comfort.

It’s a hard feeling to admit to. I don’t like it. But I feel I need to say it. I hope that this will change. That we can find a way to help Big to manage these huge feelings that she is trying to manage all by herself. That we can move towards everyone feeling safe.

The best bits

I didn’t know whether to put the best bits in today but it’s probably good to mention those too.

We swam on both days this weekend. The amount of confidence the girls have gained recently still astonishes me. It is one of my favourite things to watch them doing. On Sunday Little swam. Not just a tiny bit but nearly 5m. Then she flipped onto her back and casually started swimming on her back! Happy tears.

Big is choosing to wear her ear defenders a lot more. At school she is actively seeking them out when she needs them, which is a very positive thing to hear.

 

Endings

Endings are a big part of life. You go to nursery for a year, nursery ends and you go to P1. Then to P2 then to P3 until school ends. You go on holiday, you have fun then it’s the end of the holiday and you come home. You watch a film and it ends. You go for a walk and there is an end point to the walk. You go to visit somewhere then you come home at the end of the day.

For one of my children, endings are very hard. For her, endings not only mean the end of that activity, visit, year but they potentially mean never seeing that person, place, thing again.

When your main awareness of endings is losing people that you love, moving to new places, never seeing some familiar places again, it is no wonder that endings are difficult.

Big’s way of dealing with endings is flight. She will run away from the thing that is scary. Run away from the thought of leaving somewhere else, somebody else. Run away from the fact that she has to deal with another loss. Run far away from the people that are making this ending happen.

But some endings do not afford the opportunity for flight. Some endings have an audience until she is in the car. In this case, Big will fight. Fight the big scary ending. Scream and shout so that she can drown out the sadness. Which I understand. But driving down the motorway with somebody trying to grab you from behind or throwing things at you or screaming that she hates you and that you don’t love her and listing all the things that she’s going to do to you when you get home is not easy.

But how do we avoid endings? Do we stay at home forever? Even that doesn’t avoid it. Tomorrow we will be managing the end of the holidays and the beginning of school. There is the end of P1 coming up. People come to visit us and we have to say goodbye to them.

Last week, after a session about how hard Big finds endings (and after I’d sent an email saying that we were finding the violence increasingly difficult to manage), the psychologist told us that she would not be seeing her again for a while. This was not an ending we had prepared for (any of us) and it came as a shock.

Another ending that closes an avenue of support. Another person to not see. Another (as Big sees it) break in trust.

Because, for Big, all of this is to try to hide her fear about the huge ending that she is so worried about. The fear of me being yet another female caregiver who will ‘leave’ and never come back.

We cannot live a life without endings. Every day we have to deal with them. But they’re tricky and I wish my wee girl hadn’t had to have so many of them.

The best bits

As I went to put petrol in the car yesterday, Little stuck her head out of the window and shouted, ‘Don’t forget mummy, not diesel, petrol! Diesel is for the van!’

We went to a wildlife park last week to meet my brother and the girls’ cousin. The girls enjoyed pushing her pram around and my sister in law took a beautiful photo of Big looking into the pram at her cousin. Big looks really calm and has a tiny smile on her face.

Keeping going

Things are really hard here just now. Panic attack kind of hard. Crying at the drop of a hat kind of hard. Wondering how on earth I’m going to get up tomorrow and do it all again kind of hard.

I’ve tried to write about it but I can’t. I cannot find the words.

So here’s some best bits from the holidays. Some bits to remind me why I get up and do it all again.

Big swam a width in the swimming pool. We’ve gone pretty much every week for nearly 3 years and it’s been worth it. She smiled a real smile.

Little swam for the first time.

We went to the beach, dug a big hole and found a dinosaur!

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The girls have been totally awesome on their bikes. They’ve ridden on the local biking mountain track a lot this holiday and it’s amazing to see how quickly they progress.

We went to ‘fun time’ at the pool today. They were both so much more confident. Falling off the floats, giggling, trying different things out. It was lovely to watch them.

We’ve climbed a ‘mountain’ and for the first time, Little walked all the way.

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My dad taught Big how to play Battleships. They worked on a 9 square grid and one ship but she was able to work it out and played it for a good wee while with him.

