Comfort Food

Bread PuddingFebruary is a hard month for me. Five years ago, I spent eight months taking care of my mother as she died. She spent thirty days in ICU and the step down unit. I didn’t realize she was dying. I figured it out on the twelfth, took her home on Valentine’s Day, and she passed early in the morning of the sixteenth.

Normally, if I have Peps* and chocolate, I am good. This time of year, Peps* and chocolate are not enough. Today I made my mother’s bread pudding. It was what I needed.

I would love to share the recipe with you, but this pudding never had a recipe. I do not think it was ever made the same way twice. My mother would make it for breakfast on shopping days. What was in it depended on what was in the house before she went shopping. She started with eggs. She used all the eggs, up to six, she had left. They were beaten with a whisk. Up to a half cup of butter, softened,was beaten in, She added up to a three quarters of a cup of white or brown sugar. Some days it was a combination of brown and white, and often less than half a cup. She used up to three cups of raw milk, cow and/or goat milk. I have no place to get raw milk, so I replace a half cup of the milk with heavy cream. Cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla extract were added. Sometimes, she would throw in raisins or currants. Whatever bread was left was ripped into small pieces and placed in a butter casserole dish. The egg mixture was poured over the bread pieces and a fork used to make sure all of the bread absorbed the liquid.

My mother put it into a 350 degree oven and baked it until it was done, forty-five to sixty minutes. She served it with milk, cinnamon sugar, jam, or syrup depending on what she had left. Once in a great while, she would make a bit of whip cream.

I am sitting watching the snow, eating a bowl of bread pudding. My kitchen smells like my mother’s kitchen did and, for this moment, I have peace.

 

 

When Adoption Doesn’t Work

MendedNobody goes into adoption with the thought “What if this doesn’t work”. Nobody. I have been quiet here because I have been busy thinking. There was a minor brouhaha at another adoption blog. The blogger is in a tough spot and I would not personally have the gonads or the presumption to tell her what the right thing to do was. Apparently, there were enough people who put their opinions out there. There were the “protect your *real* children” crowd, which were inevitably followed by the “all the children are *real*  children crowd. Last I looked, the *real* issue is safety– no more, no less.

Her situation really wasn’t out of the ordinary. She had adopted an older child, a teenager. The child had mental health and behavior issues. When you adopt an older child, that is what you have to deal with. This lady, in particular, had the added weight of being days away from delivering a child and having her husband walk out on her. She was physically unable to keep her teen, younger child, herself, or a new born safe. Families do not work when the parent(s) can not keep everybody safe. It is not a matter of choosing one child over another because of their *realness*.

Serious mental illness is more common  in adopted children, but biological children are not immune either. The mental health resources in this country are scarce and insufficient to meet the needs of the people, including children, who need them. Families who are fortunate enough to have their own resources to use can keep their families together by such over the top measures  as renting two apartments or buying a second house. For most people, that kind of solution is out of reach.

I have more than a few friends who have had to disrupt an adoption. Like the vast majority of adoption that don’t work, mental illness and traumatic experiences were part of the child’s experience before they were adopted.

The parents have used every resource they found- social workers, therapists, medication- read every book, tried every method and hit the same wall- nothing they do keeps their child safe. Disruption or dissolution of an adoption is never easy or pain free. These people have poured more of themselves into their child to make the adoption work then any outsider could imagine. They freely give of their resources; emotional, financial and physical. When their adoption fails, the pain and guilt stays around for a long time- sometimes forever.

The real solution to the disruption/dissolution dilemma is to fix the underlying problem. This country has outstanding medical services. It is time we had mental health services to match.

 

Grateful

I was spitting tacks when we left for my sister’s last night. The Dad insisted on taking the Prius because the saving in gas is significant. I couldn’t imagine any amount of money worth traveling with Hope in the Prius on a ten or eleven hour ride. My fears were valid. Hope nutted up and The Dad spoke softly and called her his “baby”, while growling at GB to leave her sister alone. I should have just stayed home. My frame of mind was the pits at that point and I couldn’t find the peaceful spot inside that my therapist and I have been working on. So I switched my focus to keeping my mouth shut.  I was successful. I figured I wouldn’t say another word until we were at Lynn’s house.

I was startled by a huge bump and the strangest sounds coming from the car. Three in the morning, three hours from Lynn’s, we hit a deer. The Dad couldn’t open his door and a tremendous amount of steam rose from the engine. GB and Hope woke up, but,  thankfully, no one was hurt. Hope was snarly, which is how she always wakes up. Fortunately, while she raged earlier, she didn’t lose it then. We waited a half hour for a Virginia State Trooper and another half hour for a tow truck. By 4:15 we were in a hotel room.

This room has a complete, full size, set of stainless steel appliances, including a garbage disposal, and granite counter tops. The bedroom is completely separate. There is a kitchen table, a couch, a desk and an easy chair.

This morning we woke up to find we didn’t have comprehensive on the Prius and would have to pay cash to solve this problem. Not great, especially since, the Dad just took a half time leave, and our living money was cut in half.

I am grateful because:

  • Ten years ago, The Dad would have lost it completely. He stayed intact and dealt.
  • GB has always been a good car rider and trusts us completely. Telling her everything was going to be ok and her believing us was big last night.
  • Hope was Hope, but when we hit the deer, she didn’t rage, she just got snarly.
  • God has always met our needs and I trust that he will this time.
  • We will get to my sister’s by Thanksgiving, even if it is not on my schedule.

Most of all, we are all safe and together. Everything else pales beside this.

Wishing you all a Blessed Thanksgiving!

Loss

Mary provided daycare for GB for three years while I was teaching and in school. Two years ago she was diagnosed with stage IV liver cancer. She has been on chemo since. She wanted to do respite for my girls when she felt good enough. GB loves her and it worked out well for both of us.

Today I got the inevitable call. Mary is dying. No more chemo, just hospice to keep her comfortable. GB has already experienced so much death, so many loses. Please pray for me as I help her through this painful time.