Change

Big is going into P2, change.

Little is starting P1, change.

I’m going back to work, change.

Grannie and Grandad are moving here, change.

Grannie and Grandad are going to be taking them to school, change.

Grannie and Grandad will be picking them up from school, change.

I won’t be there at the end of school, change.

PE will be on a different day, change.

Little will be in the playground, change.

And so many more.

For Big, everything is changing. Again. Her whole life has been so full of changes. These changes are big ones. They’re all happening at once. Change is ‘not good’ in our house. Change is scary, change means everything is changing. Change is to be fought. And fought and then fought again. It is less scary to be angry about it than be sad about it. Than to talk about how change makes them feel.

So she’s fighting. And she’s fighting me. I’m the reason for these changes. I’m making the world an even scarier place. So she fights. There have been brief moments where we’ve talked about the fear. But it’s mainly hidden behind the fight and I suspect there’s more fight to come. Change is coming to a very wobbly, very insecure base. I hope I’ve got enough to keep the base propped up.

The best bits

Big swam 2 consecutive lengths of the pool yesterday. She worked so hard to do it.

For the first time in 3 years, Little fell asleep without me being next to her. She said she felt okay and that I could go. I sat outside the door, when I peeked in, she was fast asleep.

 

 

This week…

This week I have been kicked, punched, bitten, had boxes thrown at me, had books thrown at me when I was driving and had my hair pulled.

This week I have watched other children run back to their parents because Big’s meltdown was so terrifying.

This week we have bought school shoes.

This week we had a picnic on the other side of the loch.

This week my husband nearly crashed the van on the way back from the loch due to how Big was feeling.

This week I have been told that I am a rubbish mummy, a ‘not real’ mummy, a stupid mummy, a ‘poohead mummy’, and many other forms of this.

This week I have slept on the living room floor as Little didn’t feel safe being in with Big and she was in our bedroom.

This week I had a conversation with the PASW that involved the comments, ‘Oh, there’s nothing we can do to help with that.’ and ‘Oh, gosh, that’s not really sustainable is it?’

This week we’ve had nowhere near enough sleep.

This week Big and I decorated each other’s handprints.

This week has been trying to get ready for returning to work.

This week I have ordered more books on how to be a better parent to my traumatised children.

This week I have been a not very good parent to my traumatised children.

This week has had me thinking about the future.

This week has left me feeling scared.

This week has been a week.

Bubbles

At the moment it feels that everything is a bubble. There are so many bubbles.

Going back to work is a bubble.

Little starting P1 is a bubble.

Big going into P2 is a bubble.

Wondering if Little is going to be able to wear any of the clothes we’ve got her for school is a bubble.

My relationship with Big.

My relationship with Little.

The girls’ relationships with each other.

How much time I spend with Big compared to how much time I spend with Little.

Trying to get people to understand our needs.

Birth mum currently living in our small town.

Little needing her own safe space.

Working out where we’re all going to sleep to allow this to happen.

Trying to get somebody in social work to speak to us.

Trying to work out different ways that we can help Big.

Trying to remember if I’ve told Little’s teachers everything that I needed to.

Little telling me she doesn’t feel safe.

Trying to find time that I can give them each some quality time.

Reading something new and realising how wrong I’ve been getting it.

Getting the food shopping.

Trying to get through the day and hope the girls are having wee bits of fun.

Still not knowing what I’m actually going to be doing when I go back to work.

Finding ways for them to be in the same space without Little getting hurt.

Trying to lower expectations.

Realising that even when I think we’re doing vaguely okay, we’re not.

Slowly realising that not even everything will ever be enough.

Keeping on being loving and kind and open when it’s constantly met with aggression, rudeness and unkind words.

Working out arrangements for what the girls are going to do when I go back to work.

Trying to help everybody get enough sleep.

Being a voice for the girls.

Working out and resourcing fine motor games to help Big.

Trying to help Little with her sensory needs each day.

Reflecting on the day and wondering where it could be different/better/easier.

