Thursday, March 8, 2012

Lettin' off a little steam one tense moment at a time...

When friends and family ask me how things are going with my kids, I tell them.  I've never been one to sugar coat the facts about anything.  For instance, if you ask me how I like your hair then dammit, I'm going to tell you.  I would, as a friend, expect the same from you.  If you don't want to know, then why ask?  Seriously, to me, that's just goofy.  I try my best not to be brutal but honestly if someone throws out a question, I believe they want the truth.

I often get asked how things are with the kids.  I'm not going to lie about it.  Do you really want to know? Because if you don't want to hear a litany of horror stories about how Eric and I were called, "douche bags" the other night or that my youngest son was placed on "in-school suspension" twice this week, don't ask.  There are good things too and I'll throw those in for good measure, but raising our two boys hasn't been a piece of cake.

I must admit there's nothing I hate more than when people say we're saints for adopting them.  Whoa, Nellie...stop right there!  If the Grim Reaper were to take Eric and I today we would be on the River Styx going straight to Hades.  We started out on the right foot but somewhere along the line we lost our patience and good parenting skills.  We do our best but some days we fail miserably.  When we close our bedroom door at night, we're the first to agree we could have handled some of the situations much better.  No one is perfect and we're certainly not.

We don't take our lives week by week or day to day for that matter.  It's more like hour to hour.  Our home life is like a lit firecracker waiting to explode.  Anything and everything can happen at any given moment. Before the boys came to live with us, Eric and I were free spirits.  We made dinner when we were hungry, went to sleep when we were tired, and basically lived by our own schedule. 

Once William entered the picture, our world became structured to the minute.  He needed to know when everything was going to happen.  There were no surprises.  His life had too many in the past and they frightened him.  He never knew where he was going to be from one day to the next.  Our little boy didn't know where his next meal was coming from or when his parents were going to be home.  The neglect and abuse was devastating.  So when he came to us, everything was consistent down to the minute. He woke up at the same time every morning.  Clothes were set out the night before.  Dad made him breakfast.  I picked him up from school.  Homework was done immediately when he came home.  Dinner was always at 6:00pm.  Bathtime after dinner.  Mom read to him before bedtime.  Lights out at 7:30.  There would be no wavering ever.  It was hard.  It took months of screaming, fighting, and self abuse but he finally adjusted.  Consistency, structure, and love.

Then came his birth-brother, Austynn.  Six years old.  He came from many more foster homes and had different abandonment issues.  Again, the battles, the screaming, the fighting, and this time - striking out at us...even still today.  Consistency, structure, and love.

Now the autism diagnosis has been added to their trauma history.  A double dose of difficulty in behavior management.  They don't understand why they can't make friends and toss in the horrifying abuse from their childhood which will haunt them for the rest of their lives. Consistency, structure, love, and patienceGod bless William and Austynn.

So when you're tempted to tell Eric and I that we're saints, please stop yourselves.  We're not.  Our boys are the heroes in this story.  Eric and I tend to whine a little too often and a little too loudly.  We let off steam, that's what we do.  Thank you to our friends and family for listening.  When we do open the valve, please understand that's all we're doing...letting off a bit of  the pressure.  We also use humor as a means to deflect some of the craziness.

Remember, if you want to know how we're doing, honestly - we'll tell you but be prepared to listen to some heart-wrenching stuff; however, remember that you are also heroes in helping ease some of the tension.  For your patience I promise to throw in a couple of heart-warming, funny stories for good measure.

By the way, how are you doing?  Hold on, let me grab my bowl of coffee and let's talk. No sugar coating, please.  I'm here for you, too. 

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