Good Bye 2012

2012 was a long year and I am not sorry to see it go. My health reared up and demanded attention. I lost my focus with Hope, lost it in a sea of attachment. I forgot I was trying to make Hope an integral part of my family. I let others take the lead with Hope. I have never done that with one of my kids.

I thought I was improving my relationship with Mk, but it was superficial. She still hates me and thinks I hate her. I have been married almost 35 years and this year I came closer to divorce then ever before.

There were mixed events. I got to know GB’s needs much better. The cost? I had to face how much damage alcohol exposure prenatally did to her. My pain has steadily increased, but I discovered acupuncture provided relief. I dared to reach out to new friends. It is a much better way to live, but it sometimes results in pain.

There were a couple of blessings. Jimmy came back into our lives. I have three new grandchildren and became a great grandmother for the first time. We found a team of four therapists to work with our family.

2013 holds the joy and promise of healing and a new start.

Winning: A Perspective


I am a mathematician. I went to Polytechnic University after I graduated from high school. By the end of my freshman year, I had taken every undergraduate mathematic course the university offered and  earned an “A” in each one. I do not know if I was born that way or was taught to see life that way. Regardless, that is how I think.

I grew up less than five miles from Belmont Raceway. Each summer my grandfather would take me to Saratoga to play the ponies. You legally had to be eighteen, but back then, nobody really cared.

Each time I went to the raceway, I was given a twenty dollar bill. Nine races, minimum bet of two dollars a race. I understood probabilities without ever being told. I was six when I learned to read the racing form. I would wander around the park and stop and listen to the men talking about their favorite horses and discuss distances, track conditions, records and jockeys. A couple of minutes before each race I would go to the teller and place my bet.

I never lost all twenty dollars and frequently did well. All day, we automatically kept track of how we were doing. After the ninth race, I would settle up. If I hadn’t made money, I gave what ever I had left of the twenty I started with. I did not have to do that often. If I had made money, I gave the twenty my father or grandfather fronted my back to them and kept my winnings.

I have an aunt. She is a widow with a lot of money and can now live to please herself. She loves BINGO in a big way. When she is not traveling, she plays several times a week. She spends anywhere from five hundred to a thousand dollars a week. She takes BINGO seriously. Every couple of months she calls me to tell me about her great night. She wins thousands of dollars in one good night. I always congratulate her. I always ask her how much it cost her to win the money. She knows how much she spent that night and is thrilled with her “profit”. Numerous times I tried to explain that in order to know how much is profit, you have to keep track of how much you have spent on BINGO since the last time you won. She would ask why she would want to do that. It has been a while since I stopped trying to explain.

All of this to share how my mind works. I am not a pessimist. I am a realist. I can not claim “victory” without simultaneously knowing in every cell of my body what that “victory” has cost. Some days, I envy my aunt.

7 Day Challenge: Day 2

Day 2 was MUCH harder than Day 1. I had to go for a test today. It involved 2 hours of driving, over an hour for the test, and GB had to come with us. GB was not happy at having to leave school early- today was fire safety day and she didn’t want to miss it. This left her whiny and I am not good with an hour of anybody whiny, especially in the car. I dealt by keeping my mouth closed.

The test logistics were difficult. It took 30 minutes, three needles, and a lot of digging to take arterial gases. This is normally a three minute test. I was out of patience before they even started the ejection test. If the challenge included adults, this would have ended the day.

Hope joined us at Friendly*s. There were seven kids tonight. GB was clingy and Hope was dysregulated. I caught  myself  a handful  of times about to be sarcastic, Sarcastic is my normal mode. I realized my only chance was  silence- and having taken two cars. GB and I went home as soon as we were done eating and everybody else followed. GB and I showered, washed and braided GB’s hair, and are now cuddling in front of cartoons. This challenge seems to be much harder then last year. I suspect that means I really needed to take it. I can’t bite my lip forever.

Any inspiring successes out there?

7 Day Challenge: Day 1

There was an interesting comment on yesterday’s post. It ended with the question “Should I tell my daughter I’m taking this challenge, and let them hold me accountable?!”. I gave it some thought and decided to tell GB this morning. GB is in a good space right now and most of our interactions are positive. She thought it was a good idea and asked if it included MK. I hadn’t thought about including her, because at 26, she really isn’t a child. I decided it was a good idea to include her in my challenge. It would be a good opportunity to model how other people  can should not be able to make you respond in a certain way.

I chose not to not to tell MK and Hope. MK generally starts the day in a positive space, but tends to interpret anything other than 100% agreement, including silence, as negative. Hope would consider it a challenge to make me lose my temper. I realize GB may tell either or both of them, since I never asked her not to. If it happens, it will make it a little more difficult.

So far today, I am having success. Of course, Hope just got home from school. I am looking forward to getting at least a couple of positive comments in for Hope before bedtime.

For those of you taking the challenge with me; Did you choose to tell your child(ren)? How did your first day go?


On Monday, we had a very short meeting with Mary Poppins and she is gone. The Dad is considering taking a leave of absence from work so that he can continue working with Hope. He is not ready to put her in an RTF and I am not ready to have her 7 hours away. For the time being, we are at a stalemate. We continue to do things as a family and Hope continues to struggle. The school has upped Hope’s therapy to twice a week, individual sessions. Hope is again seeing an outside therapist. We haven’t seen the waiver people since September 17th. The case manager is coming out tomorrow.

Today was Kenny’s funeral. It was four hours long. The Dad spoke. I do not remember much of it, although I do remember crying a lot. I know Kenny is out of pain and I believe he is with God. I think the tears will pass. I am selfishly reluctant to admit I will not have Kenny’s friendship again on earth.