Little sat for ages with my mum colouring. Then they played ‘Elsa and Anna’. Then they played ‘making cakes in the garden’ for ages.

We made a mermaid at the beach.

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Little went to a birthday party and for the first time, she went to play with all the other children. She kept waving at me and coming back for a hug occasionally but was mainly in the party.

We discovered an amazing rope swing on an adventure at the beach.

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So there’s our best bits. The bits that have given us all a smile. The bits that keep me going.

Conversations

So far this week I have had a conversation with Little about why her birth mummy might like to wear dangly earrings. I have had a conversation about what she might be wearing just now while we drew a picture of her.

This week I have had a conversation with Big about us not knowing anything about her birth father. About the fact that we don’t know his name. About how sorry I am about that.

This week I have had (many) conversations about the fact that it is okay to feel angry/scared/sad/worried/frustrated but it is not okay to hurt.

This week I have had a conversation with my husband about how isolated we feel. About the fact that at the moment we cannot go to see anyone because Big just can’t manage.

This week I have had a conversation with my husband about contact with birth parents.

This week I have had a conversation with Big about the fact that for most children, they don’t have lots of people taking care of them. They don’t have lots of moves. And about how that could be making her feel.

This week I have had a conversation with Little about how she misses birth mummy.

This week I have had (many) conversations with Little about dying. Trying to be honest but not causing more worry.

This week I have had a conversation with my husband about how many times this week I’ve had to gently smile, try to focus on helping the girls with what they’re feeling and to wonder how I’m feeling at a later point.

This week I’ve had a conversation with my husband and with Big about why she might find it so hard to come home when we go anywhere.

This week I’ve had a conversation with my husband about how we can give Little fun and happy experiences but make sure that Big still feels safe.

Some of these conversations have taken place very quietly before bed, some of them have taken place after I’ve been hurt and been screamed at. Some of them have taken place because they’ve been asked for, some of them have taken place because they’ve been needed. Some of them haven’t really been conversations, I’ve been talking but I haven’t had a reply.

Sometimes I wish that we could have a conversation about what exciting things we’re going to do in the holidays, where we’re going to go and who we’re going to see. I wish we could have a conversation about the little things that we have tried to plan for the holidays without it creating huge anxiety. I wish sometimes that we could just talk about the weather.

This week I’ve had a conversation with my husband about how huge our conversations seem to be. About the feelings they unleash or the new feelings that they can create. About the fact that so many of these conversations are shorter than they should be because we don’t have the answers.

So far this week I’ve had lots of conversations. And I’m sure there are still lots more to be had.

The best bits

We took the girls on the mountain bike track yesterday. They were both totally awesome. They tried so hard to pedal up the hills and were desperate to try more. Little could be heard shouting ‘wheeeee!’ as she went.

Today we played, ‘duck, duck, goose’ on the trampoline. Just me and the girls. It was interesting trying to run round in a circle on the trampoline and there was lots of giggling. It was fun.

 

 

A photo

Today I showed a photo to the girls. It was a photo of their birth mother.

With Big it was during a therapy session. With a psychologist, me and my husband.

With Little it was with me.

For Big, it was a photo of her with her birth mother, taken during a contact session.

For Little it was the same photo with Big taken out and the photo blown up. Because that is the only photo we have of their birth mother. We have no photos of Little as a baby.

Big said nothing.

Little asked if her birth mummy still loved her. She asked where her birth mummy was now. She said that she had nice earrings. She said that she looks a bit like me. She said that she was pretty. She asked where the rest of her was. (The photo is just of her face.)

Big has growled at me and glared at me and pushed me.

Little has kept a hand on me since. She has cried for 2 hours. She has said she is sad.

Big has said nothing.

Little has said that she is happy she saw the photo. She is sad but she is happy.

I cannot imagine what it feels like for Big just now. To see a photo of her birth mum and not be able to talk about it. To not be able to draw comfort from anyone. To feel like she has to manage this on her own still.

I’ve done a lot of talking to the space around her. I’ve done a lot of talking through Little. I’ve done a lot of ‘I think that might have made you feel…’. But I haven’t been able to talk to her. And she hasn’t been able to talk to me.