All of these things are bubbles. Some are huge bubbles, some are small bubbles. And there are many more bubbles. But it feels as though that I can’t have anymore bubbles. One more big one and everything will explode everywhere and we won’t manage. I feel at the moment that I’m not doing enough for either of the girls and they’re really struggling. The next few months are going to be tricky. And there’s just too many bubbles.

The best bits

We went out on a stand up paddle board last week. The girls were awesome. Big lay on the front and was quite still and Little had amazing balance. We had a fab visit from a lovely Twitter friend and her girls (and her!) were amazing on it too.

We’ve had a very busy, quite sad weekend. Little was able to take herself to their bedroom and give herself the time she needed. She was able to voice that she didn’t want a kiss goodbye. I was very proud of her.

 

 

 

 

‘I HATE being adoctered’

We’ve been at my niece’s christening today. Which prompted a discussion about what a christening is. Which prompted a discussion about when the girls first moved here. Which prompted a discussion about my niece not being adopted. Which prompted Little to say, ‘Oh, I HATE being adoctered.’

And I know what she means. Do I wish that adoption never needed to be part of her life? Always. Do I wish that I’d never adopted her? Never. And so those two opposing thoughts swirl through my mind constantly.

I wish that her first family had been able to look after her. I wish that she hadn’t been hurt. I wish that she hadn’t been neglected. I wish that she hadn’t suffered the trauma that she has. But if she hadn’t she wouldn’t be with me.

She really doesn’t like that her story is different. That she has no baby photos. That we have very little to tell her about the first 17 months of her life. She’s becoming more aware that her story is not the usual story and that she shouldn’t have had this to deal with. She loves birth mummy and she loves me. I can watch her thoughts cross her face sometimes and I can see her working it out. At the moment, Little is very good at telling us, at talking to us, at expressing herself. She’s able to have some help processing this.

Seeing your 4 year old trying to express that she hates that this happened but is still very happy that you’re her mummy is heartbreaking. As heartbreaking as watching your six year old not be able to express it at all.

So we told her story again and she joined in with bits and asked questions, some she’d asked before, some new ones. And I tried to answer as best I could. And when she told me it wasn’t fair, I cried with her and agreed with her. Because it’s really not fair.

The best bits

It’s been really wet here recently. We took the girls up to a waterfall that was huge due to the rain. Little went ‘WOW’ as soon as she saw it and both of them loved getting close enough to feel the spray off it.

We’ve been out on the bikes in the woods again. We cycle on a wee bit of single track then back onto the forest road. This time they both asked if they could do a bit more of the ‘biking mountain track.’ Before my husband had chance to say yes, Little was on her bike shouting ‘Come on guys, what you waiting for?’ They both cycled really well and loved the downhill bits.

I’ve managed to ride my bike 12 times in July. The most I’ve been out in a month in 3 years.

Head versus heart

My head understands that she cannot currently express herself in a way that she would like so that often it comes out in violence, in screams, in rudeness. But my heart wishes it didn’t.

My head understands that routine and structure and known places provide safety and ease a bit of the anxiety that she feels. But my heart wishes that we could go and explore somewhere new, just get in the car and go.

My head understands trauma bonds and the fact that sometimes the very sight of Little is enough to trigger. But my heart wishes that Little didn’t get hurt and controlled and manipulated.

My head understands that people are scary and that it’s hard work having to control everyone and make sure that they’re doing exactly what she needs them to do. But my heart wishes we could see people without meltdowns afterwards.

My head understands the need for total control at all times. But my heart wishes I could see her relaxed and able to enjoy the moment.

My head understands that she cannot say what is wrong. But my heart wishes I could help her.

My head understands that when you are incredibly anxious and hyper vigilant and hyper sensitive, it is incredibly difficult to go to sleep. But my heart wishes I could help her get a better sleep each night.

My thinking brain and my emotional brain are not marrying up at the moment. Big’s struggling hugely with the holidays and I’m not helping. I understand why things happen in the way that they do but I really wish they didn’t. My expectations need shifting again and it’s hard. Head and heart need to find a way to work together.