Everything changes and nothing changes- all at the same time.

Tower of Babel

We have all the support we can get for Hope. There are six professionals- one shrink, 2 therapists, 3 workers- and none of them agree on how to help Hope, much less on what the next step should be. I interact with each of these people and I am unable to keep who said what straight. I have tried to pin them down via email summaries, but two of them flat out refuse to do emails.

Hope has still not been alone with me since the end of August. I have not been attacked. Most people are thrilled at this huge progress. It doesn’t excite me. I AM happy my body is healing and I have been able to have some mother-daughter interactions with her. But the core problem is there. Nobody has even tried to work on Hope’s physical aggression. One worker hands her ultimatums, another worker reasons with her,and the third worker believes that at almost seven, Hope is too young to deal with these issues and I have to work on letting what happens on one day flow through me and start fresh the next day.

I am close to overwhelmed again. I see my own therapist tomorrow.

The Importance of Parenting in SPACE

I went to the Parenting in Space (SPACE: Safety, Support, Supervision, Structure, Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy.) Conference this past weekend. I was wildly unenthusiastic about leaving the girls and flying to Chicago for three days. The Dad had decided we should go. He took care of all the arrangements and I went along with it, albeit dragging my feet and whining quite a bit. 

I already had the connections I had made in Orlando. There are many women that will listen to me whine, offer help when I am overwhelmed,  and make me laugh when it seems like I have forgotten how. I knew The Dad didn’t have this, but I didn’t think it mattered. After all, men do not have friends that connect on meaningful levels, and they most certainly do not have any interest in sharing feelings. I was wrong.

Any Trauma Mamas who have been to Orlando know that the best thing that comes out of it is the conviction that we are not alone. There are other women living the same crazy life that we are. On the way home from the conference, The Dad and I were talking about  what we each considered the biggest gains we took away from the weekend. For the Dad, it was the many DOTs (Dads of Trauma) he met. The Dad wrote about his perspective  and I will post what he wrote tomorrow.

I was really surprised by how much The Dad got out of the weekend. I was more surprised at how much I learned about myself. I will try to share as much as I can in this week’s posts.

It Doesn’t Mean I like It!

I am going to Chicago for the Parenting in SPACE event in Chicago. The Dad and I leave before the girls are up tomorrow. There are some pluses- I think I’ll get to have dinner Sat with one of my favorite Trauma Mamas. It wouldn’t hurt for The Dad and I to spend time without the girls. I believe I have made solid arrangements for both GB and Hope, separately.

BUT I am not comfortable with both of us being so far away from them for 3 full days. I dislike meeting large (say any more then eight) groups of people. I will feel claustrophobic.

The Dad really wants to meet other Dads that are doing this. I already have my Trauma  Mamas.

I will stop whining and start packing. But that doesn’t mean I like it.


I have had children in my house for over thirty years. By society’s judgement, each child was broken in some way. I never questioned that assumption. After all, I was very busy meeting the needs of these children and fighting schools, social groups, and neighbors, trying to make a place for them. When society’s opinion was thrust into my consciousness, I would look at my kids and see why they were considered broken and then move on. There was 9 year old Ralph, who sat and talked to my car’s headlights while he snacked on my flowers. There was 14 year old Vernon, who in anger set more than 30 fires in his home town before he came to me. There was a 5 year old who didn’t know what a broom was and hadn’t ever heard the word no. I was only mildly surprised when he tried to beat up his soccer team… the whole  team. I had children with TBI, schizophrenia,and trauma histories that were beyond anything I could comprehend. Yet these kids went to regular schools and were expected to meet ordinary expectations. It was inevitable that these children, and my others, were considered broken. Yet, even in the beginning, I was aware that “broken” was only part of it.

My kids made me laugh, could be kind, and were frequently creative. They found joy in the ordinary and let me come along for the ride. They had compassion for those weaker or more disadvantaged. Everyday traditions could make their eyes shine. This was my life for a long time. I stopped taking in kids in 2002. My kids were older, had graduated from high school and I enjoyed a year of a social life with friends whose children were also more grown up than not.

GB is my granddaughter. She went to the NICU directly from the birthing room. I took custody of her at two months and her parents were gone before she turned six months. GB didn’t smile at all and missed her  early milestones. She  started EI at seven months. I didn’t know what was wrong, although I knew there was a problem. Like all my earlier kids, society considered GB broken. But I was different, I had changed. At 11 months, I found out she was FAS. By the time she was four, I knew she was bipolar. At seven and a half, autistic was added. Each diagnosis felt like I had been blindsided. Intellectually, I understood them and knew they were right. Emotionally, I was equally sure there was nothing broken about this child.

It has taken a year of contemplation to come to term with these incompatible ideas. GB is not neuro-typical. She is also not broken. She is exactly what God made her to be. God knows her gifts and her challenges and has given me the honor of being her mom. I love her smile. I love watching her dance as she is carried away by the beat of music.I share her joy as her garden blooms with color.  I enjoy the pride she has in her cartwheels, in her ability to swim, and the food she cooks for us. I know it can take GB several minutes to be able to verbally express a thought. I see that she is able to relax and share real communication with only the few she trusts. I know that I have to check for minefields before I put her in any new situation. I am responsible for making sure she gets enough sleep and that she eats when she needs to. She can’t tell me what hurts or why she can’t cope. It is part of who she is.

GB is not broken. She is exactly the person God made her to be. She is my gift from Him.