Little and I have cried a lot today. Little has come for comfort and she’s sensed that I’ve needed a bit too. But Big hasn’t been able to.

I have no idea whether this has helped Big today or simply given her a thousand more questions that she cannot ask. That are now whirling round her head. I have a feeling this week is going to be hard. I’m sure the questions will come out in a non-verbal way.

They say a picture says a thousand words. But for one of my children, at the moment, she isn’t able to say one.

The best bits

We went to the beach on Saturday and we went adventuring. We found a giant’s seat, a jungle and lots of rope swings. We had fun.

On Friday we went to the park after school. One of Little’s friends was there. They played pirates together for ages and it really was lovely to watch. (I took on the role of the shark and performed it brilliantly.)

 

 

 

 

 

So far today…

So far today we’ve been up for quite a long time.

So far today we’ve had conversations that involve mummy, new mummy, birth mummy, first names and ‘her’ (me).

So far today we’ve had lots of hysterical giggling.

So far today we’ve had no eye contact, lots of avoiding answering questions and lots of growling.

So far today I’ve been presented with a clay tea light holder that has been ‘hidden’ (“It’s in my sock drawer mummy but it’s still a surprise!”) since Friday with a hug and a smile.

So far today I’ve wondered if maybe they might be thinking about their birth mother today. (To be met with the fabulous response ‘Oh here we go, this is the boring bit where you tell me what I’m feeling.’)

So far today we’ve made a crocodile and a giraffe.

So far today we’re not able to manage very much. Jenga towers are falling, the music isn’t loud enough/quiet enough, the cup wasn’t right at breakfast. (It was the same cup as always.)

So far today we’ve no plans other than keeping close, staying near home and eating lots of Yorkshire puddings.

So far today I’m doing what I can to help the girls with whatever it is they need.

To all the parents who are helping their children manage tricky feelings today, I send a wee hug and a Yorkshire pudding.

 

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Digital dinosaur

It would be fair to say that I’m not really made for the age I live in. I was definitely made for a time when technology wasn’t as advanced as it is. When my computer thinks that it is cleverer than me, or doesn’t do what I need it to do, I can get cross in about 1.5 milliseconds.

I don’t like the fact that my phone now comes everywhere with me and that I can’t remember phone numbers anymore and that when the girls take a photo they use their index fingers to point at a screen. I don’t like the fact that I put my phone in my pocket all the time because it’s counting my steps and some days I need every single one of them and I don’t like that if I’ve looked something up, that thing then turns into an advert on the next thing I look up.

BUT. But. But. If computers didn’t exist and if smartphones didn’t exist there are some days that would have been very different in our house. If I hadn’t discovered Twitter and the brilliantly supportive adoption community there I wouldn’t know half the things I know now. I wouldn’t have support that understands exactly what I mean and is able to respond with help and support and humour everyday.

With Twitter I know I can tweet ‘Big sat next to me on the sofa’ and people will know the enormity of that. I know I can talk about the violence that occurs in our house and people will be able to advise and support. I know I can talk about the funny things that Little does and people know how much they mean to me.

Finding Twitter meant that I found the #WASO, ¬†without which I wouldn’t have read other people’s great blogs and I wouldn’t have had the courage to start writing mine. Because writing mine helps. It helps me to get things out of my head a bit, sometimes it helps me focus on the good bits and sometimes it helps me to talk about the sad bits.

So I would like to say a very grateful thank you to all the wonderful people who support me on Twitter everyday and to the people who read my waffly writing, for helping me to process this ¬†journey that we’re on. It means an awful lot and you all really have helped our family make the little steps forward that we’re making. Thank you.

The best bits

Little has been helping me in the garden a lot recently. She is so interested in what’s going on. We’ve planted some herbs, we’ve built a bug hotel, we’ve put bark chips down and she’s just been amazing. Wherever I’ve been, she’s been right there, wielding a rake or a spade with a grin and a ‘oof, this is very heavy mummy!’

On Saturday we went to the wee patch of woods near our house. Big was desperate to play rugby so we took the ball and had fun throwing the ball around for a bit. We then played ‘What’s the time Mr Wolf’ and she help my hand running away from the ‘wolf’.