The best bits

We’ve had lots of fun in the water this holiday. We got the girls wetsuits and it’s made a huge difference to how long we can spend there. We’ve been out on the bodyboards, in the kayaks and in the canoe.

Last week Big asked if we could have a rainbow fence. This is the first time she’s asked if we can change anything in the house. So we now have a rainbow fence and we love it.

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We went to see Spike on Sunday. Spike is very lovely. He cheered us all up.

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Three years…

Three years is 1095 days.

Three years is such a long time.

Three years is no time at all.

Three years is nearly half of Big’s life.

Three years is nearly three quarters of Little’s life.

Three years is a Peppa party, a Frozen party and a unicorn party.

Three years is a Grufflo party, a dinosaur party and a penguin party.

Three years is hundreds of ‘I hate you(s)’.

Three years is three ‘I love you(s).’

Three years is woods and beaches.

Three years is learning to ride bikes.

Three years is learning how to swim.

Three years is wetsuits and bodyboarding and kayaking.

Three years is stories and drawing and colouring.

Three years is two and three quarters years of not sleeping through the night.

Three years is lullabies and whispered words.

Three years is learning when things need to be soft or hard. When things need to be gloopy or dry. When things need to be crunchy or smooth. When things need to be heavy or light.

Three years is two moments of lying on the floor, tears pouring, wondering ‘Can we actually keep doing this?’

Three years is smiles and giggles and cuddles.

Three years is playgroup and nursery and school.

Three years is meetings. And meetings.

Three years is bites and kicks and punches.

Three years is reading. And rereading.

Three years is asking the amazing people on Twitter, ‘What could we do when…?’

Three years is support from some expected places. And some very unexpected ones.

Three years is waking up each morning with a smile and a ‘Good morning my lovelies.’

Three years is wondering. Are we doing enough? Are we doing everything we can for Big? Are we helping Little enough?

Three years is hoping. Hoping we’re doing enough. Hoping we’re doing everything we can for Big. Hoping we’re helping Little enough.

Three years is how long we’ve been a family. Such a long time, and no time at all.

Three years is us, just now. All 1095 days of them.

 

 

Just be

I was asked a question last week by someone who is coming to support our family. She said to me that she’d been thinking about our family a lot and she’d been wondering, ‘Did Big ever get chance to just be a little girl?’

And the answer, as much as I don’t want it to be, is probably no.

When the girls are playing I’m always very close by as I know how quickly things can escalate. I’m always listening just in case something is said that might allude to how she’s feeling. And I’m always listening for signs that she’s not managing.

When other people are here and she’s playing with them, I’m always close by in case she shows signs that she’s not managing and they don’t pick up on it. I’m always hovering just in case.

When we’re having fun, I’m always aware that she really struggles with fun and that I need to limit it and finish it before it tips over into not managing and feeling unsafe.

When she’s upset, I’m always looking for the bigger picture, what might it be that has caused her to feel like this, what small sign did I miss earlier that has lead to this.

So, even though I recognise this. I’m not sure how to stop. If I don’t stay close, there is a real danger of Little being really hurt. Other people are not as good at picking up the small signs she gives out and if we miss them, she really struggles later. If I let the fun continue, it inevitably becomes not fun. If I don’t consider the bigger picture, she doesn’t trust that I’m able to support her through everything.

How do we get more of a balance of ‘just being’ but also help her and Little in all the different ways they need helping?

I’ve been thinking about it all week, in trying to help her in so many ways, am I failing her in another? I don’t know. But it’s something else I’ve been thinking about.

The best bits

We went to the beach on Friday after the last day of the school term. We dug holes, we carried buckets of water about the beach, we got wet and we had fun.

Little slept for 13 hours on Saturday night. In her own bed!

We’ve been swimming twice over the weekend. I know I mention swimming a lot but I’m in awe of how well they’re doing. Every time we go they seem that little bit more confident. They both swam through a hoop under the water on Sunday. Awesome girls that they are.